Acer Swift 3X (SF314-510G) review – discrete graphics from Intel? Why not!
The day has come. We are finally getting our hands on a laptop that comes equipped with Intel’s latest (and arguably the first) discrete GPU solution. This long-awaited device is called the Intel Iris Xe Max, and it’s based on the DG1/Iris Xe graphics architecture. And the star of the show here is the Acer Swift 3X (SF314-510G) – adequately branded to show off the tech inside.
If we have to draw early conclusions from the integrated Iris Xe Graphics G7, which comfortably beats the 10W version of NVIDIA’s GeForce MX350, the expectations are set really high. Is Acer’s work with Intel going to change the low-end gaming industry? Is it going to provide enough headroom for professional workflow on thin and light machines? We’re going to answer these questions and much more in this review, so let’s get started.
You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/acer-swift-3x-sf314-510g/
- up to 1000GB SSD
- M.2 Slot
- 2x 2280 PCIe NVMe 3.0 x4 See photo
- up to 16GB
- Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro
- 57Wh, 4-cell, 58.75Wh, 4-cell
- 322.8 x 212.2 x 17.9 mm (12.71" x 8.35" x 0.70")
- 1.37 kg (3 lbs)
- Ports and connectivity
- 1x USB Type-C
- 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps), Thunderbolt 4
- 2x USB Type-A
- 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
- Card reader
- Ethernet LAN
- Audio jack
- 3.5mm Combo Jack
- Fingerprint reader
- Web camera
- Backlit keyboard
- 2x Speakers, DTS Audio
- Optical drive
- Security Lock slot
All Acer Swift 3x (SF314-510G) configurations
What’s in the box?
Inside the package, we found a 65Wh power brick, as well as some paper manuals.
Design and construction
First, let’s talk about the build quality of the Swift 3X (SF314-510G). From what we can feel, it is made out of aluminum, although Acer doesn’t specify the exact materials they used, and on the outside, it looks suspiciously close to the Swift 5 Pro (SF514-55GT). However, it weighs more, at 1.37 kg, and has a profile of 17.9mm. Despite being heavier and thicker than the aforementioned device, the Swift 3X is still thin and light and offers great portability for a 14-inch device.
In order to accommodate the more powerful hardware, Acer has moved to a “lifted backside” scenario, where the lid gently lifts the base from the ground. This provides more breathing space and arguably better ergonomics. Unfortunately, this device doesn’t pass the single-hand lid opening test. Once opened, we can see a matte display finish and plastic side bezels – nothing out of the ordinary. Thankfully, the camera is placed above the screen, so there won’t be any nose-picking shenanigans like we saw on some Huawei devices.
After we’ve covered the display, let’s move on to the base. Interestingly, if you look at the top right side, you can see the exhaust grills, which look a bit aggressive. Hopefully, it will provide enough room for airflow, and won’t damage the display in the long run, since it will be constantly blowing heat towards it. Other than that there is the backlit keyboard. It has shorter than average key travel, but the feedback is somewhat clicky. As a drawback, we would set the proximity of the “Page Up” and “Page Down” keys to the Arrow buttons. Although you can get used to it, we found it a tiny bit annoying to misclick one or the other.
By the way, just below the Arrow keys, you can see the optional fingerprint reader. And to its left – the touchpad. Its gliding is not too bad, but what we were impressed by was the tracking, which was extremely accurate on our unit.
Finally, on the bottom panel, you can see the ventilation grill, as well as the speaker cutouts.
On the left, there is the power plug, an HDMI connector, a USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) port, and a Thunderbolt 4 connector with up to 40 Gbps bandwidth. This leaves the right side only with a USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) port, and an audio jack.
Disassembly, upgrade options, and maintenance
To get inside of this laptop, you need to undo 12 Torx-head screws. After that, just pry the bottom panel with a plastic tool, starting from one of the front edges.
Once inside, you can see the cooling solution, which employs two heat pipes. They are cooling both the CPU and the dedicated Intel GPU. Also, the fan seems to be pretty beefy.
Upgradability here is a bit of a mixed bag. On one side, the memory is soldered to the motherboard, and you can only configure it with up to 16GB before purchase. However, the storage options include two M.2 PCIe x4 slots, which is pretty nice.
As for the battery, you get a 58.75Wh unit.
Acer Swift 3X (SF314-510G) uses a Full HD IPS panel, model number Innolux N140HCE-EN2 (CMN14D5) – essentially the same, found on the Acer TravelMate X5 and the Acer Swift 3 (SF314-55). 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).
Viewing angles are comfortable. We have provided images at 45 degrees to evaluate quality.
The maximum measured brightness is 302 nits (cd/m2) in the middle of the screen and 287 nits (cd/m2) average across the surface with a maximum deviation of 16%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen and at maximum brightness is 7800K (average) – colder 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 43% Brightness (White level = 142 cd/m2, Black level = 0.14 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 good – 1020:1.
