Acer Swift 3 SF313-51 Review
Acer Swift 3 SF313-51 detailed review
Of course we have heard of laptops with mobile internet connection feature in the past. It’s not uncommon to see a SIM card slot next to a Lenovo ThinkPad, Dell Latitude, or any other high-end enterprise-grade laptop line. However, we rarely see them originating in India. This is partly because everyone gets their work done by connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot network built into their mobile phone or portable router. Acer thinks it could do better. It believes that even everyday consumer laptops may have 4G LTE connectivity features. Enter the new Acer Swift 3.
The review unit we received was the Acer Swift SF313-51. It was powered by an Intel 8th Gen Core i5 with 8GB RAM. Storage was taken care of by Kingston 256GB PCIe NVMe solid-state drive. Rendering graphics was taken care of by an internal Intel UHD 620 graphics card. Windows 10 Home has integrated the device with Symantec’s Norton Security Ultra. According to Acer, this model is priced between Rs 53,990 and Rs 58,990 in the market. Let’s see how Acer Swift 3 did in our review.
Construction and design
According to the renowned Taiwanese PC maker, the body of the Swift 3 is made of aluminum. The laptop’s metallic silver chassis is fairly strong and easy to hold. There are no sharp corners on the top cover and it’s easy to slide the laptop into a loaded backpack. In comparison, the new Apple MacBook Air with Retina Display feels more slippery in the hands. The power brick of the laptop is compact and light for easy storage.
Beautiful, clean look
All it takes is one finger push to open the display from zero to a comfortable 180 degrees. When pushed and pulled with one hand, the display unit reveals the slightest sign of flex. Some flex, the keyboard is observed on the island when the keys are tapped tightly. The bezels around the screen are quite thin and give the laptop’s display area a contemporary look. Although the small key and quick-reading fingerprint scanner are dark gray, the area around the keyboard matches the rest of the laptop.
Fingerprint scanner works well
The only and only silver color option available in the laptop, the Acer Swift 3 finally looks plain Zen but in a positive way. This is the equivalent of a quiet, well-maintained medium-sized saloon that travels to your local GP. It does not cause tension or disappear when placed between other models. That said, I want the Swift 3 to come in more colors. This will give the country’s startup community something more to choose from.
Display, audio and IoT
The Swift 3 has a 13.3-inch IPS LCD screen with a full HD resolution. The content on the non-touchscreen display looks crisp and clear, partly due to the matte, non-glare finish. This ensures that the documents are perfectly readable even if the laptop is used under bright lights in the office. The maximum viewing angle goes up to about 180 degrees vertically and horizontally. The colors on the display also seem to be quite perfect, the backlighting doesn’t wash out any of it even in the highest setting.
According to our test kit, the display is capable of reproducing 95 percent of the color in the sRGB color space and 74 percent of the color in the Adobe RGB color space, which is not bad for the laptop’s asking price. By comparison, the VivoBook S14’s display is capable of reproducing 93 percent color in sRGB color space and 72 percent color in Adobe RGB color space, which is not far behind. In short, the crisp, colorful display is easily one of the best features of the Swift 3.
95 percent sRGB, 74 percent Adobe RGB
The sound from the laptop’s two down-firing speakers is irresistible. At most, the volume is enough to fill a small two-seater office cubicle. Songs like The Weeknd’s Starboy are majestic across low, medium and high frequencies. These speakers are best reserved for error and warning sound from Windows. If you care about the audio quality from your laptop, consider getting the right portable speaker.
Down-firing speakers are small and irresistible
The Swift 3 comes with a nice array of usable ports. On the left, we see a proprietary round-pin power port, USB-A 2.0 port, a 3.5mm audio jack for the headset, and a card tray. The tray, which requires a SIM card ejector tool to access, has a microSD card and a cut-out to accommodate a Nano SIM card. On the right, we see a USB-A 3.0 slot that can power a USB device even when the laptop is off, a full-size HDMI port, a USB-C 3.0 port and a Kensington lock slot.
You don’t see a SIM tray on a laptop every day
Keyboard and touchpad
The keyboard is probably the weakest component of the Swift 3. Keycaps are too small for a laptop of its size, which often leads to the wrong type and pressure on the fingertips. The cool white backlighting, which has no level, shuts off after a few seconds if no key is pressed. If your eyes are fixed on the screen and you try to focus on the hand work, it can be a constant source of confusion. I hope the power button is not placed next to the delete key because pressing the wrong key can cause unintentional sleep and hibernation. On the plus side, the keys have a decent amount of travel and resistance.
Good perfect touchpad
On most laptops, the function keys (F1 – F12) can be reprogrammed to work directly through the combined use of the Fn key using a simple switch function found in the system BIOS. Sadly, this switch from the Swift 3 affects more than just the function keys. It reverses the functionality of other dual-function keys, such as delete / insert, home / page up and end / page down. While this type of setup can be easy to wire for Acer, it can ruin the typing experience for power users. This keyboard is not for users who type a lot.
The power button is very close to the delete key
The Swift 3’s touchpad is a perfect unit, meaning multi-finger taps and swipes can be done without installing any third party drivers or utilities. Windows 10 allows you to reprogram these functions in settings. It’s fairly easy to click two mouse buttons on the bottom of the touchpad surface. The surface area of the touchpad is also sufficient for daily use.
