Acer Swift 7 (2018)
Price: £1,499 inc VAT
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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