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Acer Swift 3 (SF314-511) review – lightweight and pretty powerful

Acer’s Swift 3 lineup has probably been one of the most featured series by us. Ultimately, it has always been a thin and light notebook, that is aimed at a young user base, that needs something fast on the go. And to be honest, Acer has been pretty consistent with the good execution of their plans.

But what is going to make the Swift 3 (SF314-511) more appealing than its predecessors? Well, for starters, we are talking about Tiger Lake-U chips and support for Intel’s Evo platform.

In addition to that, the laptop comes equipped with a 1080p IPS panel. Acer promises 100% sRGB coverage, 300 nits of brightness, and DC dimming, essentially taking harmful PWM usage out of the equation. Of course, further in the review, we take a look at this, and we want to say that Acer was pretty honest with its promises.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/acer-swift-3-sf314-511/

Contents

Specs Sheet

Acer Swift 3 (SF314-511) review – lightweight and pretty powerful - Specs

  • Innolux N140HCG-EQ1
  • Color accuracy  2.3  1.1
  • HDD/SSD
  • up to 2000GB SSD
  • RAM
  • up to 16GB
  • OS
  • Windows 10 Home, Windows 11 Home, No OS, Windows 10 Pro
  • Battery
  • 48Wh, 3-cell, 53Wh, 3-cell, 56Wh, 4-cell
  • Body material
  • Aluminum
  • Dimensions
  • 322.8 x 212.2 x 15.9 mm (12.71" x 8.35" x 0.63")
  • Weight
  • 1.20 kg (2.6 lbs)
  • Ports and connectivity
  • 1x USB Type-A
  • 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • 1x USB Type-A
  • 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps), Sleep and Charge
  • 1x USB Type-C
  • 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps), Thunderbolt 4, Power Delivery (PD), DisplayPort
  • HDMI
  • 2.0
  • Wi-Fi
  • 802.11ax
  • Bluetooth
  • 5.1
  • Audio jack
  • 3.5mm Combo Jack
  • Features
  • Fingerprint reader
  • optional
  • Web camera
  • HD
  • Backlit keyboard
  • optional
  • Microphone
  • 2 Microphones
  • Speakers
  • Speakers by DTS Audio
  • Optical drive
  • Security Lock slot
  • Kensington Lock Slot

What’s in the box?

Inside the package, we found the mandatory paperwork, a 65W charger, and the laptop, protected by a cloth cover.

Design and construction

The first thing we notice, when we take the laptop in our hands, is that it’s really light. To be precise, it weighs 1.20 kg, while the thickness comes at 15.9mm. According to Acer, the laptop is made entirely out of metal. To be honest, this isn’t the most rigid of notebooks. There is some flex in both the lid, and the base, but it otherwise feels solid.

Speaking of the lid, it is one of the highlight features of the device. And the reason for that is that it uses an equivalent of the ErgoLift system from ASUS. Ultimately, this makes the backside of the base lift up, thus allowing for more cool air to get inside of the chassis. In addition to that, the lid opens with a single hand. The bezels around the matte display are pretty slim, while the top one houses an HD Web camera.

Moving to the base, we see the silver keyboard, fit with a bluish backlight. It offers a rather short key travel, and not very clicky feedback, which doesn’t result in a great typing experience. Unfortunately, we’ve noticed some latency in the touchpad. On the bright side, the gliding feels really smooth.

It’s worth mentioning that you will find a fingerprint reader just beneath the Arrow keys. And according to the manufacturer, the fan is able to draw some of its air through the keyboard, which should lower the external temperatures of the device.

The bottom panel reveals a set of speaker cutouts and a pretty large ventilation grill. Interestingly, the hot air gets exhausted through a vent on the back of the base, essentially blowing heat towards the bottom portion of the display.

Ports

On the left side, there is the charging plug, a Thunderbolt 4 connector, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) port. Then, on the right, there is a Kensington lock slot, a USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) port, and an audio jack.

Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance

This notebook’s bottom panel is held in place by 11 Torx-head screws. After you undo them, pry the panel with a plastic tool, and lift it away from the chassis.

Here, you get a 53Wh battery. It lasted us for nearly 11 hours of Web browsing, or more than 9 hours of video playback. As you can see, removing it is a simple task, as it’s only secured in place by the will of God.

Unfortunately, the memory here is soldered to the motherboard. On the bright side, the 16GB RAM we got works in quad-channel mode. As for the storage, there is a single M.2 PCIe x4 slot that supports Gen 4 drives.

Cooling-wise, there is a single heat pipe, connecting to a pretty large heat sink.

