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The 14-inch Acer Swift 3 is powered by AMD’s Ryzen 4000 series mobile processors. This might not mean much to you unless you follow the world of mobile processors, but basically these AMD chips are faster than the competing Intel CPUs that rule the market — and they cost less. That means models like the Swift 3 stay affordable but get you the processor performance of a pricier laptop.
But just because the processor delivers the speed of a more expensive laptop, doesn’t suddenly make everything else about the 14-inch Swift 3 as amazing. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to like about it. For example, at 2.7 pounds (1.2 kg), it’s incredibly light for a 14-inch laptop at its $620 starting price. It has an aluminum and aluminum-magnesium body, a backlit keyboard and a responsive fingerprint reader for quick sign-ins. Its Wi-Fi 6 gives you a little wireless future-proofing. And while its battery life is good — it got just about eight hours in my testing — it can be quickly charged with the included barrel-style adapter or through its USB-C port.
Frankly, while the eight-core Ryzen 7 4700U’s performance is uncannily good, so is the six-core Ryzen 5 4500U found in other Swift 3 configurations for less money. (Check out the benchmark test results at the end of the review.) All of the current configurations for the 14-inch version (there is an Intel-based 13.5-inch model) have the same full-HD-resolution display, the same chassis, ports, keyboard, touchpad and the same 8GB of memory; the only things that change are storage and processor.
If you’re just in need of a good laptop for basic school or office work, I’d go with the Swift 3 SF314-42-R0HP, which is currently available for $579. It has the Ryzen 5 that’s still faster than competing Intel chips. It also has half the storage, too, but you can upgrade that on your own later on if needed. The RAM is soldered on, however, leaving you stuck with the 8GB it comes with. But, again, that doesn’t change regardless of the configuration you buy.
The 14-inch display stays the same across this version and it’s not extraordinary but it’s fine, which is what I would expect considering the rest of the package. It doesn’t get especially bright, so while I had no issues using it indoors, you might struggle to see it outdoors (that can be said about a lot of laptops, though). It has a matte finish, which minimizes reflections far more than a glossy coating, though it can also make colors look flat by comparison. I wouldn’t recommend this for critical mobile photo or video editing anyway; there are better options for that and you can expect to pay more than $650.
The star of the Acer Swift 3 is certainly the processor. It’s more performance than you’d get in the past for the money. But what makes this laptop an easy recommendation is that you’re getting that speed plus good battery life and in a 2.7-pound aluminum body at a fair price.