Great multi-core performance
Strong GPU performance
USB-C with DisplayPort and Power Delivery
Lackluster design and display
Nearly constant fan noise
About the Acer Swift X SFX14-41G-R1S6
Here are the specs of the laptop we tested.
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 5800U
- Graphics: Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti
- RAM: 16GB
- Storage: 512GB solid state drive
- Display: 14-inch 1920 x 1080 LCD IPS non-touch screen
- Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5
- Wired connectivity: 1x USB-C Gen 2 with DisplayPort Alternate Mode and Power Delivery, 2x USB-A, 1x HDMI, 1x 3.5mm combo audio,
- Webcam: 720 with a dual-mic array
- Battery: 58 watt-hour battery
- Weight: 3.31
- Size: 12.7 x 8.4 x 0.70 inches
Acer’s Swift X is small even for a laptop with a 14-inch display thanks to slim bezels on three sides and a hinge that keeps the footprint compact. It’s reasonable to expect a hit to the performance given the laptop’s weight and profile but, on the contrary, this laptop beats or matches larger alternatives.
What we like
The AMD Ryzen 7 5800U is still a powerhouse
AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800U—an 8-core, 16-thread processor with a maximum boost clock of 4.4 GHz—powers the Acer Swift X to strong results and is especially capable in multi-core workloads.
The GeekBench 5 benchmark, which tests raw processor performance, spat out a single-core score of 1392 and a multi-core score of 7715. These scores beat the Asus Vivobook Pro 14 OLED, which we tested with an AMD Ryzen 5900HX. It also comes a hair behind Dell’s XPS 15, which is equipped with an Intel Core i7-11800H.
Cinebench R23, a heavy multithreaded test, reached a score of 9861, beating both the Asus Vivobook Pro 14 OLED and the Dell XPS 15. The Acer Swift X also managed to render Blender’s Car Test demo in four minutes and 27 seconds when using the CPU. That again beats the Asus Vivobook Pro 14 OLED and came only a hair behind the Dell XPS 15, which did the task in four minutes and 10 seconds.
The Ryzen 7 5800U is a capable mobile chip but a new challenger approaches—Intel’s 12th-gen Core processors. Lenovo’s Yoga 9i with Intel’s Core i7-1260P, which has more cores than the Ryzen 7 5800U, beat the Acer Swift X in Geekbench 5 multi-core with a score of 10184, though it fell behind in Cinebench R23 with a score of 8751. This hints Intel’s new chips are competitive, though they are not yet widely available.
Acer pairs the Ryzen 7 5800U with 512GB of solid state storage and 16GB of memory. These specifications are important. Value laptops sometimes offer an exceptional processor but pair it with a severe cut to storage. That’s not the case here. The Acer Swift X is a well-rounded performer.
Battery life is not bad, either
Acer’s Swift X’s versatility extends to its battery life, as the laptop managed nine hours and 25 minutes in our web browsing battery test. This automated test uses a script to loop through a series of web pages until the battery gives out. At nearly nine and a half hours, the Swift X outperformed the Asus Vivobook 14 Pro OLED, Dell XPS 15, and Microsoft Surface Laptop 4.
The Swift X uses switchable graphics to achieve this. The Nvidia GTX 3050 Ti is left inactive during less demanding use, and the laptop instead uses the AMD Radeon GPU integrated into the Ryzen 7 5800U. It’s an efficient solution that allows performance and endurance in one machine—and it’s automatic, too.
Gaming performance is great for the price
Nvidia’s RTX 3050 Ti provides graphics for the Acer Swift X. It’s limited to a maximum graphics power of 40 Watts, down from the chip’s maximum of 75 Watts. Despite this, the Swift X delivers impressive results in games and productivity apps that use the GPU.
I recorded an average of 61 frames per second (fps) in both Far Cry 5 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Both titles were benchmarked at 1080p resolution using the highest in-game detail preset available. This puts the Acer Swift X a few frames behind the Asus ROG Flow Z13, a gaming-focused tablet that also has an RTX 3050 Ti, and a few frames ahead of the Asus Vivobook 14 Pro OLED, which has an RTX 3050 (non-Ti).
The campaign benchmark in Total War: Warhammer II came to an average of 49 fps. This was at 1080p resolution with Ultra detail enabled. Again, this is slightly behind the Asus ROG Flow Z13, which scored 53 fps, and slightly ahead of the Asus Vivobook 14 Pro OLED, which scored 45 fps.
Control averaged an impressive 90 fps at 1080p resolution and low detail. When I turned up the detail to High and turned on ray tracing, however, the game averaged just 11.5 fps. That demonstrates the Swift X’s limits. It can run most games at most settings but some will remain out of reach.
However, nearly all dedicated gaming laptops sold under $1,000 also have an RTX 3050 or RTX 3050 Ti GPU. They may perform slightly better but come with a thicker, heavier chassis. The Swift X is a great choice if you want a truly portable gaming laptop.
Plenty of wired connectivity
Though small, the Acer Swift X has a respectable array of wired connectivity. The star of the show is undoubtedly the USB-C port. It supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 speeds of up to 10Gbps along with DisplayPort Alternate Mode and up to 65 Watts of Power Delivery. This means you can charge the laptop with a USB-C power brick or a USB-C monitor that has the Power Delivery feature.
It’s important to note, however, that 65 Watts is less than what’s provided by the included power adapter, which delivers 90 Watts, and the bundled power adapter connects with a barrel plug, not USB-C. You can charge the laptop over USB-C but you may experience slow or intermittent charging when the laptop is in use.
