Acer Swift 3X review | PCWorld

The Acer Swift 3X builds upon an already-strong foundation by adding a dash of Intel’s special sauce.

Our review of last year’s Intel-based Acer Swift 3 was torn. “How do you rate a laptop that you really enjoyed using, yet whose performance is otherwise disappointingly weak?” we mused at the beginning. The eminently portable Swift 3 ticked all the boxes that made for a great notebook but lagged far behind its rivals in raw horsepower.

Enter the Acer Swift 3X. Moving from Intel’s 10th-gen Core processors to the latest 11th-gen Tiger Lake offerings alone provides a significant speed boost, but the ‘X’ in the name hints at the true star of this show. The Swift 3X is the first Acer laptop with Intel’s new Iris Xe Max discrete graphics chip inside, complete with “Deep Link” software tricks that lets it join forces—sometimes—with Tiger Lake’s integrated Xe graphics to boost performance in productivity tasks. It’s also the first Intel Iris Xe Max laptop to cross our test bench.

So does that ‘X’ mark the sweet spot for content creators on the go? It very much depends on your particular workloads. But there’s no doubt that this is a competently designed laptop, and when Intel’s Deep Link can stretch its legs, the results can leave even Nvidia RTX GPUs in the dust.

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

Acer Swift 3X specs and features

Before we get into that, though, let’s take a look at the laptop’s loadout.

acer swift 3x colors Acer

Acer offers two different Swift 3X configurations with Iris Xe Max. A more affordable model ($900 on Amazon) combines Intel’s Core i5-1135G7 quad-core processor, which tops out at 4.2GHz clock speeds, with 8GB of GDDR4X memory and a 512GB SSD. The model we’re testing (the poetically named SF314-510G-767Y, $1,200 on Amazon) bumps that up to a faster 4.7GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7, and doubles the memory and storage. It feels like a steal if you can put the extra hardware to good use.

  • Display: 14-inch 1920×1080 IPS 16:9 panel with 72% NTSC color gamut, 300 nits of brightness
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-1165G7
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Max discrete GPU with 4GB of LPDDR4X memory; integrated Iris Xe graphics in processor
  • Memory: 16GB dual-channel LPDDR4X
  • Storage: 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • Ports: 1 USB-C 3.2 gen 2 with Thunderbolt 4, DisplayPort, and USB charging; 2 USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports; full-sized HDMI 2.0; 3.5mm jack for headset/mic; Kensington lock; power
  • Security: Fingerprint reader (Windows Hello); Kensington lock
  • Camera: 720p (user-facing, with SHDR)
  • Battery: 58.7Wh (reported), 58.5Wh (actual)
  • Wireless: WiFi 6 (Intel AX201 802.11ax dual band, 2×2 MU-MIMO); Bluetooth 5.1
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home
  • Dimensions (inches): 12.71 x 8.35 x 0.71
  • Weight: 3.02 pounds
  • Color: Steam Blue (reviewed) or Safari Gold
  • Price: $1,200 at Amazon

Acer Swift 3X design impressions

On the whole, the Acer Swift 3X nails the vibe it’s going for. This is a small, light, affordable, and long-lasting laptop targeting on-the-go content creators.

acer swift 3x angle Acer

Those characteristics have rarely melded before, as content creation laptops have typically cost and weighed more due to their need for discrete graphics chips. The Iris Xe Max is a discrete GPU, but it’s basically identical to the integrated Xe graphics in Intel’s Tiger Lake chips. The Xe Max, however, is split out and paired with 4GB of its own low-power LPDDR4X memory, rather than the usual higher-power GDDR5 or GDDR6. That upgrade, though somewhat modest, means Xe Max can be used in smaller, cheaper laptops like the Swift 3X. We’ll dive deeper into the capabilities of Intel’s discrete GPU and Deep Link technology later.

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