Speedy Intel H processor
Gorgeous OLED display
So-so battery life
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About the Acer Swift 3 OLED
Here are the specs of the laptop we tested:
- Processor: Intel Core i7-12700K
- Graphics: Intel Iris Xe (integrated)
- Memory: 16GB LPDDR5
- Storage: 1TB SSD
- Display: 14-inch WQXGA+ (2880 x 1800) 16:10 OLED
- Ports: HDMI, 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 2x USB-C Thunderbolt 4
- Battery: Approx. six hours as tested
- Dimensions: 0.70 x 12.3 x 8.4 inches
- Weight:3.09 pounds
At the time of this writing, our review model costs $1,230.
The Acer Swift 3 OLED starts at $930 with a Core i5-12500H, which is a step down from the processor in the review unit we received. It has the same display as the Core i7 model, but only 8GB of memory and a 512GB SSD.
What we like
The OLED display, of course
If you’re a fan of OLED screens, Acer’s newest Swift 3 gives you the vibrance you crave without a hefty price tag. Acer claims up to a 500-nit peak brightness, but we did not achieve that during testing. We measured a max nit brightness of 421 nits, but that’s still more than what most people need. You’ll be able to take this laptop anywhere to watch your favorite movie or do spreadsheet work regardless of lighting conditions—even underneath the glaring sun. You will see a reflection of yourself, thanks to how glossy the display is, but I wasn’t too bothered by it if I turned off dark mode.
The color accuracy and wide color gamut combined with the snappy processor means the Swift 3 OLED can handle much more than emails and spreadsheets; anyone looking for a laptop for light video or photo editing, or light rendering should be fine.
OLED screens are not only known for their brightness, but for their wide color gamut as well. Acer claims 100% coverage of the PCI-P3 color gamut, which is the film industry’s standard. In our DisplayCal tests, the program we use to test laptop screens, we discovered these claims are as close to accurate as it gets: the Swift 3’s OLED display covers 99.1% of the PCI-P3 color gamut, as well as 100% of the sRGB gamut and 97.4% of the Adobe RGB gamut.
As an extra treat, we measured this laptop’s color accuracy (Delta E 76, or the mathematical formula that quantifies perceived differences in color) at an average of 0.16. A score that low means excellent color accuracy, so fire up your favorite nature documentary and get ready to see incredibly vibrant colors and inky blacks.
Acer choose to go with Intel’s faster H-series processor in its Swift 3 OLED, whereas many of its competitors are stuck with the slower P-series. The Core i7-12700H in the Swift 3 OLED has a total of 14 cores (six performance, eight efficient), 20 threads, and a max boost clock of 4.7GHz. A P-series processor, like the Core i7-1280P, has the same number of cores, threads, and max clock speed, but Intel caps its power draw at 64W, while the Core i7-12700H can draw as much as 115W.
Depending on how much a processor’s power draw is limited, that can adversely impact performance. We saw this clearly reflected when we compared the Swift 3 OLED’s benchmark scores to several other productivity laptops we recently reviewed, like the Dell XPS 13 Plus.
With a Core i7-1280P, the XPS 13 Plus managed to render an image of a BMW car in Blender in four minutes and 56 seconds, but the Swift 3 OLED took three minutes and 28 seconds—a significant difference. The Swift 3 OLED was also twice as fast in our Excel formula sort test, taking 42 seconds to sort a large file stuffed with complex formulas compared to the XPS 13 Plus’ 86 seconds.
Another major difference between Intel’s H-series and P-series is the integrated graphics performance, thanks to that power draw cap. Both laptops have the same Intel Iris Xe graphics configuration, but the XPS 13 is still much slower. A quick 3D Mark Night Raid run (a benchmark that calculates the raw performance of an integrated graphics chip) showed the Swift 3 OLED running circles around the XPS 13 Plus, 22720 to 14069, respectively.
What we don’t like
So-so battery life
This Swift 3 OLED managed five hours and 51 minutes in our battery test, which consists of automatically cycling through nearly two dozen different websites until the battery dies. For a productivity laptop, this is an okay result and one that is not entirely unexpected, due to the laptop’s power-hungry processor. The laptops we’ve tested with 12th-gen P-series processors, like the Dell XPS 13 Plus, all lasted at least seven hours.
