It seems that the world of laptops is undergoing a revolution. What was once a dream for enthusiasts or ardent fans of AMD processors now is a reality. Let’s find out if Acer Swift 3 (SF314-42) with the new AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor can revolutionize the notebook market.
It’s no secret that AMD is doing better and better on the desktop processor market. And this is clearly seen in the sales statistics. However, the laptop market is a bit more complicated, because a lot of things depend on partners, since no one sells the processors themselves.
For a long time there were no two opinions: if you need a fast laptop, then you need a laptop with an Intel processor. However, there are now more and more portable devices based on AMD Ryzen processors. As you may have guessed, we will talk about the new Acer Swift 3 ultrabook, which is equipped with the latest AMD Ryzen 5 4500U. Let’s try to find out whether the laptop will be successful, as well as the processor itself.
Three Acer Swift 3 configurations with AMD Ryzen processors
Acer Swift 3 series has long been on the laptop market and managed to gain popularity among users. Which is not surprising, because the devices of these series are not only elegant, compact and easy to use, but also quite powerful. In addition, they are not very expensive. Until some time, almost all ultrabooks of this series had Intel processors. But Acer decided to take a chance, and maybe surprise customers and release models based on AMD Ryzen processors.
For those who are interested, I’ll tell you a little about the history of AMD mobile processors in modern laptops. AMD Renoir is the third generation of mobile APUs using Zen architecture. Two years ago, the first generation Raven Ridge was introduced, created using a 14-nm process technology.
A year later we got a second generation APU Picasso, with improvements in the Zen+ architecture and a newer 12nm process technology.
In early 2020, AMD revealed the third generation, Renoir, which, thanks to the use of Zen 2 architecture, brought more changes. In addition to increasing productivity, energy efficiency has also improved thanks to the 7nm process technology.
The integrated graphics system, which is still based on the Vega architecture, has been improved, now it is also built on a 7-nm process technology. In terms of improvements, the new iGPUs are closer to Radeon VII than to previous versions of Vega. Unlike the previous two generations of APUs, Renoir systems will receive iGPUs with a maximum of 8 CUs.
Reducing the space should increase energy efficiency, as well as increase the efficiency of each CU compared to Picasso – in this case, the manufacturer claims to increase efficiency by 59%. To increase the data transfer rate, the Data Fabric interface has been doubled. In addition, due to the transition to a new process technology, the core clock frequency has increased to 25% – in the case of iGPU Vega 6, the clock frequency is 1500 MHz. In turn, in Radeon with 7 CU units, the clock frequency is up to 1600 MHz. A variant of the laptop with 8 GB of RAM DDR4, soldered on the board, supports 3200 MHz.
However, this year we can buy Acer Swift 3 both on the basis of processors of the 10th generation of Intel, and on AMD Ryzen processors. Moreover, the latter are already released in three configurations: AMD Ryzen 3 4300U (4 cores), Ryzen 5 4500U (6 cores) and Ryzen 7 4700U (8 cores). But the most interesting thing is that in all models for the first time have proprietary AMD Radeon Graphics. An “average” Acer Swift 3 model with a Ryzen 5 4500U is what I’m about to test.
What’s in the box – and first impressions
And the long-awaited Acer Swift 3 ultrabook is finally here. It always amazes me that Acer still ships its devices in a simple cardboard box. No bright glossy pictures, just the necessary information about the device. Inside, I found the laptop itself and the power adapter with a cable. The power adapter itself is compact, although quite powerful (65 watts).
I won’t write much about first impressions. From the first second you realize that you have an Acer Swift ultrabook in your hands. Silver work surface, the same lightness of construction. I was pleased that, finally, there are no various stickers on the work surface. No more ads for processors, graphics accelerators, etc.
Elegant body and lightweight construction
There are two elements of Acer Swift 3 that separate it from the rest, although it is worth noting that the design of the Swift 3 series has not changed much in recent years. The latest model has been slightly reduced in size, but still resembles an earlier version of Swift, and there is a little resemblance to the Apple MacBook Air (2020).
The device case is simple, with clear slightly curved edges and thin edges. The appearance of the laptop is restrained and even slightly ascetic.
