Ultrabooks are the new standard alongside convertibles and lately it's more and more people who prefer portability over high end performance. Fortunately for us, Acer isn't making us pick between performance and portability thanks to their introduction of the latest Acer Swift 3 SF314-51-52W2.
This new laptop, that can only be qualified as a straight up ultrabook, offers its users high end components such as 256GB of SSD storage, a freakin fingerprint reader and a powerful Core i5 CPU coupled with an insanely competitive price point amongst many other positive traits that are incredibly rare. Without further delay, let's see what this model has to offer as we dive into our in depth review of the Acer Swift 3 SF314-51-52W2.
High quality build and display
You wouldn't expect a sub $700 laptop to pack high end components as well as a Full HD screen. However, Acer decided it was about time things changed and it endowed its latest flagship with a 14 inch IPS LED-Backlit Full HD display. That's a total of 1920 by 1080 pixels and you get an even better pixel density than most 15 inch models that pack this resolution because its 14 inch diagonal offer more pixels per inch thereby improving the overall clarity of both text and video.
What's more, this awesome display also packs Acer's signature BlueLight Shield technology which cuts down on blue light emissions so that you don't strain your eyes when looking at the screen for prolonged periods of time.
As if all that wasn't enough, this laptop is extremely portable and well in line with what you'd expect from a much more expensive ultrabook, weighing in at just 3.3 pounds which is actually lighter than a 13 inch MacBook Pro (2015 edition).
Also, in line with Acer's hopes to make this the ultimate consumer laptop, you've also got a backlit keyboard which is actually quite useful when working on low lighting conditions.
Optimal performance in every key aspect
Performance on a laptop is typically defines by three key specs, if one of them fails to be good or great then your laptop will sadly get left behind. There three components are: processor, RAM and storage.
On a typical case you'll find a good CPU, decent RAM and a standard hard drive. That's fine because most people actually prefer more storage space and that's what a standard hard drive offers. However, what many people don't know is that the storage option is key when defining performance and so the difference between having a laptop with an SSD storage unit versus a typical Hard drive is abismal.
It's with that in mind that Acer placed all their cards on the table and endowed its Acer Swift 3 SF314-51-52W2 with a 256GB SSD storage unit, that's well above the standard 128GB you tend to get at this price point and therefore it doesn't really force the user to make a choice between storage capacity versus storage velocity, something many of us deeply appreciate.
Another key component is the processor and in this case it's an Intel Core i5-6200U dual core processor which clocks in at a base speed of 2.3GHz and reaches a maximum turboboost speed of 2.8GHz coupled with 3MB of dynamic cache and 4 threads.
You don't need us to tell you the Core i5 is one of the best consumer processors on the market as it strikes the perfect balance between performance and efficiency. This CPU is ready to go to town with anything you throw at it, including -but not limited to- editing high definition video, coding on resource intensive IDE's, launching virtual machines, streaming Full HD video and much, much more.
In my opinion this is the best CPU since it offers a much better price to performance relationship than its i7 superior model which typically costs quite a bit more.
Finally, RAM is also a big deal. Too little and you find yourself limited to a basic multitasking experience. That's not the case here where we not only have 8GB of RAM but the RAM is of the newest DDR4 standard which offers a more efficient performance thereby improving the multitasking experience for more professional and intensive users.
Unfortunately, being an ultrabook has its downsides and in this case it's that you can't upgrade the RAM of the Acer Swift 3 SF314-51-52W2. That said, we believe 8GB to be more than enough to carry out Windows 10 and all your software without a hitch.
Is this a gaming machine? How's battery life?
Short answer is no. The Acer Swift 3 SF314-51-52W2 is not equipped to be a gaming machine nor is it suited for professionals in graphic design. I say this because it packs an Intel HD Graphics 520 graphics chip. This is a good chip for stuff like video editing and streaming movies but hardcore gaming is not really a possibility unless you're working with a dedicated graphics chip.
While this might be a turn off for some people, we gotta say that Acer more than makes up for this when we look at other key specs such as battery life. In this aspect we've got a solid 4 cell Li-ion battery that packs 3220 mAh, that's enough to give you a solid 10 hours of battery life.
Surely this number will vary depending on usage. If you're gonna stream the whole first season of House of Card you're only gonna get to episode 5 or 6 before needing to find a power outlet. However, when used at a 75% brightness, browsing the web, editing docs and watching a few videos here and there should deliver close to 10 hours of performance.
What's connectivity like? Is there anything else worth knowing?
Connectivity on the SF314-51-52W2 is pretty good overall, the only thing missing here is an ethernet port which can be easily solved by adding a dongle that connects to the USB type C port readily available. There's also a USB 3.0 port which offers power off charging as well as your standard USB 2.0 port. We've also got an HDMI output as well as an SD card reader.
Moving onto the wireless section of this review, it's a great thing that we not only have Bluetooth 4.1 but also WiFi 802.11 ac connectivity with dual band support and MU-MIMO technology. This means that you'll be able to download stuff up to three times faster assuming you have a compatible WiFi ac router.
Being a higher end notebook you've also got an HD webcam with a high dynamic range (gets more colors from an image) as well as the Acer True Harmony speaker technology. Truth be told, while sound quality is good it's not something to brag about either, it sound like pretty much any other laptop in town but we're not gonna hold that against it.
Wrapping this up: To buy or not to buy?
Ahh, the big question. Short answer would be a very big YES. If you're in the market for an affordable ultrabook -check pricing here- that also offers the latest technology in everything from connectivity to battery life and storage then this is the best option you're going to find in the current marketplace. Obviously, if you're looking to buy a laptop for gaming purposes then we'd suggest against this model since it won't fit your needs by lacking a dedicated graphics chip.
That said, after doing an in depth review of the Acer Swift 3 SF314-51-52W2 and exploring its pros and cons its pretty clear that the pros surpass the cons in a pretty significant manner. After all you're getting a top notch ultrabook at a price where just a few month ago you'd buy a decent mid range laptop with a good screen and a hard drive.