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Acer Swift 1 review: A cheap, lightweight ultra-portable that skimps on performance

While the Acer Swift 1 delivers what it promises—a slim and light chassis, plenty of battery life, a solid-state drive and even a fingerprint reader, all for less than $350—it makes painful speed and storage compromises to get there. If you’re a bargain hunter who doesn’t mind relying on cloud services and you can tolerate merely adequate performance, by all means, give the Swift 1 a look. But if you’re looking for long-term value, consider either increasing your budget or tolerating a thicker, heavier laptop with more pep.

Price and specifications

Measuring 12.58 x 8.86 x 0.59 inches and weighing just 2.9 pounds, the Swift 1 makes for a is pleasingly light, thin, yet sturdy, for a Windows 10 notebook. The Swift 1’s display barely wobbles while you’re picking the laptop up or putting it down, and the sleek, tapered shell belies the laptop’s budget price.

We tested the $329 version of the Acer Swift 1, which comes with a Pentium N4200 processor, a quad-core Apollo Lake-generation CPU designed for budget laptops. As we’ll soon see, the N4200 is adequate (well, barely) for everyday productivity tasks, but it buckles under any kind of serious processing load.

Also inside: 4GB of low-voltage DDR3L RAM and a meager 64GB solid-state drive, which leaves you with only about 20GB of available storage. That might be fine for those planning to use the Swift 1 primarily for surfing the web, running Office and working from their cloud accounts. An Acer representative even told me the Swift 1 is aimed at “people who are likely to use cloud-based storage”). But if you want to install more programs or store even a modest amount of media on the Swift 1, I’d strongly suggest you to cough up another $70 for the 128GB SSD upgrade.

The Swift 1 relies on an integrated Intel HD Graphics 505 core for light display tasks such as video streaming, browsing and general productivity. Unsurprisingly (and as its benchmark results will show), the Swift 1 isn’t much of a gaming machine. Expect all but the most basic games to chug along at frame rates well south of 30 per second.


The Acer Swift 1’s 1920×1080 screen looks pleasingly vivid and sharp, more than capable for standard Office tasks and even the dark sci-fi scenes of Tears of Steel (our favorite 4K test video).

Viewing angles on the Swift 1’s IPS display panel are up to par, with the screen beginning to dim when viewed from an angle of about 30 degrees or more. I was also pleased that colors on the Swift 1’s display never inverted, even when viewed from nearly a 90-degree angle.

The Swift 1’s screen is fairly bright, measuring about 286 nits (or calendas) when dialed all the way up. We think laptop displays need a brightless of at least 250 nits for comfortable indoor viewing, a standard that the Swift 1 clears with a decent cushion, although it falls short of the 300-plus nit readings we’ve measured on other laptops.

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