This cannot be a disadvantage, as the Swift series laptops always looked neat and simple, but at the same time elegant. In addition, the silver version always looks good regardless of the environment.
On the outer cover we find only the manufacturer’s logo – it’s also in the area under the screen. Almost the entire body is made of magnesium-aluminum alloy, while previous versions of Swift 3 were mostly made of plastic. This affects usability; you might think this is a high-end ultrabook.
Only the frames around the matrix are made of plastic.
Thanks to the silver color, the case is much more resistant to dirt, and, in addition, higher quality materials improved the rigidity of the entire structure. The sturdiness of the new Acera Swift 3 is also better than its predecessors. When typing on the keyboard, the surface does not bend, only a hard press causes some deformation of the keyboard.
The thickness of the device is less than 2 centimeters, and the weight is only 1.2 kg. The laptop is easy to hold with one hand, and due to the modest weight, we do not even feel it in a backpack. The central hinge allows you to tilt the screen 180 degrees. All this creates the impression of hardness, integrity and structural strength.
Small changes compared to its predecessors are visible after opening the lid of the laptop. There are slimmer bezels and, in addition, the work area is slightly shorter and has a recess, making it easier to unfold the laptop. But you will not be able to open the lid with one hand due to the rather rigid hinge. I consider this a virtue rather than a disadvantage.
In the latest version of Swift 3, based on Intel Ice Lake and AMD Renoir processors, the number and type of connectors were reduced compared to previous models on the Whiskey Lake and Picasso platforms. Now on the left side you will find a round-shaped charging connector, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C connector (with DisplayPort and Power Delivery support), an HDMI 2.0 port and USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A.
On the right side there is a Kensington lock, indicators for charging and operating mode of the device, a connector for USB 2.0 Type A and a combined mini-jack (headphones/microphone).
Although for many people removing one USB-connector and a card reader can be a problem, in the end, for such a compact device, the set of ports and connectors is quite decent.
What’s inside? Can we upgrade it?
Getting inside the laptop is very easy. Simply unscrew the 10 PH1 screws and lift the lower case along the edge. But be careful, because the plastic covers hold the case very tightly. However, you probably won’t have to do this too often, as the upgrade options are limited.
Having removed the bottom, we see a cooling system consisting of one fan, radiator and one heat pipe. You can also see the very small AMD Ryzen 5 4500U APU. The RAM in each version is soldered without the possibility of replacement. On the right, you will find one M.2 slot for SSDs supporting the PCIe x4 Gen.3 NVMe interface. There we’ll find the SSD. Also, a lot of space is taken by a 48 W*h lithium-ion battery.
As you can see, you won’t be able to upgrade much, even though you can replace the drive with a bigger one. This must be considered when buying a laptop.
Great keyboard, comfortable touchpad and two stereo speakers
Acer Swift 3 laptops come without a numpad. Interestingly, this time the manufacturer decided to use light-colored keys. But at the same time, the characters on the keys are dark, very thin. The keys have a white backlight. This means that in some conditions, the markings on the keys are practically invisible.
I would rather prefer the black background of the keys and the white font. But this isn’t a big issue.
The only changes and potentially minor flaws are the lack of CapsLock indication, and the bright color of the buttons.
The keys themselves are rather soft. I really enjoyed typing on the Swift 3 keyboard. Although it is not good enough to play video games. Still, this is more of a laptop for office work than for games. The arrow keys themselves also have a significantly reduced size, which makes them difficult to use. It doesn’t even help that the Pg Up (Home) and Pg Down (End) buttons are located right next to these keys.
The reduction in size of the device led to a noticeable decrease in the surface of the touch panel. Nevertheless, it is convenient to use. It is still located almost in the center directly under the keyboard.
Using the touchpad is quite comfortable, although there were some cases where I found the relatively slippery surface a bit inconvenient. Also, I lament the lack of the separation of the right and left mouse buttons. It’s a pity that the bottom of the pad tends to bend too much when you press your fingers in these places. Unfortunately, it does not make a good impression. But in general, I didn’t have any complaints about the touchpad, and I think you won’t either.
