RE­VIEWS

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‘Since for­ever’ is a long time to wait, but that’s how far back you have to go to find a de­cent mo­bile CPU from AMD. In other words, it’s de­bat­able whether AMD has ever made a com­pet­i­tive lap­top chip. Yes, AMD’s mo­bile pro­ces­sors based on the Bob­cat core were okay for bud­get de­vices, but In­tel’s dom­i­nance was even stronger in lap­tops than it was on desk­top. At least, it was un­til Ryzen came and proved how com­pla­cent In­tel had be­come. But that was just desk­top, right?

On pa­per, the Acer Swift 3 is the ideal sys­tem for weigh­ing up the rel­a­tive pros and cons of the lat­est mo­bile CPUs from AMD and In­tel. That’s be­cause it’s one of the very few mo­bile rigs of­fered with both AMD Ryzen and In­tel Core pro­ces­sors. Yes, vari­ables re­main, in­clud­ing the moth­er­board, but the crit­i­cal bits, such as the screen, chas­sis and bat­tery, are shared by both vari­ants, pro­vid­ing about as level a play­ing field as you’re ever go­ing to get.

In prac­tice, it doesn’t work out like that. But first, let’s dis­sect what Acer is of­fer­ing with this AMD-pow­ered Swift 3. For the most part, it’s a mid­dle-mar­ket of­fer­ing in a 15.6-inch form fac­tor. It’s pow­ered here by the Ryzen 5 2500U. That’s the sec­ond tier in a four-strong range of mo­bile Ryzen CPUs. Where the Ryzen 7 2700U gets ten com­pute units, the 2500U makes do with five. The 2500U is also 200MHz down on clock speed, with a base clock of 2GHz, and a max boost clock of 3.6GHz.

The 48Wh bat­tery not only re­veals the Swift 3’s mid-mar­ket po­si­tion­ing, it also makes it tricky to get a feel for how ef­fi­cient AMD’s Ryzen pro­ces­sor is in a mo­bile im­ple­men­ta­tion. A premium 15-inch por­ta­ble, such as Dell’s XPS, of­fers roughly dou­ble the bat­tery ca­pac­ity, for in­stance. Mak­ing mat­ters worse, I had prob­lems get­ting our pre-pro­duc­tion re­view sam­ple up to full charge. In short, I couldn’t as­sess the unit’s bat­tery life at all.

If I’m hon­est, that sums up my ex­pe­ri­ence with the Swift 3 as a whole. Dur­ing test­ing, this lap­top kicked out a fairly mixed bag of re­sults, both in out­right terms and in the sense that per­for­mance in the same test var­ied widely over the course of mul­ti­ple runs. Very likely, all of that re­flected my unit’s pre-pro­duc­tion sta­tus. Maybe the firmware needs a tweak, or the cool­ing hasn’t had that fi­nal pol­ish. The sense is that this isn’t Ryzen mo­bile at its best. That’s a pity, not only for this lap­top – it’s a solid lit­tle unit, with a nice IPS panel and a firm feel to its key­board per­for­mance – but also for the Ryzen chip, which looks very promis­ing in­deed.

that this isn’t Ryzen mo­bile at its best

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