Acer Swift 7 (2018)

Price: £1,499 inc VAT

Tech Advisor - - Contents - Chris Martin

We first saw the Swift 7 at CES 2018. Now the world’s thinnest lap­top has ar­rived in the UK and we couldn’t wait to test it.

De­sign

As you’d ex­pect, de­sign is the key el­e­ment here. The pre­vi­ous Swift 7 was al­ready ex­tremely thin at just 9.98mm, but Acer has man­aged to shave the chas­sis down to 8.98mm. That’s pretty mind-blow­ing, es­pe­cially when you con­sider it means this lap­top is ac­tu­ally thin­ner than a num­ber of re­cent smart­phones.

A thin pro­file also equates to a light­weight product and the Swift 7 is a true feath­er­weight at 1.17kg – the

pre­vi­ous model was 1.13kg. This is be­cause of a few up­grades, but mainly the ad­di­tion of a touch­screen. Still, it’s one of the light­est laptops around and you won’t no­tice it drag­ging you down when it’s in your bag. It’s nice to see that at this price, you get a stylish sleeve in­cluded in the box.

It’s not just thin and light ei­ther as it also looks the part, with Acer do­ing a great job of mak­ing it stylish and sleek. This is partly down to the thin pro­file, but also some small touches such as a bev­elled edge on the alu­minium body and around the track­pad. The alu­minium chas­sis is smooth to touch and gives the Swift 7 plenty of rigid­ity – some­thing many laptops don’t have, mak­ing them feel wob­bly and cheap.

It might not come in handy very of­ten, but the screen can fold back 180 de­grees from the shut po­si­tion. It’s not a 2-in-1 but is cer­tainly flex­i­ble, and we can’t think of many sit­u­a­tions where the screen needs to be flat on a desk.

There are, how­ever, some down­sides to the thin de­sign and that starts with ports. We’ll look at this later but you won’t find any tra­di­tional USB ports here.

New to the de­sign is a fin­ger­print scan­ner on the left of the key­board. Like other el­e­ments it has as shiny bev­elled edge. It’s means you can log into Win­dows a lot quicker, although not when you have to try it two or three times, which does hap­pen.

Key­board and track­pad

As the Swift 7 is so thin, it’s dif­fi­cult to of­fer a great typ­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Keys need space to work to the de­sired ef­fect. The key­board might be back­lit (sim­ply

on or off) and there’s some travel, but not much. Depend­ing on what you’re used to, the change could take some get­ting used to. Some may like the sharp, crisp ac­tion. As is com­mon on laptops, many keys are smaller than we’d like. For ex­am­ple, the four ar­row keys, along with two func­tion keys, are all squeezed into the space of just three reg­u­lar keys. The ‘Del’ key is also very small, sit­ting next to backspace.

We ac­tu­ally have more of an is­sue with the track­pad, though. It’s large and re­spon­sive but has no push-to-click, which can make things pretty tricky and frus­trat­ing when you don’t have a mouse. For ex­am­ple, drag­ging and drop­ping an el­e­ment is tricky since you need to double-tap and move in at the same time. There’s also no right-click, so you’ll need to do that with a two-fin­ger tap.

Dis­play

One up­grade on this new Swift 7 is the screen, which to a small ex­tent, ex­plains the price rise. For starters, it is larger at 14in – up from 13.3in within the same size frame. Bezels are smaller and the Full HD IPS dis­play is now touch-sen­si­tive, which these days we find far more use­ful than when the tech­nol­ogy first ap­peared.

A we­b­cam be­low the screen is never a good lo­ca­tion, so bear this in mind if you’ll be us­ing it a lot.

The dis­play might not be 4K, but most con­sumers don’t need an Ul­tra HD res­o­lu­tion on a lap­top. It would mostly hin­der per­for­mance and bat­tery life. At Full HD, the Swift 7 is per­fectly crisp and of­fers good colour.

It’s also brighter than the Swift 5, at 291cd/m2. Over 300 would be bet­ter, but you can in­crease this to max­i­mum when in bright con­di­tions and you’ll still be able to work. The dis­play is also glossy, which means it is prone to re­flec­tions in bright con­di­tions.

Per­for­mance

It’s a shame that de­spite be­ing more ex­pen­sive than its pre­de­ces­sor (£999 from fave.co/2uZPhfk), the Swift 7 for 2018 comes with a 7th-gen­er­a­tion In­tel pro­ces­sor. We’d ex­pect 8th-gen since the chips have been avail­able for a while. That said, it is a Core i7 chip, which is an up­grade from the Core i5 in the pre­vi­ous Swift 7. This is sort of a faux i7 though, as it’s not built for per­for­mance as you might as­sume. It’s the i77Y75, which is de­signed to con­sume as lit­tle power as pos­si­ble. It’s just 4.5W – where many are ten times the power rat­ing – and is only 1.3GHz and dual-core. You might have a more pow­er­ful chip in your phone.

