acer swift 3 sf315-41Laptop | 14″ Full HD IPS 100% sRGB Display | AMD Ryzen 7 5700U Octa-Core Processor | 8GB LPDDR4X | 512GB NVMe SSD | WiFi 6 | Backlit KB | FPR | Amazon Alexa | SF314-43-R2YY
The Acer Swift 3 with a gorgeous 14″ display powered by an AMD 5700u 7nm 8 Core / 16 thread CPU is a massively able little powerhouse that will satisfy the needs of most users and then some.
Let me tell you why in this complete review.
What you will receive:
Yet again arriving in a standard low cost eco friendly box most notebook makers use these days, I knew I was in for something special as the box felt impossibly light weighing less than 5lbs total. I was ready to dig in and see what Acer had to offer for mid tier computing after being highly impressed with their budget offerings.
Inside, you will find the Acer Swift 3 itself, a slightly larger power supply, power cable, a few small inserts and a custom amazon.com insert with a special support system for amazon only buyers.
Having used much larger and beefier laptops and notebooks over the years and recently what I would consider a small 15.6″ ~4lb Acer Swift 3, the even smaller size of this 14″ Acer Swift 3 really left me impressed. Equipped with a very above average 14″ display and a large, spaced keyboard (no numeric pad), I was eager to see what this little Acer Swift 3 could do. It is very sleek, well built and easy to hold. Weighing in at 2lbs 12.5oz (~1.26kg), it is extremely light and has a metallic like feel to it and a quality finish that lets you know it is a step above the budget range. The 65w power adapter isn’t as small as some other ultrabooks and smaller Acer Swift 3s as this Acer Swift 3 has a full 8 core / 16 thread CPU and a very bright IPS display but it is still very compact weighing in at 10.5oz (.30kg) with power cord. The entire combo weighs in at a very light 3lb 7.1oz (1.56kg). This makes it incredibly easy to transport Acer Swift 3. I’ve held plenty of books that were much heavier than the Acer Swift 3.
The Acer Swift 3 comes equipped with a “brand new” AMD Ryzen 5700u CPU. While it carries the 5000 series moniker and was introduced in January 2021, the architecture is actually based on Zen 2 (3000 series) and not Zen 3 (5000 series) CPUs. It is still a monster in its own right as it is a full 8 core / 16 thread behemoth that consumes ~25w under full load and ~9w for single thread. Due to its 7nm design and a very nice cooling system implemented by Acer, the Acer Swift 3 never throttled under load even running Cinebench 23 which is very stressful and demanding on CPUs in a real world meaningful way. The Acer Swift 3 only reached a max of ~68c for multi and 59c for single which shows more of a power limit for the CPU during multithreaded use as there was plenty of cooling left on the table but it still was able to hit ~3Ghz all core at its top rated cTDP of 25w.
The actual Cinebench 23 scores show the power of this little monster as it achieved 8752 multi and 1262 single. That multi score is almost as fast as an i9-9980h which consumes much more power and generates much more heat and puts the performance squarely in the neighborhood of 8th through 10th gen mobile CPUs and even AMDs 4000 higher end mobile chips. The single core score is on par with 9th and 10th gen Intel DESKTOP chips running at a full 5ghz and is right around the same speed as 11th gen Tiger Lake Ultra Acer Swift 3s. The 5700u runs single thread as fast as a 4900H. Yes, it is that good. Single core speeds were ~4350mhz vs AMDs 4300mhz listed speed and multi core speeds were ~3000mhz vs AMDs base clock of 1800mhz.
To achieve this much processing power in such a small notebook is pretty amazing.
If your workflow is multi-core dependent, this Acer Swift 3 may very well work for you with its octa-core CPU.
Memory and Storage:
Along with a brand new CPU, you also get 8GB of memory and a very roomy 512GB Kingston NVME SSD.
The onboard memory is max speed 4266mhz LPDDR4x soldered memory. While fixed at 8GB of memory and unable to upgrade, 8GB gives Windows 10 plenty of extra space to run and with the memory configured in dual channel proper performance is fully achieved.
The Kingston 512GB M.2 drive boasted very respectable speeds reaching ~2500 read and ~1200 write which is more than enough for most Windows 10 use cases. Stress testing under full load the Kingston 512GB SSD never even came close to overheating.
