Two years ago, I reviewed the new-look Acer Swift 7 – back when the word “Ultrabook” was still been thrown around. A lot has changed in such a short time, even if you haven’t noticed much of the evolution from generation to generation. Key components to the changes have been Intel’s CPUs, as well as the introduction and now somewhat common inclusion of the NVMe SSD. Both of these have brought enhancements to the that would’ve doubled, if not tripled, the computational speeds over previous setups in 2017.
At the time of the previous review, the Swift 7 had the title of the world’s thinnest laptop, which lost its title a few times over since its release. With the likes of the HP Spectre 13, Surface Laptop 2 and even the new titleholder, the Huawei MateBook X Pro, it would take some doing for the Swift 7 to regain the title, while still offering an improved performance over its predecessor.
Build and Design
As was the case in 2017, the Swift 7 features and impressively thin frame, and still remains one of the thinnest I’ve had the privilege of using over the years. While the 2018 variant of the unit came and went without too much around its weight and size, the 2019 update has sure made a whole song and dance about it. And for good reason. Acer claims that they’ve managed to squash down the size even further dropping below the 1cm mark. In fact, according to the company, the unit measures just 0.35″ or 8.9mm in metric terms. There’s been some debate about this, with some suggesting it’s more like 0.39″, which would give you a result of 9.9mm. That’s still incredible whichever way you look at it. It’s super lightweight as well. At 1.96lbs or 0.89KG, it’s easy to carry around with you in almost any backpack, bag and even some purses.
While Acer spent quite a significant amount of effort in reducing the size and weight of the Swift 7, the overall design could have done with a few extra tweaks here and there. The matte black finish is adequate enough, but it lacks any kind of charisma or standout feature that would make it easily recognisable. If you were to spot one randomly lying around the office, you’d easily mistake it for just another notepad (not the tech kind). Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been the strongest proponent for all minimalist designs, but the Swift 7 here just looks like a matte black rectangle with the chrome Acer logo on it.
There is one great feature about this plain look that did impress me. It’s lack of visibility only made it all the more impressive. For many laptops, the design of the hinges can often make or break the overall flow of the design. The hinge is so beautifully hidden on the Swift 7 that you won’t notice it unless you flip it upside down to actually look for it. Other than that, it simply isn’t visible. There would’ve been little to no point in designing the world’s thinnest laptop only for it to have a bulging hinge or a floating screen as a result of a protrusion, but the design team have really done well here. This is one of the key improvements of the Swift 7 over its 2018 variant.
When it comes to robustness, Acer has improved things quite significantly as well. The Swift 7 features a magnesium and lithium body, which been reinforced to provide additional strength to reduce the amount of flex on the unit. The rigidity of the device also extends to its screen, which will be discussed below. Overall, while the design lacks some flair, it more than makes up for it in terms of functionality, build and efficiency.
Keyboard and Touchpad
I’ve always had the urge to just leave this section blank. Return readers would’ve already picked up my disdain for the onboard touchpad on almost all laptops I’ve reviewed previously. Unfortunately, the Swift 7 doesn’t do anything to change my mind in this regard. In fact, it goes in the opposite direction. While the movement is fairly accurate for the most part, the gestures and touch sensitivity was appalling. For many users, double tapping the touchpad is an easier way to optimise your activity, using the physical buttons only for the right-click. Unfortunately, the touchpad here doesn’t always pick up the double tap with gestures such as the two-finger swipe to scroll also failing more often than not. This could be as a result of the lengthened touchpad, which stretches across half the bottom of the keyboard. I’m glad I switched to using a Bluetooth mouse on all my devices a year or two ago, which at least allowed me to use the Swift 7 without the need to plug it in via a USB cable.