Acer also offers two USB-A ports, one HDMI port, and a 3.5mm combo audio jack. This is a well-rounded selection that can handle a variety of both modern and legacy peripherals. The only real oversight is the lack of an Ethernet port. That’s a bummer, as the Swift X’s flanks certainly have room to accommodate it.
Nice keyboard, ok touchpad
The Acer Swift X has a spacious keyboard layout with plenty of room for most people to type for hours at a time. Key-feel is good, as well, with significant key travel and robust bottoming action, and they are backlit. There’s a cheap, airy feel to the feel of the keycaps that reminded me the Swift X is positioned for value, not a luxury, but this wasn’t a functional problem.
I was less pleased with the touchpad. It’s serviceable, but the touchpad surface seems inexpensive and does not feel significantly different from the surrounding material. This makes it hard to know if your finger is on the touchpad without glancing down. I also noticed a few unintended inputs as my palms grazed the touchpad surface while typing.
What we don’t like
It looks like a value laptop
The bulk of Acer’s laptops, whether they’re budget, mid-range, or luxury models, have settled into a specific design groove. With the Swift X, this means a ho-hum silver clamshell that looks nice but doesn’t stand out.
I have no problem with basic if it works and, for the most part, the Swift X serves its purpose. The chassis is rigid enough to handle being tossed in a bag for travel and the display lid flexes only a little bit when opened or closed. Many owners will be happy using the laptop for years to come.
But I must make two minor points: First, the color of the display lid is not exactly the same as the lower chassis. Second, the keycaps also appear slightly off-color, as if Acer just slapped on a shade of light gray without close attention to the final look. These problems are a reminder that the Swift X is a budget laptop.
The laptop’s design is a long way from a dealbreaker, but still—if you want your laptop to impress family, friends, or a client seated across from you in a conference room, the Acer Swift X is not one of those laptops.
The display and speakers fall short
A 1080p non-touch IPS LCD screen is the only display available. It’s a sharp display with an anti-glare coating that makes the screen easy to use in a bright room. The display has good contrast and luminance uniformity for a value-minded budget laptop. I didn’t see blotchy spots along the corners of the display, and the dreaded “IPS glow,” a hazy look that can plague budget IPS screens, was only obvious in a dark room.
There’s just one problem: the competition. There’s nothing wrong with the Acer Swift X’s display, but some alternatives from Samsung, Asus, and Lenovo are making the move to new, affordable OLED screens from Samsung Display. Asus Vivobook 14 Pro OLED and Samsung’s Galaxy Book Pro are two examples in the same price bracket.
OLED displays have superior contrast, much-improved color performance, and support HDR. The trade-off is a glossy display coat that can show significant glare. Most people will be happy to tolerate that in exchange for better image quality, though.
In short, the Acer’s screen is more about function than flair. It’s great for use in a variety of lighting conditions but isn’t as engaging when you sit down to play a game or watch a movie.
The speakers, on the other hand, have no redeeming qualities. They’re quiet, tinny, and lack anything that might resemble bass. Any loud content, whether it’s music or an action scene in a game, will push the speakers into a muddy yet hollow presentation that becomes annoying. You’ll definitely want to use headphones with this laptop.
Fan noise is a constant companion
You may wonder how the Acer Swift X manages to beat the Asus Vivobook 14 Pro OLED despite a lower price tag and less capable hardware. Thermals may be the answer; The Swift X is not a quiet laptop.
Fan noise is most striking when the laptop is idling. Many Windows laptops reduce fan to an inaudible level in less demanding workloads. That wasn’t true of the Swift X. Fan noise was noticeable even when the laptop was on the Windows lock screen.
Noise increases with load though, and to its credit, the Swift X is not unusually loud at full tilt. Fan noise is a steady whoosh rather than a pitched whine or whirr, which is a plus. Compare it to a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro 13, however, and it sounds like a rampaging kaiju.
Wi-Fi performance isn’t great
Acer opted for a MediaTek MT7921 Wi-Fi adapter in the Swift X. Though fine at short range, it struggled as the distance from the router increased. Performance several rooms away was meager with downloads struggling to manage more than a few megabits per second.
Using the laptop in a detached office about 50 feet away from the router led to Wi-Fi dropouts that made Internet use a chore. That could be a problem if you travel frequently or otherwise can’t control your proximity to a Wi-Fi router.
Should you buy it?
Yes, the Acer Swift X has bang for your buck
The Acer Swift X is not the perfect laptop. I’d prefer a better display, an improved touchpad, and more reliable Wi-Fi. Acer should also work on its chassis design for its budget laptops, as this has been a consistent oversight with the company's laptops in the Aspire and Swift line.
Take one glance at the laptop’s performance and these problems melt away. Yes, a sleek and modern design with carbon fiber weave or laser-cut edges is nice, but that won’t make Far Cry run more smoothly or complete a Blender render more quickly. But if you care about the physical appearance of your laptop, the MacBook Air and Asus Vivobook line deliver roughly comparable performance and better materials at a slightly higher price.
With an MSRP above $1,000, the Swift X model I reviewed typically sells below that all-important watermark. If you’re on an even tighter budget, Acer sells an alternative model with a Ryzen 5 5600U processor and RTX 3050 GPU that’s even less expensive. Shoppers looking for a fast yet portable laptop shouldn’t pass by the Acer Swift X. It’s an outstanding value.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Matthew S. Smith
Matthew S. Smith is a veteran tech journalist and general-purpose PC hardware nerd. Formerly the Lead Editor of Reviews at Digital Trends, he has over a decade of experience covering PC hardware. Matt often flies the virtual skies in Microsoft Flight Simulator and is on a quest to grow the perfect heirloom tomato.
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