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    Acer Swift X 14 (2023) review

    Acer’s Swift X range, which offers substantial laptop performance in a more compact 14-inch footprint, has been around for a few years. It was terrific value from the outset, although it went through some growing pains. The new Acer Swift X 14 is a tremendous advance over the previous model, with remarkable CPU oomph, but battery life remains an issue.

    Design & build

    The Acer Swift X 14 does not stick out at first look, but that does not mean it is ugly. The laptop has a plain gunmetal shell with a bit of glitter to it, but its boxy, generic design is uninspiring. If you want your buddies to notice your new computer, don’t buy this laptop.

    Acer Swift X 14

    The Swift X 14’s exterior is made up of a mix of plastic and aluminum, which is passable but not remarkable. The lower part of the laptop is rock-solid when touched, and the display has minimal flex when opened or closed, but the materials utilized lack the thick, substantial feel seen on Apple’s MacBook Pro machines.

    The Swift X 14 is, nevertheless, surprisingly small for a laptop with its features. It’s only 12.9 inches broad and 0.7 inches thick, and at 1.5kg, it’s pretty light for a 14.5in laptop. That’s great news if you want a laptop with strong technology that’s yet small enough to carry in a bag for a quick trip across town.

    Keyboard & trackpad

    For the Swift X 14, Acer includes a large, comfy keyboard. It features a standard layout, with big keys throughout most of the keyboard, albeit the Ctrl and Alt keys on the left side are a little undersized. The keyboard is center-aligned and placed well back in the notebook, leaving plenty of room for your palms.

    Acer Swift X 14
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    The key feel is also excellent, with lengthy travel and a sharp bottoming action. There is still space for improvement in key feel, since the rebound action seems a little hazy to my fingertips, but this is nitpicking. While touch-typing, the keyboard feels wonderful and is really comfy.

    I’m also pleased to report that Acer’s new Swift X 14 addresses a particular niggle I’ve had with other previous Acer laptops: the keyboard is black, rather than silver or grey. A black key finish against a silver or gunmetal chassis creates a premium aesthetic, therefore I’m glad to see Acer make this modification.

    Another advantage is the large touchpad. It’s around five and a half inches wide by three inches deep, with enough of room for Windows 11’s multi-touch gestures. Acer also provides a smooth, elegant, and responsive glass finish that is a joy to use. As with the keyboard, the Swift X 14 does not outperform its competition, but it provides an excellent experience for the price.

    Display & audio

    Every Acer Swift X 14 with Nvidia RTX 4050 graphics has a 14.5-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 OLED display with a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. It’s a fantastic scree that looks wonderful no matter what you put at it.

    The Swift X 14’s display has a high contrast ratio, which is a traditional strength of OLED displays. It has an effectively infinite contrast ratio and can dim to 0 nits of brightness for dark material. It has great detail in dark, murky settings and a great feeling of depth in brighter, more lively ones. This makes it ideal for watching movies, streaming TV, and playing games. This is one of the Acer Swift X 14’s advantages over devices with less contrast-rich IPS LCD panels.

    Acer Swift X 14

    Color performance is also superb, with the panel covering 100% of DCI-P3 and 94% of AdobeRGB. These statistics are normal for an OLED screen in a recent laptop, but they are nonetheless excellent and, in general, outperform the finest IPS LCD laptop displays. Colorful information is vivid, and the color fidelity of the display is enough for picture and video editing.

    However, brightness is a shortcoming, since the display has a peak brightness of 365 nits and a glossy display finish. Even in a brightly lit room or near a sunny window, the display is useable, but glare might be irritating if a light source is directly behind you. HDR can boost this to 522 nits, which, although not as bright as the 700 nits offered from a Mini-LED laptop like the Razer Blade 16, is still significant and packs a punch with HDR material.

    The display’s highest refresh rate of 120Hz, along with OLED’s short pixel reaction times, results in excellent motion clarity in games. Fast-moving objects have good detail, and fast camera pans keep the image from becoming a smudgy jumble. Small, fast-moving lettering or small, detailed objects will still appear hazy, but this is true of all monitors with refresh rates less than 240Hz.

    While the picture is fantastic, the speakers are only adequate. They have a decent maximum volume and are located above the keyboard, so they won’t sound muffled while the laptop is used on your laptop. They do, however, have a limited soundstage and can get muddy when bass enters a track. The speakers are about similar to most 14-inch laptop speakers available today, but fall short of the finest in class.

    Webcam, microphones & biometrics

    The Swift X 14’s narrow top bezel has a 1080p webcam from Acer. It produces a powerful, sharp image with exceptional color reproduction, making it an excellent improvement over any laptop with a 720p camera. It’s not the greatest 1080p camera I’ve used (Lenovo and Apple counterparts are better), but it works well with Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and other video conferencing programs.

    Along with the camera, there is a dual-microphone array. Its performance is less impressive because the audio recordings aren’t the strongest or clearest I’ve heard, but it’s still enough for video and audio conferencing. Your voice will be clearly heard, and most background noises will be muffled, however any that are in the same room as you are likely to be picked up.

    On the Swift X 14, Acer does not support biometric login. This is a small disadvantage, as many of the laptop’s rivals will have a fingerprint reader, face recognition, or both.

    Connectivity

    The Acer Swift X 14 offers a superb blend of current and old connections that outperforms many of its competitors.

    A pair of USB4 / Thunderbolt 4 ports accommodate current accessories and gadgets. Both enable DisplayPort Alternate Mode and provide adequate USB Power Delivery to meet the highest power supply given by the laptop (100W). This implies that both ports may be used to connect to an external display or to power the laptop.

