Acer Swift 3 SF313 Review – Not the fastest, but 3:2 screen and top battery

The SF313 stands out for its screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio, which also appears to have excellent brightness. The screen does have a glossy finish and you have to love that. The laptop also offers great value for money with an i5 processor, 8GB memory and a 1TB SSD. That hardware is not the fastest and faster laptops are available for heavy loads. The housing has also been cut, because it feels cheap and the USB 2.0 port and missing card reader look a bit clumsy. On the other hand, the battery life is very good, with 12 hours when browsing and 17 hours when watching video.


  • Good screen
  • Excellent battery life
  • A lot of hardware for your money


  • Cheap feeling housing
  • USB 2.0 connection and missing card reader
  • Not the fastest

Acer announced new laptops in the Swift series during CES. There were two interesting models in between. To begin with, there will be a version with an AMD Ryzen 4000 processor, but it is not yet available. The Intel version of the Swift 3 is now available, and it stands out for its unusual 3:2 aspect ratio and resolution similar to that of the Microsoft Surface Laptop. The rest of the hardware is not special in itself, with a Core i5 processor, 8GB memory and a 1TB SSD, which is enough for Intel for a Project Athena label. What is striking about these specifications is that you have to pay relatively little for it, namely nine hundred euros. This is actually a kind of cheap Surface Laptop variant from Acer. How does that work out?

We do not want to make the comparison with the Surface Laptop throughout the review, if only because the latter is a few hundred euros more expensive than the Swift 3. But we will do it with the housing anyway, because if you look at the design of the the Swift looks, there is no greater contrast imaginable than with the Surface Laptop. The latter has a beautifully finished metal housing, something that you can expect with laptops around a thousand euros. With the Swift 3, however, it’s a point that has been cut back, because although the housing is made of an alloy of magnesium and aluminum, it is quite thin and we initially mistook it for plastic. The result is a housing that is light, but is easy to warp, especially at the screen. The rest of the laptop feels a lot sturdier, but still cheap.which we reviewed earlier this year, on the other hand , had a housing that consists largely of metal.

Another cutback concerns the right USB port, which works at a maximum USB 2.0 speed. Fortunately, a USB 3.0 port is present on the left side of the laptop, but a slow USB port on a laptop of 900 euros is impractical. Next to the USB 3.0 port is a USB-C connection with support for Thunderbolt 3, which shows that Intel’s Project Athena program is paying off. Acer usually does not provide Thunderbolt support for its laptops because of the extra costs that entails, but it is a mandatory addition to be allowed to wear the Project Athena logo. It seems that Acer has therefore chosen to support Thunderbolt in this case. After that, the money apparently ran out, because a card reader for (micro) SD cards cannot be found on the laptop.

The keyboard consists of flat keys that give a somewhat weak feedback, especially if you have a firm touch. The amount of travel is exactly what you’d expect from a compact laptop: not great, but there are laptops like Dell’s XPS 13 and Apple’s butterfly keyboards that have even less travel. Another possible point of irritation is the white keyboard backlight on the silver keys. If the lighting is on and there is enough ambient light, the letters and the keys will have approximately the same color and you will not be able to read the lettering on the keys due to the lack of contrast. If you turn off the keyboard backlight, your problem is solved. We have no complaints about the touchpad. There is a lot of space for it and it registers all taps, presses and swipes without any problems.


Enough about the outside, time for the components on the inside. The processor is a Core i5-1035G4 of the Intel Ice Lake generation. There is a relatively fast Iris Plus GPU on board, with 48 execution units. That is not the fastest GPU that Intel can provide, because there are also Ice Lake processors with the G7 suffix that have 64 execution units. Furthermore, the SF313 is equipped with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. That SSD is an Intel 660p. That is a qlc ssd, which is not the fastest.