By putting an H-series processor in this laptop, Acer prioritized performance over battery life, which is fine. However, if you are considering buying the Swift 3 OLED, remember to keep the charging cable in your bag if you leave the house, just in case.
Compared to similar Dell, HP, and Lenovo laptops, the Acer Swift 3 OLED takes the safe and plain route with a metallic grayish silver finish that’s close to Apple’s MacBooks. This is the kind of laptop you take with you into the conference room with the intent of blending in with the scratchy, fabric-covered office chairs, gray carpeting, and drop ceiling tiles. Even though I did not like the Lenovo Yoga 6’s denim laptop cover, it was at least something different.
Some competitors, like Dell’s XPS series of laptops, MSI’s business laptops, and Asus’ Zenbooks, have a more refined look due to their slightly slimmer chassis or a tightly organized keyboard. Aesthetics are subjective, but if I could have a laptop with an attractive design and powerful performance for around the same price, I’d like to have my cake and eat it, too—but I usually have to settle for looking through the bakery window. Under a strict budget, I could compromise on the aesthetics. (At least the Swift 3 OLED is a lightweight laptop.)
Keyboard and trackpad are just okay
The Swift 3 OLED’s keyboard layout looks like Lenovo’s with regards to the key spacing, although the keys feel softer to press than crisp and springy. It’s still almost as comfortable to type on, but the keys are spaced out ever so lightly more than on the Lenovo Yoga 6, and even with that small of a difference it took me a little while to get used to it.
Using Monkeytype to clock my typing speed and accuracy, my typing speed remained the same (around 75 words per minute) between my desktop keyboard and the Swift 3 OLED laptop, but my accuracy dropped by 5%.
The laptop also has a 4.0 x 2.5-inch trackpad that’s smooth, although it’ll catch your fingers from time to time when using multi-touch gestures, nothing that makes the trackpad too annoying to use, but this is a weakness for all kinds of Windows laptops, not just this one.
Let’s vent about the vents
One of the more annoying design features of the Swift 3 OLED, though, is the placement of the largest heat vents. They are directly in the middle of the laptop’s underside, so I would not recommend putting this on your lap, even if you are wearing pants.
According to our temperature readings, the underside of the chassis gets up to about 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius). This is during a light workload, though, so if you are doing anything super CPU-intensive keep the laptop on a flat surface and away from your flesh.
The Swift 3 OLED’s speakers are housed on the underside of the laptop. Made up of numerous slits, they span about an inch long. So, the speakers are tiny and output sound directly downward into whatever surface the laptop is sitting on.
Like the Lenovo Yoga 6 I recently reviewed, I had a hard time hearing much of anything. But at least Lenovo put its speakers on the keyboard facing up. We recommend picking up a nice pair of headphones or earbuds if you don’t already have one.
Should you buy the Acer Swift 3 OLED?
Yes, but the base model will be better for battery life
Acer’s Swift 3 OLED is not the flashiest productivity laptop around, but it has a ton of performance thanks to Acer’s smart decision to outfit one of its most popular laptops with an H-series Intel processor instead of a P-series. The OLED display’s excellent color accuracy and wide color gamut make the Swift 3 a surprisingly good machine for light photo and video work, even some 3D image rendering.
However, its Achilles heel is not its design or even its audio, but its battery life. Crashing just before the six-hour mark means you will need to carry the adapter with you if you leave your house with anything less than a full charge. You can avoid this by looking for another laptop with an Intel P-series processor or an AMD Ryzen U-series processor, but you’ll have to be fine with a slower laptop.
If speed is not something you can compromise on, but you’re working with less than $1,000, consider grabbing the base model of the Swift 3 OLED with the Intel Core i5-12500H. It’s slower but less-power-hungry, so you’ll get a little more battery life out of the laptop. It’s also still faster than the Core i7-1270P, so you won’t have to compromise that much on performance.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Senior Editor, Electronics@JLNwrites
Joanna specializes in anything and everything gaming-related and loves nerding out over graphics cards, processors, and chip architecture. Previously she was a staff writer for Gizmodo, PC Gamer, and Maximum PC.
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