Saturday, June 22, 2024

This underrated laptop beats the Dell XPS 14 in many ways

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The Dell XPS 14 open on a wooden table.Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

The Dell XPS 14 is a brand-new 14-inch laptop that serves as a tweener between the XPS 13 and the new XPS 16. It’s an ultramodern laptop with several controversial new features that will either delight or bother users. And, it’s an expensive machine with good, but not great performance.

Contents

  • Specs and configurations
  • Design
  • Performance
  • Display and audio
  • Portability
  • The Swift X 14 is faster and cheaperShow 1 more item

That opens the way for a laptop that’s faster and more affordable. The Acer Swift X 14 is just such a laptop, as it puts out a lot more performance for a lot less money. This time there’s no question — it’s a better laptop for most users.

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Specs and configurations

 
Acer Swift X 14 SFX14-72G
Dell XPS 14

Dimensions
12.71 inches x 8.98 inches x 0.74-0.80 inches
12.6 inches x 8.5 inches x 0.71 inches

Weight
3.4 pounds
3.8 pounds

Processor
Intel Core Ultra 7 155H
Intel Core Ultra 7 155H

Graphics
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070
Intel Arc
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050

RAM
16GB
32GB
16GB
32GB
64GB

Display
14.5-inch 16:10 2.8K (2880 x 1800) OLED, 120Hz
14.5-inch FHD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS non-touch, 120Hz
14.5-inch 3.2K (3200 x 2000) OLED touch, 120Hz

Storage
1TB PCIe Gen4 SSD
512GB PCIe Gen4 SSD
1TB PCIe Gen4 SSD
2TB PCIe Gen4 SSD
4TB PCIe Gen4 SSD

Touch
Yes
Optional

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
3 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x microSD card reader

Wireless
Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3
Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3

Webcam
1080p
1080p with infrared camera for Windows Hello

Operating system
Windows 11
Windows 11

Battery
76 watt-hours
69.5 watt-hours

Price
$1,400+
$1,699+

Rating
4 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars

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The Swift X 14 comes in two configurations, with a $1,400 base model with an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H chipset, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, and a 14.5-inch 2.8K OLED display. For $1,700, you get 32GB of RAM and a much faster RTX 4070.

The XPS 14 is a lot more expensive. It starts at $1,699 for the Core Ultra 7, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, Intel Arc graphics, and a 14.5-inch FHD+ IPS display. In the same configuration as the Acer’s low-end model, it’s $2,499. When configured to match the Swift X 14’s high-end model, but with the slower RTX 4050, the XPS 14 costs $2,699. Then, with 64GB of RAM and a 4TB SSD, the XPS 14 is a whopping $3,699.

The XPS 14 would have to be a lot better to justify such higher prices. And it’s not.

Design

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The XPS 14 is one of the most modern laptops made today. It incorporates several innovative features, including a zero-lattice keyboard, a hidden haptic touchpad, and a row of LED touch function keys. Whether those make the XPS 14 a better laptop is open to debate, particularly the function keys that provide no haptic feedback. The Swift X 14 is a more traditional machine, and its design is a little chunky and makes the XPS 14 look incredibly streamlined by comparison. The Dell is one of the better-looking 14-inch laptops, and if you’re looking for a great aesthetic, the XPS 14 delivers.

Both are well-built laptops crafted from all aluminum. Neither has any bending, twisting, or flexing in the chassis or lid. The XPS 14 is smaller thanks to insanely thin display bezels, and it’s also considerably thinner while also being heavier. That makes it feel a lot denser in hand, which gives the impression of higher quality that’s not necessarily there.

As far as the XPS 14’s keyboard goes, the keys have shallow, snappy, and precise switches with large keycaps, but the lack of spacing takes some getting used to. The Swift X 14’s keyboard is deeper and also has precise switches with a more traditional layout. The XPS 14’s haptic touchpad works well, as long as you don’t lose track of the edges. It’s better than the Swift X 14’s more pedestrian mechanical touchpad.

Connectivity favors the Swift X 14, which has more ports and excellent legacy support. You’re much more limited with the XPS 14. Both laptops have identical wireless connectivity.

Both laptops also have similar 1080p webcams, and both have Neural Processing Units (NPUs) that support Microsoft’s Studio Effects Software for hardware-assisted blurring, face tracking, and other features. The XPS 14 has an infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello facial recognition, and both laptops have fingerprint readers embedded in their power buttons.

Performance

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends / Digital Trends

Both laptops use the 28-watt Intel Core Ultra 7 155H chipset with 16 cores (six Performance, eight Efficient, and two Low Power Efficient) and 22 threads. It’s a solid performer for demanding productivity users. We reviewed the XPS 14 with the slightly faster Core Ultra 9 165H, which isn’t currently an option.

The Swift X 14 can be equipped with both the entry-level Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 and the much faster RTX 4070, which is unusual in non-gaming 14-inch laptops. The XPS 14 offers either Intel Arc integrated graphics or the RTX 4050. While the RTX 4070 isn’t given as much power in the Swift X 14 as it is in 16-inch laptops, and the Acer doesn’t have the same thermal performance, the GPU option makes the Acer significantly faster than the Dell.

That’s most apparent in the PugetBench Premiere Pro benchmark that runs in a live version of Adobe’s Premiere Pro and uses the GPU to speed up various tasks. In this benchmark, the Swift X 14 was 46% faster. It was also 65% faster in the Cinebench R24 GPU test, while also being faster in the CPU portion. It has better thermals than the XPS 14.

Simply put, the Swift X 14 is a much faster laptop than the XPS 14. That’s for demanding productivity users, creators, and gamers. In fact, it’s a decent gaming laptop in its own right.

Geekbench 6
(single/multi)

Handbrake
(seconds)

Cinebench R24
(single/multi/GPU)

Pugetbench
Premiere Pro

Acer Swift X 14
(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 4070)
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

Display and audio

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The Swift X 14 and XPS 14 both offer 14.5-inch 16:10 OLED displays, the Dell in a slightly sharper 3K (3200 x 2000) resolution compared to the Acer’s 2.8K (2880 x 1800) panel. Both run at 120Hz, and the XPS 14 also has an FHD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS display for better battery life.

According to our colorimeter, the Acer’s OLED display is better. It’s brighter and has wider colors, while both have the technology’s usual inky blacks. Both are great displays for a variety of uses.

Acer Swift X 14
(OLED)
Dell XPS 14
(OLED)

Brightness
(nits)

405
374

AdobeRGB gamut
95%
85%

 sRGB gamut
100%
100%

Accuracy
(DeltaE, lower is better)

0.87
0.50

The XPS 14 has a four-speaker audio system with upward-firing tweeters and side-firing woofers. It puts out loud, clear sound with some bass. The Swift X 14 has just two upward-firing speakers that are just OK by comparison.

Portability

Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Both laptops are reasonably thin and light, with the XPS 14 being a bit heavier.

Neither laptop gets great battery life, but the XPS 14 is stronger. It saw 8.25 hours in our web-browsing test and 10 hours in our video-looping test, compared to the Swift X 14’s 7.25 hours in both tests. The XPS 14 with the IPS display came in at 12 hours and 15 hours, a very strong showing.

The Swift X 14 is faster and cheaper

The XPS 14 is a more ultramodern laptop with some standout — and controversial — design features. It’s reasonably fast, has a great OLED display, and is very well built. It’s also expensive — and arguably overpriced given the components.

The Swift X 14 is much faster, has an even better OLED display, and it’s also well-built. It’s a clunkier design and not nearly as great-looking. But it’s a lot more affordable, and very attractive given the performance. It’s the better choice for most people.

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