    Acer Swift X 14

    Two USB-A ports, one HDMI port, and one 3.5mm combination headphone/microphone audio jack enable older accessories. There’s also a MicroSD card reader, which is useful if you own a gadget that utilizes them (such as a portable gaming device or camera).

    The position of the ports is the one thing that Acer might improve on. Because the Acer Swift X 14’s ports are located near the center of the laptop rather than at the back, wired connections may appear uncomfortable and take up too much desk space.

    Nonetheless, the Swift X 14 has outstanding connection. Many rivals provide USB4 / Thunderbolt 4, but few couple it with both USB-A and HDMI, and Acer includes MicroSD as a bonus.

    Performance

    The Swift X 14 from Acer isn’t a huge laptop, but it packs a punch. It includes an Intel Core i7-13700H CPU with 14 cores (six performance cores and eight efficiency cores) and Nvidia’s RTX 4050 graphics. A 1TB solid-state drive and 16GB of DDR5 RAM are also standard.

    PCMark 10, a comprehensive system benchmark, gives the Acer Swift X 14 a good start. It scores 6,805, beating out both the Lenovo Slim Pro 7 and, more interestingly, the bigger Dell XPS 15, albeit the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra scores 7,111.

     

    The Acer Swift X 14 scores well again in Cinebench R15, where it competes with other Core i7-13700H laptops. While the Acer did not outperform the average, it is worth noting that the Slim X 14 is smaller in size than the Lenovo Slim Pro 7, therefore its relative performance is outstanding.

    That is still true in Handbrake. While the Acer Swift X 14 behind its Core i7-13700H siblings in this category, it still outperforms the Lenovo Slim Pro 7. That’s an excellent outcome. When I evaluated the Slim 7 Pro, I praised it for its CPU performance, since it outperforms many 13-inch and 14-inch laptops, so it’s great to see the Acer Swift X 14 beat it.

    Now we’ll look at 3D performance, which is where the Nvidia RTX 4050 comes into play. It’s worth noting that Acer’s RTX 4050 implementation has a maximum graphics power of 50 watts, which is on the low side of what’s conceivable (the highest according to Nvidia’s specs is 115 watts).

    Nonetheless, 3DMark Time Spy returns a reassuringly positive score of 5,644. That’s much better than prior Nvidia RTX 3050 laptops and not far behind certain Nvidia RTX 4060 or RTX 4070 laptops. The Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra, which boasts an RTX 4050 with a maximum graphics power of 60 watts, comes out on top.

    Shadow of the Tomb Raider, a game that represents the leading edge of visuals in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One console gaming eras, offers a passable but low average of 73 frames per second at 1080p resolution and Highest detail settings. That’s not awful, but it falls short of laptops with more GPU power.

    I wasn’t expecting much from our overly demanding Metro Exodus benchmark. Even without ray tracing, running the benchmark at 1080p resolution and Extreme quality yields just 26 frames per second. That’s not truly playable, but it’s not far behind other laptops equipped with RTX 4060 and 4070 graphics cards. However, reducing the game to its still-beautiful High detail yields a considerably better average of 56 frames per second.

    I also started Cyberpunk 2077, a very demanding game that continues to be difficult on many machines. The game averaged 53 frames per second at 1080p with Ultra detail and ray tracing turned off, but just 15 frames per second with Ultra ray tracing enabled. However, Nvidia’s DLSS 3 frame generation comes to the rescue, restoring performance to a workable 46 FPS. Of course, that’s not equivalent to a bigger gaming laptop, but it’s a fantastic result for a 14-inch laptop.

    Battery life

    The 76 watt-hour battery in the Acer Swift X 14 appears to be adequate for the job, since it is equivalent in size to the batteries found in Lenovo’s Slim Pro 7, the Dell XPS 13 Plus, and the Apple MacBook Pro 14. Unfortunately, real-world outcomes are inadequate.

    Blame the Nvidia RTX 4050, or more specifically, the way Acer implements it.

    When Nvidia Optimus is utilized to deactivate the GPU when its performance is not required, laptops with Nvidia discrete graphics may achieve exceptional battery life. Lenovo’s Slim 7 Pro is a good example of this. However, because the Acer Swift X 14 does not support Optimus, it continues to drain the battery even when browsing the web or writing in Word.

    The effect on battery life is disastrous. The Acer Swift X 14 doesn’t last more than five hours on our normal battery test, which loops a 4K video of the short film Tears of Steel.

    Verdict

    Acer’s Swift X 14 is a solid choice for anyone looking to purchase a compact, powerful laptop at a reasonable price.

    It provides strong CPU and GPU performance, a spacious solid state drive, excellent OLED display, and even has a pleasant keyboard and touchpad.

    Battery life is the only serious problem, but make no mistake, it’s a significant one.

    Still, the Swift X 14 could be good value if your journey usually take you to a local coffee shop instead of the airport.

    Specs

    • Model: SFX16-61G
    • CPU: Intel Core i7-13700H
    • Memory: 16GB LPDDR5
    • Graphics/GPU: Nvidia RTX 4050
    • Display: 14.5-inch 2,880 x 1,800 OLED non-touch
    • Storage: 1TB PCIe Gen4 SSD
    • Webcam: 1080p
    • Connectivity:  2x Thunderbolt 4 / USB 4 with Power Delivery, DisplayPort Alternate Mode, 2x USB-A, HDMI 2.0, MicroSD card slot, 3.5mm combo audio
    • Networking: WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1
    • Biometrics: None
    • Battery capacity: 76 watt-hours
    • Dimensions: 12.7 x 9 x .7 inches
    • Weight: 1.5kg

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