On the right, almost in the corner under the keyboard, you will definitely notice the indentation of the fingerprint scanner. It is very convenient to have reliable protection of your personal data at hand. In addition, the scanner works almost flawlessly. There is no need to enter passwords and PIN codes each time. Put your finger, and instantly get access to the system.
The Acer Swift 3 is equipped with two stereo speakers, traditionally located on the bottom of the device at the front along the edges. One speaker is located on the left, the other on the right. Despite the fact that the sound is relatively clean and you can listen to it without gritting your teeth, by default there are not enough low frequencies. This spoils all the sound coming out of the speakers. On the plus side, the sound is much less flat than before, and the new speakers sound better overall. Watching movies and listening to your favorite music is possible, if there are no other options.
Medium quality IPS matrix
Unfortunately, the latest version of Swift 3 with Ryzen 5 has a fairly average LP140WFA-SPD1 (LGD05F5) matrix from LG Display.
The 14-inch IPS panel with a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels is characterized by an acceptable maximum brightness (291.5 cd/m2), a very low degree of coverage of color palettes (sRGB in only 54.4% and Adobe RGB in 37.8%). In addition, the color rendition is mediocre (the maximum value of Delta E is 7.65 and the average value is 4.98) and the temperature is chilled white (7010K). At least we have a decent contrast (1:1121) and a matte finish that limits the reflection of light in bright conditions.
It is worth noting that some Swift 3 models are equipped with the AU Optronics B140HAN04.0 matrix from the Swift 1 model (which is almost half the price). Unfortunately, this screen has similar properties.
Thus, regardless of the configuration, screens with such parameters are not suitable for professional photo or video editing, but they are fine for everyday tasks, such as editing documents, browsing or watching videos.
|Acer Swift 3 SF314-42 – screen specifications|
|Size and type of matrix||14″, IPS, matte|
|resolution||1920 х 1080 pixels|
|maximum brightness||291.53 cd/m2|
|Black brightness (at 180 cd/m2)||0,16 cd/m2|
|Real contrast (static)||1:1121|
|White color temperature (ideally: 6500 K)||7010 K.|
Acer Swift 3 performance
The heart of the Acer Swift 3 laptop is the 6-core and 6-thread AMD Ryzen 5 4500U. The Integrated Radeon Graphics accelerator with 6 computing units handles graphics.
We do not have a dedicated graphics subsystem, and therefore the platform should be energy efficient and carefully manage resources, for example, when running on battery power.
A little about the AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor used in the laptop. It has all of the TSMC Zen 2 and 7nm process architecture improvements. The use of the new lithography in combination with the new architecture gives impressive results in the field of energy efficiency – the results, which are currently unattainable for Intel.
The new APU processor has six cores and six threads. The base clock frequency is 2.3 GHz with the possibility of increasing in turbo mode to a maximum of 4.0 GHz. In addition, the Ryzen 5 4500U APU is equipped with integrated Radeon Graphics with 6 active CUs and a much higher clock speed of up to 1500 MHz. The new APU Renoir also has an improved DDR4 memory controller, this time compatible with 3200 MHz memory and 4266 MHz LPDDR4X. The APU supports 10-bit H-codec.
The APU also has an integrated Vega 6 graphics chip, which beats Intel UHD Graphics 620 and Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4/G7 in efficiency. The iGPU installed here has a total of 8 computing units, of which 6 are active. Vega 6 uses the laptop’s RAM and, depending on the configured mode (single-channel or dual-channel), will work at either half or full speed. Mobile Vega 6 has 384 unit blocks, 24 texture units and 8 render units. The bandwidth of the LPDDR4X 4266 MHz memory is 68.3 GB/s.
The Acer Swift 3 I tested was equipped with a 256 GB M.2 format Samsung MZLQ SSD that supports the modern PCIe x4 Gen.3 NVMe interface, but also uses QLC memory slots. The drive is moderately fast for its class, as evidenced by the results obtained in the CrystalDiskMark program. Especially in the case of sequential reads reaching 1.5 GB/s. The recording is similar, allowing up to 1 GB/s. Therefore, Windows 10 on this laptop is fast and smooth.
The model I tested had 8 GB of RAM, which, as I wrote above, is soldered to the board. But there are options with 16 GB of RAM. Although even 8 GB of RAM is enough for a modern device on Windows 10.
