The Swift 3 is another plank in Acer’s strategy to simplify its range of consumer and business portables. With the Swift 7 firmly placed at the premium end of the line-up, the Swift 5 occupying the mid-range workhorse slot, the Swift 3 represents the entry point for most consumer users.
In the past, ‘entry level’ has meant ‘built like a bargain basement brick’. This is no longer the case – less than £500 will get you an all-metal Swift 3, less than 18mm thick and weighing in at 1.5kg. The chassis itself comes in silver or gold to cater for most tastes and has a quality feel to it. There is some flex to the screen, and I’m not sure how steady it would be in a dynamic environment, such as a train. The keyboard is backlit, with good travel on the keys – it is a pleasure to use with a few provisos. The ‘#’ key is located very close to the ‘Enter’ key, which can be maddening in use until your fingers become accustomed to it. The same applies to the ‘\’ key, which has been pushed close to the left ‘Shift’ key. A slightly strange design decision, as is the placement of the power button beside the ‘Delete’ key (although this seems to be a standard for Acer on the Swift models.)
However, these are minor quibbles about what is a very good keyboard, with impressively little flex on a laptop for the budget conscious.
It is good to see a fingerprint reader on an entry level laptop, and one that supports Windows Hello. Unfortunately, the reader requires a swipe of the finger rather than a single press, but this presents no real hardship in use.
Cable fans are well catered for. The Swift 3 sports a full sized HDMI connnector, 2 USB 3 ports and a USB C port that can double as a charging point as well as data. A proprietary power connector and security lock round out the selection.
The 14 inch HD (1920 x 1080) IPS screen is bright, but lacks the pop and vibrancy of the more premium models in the line-up (the Swift 5 and 7.) The panel itself is not as glossy as other models, which will please some users. The bevel is quite large – certainly when compared to the Swift 5, but again, this does bely the comprises that have been made to reach this price point. Sadly, touch is not supported on this screen, which is a shame.
As with the other models in the Swift range, this is not a gaming rig thanks to the Intel HD 620 graphics (although older or less demanding games will run acceptably.) The 6th generation Core i5-6200U CPU is not Intel’s latest and greatest at the time of writing, but is clocked at 2.3 GHz and gives options over and above the usual office productivity tasks. Certainly, the likes of video encoding are possible on this device, although the fan does become increasingly audible as the CPU load increases. 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD ensures that the Swift 3 makes light work of day to day use.
The battery will last for a claimed 10 hours, and my testing thus far confirms this.
The Swift 3 contains an impressive amount of power at a competitive price point. It is slightly chunkier, and lacks the cutting edge technology of its more expensive brethren, the Swift 5 and 7, but it fulfills its role as an entry level laptop admirably with more than enough power for the majority of day to day tasks in a surprisingly slim package.