Review

Acer Swift 5 review: Green and gold laptops are my new favorite

Acer's Swift 5 series is one that I've really come to enjoy. While it's made out of a magnesium alloy, it doesn't look or feel cheap like we see from its competition. The last one I reviewed came in this pretty blue chassis with gold accents. The new one that Acer sent me has the same gold accents, but the color is called Mist Green.

It's beautiful. In fact, green and gold is one of my favorite color combinations for products. Seeing it on a laptop like this made me fall in love with it at first sight. It's quite nice.

But that's not all, because there's actually a ton of value here. For just $1,299.99, this unit comes with an Intel Core i7-1165G7, 16GB RAM, a 1TB SSD, a 14-inch FHD display, and it weighs in at just 2.31 pounds, thanks to the magnesium chassis.

Specs

CPU Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor (12 MB Smart Cache, 2.8 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.7 GHz, DDR4 or LPDDR4x, Intel Iris Xe Graphics)
Graphics Intel Iris Xe Graphics, supporting OpenGL 4.5, OpenCL 2.2, Microsoft DirectX® 12
Display 14.0" display with IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology, Full HD 1920 x 1080, high brightness (340 nits) Acer CineCrystal LED-backlit TFT LCD, supporting multi-touch 16:9 aspect ratio, color gamut sRGB 100%, Wide viewing angle up to 170 degrees Mercury free, environment friendly
Body 12.56x8.15x0.59in (318.9x206.98x14.95mm), 2.31lbs (1.05kg)
Ports (1) Thunderbolt 4
(2) USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
(1) HDMI 2.0
(1) 3.5mm audio
(1) Power
Memory 16GB of onboard LPDDR4X Dual-channel SDRAM (Note: Memory Speed: 4266)
Storage 1TB NVMe SSD
Battery 56Wh 4-cell/3-cell Li-ion battery, 65W AC adapter
Input

TouchPad: Multi-gesture touchpad, supporting two-finger scroll; pinch; gestures to open Cortana, Action Center, multitasking; application commands

Microsoft Precision Touchpad certification

Keyboard: 83-/84-/87-key full-size FineTip backlit keyboard with international language support

Audio
  • DTS Audio, featuring optimized bass response and micro-speaker distortion prevention
  • Two built-in front facing stereo speakers at any display modes by smart amplifier
  • Acer Purified.Voice technology with dual built-in microphones.
  • Features include far-field pickup, keystroke suppression, adaptive beam forming, and pre-defined personal and conference call modes.
  • Compatible with Cortana with Voice
  • Acer TrueHarmony technology for lower distortion, wider frequency range, headphone-like audio and powerful sound
Webcam

Video conferencing HD webcam with:

  • 1280 x 720 resolution
  • 720p HD audio/video recording
  • Super high dynamic range imaging (SHDR)
Connectivity
  • Intel Wireless Wi-Fi 6 AX201
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n+acR2+ax wireless LAN
  • Dual Band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)
  • 2x2 MU-MIMO technology
  • Supports Bluetooth 5.1
Color Mist Green
Material Magnesium-lithium and magnesium-aluminum
OS Windows 10 Home
Price $1,299.99


Day one

Design

I really love some of the things that Acer does with design. For example, its ConceptD 3 Ezel creator laptop has a minimal yet unique design that I totally loved. But just like that navy blue Swift 5 that I reviewed last time, I really love that Acer works with colors. So many magnesium alloy laptops that I review come in this boring gunmetal gray, and they look and feel cheap. The Swift 5 looks premium.

Green and gold Acer Swift 5 closed on wooden background

The Mist Green laptop comes with gold accents, with the shiniest part being the branding, of course. The whole thing weighs in at just 2.31 pounds, being made out of magnesium-lithium and magnesium-aluminum. That's about as light as it gets if you're sticking with a full-powered ultrabook processor.