Display quality

Acer Swift 3 (SF314-511) sports a Full HD IPS display, model number Innolux N140HCG-EQ1 (CMN1408). Its diagonal is 14″ (35.56 cm), and the resolution – 1920 х 1080. Additionally, the screen ratio is 16:9, the pixel density – 157 ppi, their pitch – 0.161 x 0.161 mm. The screen can be considered Retina when viewed from at least 56 cm (from this distance, the average human eye can’t see the individual pixels).

Its viewing angles are excellent. We have provided images at 45 degrees to evaluate quality.

Also, here is a video with a locked focus and exposure.

The maximum measured brightness is 299 nits (cd/m2) in the middle of the screen and 281 nits (cd/m2) average across the surface with a maximum deviation of 10%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen and at maximum brightness is 6380K (average) – slightly warmer than the 6500K optimum for sRGB.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. The illustration below shows how matters are for operational brightness levels (approximately 140 nits) – in this particular case at 38% Brightness (White level = 141 cd/m2, Black level = 0.07 cd/m2).
Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work (a maximum tolerance of 2.0 ). The contrast ratio is exceptional – 2100:1.

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people on HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is an essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows Acer Swift 3 (SF314-511)’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers just 98% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

According to our tests, the gamma curve is flat across all grey levels, with an average value of 2.23.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of Acer Swift 3 (SF314-511) with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

The next figure shows how well the display can reproduce dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale, and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 33 ms – the panel is on the slow side.

After that, we test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “Gray-to-Gray” method from 50% White to 80% White and vice versa between 10% and 90% of the amplitude.

Health impact – PWM / Blue Light

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

Acer Swift 3 (SF314-511)’s display doesn’t use PWM for brightness adjustment. This makes it comfortable for long working periods.

Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin, and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for Acer Swift 3 (SF314-511) configurations with 14.0″ Innolux N140HCG-EQ1 (CMN1408) (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS panel.

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at bg.laptopmedia@gmail.com.

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

Health-Guard

Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.

Get all 3 profiles with 33% discount

Sound

Acer Swift 3 (SF314-511)’s speakers produce a sound of decent quality. However, there are deviations across the entire frequency spectrum.

Drivers

All of the drivers and utilities for this notebook can be found here: https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/support-product/8864?b=1

Battery

Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. This laptop’s 53Wh battery lasted us for 10 hours and 44 minutes of Web browsing, or 9 hours and 27 minutes of video playback.

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.

CPU options

This device comes paired with a Core i3-1115G4, Core i5-1125G4, Core i5-1135G7, or Core i7-1165G7.

Acer Swift 3 (SF314-511) CPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the CPUs that can be found in the Acer Swift 3 (SF314-511) models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Acer Swift 3 (SF314-511) model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different CPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / CPU.

Results are from the Cinebench 20 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)

Results are from our Photoshop benchmark test (the lower the score, the better)

GPU options

As for the graphics, you can rely on integrated solutions. Depending on the processor, you get either the Xe Graphics G4, Xe Graphics G7 (80EU), or Xe Graphics G7 (96EU).

Acer Swift 3 (SF314-511) GPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the GPUs that can be found in the Acer Swift 3 (SF314-511) models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Acer Swift 3 (SF314-511) model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different GPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / GPU.

Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)

Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)

Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)

Gaming tests

cs-go-benchmarks

CS:GOHD 1080p, Low (Check settings)HD 1080p, Medium (Check settings)HD 1080p, MAX (Check settings)
Average FPS165 fps121 fps64 fps

DOTA 2HD 1080p, Low (Check settings)HD 1080p, Normal (Check settings)HD 1080p, High (Check settings)
Average FPS139 fps90 fps58 fps