In terms of the keyboard, it wasn’t great either. While the keys are great and comfortable to press, the spacing was a little off for my liking. Coupled with this the poorly designed button configuration left me scratching my head. Unlike switching from the touchpad to a mouse, it isn’t as easy to get away with a poorly designed keyboard. On more than one occasion I made the mistake of reaching for the backspace key, only to hit the delete. This happened on quite often and for various other buttons as well. Usually, at the end of a two to three-week review period I would become accustomed enough with the design that I would get over such challenges, but that did not happen in this case.
Screen and Display
Another of the major changes on the 2019 version of that of its predecessor is the screen. For starters, Acer has increased the size from 13.3″ to a more reasonable 14″ panel. Not only do you get a larger viewing area, the design team has reduced the bezels around the edges as well, to give it the ultimate premium look. As has been the drive for every smartphone manufacturer to boast the best screen-to-body ratios, laptops are following suit. The Swift 7 may not be the best in the business for this feature, but it’s still quite impressive with its 92% ratio. It was only beaten by the Asus ZenBook S13 mere hours after it was announced.
A notable omission on the screen is the webcam. In order to maximise the screen while keeping the bezel to a minimum, the webcam has been moved to a small pop-up button above the keyboard. It’s not the best-looking inclusion and nor is it the most practical to use, as you’ll have to adjust the laptop a specific distance away from your face in order to use it effectively. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t make use of the webcam, like myself, then it’s a handy substitute to having it fitted to the screen with no real purpose. In addition to this, there is a sense of security in the camera been tucked away, especially with the recent indications of spying from the likes of Facebook and others out there.
The screen is protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 6, which is on par with most smartphone screen in 2019. This is a great addition, as you have some peace of mind knowing that the device won’t shatter from the slightest of drops.
In terms of the display, the Swift 7 features a 1080p resolution with touchscreen capabilities. Due to its 14″ size, it’s not the greatest of experiences using the touchscreen, but it’s accurate enough to pick up your selections without fuss. I can’t recall during my time testing the touchscreen capabilities whether I accidentally clicked on incorrect links or buttons as a result of the size, but that in itself is a testament to its accuracy.
Performance and Battery Life
If there’s one area of the Swift 7 that has me concerned, it comes in the form of the CPU. Acer has fitted the 8th-generation, Intel® Core™ i7-8500Y. The Y-series version of the 8th-gen chipset is known to be down on clockspeed by about half (1.5GHz in this case), opting to save on power and cost over outright performance. And that’s exactly the case here. A few benchmark tests on the computational power is indicative of these predispositions. Acer has taken this step to reduce overall heat within the laptop’s casing, as there are no internal fans to perform this function, due to the team pushing the envelope with the slim design. The question one has to ask is whether you can sacrifice overall power in order to reduce size to such extremes. A question of preference in the end.
Where the Swift 7 makes up some ground with the remaining specifications – 8GB RAM and 512GB NVMe SSD. As a result of these additions, the unit is still very usable for daily tasks and the likes. Throwing multi-tasking into the works and it’s still quite impressive with only a few delays here and there. For the daily run-of-the-mill tasks, you wouldn’t notice any variations in performance over most other laptops. Switching to the heavier of tasks, such as editing, conversions and the likes, then you’ll notice the difference in the time it takes to complete.
As mentioned previously, the Y-series improves on battery life and power consumption over the more powerful U-series CPUs. As a result, the battery life on the Swift 7 is good. On more than one occasion I was able to eke out around 12 hours of battery life, and settled around the 9 to 10-hour mark on average. Not a bad return for a device that’s the main objective is to keep the weight and size down.
Upon unboxing the Acer Swift 7, it’s all smiles as you witness the diminutive size and weight of the unit. It may not have the best of designs in terms of aesthetics but it more than makes up for it with the finer details users don’t often notice until it’s bad. The slim frame and minimal bezel on the screen also add to the appeal. It’s not the workhorse unit you’d want if you’re a video or image editor, so it would be best advised to look elsewhere if that’s the case.
Acer Swift 7
If you're looking for something that's more than able to perform daily functions while still being ultra-portable, then the Swift 7 is definitely the device you would want to have in your bag.