Green and gold Acer Swift 5 closed from back showing hinge

The gold accents are a matte color on the hinge, which also comes with Swift branding. Note that this is, more or less, Acer's flagship ultrabook. There's also the Swift 7, and while that's thinner and lighter, it had a Y-series processor and hasn't been refreshed since the one I reviewed in 2019.

Green and gold Acer Swift 5 closed from right side showing USB port and audio jack

On the right side, you'll find a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port and a 3.5mm audio jack. Yes, USB 3.2 Gen 1 gets 5Gbps data transfer speeds, rather than the twice-as-fast USB 3.2 Gen 2, which is becoming more popular in modern laptops.

Green and gold Acer Swift 5 closed from left side showing two USB ports and HDMI

On the left side of the Swift 5, you'll find a power port, HDMI 2.0, another USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, and a Thunderbolt 4 port. While it does have a barrel charging port and comes with a barrel charger, you don't have to use it. I sure didn't. I charged via USB Type-C, and the charger that came in the box is still in the box.

Thunderbolt 4 is the same as the full spec of Thunderbolt 3, so it's really about knowing what you're getting. Thunderbolt 3 was a mess, because it wasn't clear if you were getting the 20Gbps base spec or the 40Gbps full spec. With Thunderbolt 4, you can connect one port to dual 4K monitors, an external GPU, and more. And I used it for all of that.

I do love the design of this laptop. The actual chassis isn't all that different than the one from last year, although this one is just a bit heavier than that 2.18-pound model. It mostly feels like a different color scheme, and like I said, I love green and gold as a combination. Acer does make a white one if you like that better.

Display and audio

While the Swift 5 has a 14-inch FHD touchscreen like its predecessor, this is a totally different panel. It's 340 nits now instead of 300-nit, and the previous model had a matte display. This is covered in glass from edge to edge. It now supports a 170-degree viewing angle too. It's a really nice display that I enjoyed using, with accurate colors and no noticeable pixelation.

Angled view of Acer Swift 5 display

The bezels are about the same size as we saw last year, which is no surprise given that the dimensions of the PC are nearly identical. But like I said, it's all one sheet of glass now, so it feels like they stand out even less.

Acer Swift 5 display showing narrow bezels

While the webcam is located in the top bezel, the bad news is that there's no IR camera. If you want biometric authentication, you'll have to use the fingerprint sensor.

Bottom view of Acer Swift 5 showing speaker

Honestly, the lack of an IR camera and the audio quality are my two main complaints with this laptop. The speakers are located on the bottom, as you'd expect. They get loud enough to listen to music or watch streaming media at your desk, but setting it to 100% isn't going to make your ears uncomfortable or anything. They're also just a bit tinny; it's not too bad or anything, but I've heard much better audio with better bass levels on other laptops lately.

Keyboard and touchpad

The keyboard uses Acer's usual Chiclet-style keys, and of course, it's backlit. It's good enough, not really standing out in any way but also getting the job done. It's not nearly as shallow as the one that you'd find on the Swift 7, and as I mentioned earlier, the Swift 7 is designed in a certain way to be particularly thin and light, making compromises to get there. That's why I consider the Swift 5 to be the flagship.

Top-down view of the keyboard and touchpad on Acer Swift 5

I'd like it if the keyboard was a bit quiet like some of the ones I've used on Lenovo ThinkPads and HP's EliteBooks. On the whole, the keyboard is decidedly average.

Top-down view of fingerprint sensor on Acer Swift 5

It has the same rectangular fingerprint sensor to the bottom-right of the keyboard that I've come to expect from Acer. Personally, I'd prefer an IR camera since I think that facial recognition is just more natural when it comes to laptops, but if there's no IR camera, then there better be a fingerprint sensor.

Top-down view of Acer Swift 5 touchpad

Naturally, the Acer Swift 5 uses a Microsoft Precision touchpad, meaning that it's fast, responsive, and supports all of the gestures that you're used to. It also uses most of the real estate that's available, so that's always nice. When it comes to touchpads, I say the bigger, the better, so I hate to see wasted real estate on the keyboard deck.

