Acer Swift X laptop review: Stuck in the middle with you

Acer Swift X featured image with CS:GODexerto

The Acer Swift X is a fairly generic laptop, housing some surprising performance that is helped along the way by Nvidia’s excellent software offering.

The Acer Swift X might not be a gaming laptop, but it is packed with performance specifications that might make it suitable for gaming. Over the course of our testing, we’ve found some disappointing results that make it a bit of a misfire, considering its $1000 price tag, especially when you consider what you’re getting for your cash.

Key specs

  • GPU: RTX 3050 Ti, 4GB GDDR6
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5825U
  • RAM: 16GB LPDDR4X
  • Storage: 1TB NVMe (952.6GB available)
  • Panel: IPS, 1920×1080, 60Hz
  • Where to buy:

Features: 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 (up to 10 Gbps), DisplayPort over USB-C, DC-input 19V/65W, fingerprint lock, HDMI port.

Features

Swift X KeyboardDexerto

To say our fingers hated this keyboard, would be an understatement. A mushy, tactile-lite, and fairly generic keyboard made for unpleasant gaming and typing experiences. Its smooth, cool metal keys do nothing, as the membrane underneath pales in comparison to many other laptop keyboards on the market.

The same goes for the trackpad. Coming from the almighty MacBook Pro trackpad, with its impossible sensitivity and multiple touch gestures, made the Swift X feel antiquated by comparison. There’s clearly a long way to go in order for manufacturers to stand up to Apple’s portable productivity dominance.

Acer’s trackpad might be proportionate to the rest of the laptop, but the issue is that it’s still wildly too small. Our hands are often referred to as ‘baby man hands’, with smaller fingers and palms still feeling cramped while using the laptop.

The cramping continues

It is all accompanied by a less-than-great IPS screen. It never felt bright enough and despite Acer’s claims of being ‘Made for Makers’, the last thing we’d want to do with this laptop is edit video or photos on it.

Windows defaulted the screen to a 150% resize, making everything far too big to read. Once fixed, we still felt that the screen space, 14-inches, was still too little real estate to work with. We believe this was due to the 16:9 aspect ratio, which at this screen size should be either 16:10 or 3:2. Apple, Microsoft, and some Chromebooks often opt for this aspect ratio to offset their small size. Providing a higher vertical on the screen gives smaller laptops more practicality.

Here, the Swift X, despite being advertised for work and play, 16:9 just seems like a huge oversight.

Battery life

Acer Swift X portsDexerto

Over the course of about a week of use, (Typing out reviews, watching YouTube, etc.) we found the battery to be quite generous. While off-charge, the AMD CPU had noticeably worse performance, especially while using software like Davinci Resolve and Photoshop.

However, we were incredibly surprised with how long the battery lasted with day-to-day activities, making us comfortable knowing that it’d last nearly a majority of the work day with constant use.

Of course, once you introduce gaming into this mix, you might as well ignore everything we just said. We managed about an hour on Windows’ “Best Performance” battery management before it forced us back onto a charger.

No more power bricks

A massive issue we had wasn’t actually directed at the battery’s lifespan. Instead, we were slightly startled at the appearance of a large power brick, complete with its own port, which delivers 65W charging to the device. This is slightly puzzling, as why would you opt to have a more uncommon port, along with a heavier charger, in order to deliver 65W of charging, when a USB-C connector would have been just fine and is a much more suitable option in 2022?

Thankfully, you can charge with a USB-C cable in one port, with our MacBook’s charging brick providing a full 65W charge. However, this isn’t indicated anywhere on Acer’s website.

Though using the heavier charger will free up a USB-C port when plugged in, we really question why they just didn’t include a 65W USB-C charger instead, and nix the old and tired port.

If you decide to buy this laptop, bin that brick and get on the USB-C train.

Acer Swift X Benchmarks

Acer Swift X trackpadDexerto

We brought out all the usual suspects for our benchmarks, with some rather interesting results. Our testing included Cinebench for CPU performance, as well as Geekbench to get a second opinion.

Geekbench and 3DMark were also used to gauge the performance of the GPU. Crystal Disk Mark was our software of choice to test the NVMe drive inside.

However, in regards to testing this, we wanted to focus more on the work-life balance this laptop appears to be aiming for. We never bothered with the raytracing test from 3DMark, for example, as the 3050 Ti was never intended for that level of performance.

We did put it through its paces, but for the most part, these are a little more realistic than say, what we might have put the Steam Deck and other laptops through.

This was also when we began to notice that the CPU would begin to lower performance overall while on battery.

The test system we use is a little overkill in some respects but should provide an indication of where a gaming laptop or PC should aim to get killer modern performance in most titles.

It’ll also give a good idea of how well the Acer Swift X, despite its faults as a piece of hardware, actually does when it comes to performance.

