Sunday, May 26, 2024

Acer Swift X 14 review: surprising performance, shocking price

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Acer Swift X 14 2024 front view showing display and keyboard.

Acer Swift X 14 (2024)

MSRP $1,700.00

Score Details

DT Recommended Product

“The Acer Swift X 14 is an impressively fast and portable creativity machine.”

Pros

  • Excellent productivity performance
  • Very good creative performance
  • Spectacular OLED display
  • Very good keyboard
  • Solid build quality
  • Competitive pricing

Cons

  • Boring aesthetic
  • Slightly disappointing battery life

There have been lots of solid alternatives to the 16-inch MacBook Pro recently, but the 14-inch model is a bit harder to compete with. Outside of gaming laptops, there are very few options that have the GPU performance to compete with the M3 Pro or M3 Max.

Contents

  • Specs and configurations
  • Design
  • Keyboard and mouse
  • Connectivity
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Display and audio
  • ConclusionShow 3 more items

Related

  • Acer gets serious about 14-inch gaming laptops

  • This Acer OLED laptop (almost) beats the MacBook Air 15 — and it’s cheaper

  • Acer’s new gaming laptops feature mini-LED, 3D displays, and affordable prices

But here comes the Acer Swift X 14, a portable laptop for creators with up to an RTX 4070. Throw in the 2.8K OLED display and an affordable price tag, and you have the makings of quite a compelling laptop — which is exactly what the Swift X 14 is.

Specs and configurations

 
Acer Swift X 14 SFX14-72G

Dimensions
12.71 inches x 8.98 inches x 0.74-0.80 inches

Weight
3.4 pounds

Processor
Intel Core Ultra 7 155H

Graphics
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070

RAM
16GB
32GB

Display
14.5-inch 16:10 2.8K (2880 x 1800) OLED, 120Hz

Storage
1TB SSD

Touch
Yes

Ports
2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1 x HDMI 2.1
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x microSD card reader

Wireless
Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3

Webcam
1080p

Operating system
Windows 11

Battery
76 watt-hours

Price

$1,400+

The Swift X 14 is available in two configurations. The first is priced at $1,400 and includes an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H chipset, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 GPU, and a 14.5-inch 2.8K OLED display. For $1,700, you get 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and an RTX 4070.

While those are premium prices, they’re relatively attractive for a creative-oriented 14-inch laptop that can be had with a very fast GPU. By comparison, the Swift X 14’s most important competitor, the Dell XPS 14, cost $2,500 when configured with the same chipset, RAM, storage, and GPU as Acer’s base model. The RTX 4050 is the XPS 14’s maximum, however, and upgrading it to 32GB of RAM costs $2,700. While the XPS 14 can be purchased with 64GB of RAM and up to 4TB of storage, it won’t be as fast in the kinds of creative apps that these two laptops are aimed at.

As we’ll see, the Swift X 14 is a powerful competitor to the XPS 14 while costing more than $1,000 less. That’s pretty impressive. Note that as of right now, the RTX 4070 configuration can’t yet be purchased. It’s expected to be available soon after this review is published, however.

Design

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

While Acer tuned the Swift X 14’s performance to be more of a power user and creator’s workstation, the laptop’s design is a little more like a gaming laptop. That is, its angles and rear vent, while not over the top, don’t have the same kind of modern aesthetic that you’ll find on the Dell XPS 14 and a contemporary 2-in-1 like the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 9. It goes without saying, but it also doesn’t have the clean elegance of the MacBook Pro 14.

Overall, though, that’s not as detrimental as it might sound. The Steel Gray color scheme carries through fairly consistently, with only a chrome Acer logo on the lid breaking it up. It’s overall a conservative look — it’s not just as sleek and “fashionable” as some other 14-inch options. Probably the one aspect that detracts are the plastic display bezels, which aren’t overlay large, but look a bit old school.