Of course, we have before us a laptop for everyday office work with documents, files, for viewing video content and performing simple photo editing. Although you can play on it, don’t expect highest settings. Of course, the lack of a discrete graphics card is to blame. Therefore, do not expect a miracle and high FPS in your favorite game. Still, Vega 6 is weaker than GeForce MX150 (1D12) or Iris Plus 940.
As for the communication capabilities of Acer Swift 3, it supports the new generation Wi-Fi 6. I was able to test its capabilities, as now I have a new Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 router for a review. Also, the manufacturer did not forget about support for Bluetooth 5.0. Sadly, there is no Ethernet connector, but with Wi-Fi 6 module on board it’s not a big deal.
Cooling system and temperature
To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised by how quiet is the cooling system. When performing simple tasks, such as browsing the Internet or watching a movie, the processor generates an almost insignificant amount of heat, effectively dissipated even by such a modest cooling system. Thus, most of the time the laptop case remains pleasantly cool over almost the entire surface, and its temperature does not exceed 25-27 °C.
If you use the laptop for long periods of time, the top of the panel starts to heat up. However, even in the hottest places (the central and right areas above the keyboard) the temperature does not exceed 40° C. Both sides of the keyboard remain noticeably colder, and their temperature is around 34° C. The touchpad and palm rest remain cool.
Temperatures at the bottom of the device are distributed in a similar way. Therefore, even lengthy gaming on a laptop should be convenient. Although I do not recommend keeping the laptop on your lap, as this definitely makes it difficult for air to reach the fan.
Excellent battery life of Acer Swift 3
Modern laptops are designed to work outside the home or office, so the issue of their energy efficiency is critical. Battery life is the main criterion for many people when choosing a laptop.
Of course, the ultrabook on the Ryzen 4500U should be very energy efficient, but this is even better than I expected! In normal everyday use, one charge lasted me for 13 hours. And with heavier tasks, including games, the battery life did not fall below 12 hours. This is a very good result, especially considering that the built-in battery is only 48 Wh*h.
The compact 65 W power supply is capable of fully charging the Acer Swift 3 from 0% to 100% in almost two hours. Although I would recommend that you do not starve the battery completely. Of course, it upset me that the manufacturer stubbornly ignores the possibility of using a USB Type-C connector for charging.
I admit that parting with the Acer Swift 3 was very difficult. It’s great that Acer decided to add the new AMD Ryzen 4000 Series APUs to its relatively inexpensive Swift 3 ultrabook.
The new version of the laptop fixed several shortcomings of its predecessor. First of all, the build quality has been improved, now the laptop is almost completely made of aluminum, and it looks much nicer. The speakers also got better, although they still lack bass.
I could not even imagine that even the 6-core and 6-thread AMD Ryzen 5 4500U will be able to compete with the Intel Core i7-1065G7, equipped with 3733 MHz LPDDR4X memory.
The new AMD Renoir processors also provide a very large leap in performance in the low-voltage segment compared to previous generation Picasso APUs. This time, the Renoir systems have nothing to be ashamed of (even the lack of SMT support), as they can easily compete with all low-voltage Intel processors at lower power consumption.
But, the display here leaves much to be desired, and there are certain problems with the keyboard. Poor upgrade options will also be an issue for some people. But all this is compensated by the smooth operation of the laptop, its high performance, as well as excellent battery life and the cooling system.
The new Acer Swift 3 will become your indispensable assistant in everyday office tasks, and it will handle lighter games with little problems. Counter Strike: Global Offensive will run on it with no problems, be sure of it. Having bought a new product from Acer, you will receive a reliable, high-quality ultrabook, which you will not be ashamed to work with in an office or a cafe. Most importantly, the device is highly rated by experts, and it has virtually no competitors in this price range.
- good build quality;
- small dimensions and weight;
- comfortable keyboard and touchpad;
- narrow bezels around the screen;
- Fingerprint scanner;
- support for Wi-Fi 6;
- processor performance;
- quiet and efficient cooling system;
- long battery life;
- Good value for money.
- Mediocre screen;
- there is no way to upgrade a laptop;
- average stereo speakers;
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