Performance and battery life

The new Swift 5 is Intel Evo certified, and Evo is the newest iteration of what was previously called Project Athena. It's essentially a list of specs that Intel thinks makes up a modern laptop, such as battery life, connectivity, thin and light, instant wake, and so on. One thing you need for Evo is to use Intel 11th-generation processors, codenamed Tiger Lake.

Angled view of Acer Swift 5, on top of wood with snow in the background

This model uses a Core i7-1165G7. Tiger Lake is the second generation of Intel using its 10nm process, and Intel once again doubled down on integrated graphics. While the previous generation packed the more powerful Iris Plus Graphics, this has Iris Xe, with Intel promising that you can do things like FHD gaming without the need of a dedicated GPU, and it delivers.

The performance with Intel Tiger Lake is phenomenal, and it all feels so wild to me, having reviewed laptops for a few years. Intel Evo laptops can do things that I wouldn't have considered without a dedicated GPU just two years ago. And to see stuff like FHD gaming and video editing in a 2.31-pound laptop is just wild.

Plus, it comes with Thunderbolt 4, so you can turn this into a full desktop rig if you want. You can plug in a dock with dual 4K monitors, or you can plug in an external GPU for even more powerful. And given the nature of a single-cable solution, you can just unplug it and throw it in a bag to take it on the go.

Battery life is pretty decent. It gets a solid seven hours of regular use, and that's with the screen at 33% brightness and the power slider at one notch above battery saver. I kind of expected more from this, as it does have a nice big 56Wh battery and it doesn't have a bunch of powerful components sucking down power. Note that regular use includes some light Photoshop, web browsing, working through the Edge browser, OneNote, Slack, Skype, and some other productivity apps.

I also need to point out that once again, Acer is shipping this thing with a ton of bloatware, and I spent a fair amount of time uninstalling apps like Norton, Firefox, and more from the Swift 5. Acer, by far, installs more bloatware than any other OEM that I review. What's even more frustrating is getting apps that are competing with inbox apps, like Firefox. For most companies, the only bloatware is antivirus, but Acer takes it to a level that other OEMs left behind years ago.

For benchmarks, I used PCMark 8 and PCMark 10.

Acer Swift 5
Core i7-1165G7
Acer Swift 5
Core i7-1065G7
Dell XPS 13
Core i7-10710U
Acer Aspire 5
Ryzen 7 4700U
PCMark 8: Home 4,406 3,671 3,501 3,702
PCMark 8: Creative 4,975 4,035 3,966 4,228
PCMark 8: Work 4,056 3,781 3,342 3,689
PCMark 10 5,001 4,332 4,314 4,718


As you can see, Intel's latest Core i7 beat both of the 10th-gen models (Ice Lake and Comet Lake), and it even beat out the 7nm AMD Ryzen 7 4700U that was in the Aspire 5. If you're keeping score between Intel and AMD, it's absolutely worth noting that Ryzen 5000 is coming. The competition between Intel and AMD is probably going to be one of those back and forth things, which is definitely good for consumers.

Conclusion

Oh, and did I mention that this thing has 16GB RAM and 1TB of storage? Right, it's a beautiful 2.31-pound laptop with lots of RAM, lots of storage, and a 14-inch FHD display for $1,299. That price tag kind of speaks for itself, because there's a ton of value here.

Front view of Acer Swift 5, on top of wood with a tree in the background

Most of my complaints here are super-minor. One is that there's no IR camera, and while that's something that I'll always bring up, it's also something that we really only use once per session unless apps are using it for authentication. The other is that I'd like audio to be better, and that's probably my only real issue.

And of course, Acer has to stop with the bloatware. It's out of control, and in fact, I've spoken with a number of people from Acer that agree. As I mentioned above, other companies have left this method of subsidizing PC costs behind years ago.

But this is a wonderful PC. I really love the stylish package that it comes in, and just how easy it is to carry around. Seriously, when you put this thing in your bag, you might have to double-check that it's there. At $1,299, the Acer Swift 5 is totally a buy.

If you want to check it out, you can find it here.

 

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