Acer Swift Edge review: gunning for the MacBook

Acer Swift Edge: Two-minute review

Oh boy, this one’s exciting. The Acer Swift Edge is a laptop we’ve been waiting to review for a while now. It’s not actually that often that a laptop manufacturer releases an entirely new product; we’re frequently found comparing new models to their predecessors, be it the latest Dell Inspiron laptop or one of Lenovo’s new IdeaPads.

But lo and behold the: Swift Edge, a new move for Acer’s long-running line of Swift laptops. What makes the Edge different? Well, it sets a new bar for Acer’s premium products, and whatever anyone says, it’s very clearly designed to be a competitor to the Apple MacBook line.

Sure, Acer hasn’t claimed this directly in any of its promotional material for the new laptop, but come on – the new chassis is ultra-thin, made of a reinforced aluminum alloy that allows the casing to be lighter than previous Swift laptops without sacrificing durability. From there, we’ve got a glorious 16-inch 4K OLED display and a powerful new AMD Ryzen CPU powering it. We know from some behind-closed-doors conversations with Acer that at one point during development, the team’s placeholder name for the Edge was the ‘Swift Air’. Sound familiar?

(Image credit: Future)

Much like Apple’s now-omnipresent MacBooks, the Swift Edge isn’t aimed at one particular group of potential customers. On its website, Acer touts it as ‘designed for productivity, creativity, and security’, a deliberately broad statement that highlights the flexibility of the Edge; its super-sleek design makes it as portable as a laptop this size gets, and it’s got something to please just about every type of user.

Want to edit photos or create digital art? The stunning color reproduction and contrast of the OLED screen have got you covered. Need number-crunching power for multitasking? It’s got 16GB of RAM and a high-speed processor for you. Got video meetings you need to attend on the go? A 1080p webcam and AI-assisted background noise reduction for the microphone will sort you out.

Most ultrabooks are smaller than the Swift Edge; the 16-inch display mounted atop this slender laptop is immediately reminiscent of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. In fact, only one of the laptops featured in our best ultrabooks ranking has a bigger screen – most cap out at 15.6 inches.

In our time with the Acer Swift Edge, we really grew to love it despite a few minor foibles. Even considering the missteps Acer has made here (including a just-average battery life and an odd choice of keyboard layout), this is an exceptionally strong showing for a new breed of Swift laptop, and we can’t wait to see how Acer improves on it next time around.

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Swift Edge: Price and availability

Version tested priced at $1,499 (£1,399, about AU$2,175)Currently only one version availableRegional availability may be limited outside the US and UK

Acer Swift Edge Key Specs

Here is the Acer Swift Edge configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 6800U
Graphics: AMD Radeon Graphics
RAM: 32GB LPDDR5
Screen: 16-inch 3840×2400, 16:10, 60Hz, OLED
Storage: 1TB PCIe SSD
Ports: 2x USB-C 4, 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1x HDMI 2.1, combi audio jack
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
Camera: 1080p IR webcam
Weight: 1.17 kg
Size: 1.4 x 35.7 x 24.2 cm 

While the Acer Swift Edge’s asking price of $1,499 (£1,399, about AU$2,175) isn’t cheap, it’s not ridiculous compared to similar premium ultrabooks on the market right now. The 16-inch MacBook Pro starts far beyond it at $2,499 – even the 2020 M1 model of the MacBook Air still costs $999 to buy new from Apple. Our current favorite ultrabook, the Dell XPS 15, costs a very similar $1,449 for the basic model.

Now, we’re not going to give Acer a massive round of applause here, because while the Swift Edge is certainly decent value for money, it’s still a very expensive product that will be out of reach for a lot of consumers.

We can’t deny that you do get quite a bit for your money here, though, from the sleek chassis to the incredible screen and a good selection of physical ports. We also strongly approve of Acer only making one single model of the Swift Edge (at least, for the initial release). There aren’t dozens of barely-distinguishable variants to be found here: Acer has taken a leaf out of the Apple playbook and kept things as simple as possible. What you see is what you get.