Performance and gaming
The Acer Swift 3 does not come with Intel’s 8th Gen Whiskey Lake CPU refresh. Instead, it gets old Cabbage Lake and chips. The review unit was powered by an Intel Core i5-8250U processor with 8GB of DDR4 RAM. Storage was taken care of by Kingston 25GB PCIe NVMe solid-state drive. Rendering graphics was taken care of by an Intel UHD Graphics 620 internal graphics card. Sadly, due to the memory being soldered to the motherboard, you can get 8GB of RAM in the Swift 3. There are no additional RAM slots for future upgrades. There is no 2.5-inch hard drive caddy in sight, so canceling a hard drive attachment.
The performance of the review unit in our CPU benchmark test was irresistible. In PCMark 8’s Accelerated Creative Test, the laptop scored 3371. In comparison, the Asus VivoBook S14 of the same price scored 4516 in the same test. Expensive Asus ZenBook 13 scored 4457 in the same test. In the GPU benchmark test, Acer was caught. In 3DMark’s cloud Gate and Sky Diver, Review Unit 3768 and 3582 won. By comparison, the Asus VivoBook S14 scored 3916 and 3385 in the same two tests, respectively. Read more about VivoBook S14 in our review here.
In everyday situations, the review unit performed as smoothly as I expected. I have been able to comfortably multitask in applications like Chrome, OneNote, File Explorer, Steam, Word, PowerPoint and WhatsApp for PC across multiple virtual desktops. I was able to open the Score tab in Chrome across multiple instances without worrying about any gaps or stuttering. Switching between open windows and desktops also happened without any noticeable gaps or shaking. Good for Swift 3 users who aim to browse, edit documents, work in spreadsheets, and play music and videos.
Gaming on the Swift 3 was obviously a strained experience. The Doom Ultra runs at an average of 11 frames per second in Full HD, which was unplayable. Lowering the setting brings the average frame rate to 14 and makes the game more playable. Metro: Last Light runs at very high altitudes in Full HD at an average frame rate of 10 frames per second. At such a frame rate, the game was a little more playable than Doom. Turning the setting down raises the average frame rate to 14 and makes the game a little more playable. In short, the Swift 3 could take on less demanding titles with some effort, such as Ori and Blind Forest and Portal. But it cannot be taken seriously for playing games.
4G LTE connection
This is a category we don’t get a chance to include in most of our laptop reviews. You need to give an idea of how many laptops come with such features. The “-51” variant of the Swift 3 comes with built-in 4G LTE connectivity, which allows the laptop to be disconnected from the Wi-Fi network when set up. Users with an active data plan should theoretically be able to use their laptops on the go without relying on hotspot networks or coffee shops that offer free Wi-Fi. In reality, things were a little different. To begin with, we found a unit that had no cut-outs for the Nano SIM card in the SIM tray. We had to send the unit back to replace Acer.
The SIM tray is double as a microSD card reader
Our final review unit came up with a bundle called SIM Tray and Ubigi with the necessary cut-outs for international data services. The trial plan included a SIM card that could be used with laptops. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to connect to the Internet using Ubigi’s bundled kit. However, connecting to a local network provider, such as Jio, was fairly easy. This involves popping up a regular Jio SIM card and clicking on the Wi-Fi icon in the Windows 10 taskbar. Clicking on the cellular icon then allows a new connection profile to be created with the correct access point name. Windows 10 automatically registers the connection as metered to limit data usage. In less than five minutes, we were connected to the Internet.
The bundle Ubigi connection that went nowhere
A local geo connection, but was soon turned on
Swift 3 ships with 3320mAh capacity quad-cell lithium-ion battery. Acer claims that this unit is enough to last the laptop up to 12 hours on a single full charge. In our standard battery benchmark test, the review unit lasted 4 hours, 37 minutes, which is quite a decent figure. By comparison, the same priced Asus VivoBook S14 that we reviewed a few weeks ago lasted 3 hours, 8 minutes on the same test. On the other hand, the expensive Asus ZenBook 13 scored 5 hours, 20 minutes in the same test.
On a daily basis, the review unit lost about 40 percent of its charge in a matter of hours. During battery testing, I was composing, browsing, and playing music via headphones, enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and setting the screen to over 70% brightness. On average, the Acer Swift 3 will not return to battery power for more than four hours. A full charge usually occurs within about an hour and a half. In short, the battery life of the Acer Swift 3 is decent but not long lasting anywhere.
The last row
In a market cluttered with very similar models sold by Asus, HP, Dell, and Lenovo, the slim and light Acer Swift 3 makes a case for itself by offering what others don’t: 4G LTE connectivity. This makes the Swift 3 an ideal choice for those who really want a laptop “on the go” without relying on dongles and hotspot networks. Sadly, the bundled Ubigi Internet service has been dropped due to a problem.
The 4G capability sets the Acer Swift 3 apart
The Acer Swift 3 is a good laptop, though we don’t count its big party tricks. Packaged in a clean, exquisite metal chassis, it has a crisp display that is mostly color-accurate and eye-catching. The Core i5 CPU, though up to date, offers better performance. I just want a more comfortable keyboard, better sound and upgradeable RAM. It’s a laptop otherwise you can’t go wrong.