The build quality is very good, with no bending, flexing, or twisting in the all-aluminum chassis, lid, or keyboard deck. It’s not quite as rigid as the XPS 14, but I can’t complain. The hinge opens smoothly, albeit without the same feel as Dell’s dual-clutch version. While the Swift X 14 is lighter than the XPS 14 at 3.4 pounds versus 3.7 pounds, it’s considerably thicker at up to 0.80 inches versus 0.71 inches. It’s also slightly wider and deeper. The MacBook Pro 14 is a little heavier than the Acer at 3.6 pounds, but thinner than both it and the Dell at 0.61 inches. That makes the Swift X 14 a reasonably portable machine, but not quite as thin as some of its direct competitors.

The Swift X 14 isn’t the most attractive, modern, or svelte 14-inch laptop around. But it’s more than good enough, particularly when considering its reasonable price.

Keyboard and mouse

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The keyboard is a quality entry, with slightly small keycaps, but plenty of key spacing. The switches are the tiniest bit firm, but still springy and precise. I found it comfortable enough while typing this review and easier to get used to than the XPS 14’s zero-lattice keyboard, which has less key travel. The MacBook’s Magic Keyboard remains my favorite with its equally shallow keys, but incredibly snappy and precise switches.

The touchpad is large enough to be comfortable, which a precise swiping surface and quiet, confident clicks. It’s as good as most mechanical touchpads, but premium laptops are moving toward haptic touchpads , which I like a lot better. The XPS 14’s hidden haptic touchpad is very good, and once again, the MacBook’s Force Touch haptic touchpad remains the industry standard for a reason.

Acer does not offer a touchscreen with the Swift X 14. While many people don’t care, I do prefer a touch display. So, I missed one here.

Connectivity

The Swift X 14 has better connectivity than the XPS 14. Where the Dell is limited to just USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, the Acer has a solid mix of both modern and legacy ports. Like the XPS 14, the Swift X 14 has a microSD card reader, though I’d rather see a full-size version. The MacBook Pro 14 also has one, along with its own mix of ports.

Wireless connectivity on the Swift X 14 is good, with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. Some laptops are at Wi-Fi 7, but that standard won’t matter for years. The webcam is a 1080p version that provides a quality image.

Acer has its PurifiedView software that includes several AI-enhanced features and works with Windows Studio effect for automatic framing, advanced background blur, and gaze correction. Microsoft’s utility can take advantage of the Meteor Lake chipset’s Neural Processing Unit (NPU) for performance and efficiency, and Acer links to Gimp, which has a few NPU-enabled features. For the most part, though, the NPU isn’t currently of much use.

There’s no infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello facial recognition, which I prefer. It’s a little odd for it be missing on a premium laptop, but I suppose these are the areas Acer compromised on to cut costs. Fortunately, the fingerprint reader embedded in the power button works well enough.

Performance

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The Swift X 14 is a rare breed of laptop. There aren’t many non-gaming 14-inch machines that can be configured with an RTX 4070, and as stressed throughout this review, Acer’s biggest competitor is the XPS 14. While the XPS 14 uses the same 28-watt Core Ultra 7 155H chipset, which has 16 cores (six Performance, eight Efficient, and two Low Power Efficient) and 22 threads, it’s only available with the much slower RTX 4050.

Both laptops have a system thermal design power (TDP) of 80 watts, which affects the Acer more than the Dell. The RTX 4070 can take up to 115 watts, while the RTX 4050 takes a maximum of 50 watts. That means that the XPS 14 can give both the CPU and GPU their full power (not counting Turbo Power), while the Swift X 14 has to balance things a little more carefully by giving 30 watts to the CPU and 50 watts to the GPU. And it should be noted that the Swift X 14 is still a 14-inch laptop with less thermal headroom than the 16-inch machines where you typically find the RTX 4070.

That means that performance will naturally be more limited even with the Acer’s very aggressive cooling system that has fans that speed up quite a bit in performance and turbo modes. Some 16-inch machines, like the Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra and Dell XPS 16, also limit power to 80 watts (60 watts to their RTX 4070s), while the Lenovo Yoga Pro 9i 16 gives 130 watts to its RTX 4060 and 45-watt Core Ultra 9 185H chipset. It’s the leader among Windows laptops.

We reviewed the XPS 14 with the slightly faster Core Ultra 7 165H, so it would be just slightly slower in CPU-intensive tasks with the Core Ultra 7 155H that you can configure today.

