Even in a crowded field, the Acer Swift laptops have usually had enough about them to catch the eye – over the last few years the Taiwanese manufacturer has developed a good habit of putting together laptops that are pleasingly designed and competitively priced.
This Acer Swift 5 is new and updated for 2020: a 14-inch ultra-portable that focuses on being as thin and light as possible, while still packing in enough power to get you through most tasks comfortably (our review model had an Intel i5 Core CPU and 8GB of RAM).
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It's definitely a looker, with thin bezels and a smooth and sleek design – our blue review model featured tasteful gold lettering on the keyboard and on the lid, and this isn't a laptop that you're going to be embarrassed to pull out and use at your local coffee shop.
Besides the unit that we're reviewing here, various other configurations are available from Acer – check your local laptop supplier for details. When it comes to the model we reviewed, the specs and price put it very much in the mid-range of the current market.
Acer Swift 5 review: design and build
We're very taken with the design of the Acer Swift 5 – our blue and gold review model oozes class and looks like a premium machine from every angle. From the matte finish of the keyboard and lid, to the subtle lighting under the keys, it's a really well put together laptop. Some of the keys are a little busy in terms of the text on them, but we're only talking about very minor problems in terms of the aesthetics of the Acer Swift 5.
The 14-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 pixel screen is a delight too – bright and sharp, and visible from an impressive range of angles. It might not be the highest resolution screen you can get on a laptop, but that doesn't really matter: the Acer Swift 5 has a great display, which shines whether you're typing out an essay or watching movies on Netflix.
With a weight of 990 grams, the Acer Swift 5 is fantastically portable too, easy to carry and hold in just one hand, and compact enough to slide into a bag when you're on the move. Thanks to those thin bezels around the display, you don't lose too much in terms of screen size to get down to these dimensions and this weight.
Despite its lightweight construction, this is a laptop that doesn't feel cheap or throwaway – you could be forgiven for thinking it was a computer that costs a lot more than it does. The laptop even looks good when it's closed, with a nicely styled hinge that has "Swift" written across it, while the lid closes shut with a reassuring click.
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Acer Swift 5 review: performance and features
Our review unit came with a 10th-gen quad-core Intel Core i5-1035G1 processor running at 1Ghz, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage space, and integrated (but decent) Intel UHD graphics. It's an impressive mid-range combo, and the laptop breezed through everything we could throw at it – the only tasks the Acer Swift 5 wouldn't be suitable for are video editing and running demanding games.
What we also like about the Acer Swift 5 is that it's very quiet in operation – we didn't notice any sound coming from it even as we ramped up the number of browser tabs and image files we had open at once, and even then it was very quiet. You can use this laptop wherever you go without worrying about attracting attention or distracting others.
Watching movies and shows is fine, and the integrated speakers just about do a job, so you don't have to rely on using headphones or separate speakers. Besides a headphone jack socket, you get a HDMI out port, a USB-C port, and two USB-A ports for connecting up your peripherals. Besides everything else, it's a versatile laptop too, and we're pleased to see a fingerprint sensor on board too, to make logging into Windows more straightforward.
Battery life is one aspect of the Acer Swift 5 that isn't top notch, but it's not terrible either: we were regularly getting six or seven hours between charges using the laptop normally, with a mix of work tasks and music and video streaming. That's not bad, and should get you through most of the working day if you're away from the office. If you're ramping up the screen brightness or running a lot of demanding tasks, you might not get that much.
Acer Swift 5 review: price and verdict
You should be able to pick up the Acer Swift 5 for a little under £1,000 if you shop around online, and that price point feels about right as well – it's not up there with the very best laptops on the market, but it's definitely not a budget machine either. At this price point, we'd say it offers better value than most laptops.
There's a lot to like about the Acer Swift 5, including the way that it looks and the way that it runs. If you're after a Windows 10 laptop at the moment, and your budget is around the £1,000 mark, then the Acer Swift 5 is definitely worth considering – especially if you want something that's as compact and portable as possible.
It's not a perfect laptop, with some of the keyboard key designs feeling cramped, and the battery life not particularly impressing us, but overall there are very few drawbacks – and no serious ones. Perhaps the biggest problem for the Acer Swift 5 is that there are so many other excellent Windows 10 laptops on the market.
We enjoyed using the Acer Swift 5 in our time with it, and were sad to have to give it back when our allotted review window was over – and that's always the sign of a good laptop. Keep this in mind if you're after a laptop that has a well-judged balance of price and performance, and plenty to like in the design department.