The processor also appears not to be the fastest, given the results in Cinebench and 3DMark Physics. That seems to be because Acer has adjusted the processor somewhat economically. When running Cinebench, the consumption shoots up to 32 watts and the clock frequency rises above 3GHz. Unfortunately, that doesn’t last long, about ten seconds, and then the clock frequency drops because the consumption is limited to 15 watts. If you only load one core, 15 watts is enough to be fast in Cinebench Single, but if all four cores are put to work, there are plenty of laptops that are a lot faster. In the graphics benchmark of 3DMark, the Swift 3 does well again, because there is a clear difference between the Acer with Iris GPU and laptops with the regular UHD Graphics GPU.

Image quality

The screen is the most striking part of the Swift 3, because a 3:2 panel with a resolution of 2256×1504 pixels has been chosen. As far as we know, that resolution was previously only used by Microsoft in the Surface Laptop, but Acer has now also purchased panels with that resolution. The company has not done this with the same manufacturer as Microsoft, because it uses Sharp panels, while those in the Swift 3 come from BOE. The 3:2 panel has more vertical space than the usual 16:9 panels. You notice this on web pages, for example, where you have to scroll less and have more information on your screen at the same time. You will of course also notice it with films, where you usually have black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

Back to the quality of the image: the BOE panel is not inferior to the Sharp panel in the Surface. The brightness is a bit higher than with the Laptop 3 and the contrast is about the same level. Optically, the contrast seems even higher because Acer has given the screen a glossy finish. However, there is no touchscreen behind it and in our opinion there should have been an anti-reflective layer on the screen, because of the reflections that a glossy screen entails.

Battery life and upgrades

Of course, we also look at the battery life and the Project Athena label is also important. The battery life should come from Intel at nine hours during daily use and sixteen hours when playing a local video. Intel uses a brightness of 150cd/m², slightly lower than the 180cd/m² that we use for our battery tests.

We’ve run three battery tests to see if the Swift 3 does indeed meet the requirements and it appears to be, although it’s unclear how Intel defines ‘mixed use’. If we browse continuously, the battery life is at least more than twelve hours, but in the much heavier PCMark Creative battery test, the battery is empty a lot faster and we arrive at four hours and twenty minutes. When watching video, the Swift surprised us and we managed almost seventeen hours despite the slightly higher brightness.

That long battery life is partly due to the large 56Wh battery that Acer has installed, but also due to the use of lpddr4 memory. That is nice and economical, but has the disadvantage that you cannot replace it.

If you take the bottom off the laptop, the SSD and wireless network card are the only upgradeable parts. What we also noticed at the bottom is that the heat pipe that runs over the processor package does make contact with the CPU, but not with the PC next to it. We re-run some benchmarks to see if this might be the cause of the low CPU score, but the temperatures the laptop reported didn’t seem to rise too much. The throttling is therefore because Acer wanted to curb the maximum consumption.


The SF313 is not the fastest laptop in terms of CPU, although that statement needs some nuance. The processor can briefly boost itself to high frequencies and if only one core is used it can even hold it for a while. However, there are faster laptops for heavier use with long-term stress on all cores. The same actually applies to the SSD. The Intel 660p is a QLC SSD and with average use you will not notice the difference with a TLC or MLC SSD, but it can be the case under heavy load. The Swift 3 will therefore be fast enough for the average user.

Where the Swift 3 really excels are the screen and the battery life. The screen has a 3:2 ratio and we can appreciate that, just like the high brightness and good contrast. We are less enthusiastic about the glossy screen finish, but that is a matter of taste. The battery life is excellent, especially when playing video.

The purchase price is attractive, because for nine hundred euros there are few laptops that offer an i5 processor combined with 8GB memory and a 1TB SSD. However, you can see that other aspects have been cut for this, because the housing feels a bit cheap, the USB2.0 port is impractical and you can purchase a card reader yourself. On the other hand, the screen makes the Swift 3 unique, and that, together with the battery life, is a good reason to purchase one.