The Acer Swift X is a lot of laptop for just over £1,000. It’s a 16in metal-clad beast with a sharp screen, a hefty punch of processing power, dedicated graphics for gaming, plenty of storage and lots more. And yet, I can’t quite bring myself to fall in love in with it. Find out why in my Acer Swift X SFX16-52G-78PY review.
Acer Swift X SFX16-52G-78PY specs
Let’s start by laying out the core specs of this device – the SFX16-52G-78PY to provide its full product code – because they are impressive:
|Processor||Intel Core i7-1260P|
|Graphics||Intel Arc A370M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory|
|Wireless||Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2|
|Ports||HDMI, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 2 x USB Type-C supporting Thunderbolt 4, 3.5mm headphone jack, Kensington lock|
|Display||16in 2,560 x 1,600 LCD panel with 16:10 aspect ratio|
|Dimensions||356 x 240 x 17.9mm (width x depth x height)|
That is, by any objective measure, a healthy spec sheet for a laptop costing £1,099. How does it perform in the benchmarks?
Acer Swift X SFX16-52G performance
The Swift X holds up pretty well when it comes to the benchmarks. A score of 3,525 in the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark is much better than you’ll get from most mid-range laptops at this price, because they tend to rely on integrated graphics rather than a dedicated graphics chip.
The Intel Arc A370M won’t lay a glove on most Nvidia graphics chips, but it’s far from terrible. 3DMark estimates you’ll get 35+ frames per second in Battlefield V, for instance, at the 1440p Ultra settings.
In real-world gaming, it’s frustratingly on the cusp of being great. Playing Fortnite with low fidelity graphics settings at full screen resolution, it dithered between 20-40 frames per second during heavy action scenes. It wasn’t unplayable, but it wasn’t smooth either. Fiddling with the graphics settings could doubtless improve things, but I wouldn’t recommend this laptop for demanding AAA titles.
For more general PC duties it’s a strong performer, largely thanks to that Core i7 processor and a decent dollop of memory. A PCMark 10 score of 5,730 leaves it roughly on a level with contemporaries such as the LG Gram 16. If you want a general purpose laptop that can stretch its legs into relatively low level gaming, this could be just the ticket.
Acer Swift X SFX16-52G ports and all
There’s a lot more to like about the Swift X. That screen is sharp, rich in colour and has a great 16:10 aspect ratio for working on. If you’ve got ultrafast broadband and a bang-up-to-date router you’ll appreciate that Acer has tucked a Wi-Fi 6E chip inside this thing, too.
The laptop has a great selection of ports, including two USB-C supporting Thunderbolt 4 and two Type-A slots for those older peripherals. One of those USB-C slots will be needed for charging, but it has fast 100W charging and the power adapter is on the slender side.
The 1TB of storage is generous at this price – Apple would hoik you over a barrel for a terabyte of storage. And the whole thing is clad in a reasonably attractive metal case that should comfortably survive the odd dink in a laptop bag.
So, what’s wrong with it?
There are a few reasons not to bolt straight down to Currys and fill your boots. Let’s start with the fans.
The big fan grille that sits beneath the screen was fair warning that this thing is going to get hot, and so it proved. The merest hint of a demanding application causes those fans to kick in and the noise is at best noticeable, at worst an annoying distraction.
The fans tend to kick in when the dedicated graphics do, and that has consequences for battery life. After only an hour of playing Football Manager 23, for example, I’d chewed through 65% of the battery, and that’s by no means a demanding graphical feast. On my MacBook Pro 16in (M1), that would only take around a quarter of the battery.
When the laptop can fall back on the integrated Iris graphics, things are much better. Our looping video battery test with the screen set to half brightness saw the battery last an impressive ten hours and three minutes. Disabling the Arc graphics might be a good idea if you’re on the road and you’re not doing anything demanding.
The keyboard on the Swift X is so-so. It’s bareable to type on, but the half-sized left Shift key annoys me and I’m not sure if the slender numberpad on the side is necessary, or just cramps the rest of the keyboard’s style. The trackpad is sub-standard, though. Both spongy when you press to click and over-sensitive to accidental palm brushing.
Finally, the speakers are no more than ample. Full-blast volume is tepid, and can get drowned out by fan noise when gaming. Music veers towards tinny and I wouldn’t want to be without by headphones if I was settling down for a Netflix session. You can see why Acer provided a 3.5mm jack.
Acer Swift X SFX16-52G review verdict
I don’t want to be too hard on the Acer Swift X. It crams in an awful lot of good stuff for a laptop at this price. If your budget is limited to around £1,000, you will do well to find better.
That said, it falls between two stalls. It’s not quite punchy enough to make it as a full gaming laptop, and it wouldn’t be my first choice as a general purpose laptop, either. It’s too heavy, too noisy for that job, has too many little foibles. Sorry, Acer, but it’s just not lovable. Just.
Acer Swift X SFX16-52G-78PY review
Value for money
Acer Swift X SFX16-52G-78PY summary
A powerful laptop for the price, but a few irritating flaws stop it achieving greatness
- Capable of a decent level of gaming, if not AAA
- Powerful and well-specced for the price
- Robust build quality
- Fan noise could drive you nuts
- Battery life is poor when laptop is pushed
- Keyboard and trackpad are so-so