Acer Swift 5 review: A small miracle

There are tiny laptops and then there are tiny laptops. Even now, when thin-and-lightweight everything is the norm, I’m still sometimes surprised by just how thin-and-lightweight we’re talking. Such is the case with the new Acer Swift 5, which is officially billed as “the lightest 14-inch clamshell notebook that offers the option for dedicated Nvidia GeForce graphics.”

A bit convoluted, but I think what Acer’s trying to say is it’s really damn light. The Swift 5 is a full-size(ish) laptop that weighs less than some tablet hybrids. That’s impressive—though unless weight is the only feature you care about, the Swift 5 can feel limiting in other regards. Let’s dig in.

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.


Note that Acer said the Swift 5 is the lightest 14-inch with the option for a discrete Nvidia graphics card, specifically the GeForce MX250. And I stress option because our review unit didn’t include one.

Instead, our $1,000 model (SF514-54T-76PY) opted for Intel’s Iris Plus graphics, along with an Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor, 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and a 512 GB SSD.

Acer Swift 5 (SF514-54T-76PY) IDG / Hayden Dingman

And to keep matters simple, I’m only going to talk about the latest Swift 5 family members. The line is a few years old now and Acer sells quite a few models through its website, most of them equipped with Intel’s older 8th-gen parts.

There are only two new models at the moment, and ours is the more expensive of the two. The other is a $900 variant built around an i5-1035G1 processorRemove non-product link with the latest Intel UHD Graphics. Given the small difference in price I’d probably recommend the more powerful Iris Plus machine, though for day-to-day word processing and web browsing either should suffice.

Aw, look at the wittle waptop

No matter which Swift 5 you decide on, it’s going to be small—and kind-of…cute? Cute’s a weird word to use with a laptop, but it nevertheless feels appropriate. It’s like seeing a tiger cub or something. Sure, the larger version might look sleek and ferocious, but shrunk down to half-size? Aww, it’s adorable.

Acer Swift 5 (SF514-54T-76PY) IDG / Hayden Dingman

Which is not to imply the Swift 5 isn’t sleek-looking. It is, once you get past the size. Acer’s settled on a blue steel color for the metal chassis (a magnesium-lithium alloy), and while I usually prefer to stick to neutral tones I have to admit that the Swift 5 looks pretty stunning in person. The effect is heightened by using gold for the keyboard lettering, which could have been tacky if it weren’t such a subtle contrast.

Did I mention it’s small? It’s small. I can’t say it enough. The 300-nit 1920×1080 IPS display is cradled by ultra-thin bezels (Acer cites 3.97mm), which make it feel bigger than 14 inches. But no! Measuring 12.5×8.3x.0.59 inches total, the real coup is the Swift 5’s 990 gram weight, which…

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