Value: 4.5 / 5

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Swift Edge: Design

(Image credit: Future)Sleek but durable chassisLarge, responsive trackpadKeyboard is too small

When we first saw this laptop at an Acer press briefing, we were instantly intrigued. A 16-inch laptop that weighs less than that 13.3-inch MacBook Air? Yes, the Swift Edge is almost absurdly lightweight, to the point where we found ourselves reflexively using too much force to pick it up at first. It’s almost unsettling quite how light it feels in the hand.

Despite the thin-and-light design, though, the metal chassis is impressively durable and doesn’t pick up fingerprints as badly as we’d feared it would. Our review unit came in a shiny black finish, but there’s also a very appealing pearlescent white version available – the only variation you’ll find among Swift Edge models. Both look great, with an unassuming Acer logo embossed in silver on the lid.

(Image credit: Future)

Crack open that lid, and the flawless facade starts to crack a little. For starters, the hinge doesn’t feel especially robust, with a bit too much wobble for our liking. But it’s the keyboard that really irked us; it’s too damn small! Considering the 16-inch screen, there’s plenty of prime real estate on the lower half of the Swift Edge, but Acer has crammed in a keyboard with no Numpad despite more than an inch of space going unused on either side.

Some laptops use this space for speaker grilles, but on the Edge the grille is situated above the keyboard instead. So why, Acer, are my left-Shift and Ctrl keys so darn tiny? It’s all the more baffling when you consider that the right-Shift and Enter keys are basically normal size. Using the laptop for work, it took us several hours of adjustment before we felt we could type normally. There’s also a little too much flex in the center of the keyboard, but this was only noticeable on very firm keypresses.

Fortunately, the trackpad doesn’t have the same issues as the keyboard. We’ve got a nice wide rectangle here that offers excellent responsiveness with a pleasingly tactile click. The glassy material lets your finger glide effortlessly across its surface and features the same antimicrobial coating featured in other premium Acer laptops.

Design: 4 / 5

Acer Swift Edge: Features

(Image credit: Future)Gorgeous 4K OLED displayPlenty of ports (but no Thunderbolt 4)Webcam and mic are great but speakers aren’t too impressive

Damn, that screen is just beautiful. Very few laptops have the visual chops to go toe-to-toe with the Acer Swift Edge in this particular department: this OLED panel packs a 4K resolution (technically just above 4K thanks to the 16:10 productivity-focused aspect ratio), 100% DCI-P3 color gamut, full HDR support, and a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, plus the TÜV Rheinland Eyesafe Display Certification – meaning it’s been carefully calibrated to minimize eye strain while still preserving its gorgeous color density.

If everything we just said went straight over your head, just know this: this display is one of the best we’ve seen in a laptop, and quite possibly the best we’ve ever seen in a laptop this lightweight. Colors pop with incredible vividness while blacks are deep and sharp, and the overall brightness is excellent for use in any environment.

(Image credit: Future)

Beyond the screen, we’ve got a solid selection of ports for such a thin laptop; two USB-Cs and two USB-As mean you can easily connect devices or external drives, while an HDMI video out lets you hook the Swift Edge up to a second display with ease. There’s no Thunderbolt 4 support here, which is a bit of a bummer, but most users won’t notice its absence.

In terms of non-physical connectivity, we’ve got speedy 6GHz WiFi 6E and the latest Bluetooth 5.2 – both staples of any premium ultrabook these days, so it’s good to see that Acer hasn’t skimped here. There’s also a fingerprint sensor for better security when logging in.

For anyone looking to use this laptop for Zoom calls, there’s an FHD webcam that provides crisp video recording with an integrated IR scanner for facial recognition logins via Windows Hello. The microphone also employs Acer’s ‘PurifiedVoice’ technology to scrub background noise from your audio input with the help of AI deep learning. Unfortunately, the speakers don’t quite live up to the rest of the package here – they’re not terrible, but we felt the audio clarity at maximum volume wasn’t very impressive. They’re fine for watching TV or YouTube videos, just don’t expect a high-end musical treat.

