Acer Swift 1 review: a cheap lightweight laptop suited to students

The Acer Swift 1 looks great, it’s super portable and it has an impressive battery life

Acer Swift 1 review
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

A tight budget often means you’re restricted to clunky laptops. That’s not the case with the Acer Swift 1 though. It’s sleek, slim and has a decent quality screen, a long-lasting battery and it even has a fingerprint sensor. You do lose out on performance, but that shouldn’t be a huge issue if you just need it for typing, browsing and streaming Netflix.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Sturdy, attractive design

  • +

    Fantastic battery life

  • +

    Fingerprint sensor for extra security

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Screen isn't particularly bright

  • -

    Disappointing performance

  • -

    No MicroSD card slot

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This Acer Swift 1 review will be useful to those looking for one of the best laptops under £500 or for one of the best student laptops. Not only is it affordable, but it’s very portable and it looks good too. 

Acer is a trustworthy name in computing, offering solid reliable laptops for all types of users. The Acer Swift 1 is a portable PC that will be well suited to students, families or anyone on a budget. 

It has a 14-inch FHD display and a slim, lightweight build with slender bezels packed into a sleek design  - from first glance, you might expect this to be a much pricier laptop than it is. But have Acer favoured style over substance in creating this computer? Find out in this Acer Swift 1 review. 

Acer Swift 1 review: price and availability

Available to buy now, the Acer Swift 1 starts at $400 in the US, £350 in the UK and AU$420 in Australia - that’s for the model with an Intel Celeron N4500 processor, 4GB RAM and 64GB eMMC storage. 

I tested out the Acer Swift 1 with the Intel Pentium N6000 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage. You can buy it now for £400 in the UK and AU$550 in Australia. 

Acer Swift 1 review: display and design

Acer Swift 1 review

(Image credit: Future)

The 14inch Full HD LCD display has a resolution of 1920 x 1080p but it isn’t a touchscreen. While it won’t reach the brightness of the best laptops you can buy, the matte ComfyView anti-glare filter does make it easier to see in bright sunlight. The IPS display should lend itself to decent viewing angles, which it does for the most part but admittedly you do get the best experience when you’re head-on to the screen. 

You’ll easily be able to get work done with the quality of the display, words look clear and the 16:9 aspect ratio fits enough onto the display. Videos look fine on it too, thanks to bright colours and sharp details. But if you’re looking for a laptop for creative tasks like photo editing or graphic design, the Acer Swift 1 won’t quite have the level of accuracy you’ll need on either count. 

In comparison to other laptops at this price, the Acer Swift 1 looks smart. That’s partly due to its metallic body and choice of colours. The laptop comes in Rose, Gold or Silver. Another factor that makes this laptop look more premium than it is is the slim, lightweight design and thin black bezels surrounding the display. The Acer Swift 1 only measures 14.95 x 322.8 x 212.2 mm, and at 1.3kg you won’t have any problems carrying it around in your backpack. You should find the charger to be very easy to take with you as well because it’s relatively small. 

Acer Swift 1 review

(Image credit: Future)

Around the frame, there are plenty of ports including two USB-3s, one USB-C and an HDMI, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s no SD card slot but that won’t be a major issue for most. The top bezel features a 720p webcam. It may not support facial recognition and there’s no privacy shutter, yet it’s still capable considering this is a budget PC. It’ll be perfectly fine for making video calls.

Using the low-profile keyboard feels easy. It's backlit, well-spaced out and responsive. While the keys don’t feel as smooth and premium as on other laptops, I didn’t find any problems with mistyping which is really what’s important, especially if you plan to use this for your work or studies. 

Below the keyboard, there’s a fingerprint sensor to unlock the computer. It works well even though its strip-like design isn’t the most intuitive or comfortable to use, but at this price, it’s quite rare to see this level of security tech anyway. The trackpad is big enough although the left and right clicks are a little too firm which meant it didn’t always register my press.

Acer Swift 1 review: performance and battery 

Acer Swift 1 review

(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to performance, this particular model is powered by an Intel Pentium N6000 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage - you can buy it with various different configurations depending on what you need from the laptop, and how much you are willing to spend. 

The Acer Swift 1 doesn’t offer much in the way of storage so you might want to invest in one of the best external hard drives or a cloud-based storage system to store all your files instead. 

To find how well the laptop will cope day-to-day, I ran the Geekbench 5 CPU benchmark test on it. It scored 500 in single-core and 1,505 in multi-core which is quite low so you could struggle to smoothly run software like Adobe Premiere Pro, for instance. When it comes to gaming, I used 3D Mark’s Timespy test, where the Acer Swift 1 picked up a score of 337 so you can’t expect to play games like World of Warcraft without suffering from a fair amount of lag. 

Long story short, this laptop isn’t going to get you through complex tasks and it will struggle to load larger games. But if you just need to use it for writing up documents, browsing the web or streaming from Netflix then it’ll get the job done, and its fans run quietly for the most part too.

While it may not be the speediest laptop in a general sense, you can be sure that you’ll get the fastest Wi-Fi speeds possible if you have a compatible outer at home because it does support the latest Wi-Fi 6. 

Acer Swift 1 review

(Image credit: Future)

The 4-cell battery seemed to last me through most of the day and then some. In that time I typed out a few documents, did a bit of online shopping and streamed shows on Netflix. To test it out more accurately, I ran a locally stored video over two hours on full brightness. In that time the battery level dropped by 16% which means the Acer Swift 1 should have lasted 12 and a half hours all in all - for an affordable laptop that’s excellent.

If you plan to watch a lot of Netflix on your next laptop, then the built-in speakers will be good enough for that. Don’t expect to get completely accurate audio though, and for listening to music you’ll definitely want to hook up a separate speaker or headphones because the volume doesn’t go particularly loud.

Running on Windows 10 Home, you get all the benefits you’d expect like access to the Cortana voice assistant as well as intuitive menus and easy-to-adjust settings. 

 Acer Swift 1 review: verdict 

Acer Swift 1 review

(Image credit: Acer)

Anyone looking for a basic, lightweight laptop on a budget should consider the Acer Swift 1. Not only does it look like a more premium device than it actually is, but it also offers a few different features you wouldn’t expect at this price like a fingerprint sensor and Wi-Fi 6 support. 

Naturally, you do have to make some sacrifices to keep the cost low and here it’s the performance that has taken a hit. For casual use or simple tasks like typing and browsing that won’t matter but if you need to load large games or software then this won’t work for you. 

So who is this laptop for? Well, it’s slim, light, modern and offers excellent battery life so it’ll be a great choice for students. It could also be worth considering if you’re looking for a PC for general everyday use or to share around the family. 

Acer Swift 1 review: also consider

For students, the HP Pavilion 14 is well-worth considering as well. It costs a similar amount to the Acer Swift 1 but offers slightly better performance and more in the way of storage. It even has a touchscreen display!

If your budget is a little more flexible and you’re keen to get a laptop that will be easy to carry with you, then the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon should be added to your shortlist.  At less than 1kg, it’s not just portable, it’s ultraportable. It’s roughly the size of an A4 notepad and for most everyday tasks it goes above and beyond what you'd expect at this price. 

Yasmine Crossland
Freelance Tech Expert

Yasmine is the former Reviews Writer for T3, so she's been knee-deep in the latest tech products for reviewing and curating into the best buying guides since she started in 2019. She keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to the most exciting and innovative tech and is happy to tell you exactly what she thinks about it too. In her free time, you'll catch her travelling the globe – the perks of being a freelance tech expert – tending to her plants when at home and, but of course, planning her next big trip.