Acer Swift 5 review: Astonishingly light with amazing battery life
Quick verdict: The Acer Swift 5 delivers exceptional battery endurance in a lightweight frame, making it a great option for those who need to work on the go.
- Amazing battery life
- Low weight
- Good keyboard
- Antimicrobial covering
- Limited ports
- Proprietary charger
- Fingerprint sensor isn't in the power button
Design: Lightweight and stylish with an antimicrobial coating
The Acer Swift 5, like the recently reviewed Acer Swift 3x, is a thin and light ultraportable laptop, wrapped in a magnesium/aluminium alloy. This allows it to be remarkably light, and it joins the growing family of sub-1kg ultraportables you can buy.
Closed, you're faced with either a "Mist Green" dark chassis or a considerably brighter "Safari Gold" finish. The Mist Green as reviewed features a gold rear hinge with SWIFT embossed on it, presumably for those times when you forget which model of laptop you purchased.
Open the Acer Swift 5 up and you get a professional-looking keyboard layout that takes up much of the lower frame, sitting beneath a 14-inch FHD (1920x1080) touchscreen display.
Acer's claim for the Swift 5 is that there is a silver solution embedded in the screen, keyboard, fingerprint reader and chassis. This isn't for bling, but instead to act as an anti-microbial layer.
That's a very interesting claim to make in the current climate. It's not one that I could test outside of lab conditions or perhaps getting random people to come lick the Acer Swift 5 and see how their health fared.
There are many things I'm willing to do in the name of laptop reviewing, but that is 100% not something I'm willing to do because – yuck.
I'm not going there, and whether you'd be able to make a claim against Acer if you did get sick after touching a dirty Swift 5 is also up for debate. How would you prove it?
The light frame of the Acer Swift 5 makes it an eminently portable machine. However, like the very similar Acer Swift 3X, its lightweight construction also gives me pause for thought around its ongoing durability.
The Swift 5's keyboard was capable of keeping up with my rapid-fire typing throughout testing. The one area of the keyboard where I did struggle somewhat was the cursor keys. Acer's taken the path of shrinking the cursor keys down, making them rather cramped. If they're important to your workflow, that could present a significant usage challenge.
Biometric unlocking works via an integrated fingerprint sensor. The sensor is located beneath the cursor keys in a flat stripe. That isn't my optimal, given so many competitor devices combine it with the power button for near-instant-on-and-unlock functionality.
The Swift 5 places most of its connection ports on the left-hand side, including a pin-sized power socket as well as HDMI, USB-A and USB-C ports. On the right, you'll find a single USB-A port, headphone jack and Kensington-type laptop lock. That's not the widest array you'll see on an ultraportable, so you may need to budget for a USB-C hub (https://www.finder.com.au/usb-c-hubs) if you buy the Acer Swift 5.
Performance: Core i7 model delivers solid application performance, but Iris Xe GPU isn't fancy
As with so many laptops, there's not just the one Acer Swift 5. There are a variety of configurations on offer depending on how much you want to spend.
The model supplied for review was the top-of-the-line variant featuring an Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB integrated SSD, priced at $2,399.
You can scale down the power capabilities depending on the model you buy, all the way down to a $1,699 variant with a Core i5-1135G7 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD. Be careful to check the specifications of the model you buy before handing over your money to ensure you're getting what you expect.
That 11th gen Core i7 and 16GB RAM combination gives the Acer Swift 5 plenty of room for good application performance. Here's how it compares across a range of industry benchmarks:
Among ultraportables, the Swift 5 really does live up to its name, just outpacing competitor options in a benchmark sense.
However, it's worth keeping those numbers in perspective. It's a very good option if your needs are for more regular productivity tasks – Microsoft Office, web browsing and the like. While it scores well comparatively on the graphics front against other lightweight laptops, the integrated Intel Iris Xe isn't going to give you stellar results for graphics tasks.
Battery: Superb battery endurance for everyday tasks
The Acer Swift 5 is a thin and light laptop, and that's a combination that is nearly always calamitous for overall battery life. Batteries are by their nature heavy.
This is an area where the Acer Swift 5 impressed me a great deal. While your usage of any laptop will by definition impact its battery endurance, to give a comparative measure of laptops we run them through 2 distinct tests.
A simple video looping test with a 1080p video full-screen at maximum brightness gives us a best-use-case battery figure. Then PCMark 10's Gaming Battery benchmark gives us a worst-case scenario.
What you want is nice high numbers in both tests. The Acer Swift 5 impressed on one score. Here's how it compared against a range of portable laptop systems:
The Acer Swift 5 didn't simply best its competition in the video streaming test. It delivered the largest figure we've seen out of any laptop in this test, period.
That does have to be counterbalanced against its gaming battery benchmark figure, where it tumbled down to the lowest figure of any of these comparable laptops.
I've seen worse figures in this case, mostly with high-end gaming laptops that are never designed to be away from power.
What that contrast means in practical terms is that if your usage is modest – document processing, web browsing and a little light video – then the Acer Swift 5 should amply deliver to your needs.
However, if you need a higher-end video or graphics processing machine, it's a less appealing option.
The downside to the Acer Swift 5's battery story comes from its charger, which uses a proprietary and very thin charging plug. Given its ultraportable status, it doesn't take too much imagination to see it breaking over time.
The good news here is that you can charge the Acer Swift 5 via USB-C. Like many laptops, you have to pick your charger carefully. With a mobile charger, I could get the Swift 5 to say it was charging, but drop power over time, whereas a dedicated PD charger actually added electrons over time. It's baffling why Acer didn't drop a second USB-C port onto the Swift for specific charging all the time.
Should you buy it?
- Buy it if you need excellent battery endurance in a lightweight laptop.
- Don't buy it if you need heavy-duty graphics performance.
The prime reason to buy an ultraportable laptop is for the mix of portability, performance and battery power. The Acer Swift 5 ticks all 3 boxes rather well, and while the model tested is the most expensive of the batch, there's little reason to think that the lower-end models shouldn't at least hit the weight and battery-life marks of the i7 model, if not in fact exceed them.
Pricing and availability
How we tested
The Acer Swift 5 was tested over a 3-week period including benchmarking, day-to-day usage for performance and gaming tasks, and for writing this review to more fully evaluate its keyboard.