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[Review] Acer Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN: You Can't NOT Buy it.

  • Extremely portable with 11 hr battery life
  • Octa-core CPU
  • 8 GB of RAM (upgradable)
  • 512 GB of SSD storage
  • Competitive price point
  • No SD card reader
  • Display is a bit dim
Finding the perfect college laptop is all about striking the perfect balance. You need to find something that is lightweight yet a good performer, that is affordable yet modern and that has a good battery life but doesn't compromise on a lesser CPU. Such is the case with Acer's latest launch aimed at the student market; the Acer Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN.

For weeks Acer's latest launch has been amongst Amazon's top-selling laptops. But, has it earned its position? Today we dive deep into our review of the Acer Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN.

Let's get to work!

Table of contents: 

1) Specs Overview
3) Design & Display
4) Performance
5) Battery Life & Gaming
6) Connectivity Options
7) Wrapping it up.

Specs overview:
Display:14 inch IPS LED-Backlit.
Resolution:Full HD.
Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 4700U octa core.
Storage:512 GB SSD.
OS:Windows 10.
Graphics: Integrated.
Battery Life: Up to 11.5 hours.
Extras: Fingerprint reader, multiple ports, 2.65 pounds

A lightweight design and a controversial display

Let's get things going by first tackling the design. In this regard, we have no complaints when it comes to Acer's latest and greatest. Sure enough, the body isn't as "premium-feeling" as its more expensive counterparts, but we're still pleasantly surprised to find an affordable laptop that isn't made exclusively out of plastic but rather out of a mix of aluminum and magnesium.

It doesn't quite have that "high-end touch" but it does have a far more "robust" sensation when compared to other laptops in its price point - as many customers have attested-.

The keyboard is nice and spacious, with chiclet-style keys and a comfortable typing experience with a solid key travel distance -unlike Apple's butterfly keyboard -, there's also a backlight, perfect for low light situations.

There's no dedicated numeric pad but that is to be expected in a laptop of these dimensions. However, we do have a fingerprint reader located on the lower right side, just below the right arrow key.

We love the fact that it comes with a fingerprint reader as it saves us a lot of time of having to constantly type up our passwords to unlock Windows using Windows Hello, it also serves as direct access to Cortana which we find mostly useless but that's a matter of tastes.

Moving on to the infamous display, we've got a 14 inch IPS LED-backlit display with a Full HD resolution (1920 by 1080) and a matte finish to reduce glare.

It's this last part that has suscitated some controversy amongst its consumers with some buyers claiming the display is "too dark" whilst most clients seem to be perfectly content with it. All in all, it's true that the display is a bit dim when compared to other laptops.

That said, it's not as dim as many people have stated, and there seems to be a significant exaggeration when it comes to qualifying this display. However, the best thing you can do is judge it for yourself in the following video:

What's performance like on a day to day?

Moving onto the performance aspect of this review we're quite happy with the results that the Acer Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN has given us. A quick rundown of the specs will tell us that we've got an octa-core AMD processor, specifically the Ryzen 7 4700 CPU that clocks in at a maximum 4.1 GHz. 

We've also got 8 GB of RAM, however, this RAM is not upgradeable since it's soldered onto the motherboard, something worth considering if you're a powerhouse user that needs to do massive multitasking with very demanding programs.

Finally, one of the finer parts of this laptop is its storage. Specifically, this model packs 512 GB of SSD storage which is amazing considering its price point. Not long ago we could hardly get 256 GB of SSD under 700 dollars, let alone 512 GB. 

It's the fact that the SF314-42-R9YN packs an SSD what allows it to be lightning-fast on anything from browsing the internet, downloading files, or even just turning the laptop on. 

What can I expect in the day to day?

With this laptop you can expect a good device to browse the internet, edit documents, stream high definition videos, listen to music, skype, do some coding with a virtual machine and even some mid-range image editing -though if you that's something that you're going to be doing every day we would recommend a laptop with dedicated graphics for an optimal experience-.

Does it have noisy fans?

Fortunately for us, this laptop has very subtle fans which while you might notice once the laptop starts to heat up they definitely won't be interfering with whatever it is you're doing as you can hardly tell they've been turned on.

What's the battery life like? Can I use the Acer Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN for gaming?

Specifically, something we care a lot about when looking for a student laptop is that it's portable both in terms of being lightweight -which it is at just 2.65 pounds - and having a decent enough battery life -which it does-.

Acer's latest offering promises us up to 11.5 hours of usage. As you know by now, the number that the company says and the actual number you reach differ greatly depending on usage. 

In our experience, the Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN has given us a solid 7 hours under mixed usage, which means watching some videos, surfing the web, editing some documents, and all at a 70% brightness level.

That's far from the 11.5 hours advertised but still good enough for most of us.

As far as gaming is concerned, this model comes with an integrated graphics chipset so it's pretty safe to say that this is not a gaming laptop. That said, you could play games such as GTA V or Fortnite with reasonable FPS. 

What else should I know?

Beyond having a good day-to-day performance and a solid battery life there's still a few more things to consider when purchasing a new laptop.

In that regard, we were very pleasantly surprised by Acer's decision to integrate WiFi 6 - standard 802.11ax - onto this model, allowing for incredible download speeds - assuming you have a compatible router -. 

There's also a pretty decent HD webcam that allows for a good zoom or Skype experience - this is not always the case within its price range-.

When it comes to ports we've also got a standalone USB Type C port which is great for fast data transfers (up to 10 GB per second) and there's also a single USB 3.2 port as well as a USB 2.0 port.

We've also got Bluetooth, an HDMI output, and an audio jack. What we don't have is an SD card reader nor an ethernet port. These aren't things that we use all that often but for those rare occasions in which we do we would recommend getting a small and portable hub - such as this one - to also expand upon the connectivity options of the SF314-42-R9YN.

Wrapping it up: Should I Buy this laptop?

The Acer Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN reviewed today is the perfect option for those who are looking to buy a laptop with high-end specs at an affordable price and don't have any intention of upgrading the RAM down the line.

It's a great option for students who value performance as well as battery life and it has a stylish design that's bound to seduce you from the moment you open the box. Its lightweight design makes it the perfect laptop to carry everywhere you go and its WiFi 6 standard will allow for excellent download/upload speeds. 

As the only con, we've got a screen that's a bit dimmer than what we're used to but ultimately that's something you quickly become accustomed to and it actually helps reduce eye fatigue by limiting the blue light exposure which is actually beneficial.

Overall, this is an excellent choice that we recommend to most people who ask us for a laptop in this price range with good performance, portability, and distinguished battery life, a great option that strikes a perfect balance.