Acer Swift 7
IT’S THE WORLD’S THINNEST LAPTOP, BUT CAN IT STAND UP TO ITS SLIGHTLY THICKER COMPETITORS WHERE IT COUNTS?
TAIWANESE PC-MAKER ACER revealed a couple of rather attractive portable sister PCs at the end of last year — one a laptop, the other a 2-in-1. We previously looked at the latter — the Spin 7 — in our February issue (see page 15) and this Swift is basically cut from the same cloth, albeit to a much slimmer form. This is officially the world’s thinnest laptop, squeezing in at just under a centimetre thick (9.98mm) and weighing 1.12kg. So is the attraction just physical, or does the Swift have the brains to back up that body?
A glance at the spec sheet shows that Acer has certainly taken a good stab at it. There’s a Core i7 chip powering the show, combined with a 13.3-inch LED-backit 1080p display, 256GB SSD and 8GB of memory. And despite those satisfying specs, it comes in at just $1,700 — a lower-than-average price for a premium ultrabook, which, in Australia, has crept up to around the $2,000 mark. Also gratifying is the fact that all the internal hardware is passively cooled, so there are no fans and is, therefore, completely silent in operation.
The inputs, too, work agreeably in use. While the trackpad is almost comically wide, it’s pleasingly sharp and responsive, and performs well, as does the chiclet keyboard, although the latter isn’t backlit — the body is presumably too thin for Acer to have been able to fit the key mechanism as well as an LED.
As with all these super-slim laptops, the ports on offer are limited, however. Here, that means you get just two USB 3.1 Type-C sockets at the back of the right edge — one of which doubles as the charging port — plus a 3.5mm headset I/O. Acer has thrown a small dongle in the box that’ll adapt one of those Type-C ports to the more traditional Type-A, so you can whip that out when needed (which for the next few years, at least, is likely to be frequent).
On the surface, then, that all sounds like a little laptop that makes few compromises, but there has been at least a little bit of sacrifice of function to accomodate form. This isn’t as good as Dell’s XPS 13 in terms of battery life or horsepower, for example — although in fairness, the Dell is twice as thick and an extra 160g or so heavier, coming in at 1.3kg vs the Swift’s 1.12kg. And while the Swift doesn’t match the XPS’s class-leading battery life of around 6–7 hours, it still manages an acceptable 4–5 hours in the same mixed-task home/office workloads, and is a bit under 6 hours for watching 1080p movies.
Something we’ve pointed out before, but that’s worth reiterating is that Intel’s re-branded its low-power ‘Core M’ chips with this seventh-generation Core (aka Kaby Lake) chips. That means that, despite the name, the Core i7 used here isn’t really the same as what you’ll find in, say, ASUS’s ZenBook 3 or the Dell XPS 13 — the giveaway is the ‘Y’ in its model identifier (i7-7Y75), meaning it’s frugal in terms of power use, but it also runs at a lower clock speed and can’t reach the same performance levels as its ‘standard’ mobile Core i7 counterparts.
How much of an impact that actually makes will depend on your computing needs. The Swift mainly falls over when it comes to tasks like video encoding, high-res multimedia work and heavy multitasking (either in the sense that you have lots of apps or browser tabs open, or just a few more-demanding ones). That said, if you’re just doing general day-today computing (surfing the web, working with documents and spreadsheets watching videos, a little light gaming), then the Swift holds up more than adequately.
So while this isn’t an ultrabook for everyone, for most, it should suit perfectly fine — and it certainly makes up for some of the processing shortfall with its outstanding portability. Definitely one worth considering if you’re looking for a thin, light laptop that still delivers the goods.
ON THE SURFACE, THAT ALL SOUNDS LIKE A LITTLE LAPTOP THAT MAKES FEW COMPROMISES, BUT THERE HAS BEEN AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT OF SACRIFICE OF FUNCTION TO ACCOMODATE FORM.