Features: 4 / 5

The Intel Alder Lake chip in the XPS 15 seems to go further than in other laptops we’ve tested this year. (Image credit: Future)

Acer Swift Edge: Performance

Outclassed – but only marginally – by new Intel and Apple laptopsGeneral performance is very goodFans do get a bit loud at times

Benchmarks

Here is how the Acer Swift Edge performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark Night Raid: 21,671; Fire Strike: 5,626; Time Spy: 2,233
Cinebench R20 multi-core: 4,052
GeekBench 5: 1,504 (single-core); 7,743 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 (Modern Office):
6,498
PCMark 10 (Battery life test): 8 hours and 43 minutes
TechRadar Battery Life Test: 9 hours and 39 minutes
Total War: Warhammer III (1200p, Ultra): 19 fps; (1200p, Low): 33 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 (1200p, Ultra): 18 fps; (1200p, Low): 34 fps
Dirt 5 (1200p, Ultra): 20 fps; (1200p, Low): 40 fps 

We’d love to say that the Acer Swift Edge blew us away with its performance, but the AMD Ryzen 6800U at the core of this laptop doesn’t quite measure up to the latest laptop offerings from Intel and Apple.

That’s not to say it’s bad, by any means: for day-to-day work, the Edge felt quick and responsive to use, whether we were watching videos or replying to emails. The 1TB drive is speedy as heck, so transferring large files was a cinch and I never felt held back by any one component here.

In both single- and multi-core synthetic workloads, the Swift Edge underperformed very slightly when compared to the likes of Apple’s M2 chip or Intel’s 12th-gen Core i7 processors. It’s not dreadful – at this price point, we’d actually consider the performance very reasonable – but bear that in mind if you’re gunning for high performance.

The integrated Radeon graphics found on the Ryzen 6800U do their job well enough but don’t expect to be doing any heavy-duty video editing work here – if you need powerful graphical performance, you’ll need to opt for something with a dedicated video card (or a MacBook, with the M1 and M2 chips’ impressive integrated graphics cores.

Still, we were relatively impressed with how the Radeon graphics performed in games, with most modern titles playable at 30+fps provided you dropped the resolution down to FHD (well, technically 1200p due to that display aspect ratio) and lowered the graphical settings. It’s not going to give any bonafide gaming laptops a run for their money, but for a bit of casual gaming, the Swift Edge can manage just fine – a testament to AMD’s continued insistence that it’s the brand of choice for gamers.

Our only major criticism here is that the Edge’s fans are a tad noisy. They don’t run constantly, but the super-slim chassis means that there’s limited space for thermal solutions inside the casing, so the fans do kick in during more demanding tasks and have a distinctly perceptible whine – something you can avoid entirely with the fanless MacBook Air.

Performance: 4 / 5

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Swift Edge: Battery life

Can’t quite crack the 10-hour markBright screen is a drain on the batteryIncluded charger is pleasingly compact

The battery life of the Acer Swift Edge is… well, it’s fine. It’s not amazing – plenty of lightweight notebooks like this have managed to make it past 10 hours of continuous use in our tests, after all – but it’s not exactly terrible either. It’ll last long enough for you to get a day’s work done, provided you don’t have that OLED display cranked up to maximum brightness.

We’d like to take a moment here to focus on something related to the battery: the charger. As per new EU legislation, devices in Europe will be required to adopt USB-C as a universal connection standard starting in 2024, with some other countries (like India) following suit. Naturally, international tech manufacturers won’t be making unique non-USB-C models of their products for regions outside the EU, so Acer has made a head start on the new regulations by making USB-C the charging standard for the Swift Edge.

That means no weird proprietary charging port, and a nice compact USB-C charger with no clunky adapter brick, which will also be able to charge other devices – like a phone, a Nintendo Switch, or basically anything that uses a USB-C port for charging. We’re sure to see more of this in the future, but it doesn’t make it any less great to see right now!

Battery Life: 4 / 5

(Image credit: Future)

Should you buy an Acer Swift Edge?

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

Also consider

Acer Swift Edge: Report card

First reviewed January 2023

How We Test

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained – regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it’s on our radar.

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