The 5700u comes equipped with Vega 8 R4000 Integrated Graphics. Based on a subset of AMDs Vega Radeon GPU technology, you are able to actually play lighter games at 1080p. Scoring ~2200 (Acer drivers) to 2350 (Newest AMD drivers) on Superposition, this puts the GPU power right around an Nvidia GT 1030 which is very impressive for notebook integrated graphics.
Gaming wise, I spent a few hours playing World of Warcraft: Shadowlands questing in Bastion which is very GPU taxing and even squeezed in a raid run and while it wasn’t lights out performance, the Vega 8 was surprisingly capable after realistically dialing down some of the eye candy to 50% (level 5). The quality of the screen (covered below) made the visuals an absolute joy to behold. If ultra high frame rates and/or max details are your goal, this is not the notebook for you. On the other hand, if you’re ok with dialing down the visuals and/or accepting lower (but playable) frame rates you may be able to have this gem pull double (or triple) duty.
The GPU never thermal throttled or overheated whether stress testing or playing.
Overall, Acer did their homework and this system is one cool running notebook in every aspect with zero thermal throttling or overheating anywhere.
First time starting up and usage:
Upon first boot you are greeted with some quick and easy setup steps and off you go. This Acer Swift 3 comes with a standard Windows 10 Home install open and ready for use. Acer strongly encourages registering through the setup phase and it is integrated into the standard Windows 10 Home setup.
You will want to run Windows Update as there were 20+ updates waiting for my Acer Swift 3.
The Acer Swift 3 ships with an older 1.01 BIOS from January 2021. A 1.02 BIOS is available from the Acer website and is very easy to run and install.
As for pre-installed software…
Norton SecurityUltra full suite is installed with a 30 day (!) license.
This Acer Swift 3 also includes Alexa. Alexa is actually a custom app pre-installed on your Acer Swift 3 that integrates with Amazon. If you are a user of Alexa, you will feel right at home.
A Drop box promo app.
Link to Forge of Empires Game
Numerous links and re-directs to Amazon and Norton.
I purposely tested the Acer Swift 3 with the stock install, cleaned up stock install (uninstalled the pre-installed software) and with a fresh, clean install to see if the pre-installed software was causing any meaningful slowdowns that impeded my benchmark testing and normal use. I am happy to report it did not. You can leave (and enjoy) the software as is, uninstall what you do not want or go scorched earth and do a clean install. If you’re the type of user who wants to do a clean install, there were no problems setting up a USB drive with the newest Windows 10 install and doing a clean install. All the drivers you will need are available on Acer’s website to get you back up and running if you choose to go this route and I found doing a clean install relatively painless and straight forward.
If you are a novice user who just wants a Acer Swift 3 that “just works” out of the box this will work for you too.
Spending the day running it through its paces from productivity to gaming, unlike a very capable previous Acer model based on a low core count CPU, the 8 core design of this little marvel means there really isn’t much you can’t do with it. Everything I threw at it was handled with relative ease. I did a couple code compiles and they were very fast. I simulated much of my desktop work which is on a 5800x and it was very comparable which was astonishing in an ultra portable weighing less than 3 pounds.
Battery life was very good running in balanced mode. The Acer Swift 3 is equipped with an 50.29Wh battery. Using it over the course of the day (~5hrs), I was left with almost 30%. If you adjust your settings up or down, you will achieve more or less. Expect taxing use (games, multi threaded workloads) to drain the battery quicker.
The 1920×1080 (1080P) display is the star of the show for this Acer Swift 3. Using a 60hz IPS AU Optronics AUO683D panel, the display maxes at a very bright 300 nits and supports a full 8-bit 16.7m color palette. Having full 100% sRGB and 77% Adobe coverage, colors not only pop but are bright, warm and inviting. The icing on the cake is the 1200:1 contrast ratio and perfectly implemented antiglare. I was absolutely gobsmacked with the panel quality on this Acer Swift 3 at this price. I ended up lining it up against several other laptops, notebooks, desktops, 30″ displays and even my desktop BenQ 4k IPS professional display and only the BenQ and the hand picked professional display in my 17.3″ laptop bested it but it still held its own in a casual side by side test. I’ve included a picture of the this wonderful display next to a 15.6″ display on another Acer model for comparison.