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

As we see in our benchmarks, the Swift X 14 is competitive with the 16-inch Windows laptops, outside of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, a bona fide gaming laptop. It’s much faster across the board than the XPS 14 in all but Geekbench 6. Most importantly, it’s 46% faster than the XPS 14 in the PugetBench Premiere Pro benchmark that runs in a live version of Adobe’s Premiere Pro video-editing application. In Windows, that creative app uses the GPU to speed up various tasks, and the Swift X 14’s much faster GPU makes it a speedier creative workstation than the XPS 14.

Overall, these are impressive results for a non-gaming 14-inch laptop. The MacBook Pro 14 with the M3 Max chipset is much faster (I’m using the MacBook Pro 16’s scores in this comparison, but the 14-inch model is roughly as fast), but the MacBook is also a lot more expensive.

Geekbench 6
(single/multi)

Handbrake
(seconds)

Cinebench R24
(single/multi/GPU)

Pugetbench
Premiere Pro

Acer Swift X 14 2024
(Core Ultra 7 155H / RTX 4070)
Bal: 2,149 / 12,523
Perf: 2,172 / 12,591
Turbo: 2,173 / 12,686
Bal: 67
Perf: 66
Turbo: 65
Bal: 106 / 805 / 8,093
Perf: 107 / 842 / 9,110
Turbo: 107 / 887 / 9,600
Bal: 4,204
Perf: 4,678
Turbo: 5,168

Dell XPS 14
(Core Ultra 7 165H / RTX 4050)
Bal: 2,334 / 13,070
Perf: 2,344 / 12,818
Bal: 84
Perf: 72
Bal: 101 / 681 / 5,738
Perf: 100 / 772 / 5,811
Bal: 3,274
Perf: 3,547

Lenovo Yoga Pro 9i 16
(Core Ultra 9 185H / RTX 4060)
Bal: 2,396 / 14,270
Perf: 2,426 / 14,406
Bal: 59
Perf: 54
Bal: 110 / 1,085 / 9,859
Perf: 112 / 1,115 / 10,415
Bal: 5,774
Perf: 6,112

Dell XPS 16
(Core Ultra 7 155H / RTX 4070)
Bal: 2,196 / 12,973
Perf: 2,238 / 12,836
Bal: 72
Perf: 73
Bal: 100 / 838 / 9,721
Perf: 102 / 895 / 10,477
Bal: 5,401
Perf: 5,433

Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra
(Core Ultra  185H / RTX 4070)
Bal: 2,373 / 13,082
Perf: 2,331 / 13,381
N/A
Bal: 107 / 817 / 8,994
Perf: 106 / 985 / 10,569
Bal: 3,906
Perf: 5,669

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
(Ryzen 9 8945HS / RTX 4070)
N/A
N/A
Bal: N/A
Turbo: 103 / 948 / 11,748
Bal: 5,550
Perf: 5,599

Apple MacBook Pro 16
(M3 Max 16/40)
Bal: 3,083 / 20,653
Perf: 3,119 / 20,865
Bal: 55
Perf: N/A
Bal: 140 / 1,667 / 13,146
Perf: N/A
Bal: 8,046
Perf: N/A

With an RTX 4070, you might be expecting to game on the Swift X 14. While it runs Nvidia’s Studio drivers that optimize for creative and other apps and not gaming, the Swift X 14 can indeed serve as a very good 1080p gaming machine and is even reasonably fast at 1440p.

We didn’t run the XPS 14 through our series of gaming benchmarks because its RTX 4050 is too limiting. So, I’ll compare the Swift X 14 to some 16-inch laptops. In the 3DMark Time Spy test, the Swift X 14 was ahead of the XPS 16, but behind the Samsung Galaxy Book4. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G16 was quite a bit faster. In Red Dead Redemption 2, the Swift X 14 was again slightly slower across the board, but still quite playable. And in Cyberpunk 2077 at 1440p and ultra graphics with FSR 2.1 set to Quality, the Swift X 14 was surprisingly fast.

You’ll get even better performance if you drop down to 1080p. And you’ll enjoy the OLED display’s quality and the 120Hz refresh rate for tear-free gaming.