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

Intel Core i5-1135G7 (15W TDP)0:02 – 0:10 sec0:15 – 0:30 sec10:00 – 15:00 min
Acer Swift 3 (SF314-511)3.15 GHz (B+31%) @ 91°C @ 34W2.89 GHz (B+20%) @ 91°C @ 28W2.69 GHz (B+12%) @ 91°C @ 25W
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 (13.5)3.80 GHz (B+58%) @ 80°C @ 46W3.62 GHz (B+51%) @ 89°C @ 43W1.99 GHz (B-17%) @ 60°C @ 13W
ASUS VivoBook 15 OLED K5133.39 GHz (B+41%) @ 83°C @ 40W3.28 GHz (B+34%) @ 91°C @ 37W2.96 GHz (B+23%) @ 85°C @ 28W
HP Pavilion x360 15 (15-er0000)2.97 GHz (B+24%) @ 75°C @ 35W2.39 GHz @ 78°C @ 21W2.35 GHz @ 77°C @ 20W
MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo3.65 GHz (B+52%) @ 96°C @ 45W3.31 GHz (B+38%) @ 96°C @ 47W3.03 GHz (B+25%) @ 96°C @ 29W
Dell XPS 13 9310 (2-in-1)3.36 GHz (B+40%) @ 99°C @ 41W3.16 GHz (B+32%) @ 99°C @ 37W1.92 GHz @ 72°C @ 16W
Dell XPS 13 93103.15 GHz (B+31%) @ 100°C @ 40W2.73 GHz (B+14%) @ 100°C @ 30W1.65 GHz @ 73°C @ 15W
Dell Vostro 15 55023.33 GHz (B+39%) @ 100°C @ 38W1.96 GHz @ 72°C @ 14W2.02 GHz @ 74°C @ 15W
Dell Vostro 14 54023.02 GHz (B+26%) @ 99°C @ 29W2.61 GHz (B+9%) @ 99°C @ 25W2.00 GHz @ 76°C @ 15W
MSI Modern 15 (A11X)3.59 GHz (B+50%) @ 94°C @ 44W3.45 GHz (B+44%) @ 95°C @ 40W3.18 GHz (B+33%) @ 91°C @ 34W
Lenovo ThinkBook 14s Yoga3.52 GHz (B+47%) @ 94°C3.24 GHz (B+35%) @ 94°C2.63 GHz (B+10%) @ 75°C
Lenovo Yoga 7 (14)3.34 GHz (B+39%) @ 94°C2.97 GHz (B+24%) @ 94°C2.39 GHz @ 75°C
Acer Aspire 5 (A514-54)3.54 GHz (B+48%) @ 87°C2.01 GHz @ 66°C2.03 GHz @ 67°C

As you can see, the Swift 3 is a pretty nimble notebook. It maintains a boost clock speed for the entirety of the test at the expense of high temperature. Interestingly, Acer has introduced the ability to choose from performance presets by toggling it through the Fn+F key combination. We used the Performance mode for these tests.

Comfort during full load

The highest temperature of the keyboard is not very warm. We measured 38.8°C on the left side, while the right, where the fan is situated, is noticeably cooler to the touch. In terms of noise, the laptop is generally quiet. In light use, you may never hear it. However, when the performance preset is activated, the fan spins pretty fast.

Verdict

If you are in search of a daily driver that has the power to go through your workday without hesitation, then you might have stumbled across an Acer Swift 3. This particular notebook comes in a set of different colors, which is pretty normal, given the age of the target user base. In addition to that, we found it to be incredibly light, both in feel, and actual numbers. Thankfully, there are some features to compliment the looks and feels. First, there is the port selection. In addition to a couple of USB Type-A ports, you get a Thunderbolt 4 connector and an HDMI 2.0 port. So, connecting to two more displays won’t be an issue. Also, this might mean, that you can plug an external graphics card into your device.

Speaking of graphics cards, we found it weird that this laptop comes with a Core i5-1135G7, but GPU-Z registers it to have a 96EU version of the Iris Xe Graphics G7, instead of the more crippled 80EU version. Additionally, the memory works in quad-channel mode, delivering a higher bandwidth.

Acer Swift 3 (SF314-511)’s IPS panel has a Full HD resolution, comfortable viewing angles, and an excellent contrast ratio. Its backlight doesn’t use PWM for brightness adjustment. Moreover, the 98% sRGB coverage is paired with great color accuracy, when our Gaming and Web design profile is applied. This makes professional work absolutely possible.

And then there is the battery life. You will be able to go through 11 hours of Web browsing, or more than 9 hours of video playback on a single charge. And you get a fingerprint reader for fast secure login. On the other hand, the input devices were not all that great. The touchpad seemed to be lagging a bit, and the keyboard has a short travel and softer feedback than what we would like.

On top of that, the laptop comes with soldered RAM. With that said, we really do appreciate the quad-channel memory setup, and the Gen 4 PCIe x4 support of the M.2 slot.

Essentially, this device is not without compromises. But in our view, it might be one of the good solutions for entry-level photo editing, thanks to its accurate color representation (with our Gaming and Web design profile), and nimble hardware. And if you like something in the same ballpark as this device, there is the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 Pro (14″), which might even beat this machine in some scenarios, especially in computation performance.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/acer-swift-3-sf314-511/

Pros

  • Good performance
  • Doesn’t use PWM for brightness adjustment (Innolux N140HCG-EQ1 (CMN1408))
  • Light and thin metal build
  • Thunderbolt 4 and HDMI 2.0
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Covers 98% of sRGB colors and offers accurate color representation thanks to our Gaming and Web design profile (Innolux N140HCG-EQ1 (CMN1408))
  • Decent battery life


Cons

  • Not the best input devices
  • Memory is soldered to the motherboard (although it works in quad-channel mode)