Test system specs

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600
  • GPU: Nvidia RTX 3080 Founders Edition
  • RAM: XPG Gammix D45 (16GB, 3600MHz)
  • Motherboard: NZXT N7 B550
  • Cooler: Cooler Master Masterliquid PL360 FLUX
  • Case: Lian Li Lancool II Mesh
  • Power Supply: Corsair RM850x

Meanwhile, the GPU got the following scores while on a battery in 3DMark:

3DMark BenchmarkAcer Swift XTest System
Time Spy Extreme (Overall)41396890
Time Spy Extreme (Graphics Score)39918644
Time Spy Extreme (CPU score)52473205

As you can see, while the Acer Swift X couldn’t stand a chance against a desktop-class RTX 3080, it was never designed to. It held its own while being battered with the 3DMark Time Spy Extreme benchmark. This graphical prowess then continued over into the gaming performance tests we ran, as the laptop continued to impress on this front.

The high CPU score was reflected in the multicore tests on Cinebench’s R23 but was ultimately scuppered in the single-core tests. Ryzen will never be able to beat Intel’s single-core performance and this laptop is a great demonstration of that prowess from Team Blue. We also saw the same in Geekbench.

BenchmarkMulticore (Battery)Single core (Battery)Multicore (Charger)Single core (Charger)
Cinebench R236170579108281397
Geekbench447363469981318

DLSS

In almost every laptop article we’ve written, we always big up DLSS. Nvidia’s supersampling is by far and away the best thing to come to GPUs in a long time. The ability to get as much performance out of an older or weaker card as possible is astounding.

DLSS works by taking the original image and shrinking it down to a lower resolution at the higher settings. It then blows it back up using machine learning and algorithms to give you a full HD or higher image without the hit on performance.

We chose to go with ‘Performance’ on 3DMark’s Port Royale benchmark and saw an incredible result. Bear in mind, that the low FPS doesn’t reflect what you’ll get in-game, as Port Royale is using all the pieces of the GPU chicken, so to speak. Raytracing etc. is all on, so it holds nothing back.

It does, however, give you a great view of just how much DLSS is going to save gaming on laptops like this. The 3050 Ti isn’t a slouch, but the added boost will let you access more games than it was originally intended for.

DLSS 2 TestDLSS Off (FPS)DLSS On (FPS)
1080p318.26
1440p315.27

We saw an incredible increase of six times at 1080p and on the off chance you use a 1440p external monitor, a potential for five times the performance is on the table.

Gaming performance

Throughout our testing with the laptop, we never really noticed it get hot until we began to throw games at it. Of course, these were going to whip up those fans into a frenzy, but we were taken aback by the coil whine that would ensue.

Indie games (Cult of Lamb/Vampire Survivors)

While playing games like Cult of Lamb and Vampire Survivors, we found no real issues while at 1080p. Cult of Lamb took considerably longer to load its randomized areas and would see small dips in performance just immediately after loading. However, we found it to run at 60FPS at medium settings.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Of course, it wouldn’t be a tech review without checking in on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The game ran – unsurprisingly – very well. Now ten years old, the Source-based game is designed to be played by as many people as possible. With each map and character being as basic as possible, it wasn’t hard to squeeze out the full 60FPS that the panel can display.

As we expect that this laptop will either be someone’s quick and easy esports machine on the go (for games like Valorant or the aforementioned CS: GO), it would be a completely viable machine – however, the lack of a high refresh rate on the panel makes it less of a recommendation for these types of games. Especially for those that are serious about them.

Live service games/MMOs: Path of Exile and Destiny 2

The last two games we tested were another generalization. We expect this laptop to be someone’s free-to-play machine, whether it be MMO or another live service game. As such, we tested both Destiny 2 and Path of Exile.

Destiny 2 took a little tweaking to get the feeling just right, with the low settings giving us the best performance and a solid 60FPS. Meanwhile, going any higher did see us losing frames.

Path of Exile ran just fine, with major dips only coming from connection issues. We comfortably played the game at a solid 60FPS, even during hectic moments, without so much as breaking a sweat.

However, all of these games listed above require either an external keyboard and mouse or a controller. As mentioned above, the trackpad and keyboard that are included, are foul.

Should you buy the Acer Swift X?

If you’re looking for an ultralight, but a decent laptop, we think this is it. It is, however, the single most generic device we’ve ever used. While its gaming performance was on par with expected outcomes, it does nothing to make itself stand out from the crowd.

While it holds its end of the bargain in terms of performance and offers a decent laptop for a fair price, the hardware it is encased in brings it way, way down in our estimations. Performance isn’t everything in a world where a laptop becomes an extension of your being when used for work or in general use.

Verdict

The Acer Swift X is an uninteresting laptop, with no real outstanding capabilities. It is, however, a solidly made little machine that would serve college work or light 1080p gaming rather well.

6/10

You can get the Acer Swift X from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

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