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Acer Swift 7 review: Slim and lightweight, with some trade-offs

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Topic: Laptops
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8.0

Acer Swift 7

Excellent
Like
  • Attractive 14-inch display
  • Only 9mm thick
  • Weighs 1.2kg
  • Mobile broadband
Don't Like
  • Expensive
  • Limited number of ports
  • No user upgrades
  • Touchpad is not clickable
  • 7th generation Intel Core CPU
  • Editors' Review
  • Specs

Acer seems to primarily focus on the consumer market these days -- launching a new range of gaming laptops earlier this year, for example. But it also produces business PCs, such as this new version of its 14-inch Swift 7 ultraportable laptop.

Announced at CES earlier this year, and heralded as "the world's thinnest laptop", the updated Swift 7 has taken a few months to arrive, and is considerably more expensive than the first model that was launched last year. However, the laptop's slimline, lightweight design will appeal to regular business travellers, and should ensure that it earns its keep when you're on the road.

Pricing & options

Last year's version of the Swift 7 had a 13.3-inch display and Intel Core i5 processor running at 1.2GHz, and was priced at £833.33 (ex. VAT, or £99.99 inc. VAT). That model is still available in both the UK and US, with the original US price of $1299.99 now reduced to $1,099.99.

This year's model steps up to a larger 14-inch display (Acer's "world's thinnest" claim specifically refers to comparable devices in the 14-inch, non-convertible category). There's a small speed bump as well, with the addition of a dual-core Core i7-7Y75 processor -- with a TurboBoost option that can increase clock speed up to 3.6GHz. However, it's a little disappointing that Acer hasn't opted for the latest 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors.

Other features include 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of solid-state storage, along with a fingerprint reader and a nano-SIM slot for mobile LTE broadband connectivity. That brings the price of the 14-inch model to £1,333.33 (ex. VAT, £1,599.99 inc. VAT, or $1,699.99). That's the only configuration currently on sale, with no built-to-order options or user upgrades available either, although Acer did confirm that it's available with either Windows 10 Home or Pro.

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Acer's 14-inch Swift 7 runs on a 7th-generation Core i7 processor with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage and LTE mobile broadband. It's 9mm thin and weighs 1.2kg.

Images: Acer

Design & features

Despite the larger display, the dimensions of the new Swift 7 are virtually identical to those of its 13-inch predecessor, measuring just 9mm thick, 327mm wide and 236mm deep. It's slightly heavier, increasing from 1.13kg to 1.2kg, but that's still an impressively slim and light design for a laptop with a full 14-inch display. The matte-black aluminium casing feels nice and sturdy too, as does the thin keyboard panel. The latter certainly feels more responsive than Apple's problem-plagued 'butterfly' keyboards, so the Swift 7 is well suited to life on the road.

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Admittedly, the display's Full HD (1,920 x 1080) resolution (157.35dpi) is relatively modest for a laptop in this price range, but that resolution suits my middle-aged eyes perfectly well, and the IPS panel itself provides an attractively bright and detailed image. The larger display also works well for viewing spreadsheets and other documents in Microsoft Office, as well as for viewing websites or streaming video, and it's nice to have that amount of screen real estate available in such a lightweight laptop.

SEE: 50 time-saving tips to speed your work in Microsoft Office (free PDF)

Connectivity and expansion is limited to just a pair of USB-C ports, and one of those ports will be needed when charging the laptop, so you might need to buy one or two adapters for existing USB peripherals, such as hard drives and memory sticks.

There's also an odd feature that's downright irritating. The touchpad is a good size (125mm wide and 65mm deep) but, according to Acer's manual, it doesn't include an area that acts like the left and right mouse buttons. You can still perform a right-click action by tapping on the touchpad with two fingers, while a double-tap acts like left-click on a mouse. However, we couldn't find any settings or options that would allow us to click-and-hold with the touchpad in order to resize a document window, or to drag-and-drop in order to move files or folders. Fortunately, Swift 7's screen is touch-sensitive, so it's possible to perform those actions by using your fingers on the screen. Even so, those mouse-button actions will be so ingrained for many people that it's annoying not to have them available on the touchpad.

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The Swift 7's keyboard is a comfortable typing platform, but the touchpad doesn't include integrated clickable mouse buttons.

Image: Acer

Performance & battery life

There's always a trade-off between performance and portability with laptops, of course, and that's especially true of ultraportable devices such as the Swift 7. Its multi-core performance is relatively modest, scoring just 6,020 in Geekbench 4.1, so it won't be the best option for power users who need to run multiple apps for hour after hour. However, single-core performance is more respectable, with the 3.6GHz TurboBoost option on the Core i7 propelling it to a score of 3,750, which will be more than adequate for running Microsoft Office, or routine tasks such as web browsing. The integrated HD615 graphics also fare quite well, managing 36.5fps with the Cinebench R15 OpenGL test, which should allow it to handle simple photo-editing or presentations work.

Battery life is fairly middle-of-the-road, but should still give you a full day's work away from the office. With the screen brightness set at a perfectly visible 50 percent, we were able to get eight hours of streaming video with the BBC iPlayer, and less intensive wi-fi usage should certainly allow you to get close to Acer's quoted battery life of 10 hours.

Conclusions

The Swift 7 isn't as powerful as you might expect from a laptop costing well over £1,500/$1,500, so if you're looking for a professional-level laptop capable of running high-end graphics or design software then there are options available with more compute power.

However, the Swift 7's strength lies in its combination of an attractive 14-inch display, wrapped up in a slim and sturdy design that weighs just 1.2kg. Its fingerprint reader and mobile broadband will also appeal to business users who travel a lot. There are lighter laptops with smaller displays, but the 14-inch Swift 7 strikes a good balance between screen size and (ultra) portability.

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