There won’t be var­i­ous dif­fer­ent con­fig­u­ra­tions of the lap­top, so you’ll have to be happy with 256GB of stor­age and 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM. We’d ex­pect a lit­tle more at this price point re­ally. The mem­ory should be enough for most peo­ple, but double the stor­age would be nice.

With a fo­cus on be­ing low-power, it’s not a huge sur­prise to find bench­mark re­sults lack­ing a lit­tle. In PCMark 10, the Swift 7 scored 2,600 and in Geek­bench 4 it man­aged 6,432. On the graph­ics side, it pro­vided a score of 3,285. To put this in con­text, the Acer Swift 5 with a Core i7-8550U pro­ces­sor man­aged 3,506, 13,003 and 4,366 in those same three tests, re­spec­tively.

So if you’re just look­ing for a light lap­top for word pro­cess­ing, web brows­ing and sim­i­lar, then you’ll be fine. Other­wise, you need to look for some­thing with more grunt.

Con­nec­tiv­ity and Au­dio

As men­tioned ear­lier, there are no tra­di­tional full-size USB ports here. In­stead, you’ll find a pair of USB-C sock­ets (one for charg­ing), a head­phone jack. On the other side is a power but­ton and a nano-SIM slot. That’s pretty lim­ited, but Acer does at least sup­ply an adap­tor that pro­vides USB-A, HDMI and USB-C. Along with the nano-SIM slot there’s also an em­bed­ded eSIM. Acer says the Swift 7 ships with a Transa­tel pro­file pro­vi­sioned with up to 1GB of free data valid for one month in 48 coun­tries, in­clud­ing the UK. 4G LTE con­nec­tiv­ity on a lap­top will be ex­tremely handy for some users and the Swift 7 also has 802.11ac Wi-Fi with a 2x2 MIMO an­tenna at the bot­tom of the lid.

De­spite a Dolby Au­dio logo adorn­ing the chas­sis, it’s hard for any lap­top this thin to pro­vide de­cent sound. A pair of stereo speak­ers sit un­derneath and, let’s face it, aren’t go­ing to set the world alight. They are, how­ever, fine for watch­ing a TV pro­gramme or film in a quiet room.

Bat­tery life

Acer claims a bat­tery life of a de­cent 10 hours, via Mo­bile Mark 2014. That’s more than its pre­de­ces­sor and im­pres­sive when you con­sider how lit­tle room there is for the bat­tery is a lap­top this thin. Con­sid­er­ing the low-power In­tel chip in the Swift 7, we were hop­ing for a lot more. Es­pe­cially with the Swift 5 last­ing a de­cent enough 10 hours, 32 min­utes.

Well in our usual video loop test with a screen bright­ness of 120cd/m2 (40 per­cent in this case), the

Swift 7 lasted 11 hours, 50 min­utes. That’s not to be sniffed at and is a good few hours longer than its pre­de­ces­sor, which lasted eight hours, 40 min­utes. Still, you can get a lot more for less money if it’s bat­tery life you re­ally need. The Sur­face Lap­top, for ex­am­ple, lasted a whop­ping 16 hours in this test.

Ver­dict

The Acer Swift 7 for 2018 might not be per­fect, but it’s an amaz­ingly thin lap­top that will be a great choice for those look­ing for a travel com­pan­ion. Not only is it thin and light, build qual­ity is great and the bat­ter life is de­cent, even if you can find bet­ter else­where.

Don’t be fooled by the Core i7 pro­ces­sor, though. It’s built for ef­fi­ciency not per­for­mance, so don’t ex­pect the Swift 7 to cope with de­mand­ing tasks. You will also have to deal with USB-C ports (just don’t for­get the adap­tor) and a some­times frus­trat­ing key­board and track­pad.

It’s a mixed bag then, so it re­ally de­pends what you’re look­ing for in a lap­top as to whether it will be worth the high price tag.

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

14in (1,920x1,080) IPS glossy with Go­rilla Glass NT, touch­screen Win­dows 10 Home 1.3GHz In­tel Core i7-7Y75, dual-core

In­tel HD Graph­ics 615 GPU 8GB RAM DDR3 256GB SSD 802.11b/g/n/ac 2x2

2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C Stereo speak­ers HD we­b­cam Dig­i­tal ar­ray mic 3.5mm head­set jack UK tiled key­board Fixed track­pad 4,580mAh lithium-ion bat­tery 328x237x8.8mm 1.17kg 2-year RTB war­ranty

As is com­mon on laptops, many keys are smaller than we’d like

To make up for the Swift 7’s lim­ited con­nec­tiv­ity options Acer sup­plies an adap­tor that pro­vides USB-A, HDMI and USB-C

De­spite hav­ing the same frame size as its pre­de­ces­sor the Swift 7 has a 14in dis­play – up from 13.3in

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