3DMark
Time Spy

Red Dead Redemption
1440p Ultra High

Cyberpunk 2077
1440p Ultra
FPS 2.1 – Quality

Acer Swift X 14 2024
(Core Ultra 7 155H / RTX 4070)
Bal: 8,610
Perf: 8,407
Turbo: 9,545
Bal: 41 fps
Perf: 43 fps
Turbo: 58 fps
Bal: 50 fps
Perf: 50 fps
Turbo:

Lenovo Yoga Pro 9i 16
(Core Ultra 9 185H / RTX 4060)
Bal: 10,733
Perf: 12,832
Bal: 59 fps
Perf: 69 fps
Bal: 47 fps
Perf: 57 fps

Dell XPS 16
(Core Ultra 7 155H / RTX 4070)
Bal: 8,216
Perf: 9,352
Bal: 62 fps
Perf: 66 fps
Bal: 46 fps
Perf: 50 fps

Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra
(Core Ultra 7 155H / RTX 4070)
Bal: 7,242
Perf: 10,207
N/A
Bal: 47 fps
Perf: 57 fps

Asus ROG Zephyrus G16
(Core Ultra 9 185H / RTX 4070)
Bal: 10,828
Perf: 12,159
Bal: 58 fps
Perf: 68 fps
N/A

Alienware m16 R2
(Core Ultra 7 155H / RTX 4070)
Bal: 12,025
Perf: N/A
N/A
Bal: 55 fps
Perf: N/A

Battery life

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

There’s a 76 watt-hour battery inside the Swift X 14, mated with a reasonably efficient Core Ultra 7 155H chipset and a high-resolution OLED display. In my experience, that combination doesn’t yield the best battery life.

In our web-browsing test, the Swift X 14 managed just 7.25 hours cycling through a series of complex webpages. It’s a reasonably taxing test that gives an idea of how long the laptop will last with a minimal workload. In our video test that loops through a local FHD video, the Swift X 14 lasted for just 7.25 hours as well, where most laptops last 10 hours or more.

Those aren’t the best results I’ve seen, but they’re not the worst, either. The XPS 14 with its OLED display was better tat 8.25 hours and 10 hours, respectively. Overall, the Swift X 14 doesn’t project to last nearly a full day of a typical workflow, and if you’re using the RTX 4070, it won’t last for more than a couple of hours. The king of battery life in this class is the MacBook Pro 14, which lasts at least twice as long and can make it through much of a full day of demanding work.

Display and audio

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The Swift X 14 has one display option, a 14.5-inch 16:10 2.8K (2880 x 1800) OLED panel running at 120Hz. It’s drop-dead gorgeous out of the box, as with all OLED displays I’ve reviewed, and makes a great first impression with bright, dynamic colors and inky blacks.

According to my colorimeter, there’s nothing to complain about. Brightness was great at 405 nits, colors were wide at 100% of sRGB, 95% of AdobeRGB, and 100% of DCI-P3, and they were accurate at a Delta-E of 0.87 (less than 1.0 is considered excellent). And contrast was extremely high at 13,920:1 with perfect blacks. This is slightly better than the XPS 14’s OLED display option, which wasn’t as bright at 374 nits and didn’t have the same color gamut coverage at 85% of AdobeRGB and 97% of DCI-P3.

For a creator that seeks a color-accurate display that matches up with very good performance in a 14-inch laptop, the Swift X 14 fits the bill. And for media consumers who want great HDR performance, it’s also a great option. Only the MacBook Pro 14’s mini-LED display is likely to be notably better.

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The audio isn’t quite as much of a standout. Two front-firing speakers provide OK sound, with sufficient volume and clear mids and highs. But the bass is lacking, giving the XPS 14 and, even more so, the excellent six-speaker setup with force-canceling woofers in the MacBook Pro 14, a clear win.

Conclusion

The Swift X 14 isn’t the best-looking 14-inch laptop. In fact, it’s sort of clunky and not entirely modern. But that’s OK, because it’s a really fast laptop with a spectacular OLED display. It’s one of the more portable and affordable laptops for doing real creative work.

The fact that it’s also more reasonably priced than some alternatives is what makes it a very attractive laptop. Yes, you can buy less expensive 14-inch laptops, but you won’t get this kind of performance. That makes the Swift X 14 an easy laptop to recommend.

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