You don't see value like this in a laptop every day
Reviewed in the United States on 13 June 2020
I try really hard not to do same-day delivery reviews, no matter how great I think the product is because you can never tell on that first day what might go wrong later. However, I am actually confident and happy enough with this one to go for it. If I make amendments later, they won't likely be anything that changes this rating. (updated 6/19/20 - one week, using it for work in web design and content creation, still love it)
I needed a business-appropriate laptop. My requirements for this were pretty simple: something with a sharp but conservative appearance, MOBILE (not heavy or bulky), but also just as powerful (or capable of being just as powerful) as my much larger personal laptop. It came down to this and the Lenovo Flex. I chose this because the design was all metal, and I liked Macbook Airs when working as an Apple systems manager for their durability, style, and mobility. It's just a shame the RAM is not upgradeable (it's soldered). The RAM on the Lenovo Flex is not upgradeable either, though. It also comes with a weaker processor (Ryzen 5, which isn't quite on the i7's level). I doubt anyone will need more than 8 to 16GB of RAM in the lifetimes of these laptops. I knew that if I got a Ryzen 5 that would just make me want the Ryzen 7 processor more (you can never upgrade processors in a laptop). So, despite toting less RAM, Swift still came out as the winner both in design and performance when I compared it up close to the Flex online.
I worried a bit when I read a review that complained about the screen and graphics on Swift being almost unusable. But I clearly had nothing to worry about. Those professional reviewers sometimes can get so snobby with hardware, they set the bar higher than anyone in the real world would ever set it.
The screen is semi-matte. I have very sensitive eyes, sensitive enough that I often have to wear blue light blocking glasses to deal with sunlight, bright indoor lights, or computer light. Even the slightest flicker is noticeable to me in a very uncomfortable, painful kind of way that strains my eyes. There's the tiniest amount of flicker in this display. It is NOTHING like the reviews have been describing, which made me afraid I wouldn't be able to use this laptop. It's VERY easy on my eyes after switching the AMD Radeon settings to Enhanced and High Res (which simultaneously smoothes and sharpens up the text, making it more legible). It also does NOT have a glossy, highly reflective screen. The screen is semi-matte at the worst (honestly, it's not even that much), and it's full matte once it's turned on. Evidently Acer has switched displays after the complaints (they tend to be good about doing things like that). It gets super bright, and the colors are close to true as far as I can tell - only publishing something is going to reveal the truth there, which I haven't done yet. But again, I can't believe what a close call it is to a Macbook Air.
The graphics performance: It's not a gaming laptop, though I'm sure it is good enough to play most games on medium and would be PERFECT for a student. It's definitely strong enough to perform smoothly for graphic artists, photographers, and anyone that tends to keep a ton of tabs open in their browser. Smooth scrolling and rendering, no lag or glitching.
I cannot compliment the Ryzen 7 processor enough. I am moving from an 8th gen i7 and the Ryzen 7 is WAY more responsive and less prone to freezing or errors. I can very easily believe it maxes out at 4ghz. Those eight cores handle multitasking like a true champ.
I was worried the RAM would give me some issues with work because it's only 8gb and it's also underpowered to help boost battery performance. So far, I've been surprised to find that this low-powered RAM actually keeps up with me despite my issues with never exiting or closing windows, lol.
The keyboard is extremely comfortable if you have small to medium-sized hands. There is some time to adjust to the smaller form factor. Large handed people will immediately hate the keyboard because it's compact. This being said, it IS a large keyboard as far as COMPACT keyboards go, and it is 100% identical to the keyboard on the Macbook Air. Same feel and everything. Backlit keys, which you can switch on or off. Something SUPER cool is that Acer figured out how to include a Numlock and number keypad on it by marking some of the letter keys with numbers, then adding a Numlock. (check my pictures)
If you turn on the manual equalizer in the audio settings and crank it up, the speakers actually get really loud, and they're nice that way too (no rattle, no stress on the drivers). By default though, I can easily see tons of folks complaining about the speakers not getting loud. They don't get loud at all by default. With the equalizer maxed out, I would compare them to a mini Bluetooth speaker.
In short, don't buy this for audio unless you're planning on connecting it to different speakers. For normal casual usage, like watching YouTube videos or streaming movies, the built-in speakers should be just fine.
The lid is very well hinged. The screen is reinforced as well. Dropping it may cause some cosmetic damage, but it should hold up in most cases. At the worst, you'll be looking at a little cosmetic damage (scratches, dings) and a busted screen. Which is better than what you could face with the typical plastic body. I once dropped a plastic body laptop off the back of my car (I was an idiot and left it on the hood). It totally destroyed the body... the laptop still worked, but there was bare PCB board everywhere. It was ugly, lol.
Now, there are complaints about battery life on this, but I haven't had any problems. I also didn't go with default settings in some key areas, though. I changed the Radeon settings to focus more on battery life than performance. Then I changed the power settings to best battery life. Now, I don't consider this to be much, especially with my huge collection of background apps, but considering complaints saying the battery wouldn't last more than an hour... hmmm. I'm not seeing it. I've been on battery for an hour now, and have 12h 46m remaining after charging to 98%. I'm guessing the expected battery life will hang somewhere between 4.5h and 6h on medium.
Overall, it's a great machine and an awesome value in my book. I have no idea why the pro reviewers thought so poorly of it (though they did give it respect as a budget laptop). Maybe they were comparing it to more expensive laptops instead of comparing it to other models in this price range....? Or maybe the older version of this was really that bad.
Whatever. I'm sticking with this because IT WORKS.
Update: Two months later... it's still running like the day I got it. I'm actually shocked that it continues to perform so well on 8GB of energy saving RAM. I am guessing the difference lies in a combo of using a better processor and using a solid state drive. My other laptop has an A12, which is quad core and goes up to 3ghz - this Ryzen 7 is octacore and goes up to 4ghz.
The Care Center app has a function in it to make the battery only change to 80% when it's plugged in (saves the battery cells from being burned out). So despite using it plugged in all the time, I have not lost any battery health. It still goes for six hours or more off battery.
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