Acer Swift 5 (SF514-54T) full review

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The premium laptop market is very competitive but can Acer tempt you with the world's lightest 14in laptop. It's got a lot going for it at a reasonable price, even if there are a couple of downsides.

Overall, the Swift has a lot going for it, offering a well-balanced set of features. Namely a lightweight design with small bezels along with powerful core specs and useful ports. It comes with 10th-gen Intel processors and even the option for dedicated Nvidia graphics.  

The Swift 5 won our Best in Show award at IFA 2019. Find out what else won awards.

Price & Availability

The latest version of the Swift 5 (model number SF514-54T) is now available with prices starting at £899 with the same figure in Euros and US dollars - albeit with more storage in the US.

As we expected when the laptop was first announced, that entry-level prices get you an Intel Core i5 with on-board graphics.

You can then jump to a Core i7 model at £1,099, also with an on-board GPU or splash out on a Swift 5 with an Nvidia GeForce MX250 dedicated graphics cards (SF514-54GT). This version is £1,149 unless you want more than 512GB storage.

You can buy these laptops from Currys PC World, Laptops Direct or Acer in the UK and Amazon in the US.

At these prices, it's mainly in competition with the HP Envy 13 and Dell XPS 13 but also the Huawei MateBook 13 and Asus ZenBook 14. Check out our chart of the best laptops.

Acer Swift 5 (2019) laptop

Design & Build

We all want a laptop to be compact and portable and the Swift 5 fits the bill perfectly.

It's 14.95mm thin and weighs just 990g so it's not going to feel like carrying around a brick when it's in your bag. In fact, it feels like picking up something much lighter than you're average laptop. The model without an Nvidia graphics card is even lighter.

Acer Swift 5 (2019) design

Acer has made it out of magnesium-lithium and magnesium-aluminium. It's feels closer to plastic than metal to touch but also feels fairly premium with a nice finish. We like the blue colour with gold highlights which is the most easily found option but it also comes in white.

The overall footprint is also very small due to tiny bezels around the screen. They're 3.97mm thick so the Swift 5 looks slick and modern. Overall, the screen-to-body ratio is a very imressive 86.4%.

Like the Dell XPS 13, the webcam is located above the screen avoiding the awkward view that comes from having it below or even in a pop-up key which is what Huawei has done on some models.

Keyboard & Trackpad

The keyboard has a reasonable typing experince but we do prefer what's on offer elsewhere. The Swift 5 keys are somewhat snappy but feel a little stiff and there's not enough travel to get a nice flow. We didn't find ourselves making too many errors, it just doesn't have the best feeling.

Acer Swift 5 (2019) keyboard

The backlight has two levels of brightness which is handy and the row of function keys the top are useful for doing various things quickly. As with many laptops, some keys are very small but more so here than we're used to. All the arrow keys are half size becuase page up and down are squeezed in here for starters.

Look around the keyboard and others are small, too, such as shift, caps lock and the entire top row.

The trackpad isn't huge, but does the job well with a good palm rejection and is very quick and responsive in use. We found it easy for basics as well as the various gestures you can use in Windows 10.

Specs & Performance

Acer has equipped the Swift 5 with some powerful specs starting with 10th-gen Intel processors. You'll be able to choose up to Core i7- 1065G7 and up to 1TB of SSD storage and the model we looked at had 8GB of RAM.

Acer Swift 5 (2019) screen

The '54GT' model has a dedicated graphics in the form of an Nvidia MX250. This can also be found in rivals like the Huawei MateBook 14, making it powerful enough for things like gaming and video editing on-the-go, so look for that if you need more power.

We tested the entry-level Core i5-1035G1 model with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. As you can see, the Swift 5 offers decent performance and althoug these rival score are 8th-gen chips, they are Core i7 models. It's only beaten in 3D Mark by laptops with an Nvidia graphics card.

The spanner in the works here is that the HP Envy 13 comes with the MX250 GPU as standard at the same £899 price making it a bargain in comparison.

The screen is 14in and offers a Full HD resolution and uses an IPS panel for good viewing angles. It's reasonably colourful with ok contrast and non-reflective a matte finish. At a maximum of 243cd/m2, the screen isn't as bright compared to rivals but it's enough to get you by.

You'l also get a touchscreen regardless of the the model you choose and we found it nicely responsive and the display will be suitable for the average user.

Acer Swift 5 (2019) ports

Despite being pretty thin, Acer has managed to pack in various ports. While many rivals don't offer much more than USB-C (or sometimes just that), the Swift 5 includes full-size HDMI and USB-A.

There's also support for Thunderbolt 3 via the USB-C (3.1) port and a fingerprint scanner so you can quickly log in with Windows Hello.

The Swift 5 has Wi-Fi 6 (the up and coming 11ax) standard.

Battery life

When it comes to battery life, Acer says you'll get 12.5 hours from the laptop. In our usuual HD video loop test at 120cd/m2 brightness the Swift 5 lasted a total of 11 hours and 25 minutes. A pretty solid result even if it is a little way off Acer's figure.

That's ahead of the HP Envy 13, on par with the Dell XPS 13 and behind the Asus ZenBook S13.

Fast charging means you'll get 4.5 hours usage from just a 30 min charge. We found it managed to get to 25% in that time which isn't too bad but doesn't translate to the quoted battery life in our test. The charger is the barrel style so doesn't take up the USB-C port which is nice.

Verdict

The Swift 5 is a laptop with a really nice balance of design, specs and price. It's particuarly thin and light making it great for those who are always on the go - you will barely notice it in your bag.

Despite being so compact, you get an abnormally decent array of ports including HDMI and full-size USB making it useful if you don't like the idea of being tied to USB-C and adapters.

At the entry-level you get a reasonable set of specs and performance of the 10th-gen Intel Core i5 is decent enough. Battery life is solid, too. However, there's no dedicated graphics card here without spending more. Normally that's expected, but the HP Envy 13 has one for the same price.

The Swift 5's screen isn't quite as good as rivals and nor is the keyboard so it's not all good news here.

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