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This lightweight laptop is surprisingly powerful (and it's not the MacBook Air)

The new Acer Swift 14 laptop promises a powerful experience on the go -- and it actually delivers.
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer
The Acer Swift 14 on a table
Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

I'm a sucker for a lightweight computer that's easy to tote around in a backpack and packs plenty of performance to handle whatever task is at hand. It's the reason I've spent years working from an iPad Pro, tinkering with Chromebooks and even penning a love letter to the Surface Pro 8 a couple of years ago. I have a soft spot for portable computing. 

Also: I wish I had this $350 Lenovo Chromebook when I was in college

On paper, that's exactly what the Acer Swift 14 promises. This $1,400 laptop has all of the latest components and hardware you'd want in any Windows laptop and is designed for on-the-go use. 

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All of the specs above add up to a smooth experience for everyday use and some heavier tasks, like photo and video editing and perhaps some gaming. 

You won't be able to play AAA titles like Fortnite or Call of Duty on the Acer Swift 14, but that's to be expected with this type of laptop. I did find the fans to spin up with minimal effort on my or Acer's part. They're not overly loud, but you can hear them if you're not streaming any music or videos.

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I spent a lot of time using Microsoft's Edge browser on the Swift 14, streaming video, sending and receiving emails and using apps like Slack and Apple Music for other routine work tasks. Everything about the Swift 14 was, well, swift. I didn't experience any performance hiccups or slowdowns. And the battery was able to keep up with my usage, lasting a full day of mixed use. 

The battery will, however, struggle to get through a full day if you're using it primarily for more resource-intensive tasks, like other laptops in this spec level.

The side chassis of the Acer Swift 14.

You get a USB-A port, Kensington lock, and 3.5mm headphone jack on the side of the Swift 14.

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

I run a battery benchmark on every laptop I test, where I play the same 4K video file on a loop using VLC with the display brightness set to 50% and Bluetooth disabled while using a camera to create a timelapse video of the laptop until it turns off. I can then go back and see, to the minute, how long the battery lasted. And the Acer Swift 14 lasted 8 hours and 28 minutes. That's not horrible, especially for a laptop of this size. It's more than enough juice for a cross-country flight. 

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The first time I opened the lid, revealing the display and keyboard, I was surprised as the deck of the laptop tilted towards me, lifting the base off of my desk once the lid was opened to a vertical position. There's a lip that extends from the laptop's hinges that does the lifting; it's a novel idea that puts the keyboard at an angle that should make typing more comfortable. And for the most part, I found that to be true. Although my wrists and hands did suffer from some fatigue after extended use. 

A top down of the Acer Swift 14's keyboard.

The standard-sized keyboard comes with a fingerprint-supported power button.

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

The touchpad of the Acer Swift 14 is the only aspect of the design I take major issue with. It's far too small and cramped to use effectively, especially in a business setting where scrolling long documents, spreadsheets and emails are the norm. You'll definitely want a Bluetooth mouse to use with the Swift 14.

Also: How this wireless touchpad and mouse desk setup saved my wrists 

The 1440p QHD webcam piqued my interest as most laptop webcams are, well, horrible. I spent a couple of days taking all of my meetings on the Acer Swift 14, ensuring to set my video resolution for each video platform to 1080p, and overall, the end result was better than my M1 MacBook Pro

The video does have a tendency to be overexposed, but the resolution looked solid. The mic and speakers were more sufficient for video calls, but the speakers do lack some oomph when streaming music or watching videos. 


The flat-edged bezels give the laptop a premium look and feel.

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

The display is by far my favorite aspect of the Swift 14. It's a 14-inch WQXGA 2560 x 1600 display with multi-touch support. The screen is bright, has plenty of color saturation and just looks sharp. It's very responsive to touch for those moments when I didn't want to fiddle with the small trackpad. It's great. 

However, did Acer really have to permanently put "Antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass" in the top-left corner of the lid, just above the display? It's distracting and annoying. Even more annoying about it is the fact that none of the promotional photos on Acer's site for the Swift 14 show the text. 

All-in-all, the Swift 14 delivers on its portable and powerful promise. There are a few small things I'd like to see improved, such as the size of the trackpad, but overall the Swift 14 is a worthy contender for a business user or student.

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