Unfortunately with such a small size comes tradeoffs and one of those is port selection. The Acer Swift 3 only has one USB type A port, USB type C port and an HDMI port on the left side and a USB type A port, headphone jack and a security lock port on the right . This Acer Swift 3 does not come with an ethernet port. On the go use may not be a problem, but if this is to work as a desktop replacement too, you will want to invest in a multipurpose hub not only for expanded ports but easy quick connect and disconnect to take the Acer Swift 3 with you.
The Acer Swift 3 does come equipped with onboard Wifi ready to go so you can connect immediately to any available wireless networks. The Acer Swift 3 will come with either a MediaTek or Intel WiFi card. Mine came with a MediaTek and it works as expected. The Wireless card is not soldered, so you can switch it to another model at your discretion.
Once you remove the back cover (which comes off easily after removing a series of clearly visible screws and using your finger nail or a plastic spudger along the front), you aren’t presented with much in regards to expand-ability. The memory is soldered and the small form factor limits it to one M.2 bay which houses the Kingston 512GB NVME drive. Fortunately it is user replaceable and the Acer Swift 3 makes it easy to pop it out and install any M.2 NVME drive of your choice. As noted above, you can replace the WiFi card with another model of your choice too.
Keyboard, trackpad and fingerprint reader:
The Acer Swift 3 ships with a more than adequate backlit keyboard. Due to the small size of the Acer Swift 3, there is no numeric pad but the key placements are spaced well and the keyboard is very easy to adjust to and use. The trackpad is responsive enough and the build quality is a step above the budget range but I do prefer trackpads with separate and distinct left and right buttons. Acer will supply your Acer Swift 3 with either a Synaptics or Elantech touchpad. Mine shipped with a Synaptics. Like many newer ultrabooks and notebooks, when you open the display the bottom shifts down and elevates the keyboard giving you a nice little angle for typing and increase the space on the bottom for better fan intake for cooling. This model comes with a bio-metric fingerprint reader that integrates with Windows for quicker logins to Windows 10. It works very well and there was minimal delay from the time I placed my finger to the Windows 10 desktop appearing. It makes logging into Windows that much quicker.
I tested the webcam with a few recording sessions and it more than handles itself well. It isn’t on the level of an $80USD+ webcam like a C920 but it more than got the job done as do most Acer included webcams for basic use (Zoom, Teams, etc..).
When in use, the single system fan cooling the CPU does sometimes spin up and you will hear it. The Acer Swift 3 comes equipped with a much bigger better quality fan than some other models use along with a top notch heatsink exhaust system. This results in excellent cooling with no throttling even under heavy loads both single and multi. While it isn’t overbearing or obnoxiously loud, it definitely is there and the Acer Swift 3 is not a dead silent/fanless notebook and will spin up when needed. When taxed, the fans will kick up to the next level but due to the superior cooling never hit max but it is clearly audible but a more than acceptable dB range.
You will be amazed at how small, lightweight and powerful the Acer Swift 3 actually is. For me, personally, the star of the show is the display as it is simply gorgeous and a joy for the eyes. I found myself just marveling at its quality at this price range. Close behind is the CPU as the 5700u is a fully capable processor sporting a beefy 8 core / 16 thread design ready to get to work. Backed by a great cooling system and cool running components, thermal throttling is never an issue anywhere when in use. You get plenty of storage with the 512GB SSD and more than adequate memory of 8GB properly configured in dual mode (4GB x 2). The backlit keyboard is a major plus. Vega 8 integrated graphics are deceptively capable equaling Desktop Nvidia GT 1030 performance and will work for light modern day gaming at 1080p and even some graphical work.
On the other hand, if your workflow requires more than 8GB of system memory you can not upgrade beyond this and you will have to look elsewhere. While the CPU is very powerful, depending on the type of work you do, you may require something more powerful (and heavier and more expensive). The Vega 8 graphics and internal 60hz panel are not suited for high fps or high detail gaming even at 1080p for many modern games. Compromises will have to be made in fps and detail expectations even running an external display. The limited port selection may leave you feeling cramped.
After weighing the pros and cons along with the excellent pricing, this is a 5/5 for me and this little engine that definitely can has now found a permanent spot in my work bag officially replacing my insanely large Clevo laptop.