Acer Swift 7 (SF713-51-M90J) Review
These days, it’s never enough for a laptop to don a superslim profile; we expect a stylish design and enough muscle to get the job done…and when it comes to an ultraportable, expectations go even higher. The newest Acer Swift 7 shines brightly on those fronts, but it does skimp on a meager processor. At a mere 0.39 inches, thick, it’s so far the thinnest laptop in the planet. In fact, it’s thinner than the HP Spectre 13. The thin profile, combined with a nice looking premium black-and-gold design gives this laptop a luxurious feel once you pick it up.
In addition to the sleek design, the Swift cranks up to 7 hours of battery life, but all these are nitpicks shared among all metal-bodied ultraportables and the difference comes on what’s inside. However, the mediocre performance from the Intel “Kaby Lake” Core i5 CPU and non-backlit keyboard prevent this otherwise great ultraportable the oomph to unseat the ASUS ZenBook 3 as our Editors’ Top Pick for premium ultraportable laptops.
Design and Features
Acer HP bills the Swift 7 as the world’s thinnest laptop, and delivers on that promise: It measures 0.39 by 12.78 by 9.04 inches (HWD), and weighs in at 2.5 pounds. That’s the thinnest we’ve seen a laptop go since the HP Spectre 13, as well as the newest Asus ZenBook 3, that takes the honor of being the lightest ultraportable weighing only 2 pounds. Looking at it, the bold black and gold design can’t be mistaken, and before your eyes can move, you’re treated to a gold precursor of the shininess that peeps out on the lid.
On the lid, you have a golden Acer logo sitting in the middle of the black aluminum lid, which blends with an equally golden hinge peeking out below. Unfortunately, the smartly clad ebony surface was quick to pick errant fingerprints, but it’s something we experience in most metallic laptops.
As I picked up the Swift 7, some questions wouldn’t escape my mind. For instance, “why the large huge bezel, while others like the Dell XPS 13 are making them disappear” and what is the latest craze in town with gold-colored gadgets? Acer manages to shelf all these worries by keeping the system insanely thin and straight to the point.
The touchpad is huge, accurate and comfortable to use. Nestled in a slight recess above the touchpad is a lovely, black, Chiclet-style keyboard that is utterly a striking inverse of the touchpad below it. Being non-backlit makes it less impressive, though still functional with plenty of space between keys considering the Swift 7’s thin profile.
Meanwhile, the Swift 7 is one of the latest ultraportables to decide against QHD resolution (or higher) for a humble 1080p on its 13.3-inch screen; joining the HP Spectre and Asus ZenBook 3. After all, the choice for 1080p instead of 4K or QHD actually gives the Swift 7 a performance boost as its less demanding on the rest of the hardware, and to some extent contributes to longer battery life.
It isn’t a super AMOLED or Retina Display, but it delivers an impressive 105 percent color reproduction on the sRGB gamut, better than the 95 percent average (Dell XPS 13-94 percent; HP Spectre-100 percent). The ASUS ZenBook 3 scores slightly well, at 111 percent. Also, although the display’s accuracy leaves much to be desired, its brightness averaged 319 nits, which is so far the highest we’ve seen for the 301-nit category average.
For a lithe ultraportable, port selection is striped to the bare minimum. All you find here are two USB 3.1 Type-C ports and headset jack on the right–there isn’t anything else. Wireless connectivity comes via 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Those who like Skype, the integrated 1280 x 720 will come handy though it takes grainy pictures. As always, thin design and great audio rarely go together, and the Swift 7’s bottom-mounted speakers didn’t perfect on that. We had distortion problems during testing, but the output was pleasantly crisp at moderate volume.
The Acer Swift 7’s Intel “Kaby Lake” Core i5-7Y54 processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics 615 GPU isn’t particularly fast – especially when compared with others in the field. Actually, the 1.2GHz seventh generation Core i5-7Y54 is formerly a Core M processor, only that it now has the full “i5” branding thanks to the Kaby Lake moniker upgrade.
The farthest it can perhaps get you is a dozen of tabs open; you’ll have to go slow on tasks such as batch editing in flash while in Photoshop or Lightroom. This class of low-power Core M chips was typically a reserve for 2-in-1 laptops, but bringing it to this competitive category doesn’t help either. Still, the laptop managed to stream the latest trailer of “Walking Dead” on Netflix, while I kept seven additional tabs open in Google Chrome. In the end, it’s not particularly fast — to be honest.
Compared: The ASUS ZenBook 3 is equipped with Intel’s Seventh Generation Core “Kaby Lake” processor family: a Core i7-7500U processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics 620. So far, this combo is potent enough to deliver class-leading performance on most day-to-day tasks like document editing, Web browsing, and video conferencing. What’s truly impressive about this system is how ASUS managed to fit in a Sky Lake processor and gobs of memory in such a tiny machine. The processor spits speeds of between 2.7GHz and 2.9GHz, with the 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM clocked at 2,133MHz; which even exceeds Intel’s official maximum speeds of 1,866MHz for its latest chips.
All these give the ZenBook 3 enough muscle to outperform systems like the Apple MacBook, Dell XPS 13, and HP Spectre 13. Look at it, the MacBook is still stuck with slow m3 and m5 CPUs and a maximum of 8GB RAM. We expect that Apple might refresh it soon, now that we have the seventh-generation CPUs trickling into the market. So far, the ZenBook 3 wins the spec battle since the Swift 7 comes with 8GB memory and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD).
On the other hand, the Swift 7’s Intel HD Graphics 615 GPU will suffice for running browser games, doing some light photo editing and watching videos, but not much else. On battery life, it lasted 7 hours and 34 minutes, during testing, which included continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi and other tasks, but it was still below the 8:05 ultraportable average. This is still far below the ZenBook 3’s 11 hours 56 minutes.
With the thinnest chassis, 7-hour battery life, a lithe profile and good aesthetics, the Acer Swift 7 is certainly the ultraportable laptop we recommend for the students or the travelling professional looking for an ultraportable that makes a statement. True, the Swift 7 is the thinnest laptop but Acer missed a golden opportunity with a change of name but failing to equip the laptop with specs to match its premium chassis.
The Core m processor masquerading as Kaby lake further weights this beauty down, especially when pitted with heavyweights like the Asus ZenBook 3 and Dell XPS 13, both outfitted with bona fide chips that offer better performance. That said, the ASUS ZenBook 3 remains our Editors’ Top Pick for premium ultraportable laptops as it leverages features like: speedy performance, enduring, thin, extremely light weight, beautiful screen, good aesthetics and sturdy build quality.
The Acer Swift 7 is the thinnest ultraportable in the planet, but it comes with a meager processor. It is certainly the ultraportable laptop we recommend for the students or the travelling professional looking for an ultraportable that makes a statement.
- The thinnest laptop currently available
- Good battery life
- Sharp design
- Constructed with high-quality materials
- No traditional USB ports
- Non-backlit keyboard.