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 Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the 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 3X (SF314-510G)’s color gamut coverage.
Its display covers 96% 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.
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 3X (SF314-510G) with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).
The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really 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 = 31 ms.
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 3X (SF314-510G) doesn’t use PWM above 75 nits, which is well below the average work levels of brightness. Moreover, below that brightness, the flickering has a very high frequency – 25 kHz. This means the screen is safe for use for extended periods of use.
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.
Acer Swift 3X (SF314-510G)’s IPS panel has a Full HD resolution, good contrast ratio, comfortable viewing angles, and 96% of sRGB coverage. Moreover, our Gaming and Web design profile helps it achieve very accurate color-representation with an Average dE of 0.8. Usually, this means that designers, photographers, and e-commerce retailers would be happy to use the machine, however, our particular unit suffered from uneven luminance with the most pronounced deviation being in the bottom left corner of the display.
Buy our profiles
Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for Acer Swift 3X (SF314-510G) configurations with 14.0″ Innolux N140HCE-EN2 (CMN14D5) (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS.
*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 [email protected]
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 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 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
Acer Swift 3X (SF314-510G)’s speakers are rather quiet and unimpressive. However, there are no deviations anywhere in the frequency range.
All of the drivers and utilities for this notebook can be found here: https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/support-product/8619?b=1
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 unit’s 58.75Wh battery lasts for 19 hours and 6 minutes of Web browsing, and 11 hours and 57 minutes of video playback.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
Since this is an exclusively Tiger Lake laptop, you can choose between the Intel Core i5-1135G7 and the Intel Core i7-1165G7.
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)
And in addition to the integrated Iris Xe Graphics G7, you get the Iris Xe Max dedicated GPU.
Results are from the 3DMark: Time Spy (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)
|CS:GO||HD 1080p, Low (Check settings)||HD 1080p, Medium (Check settings)||HD 1080p, MAX (Check settings)|
|Average FPS||164 fps||120 fps||67 fps|
|DOTA 2||HD 1080p, Low (Check settings)||HD 1080p, Normal (Check settings)||HD 1080p, High (Check settings)|
|Average FPS||112 fps||80 fps||69 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 i7-1165G7 (15W TDP)||0:02 – 0:10 sec||0:15 – 0:30 sec||10:00 – 15:00 min|
|Acer Swift 3X (SF314-510G)||3.74 GHz (B+34%) @ 95°C @ 45W||3.45 GHz (B+23%) @ 95°C @ 37W||3.09 GHz (B+10%) @ 85°C @ 28W|
|Acer Swift 3 (SF313-53)||3.55 GHz (B+27%) @ 95°C @ 44W||3.17 GHz (B+13%) @ 95°C @ 34W||2.32 GHz @ 64°C @ 17W|
|Acer Swift 5 Pro (SF514-55GT)||3.54 GHz (B+26%) @ 94°C @ 39W||3.27 GHz (B+17%) @ 94°C @ 31W||2.44 GHz @ 74°C @ 17W|
Apparently, Acer has taken advantage of the higher TDP limit that Intel provided for the Core i7-1165G7. This lets the processor run at a frequency of above 3.00 GHz. And while the 85C at the end was high, we’ve seen worse.
Unfortunately, due to the early drivers, we weren’t able to get any information on clock speeds and temperature on the graphics card, but keep an eye, because we’re going to update this review when we get our hands on a retail unit.
Comfort during full load
Well, the laptop is neither too loud, nor too warm on the outside. Considering it has a “dedicated GPU”, this is pretty respectable.
Finally, we’ve seen Intel make a real effort in the discrete GPU market. At least for laptops. If 2020 wasn’t weird enough, now it is. Nevertheless, we still think that they have a lot of work to be done, particularly in the software. As the 3DMark Firestrike Graphics score suggests, the Iris Xe Max Graphics has the raw power to compete even with the GeForce GTX 1050. However, real-world tests showed that the performance was slightly better than the MX350, and pretty much on par with the integrated Iris Xe Graphics G7.
We really hope that they will focus on their drivers and firmware, and we will soon be able to recommend a laptop, equipped with an Intel dedicated GPU. Because it has very good thermals (according to the external measurements, as GPU-Z didn’t show any info about temps and clocks for this graphics card).
By the way, the Swift 3X (SF314-510G) is a very impressive little notebook. Not only did it use the full 28W TDP of the Core i7-1165G7, but it also delivered excellent battery life. We got 19 hours of Web browsing and almost 12 hours of video playback. Moreover, the laptop supports Wi-Fi 6, has a Thunderbolt 4 connector, and can hold two M.2 PCIe x4 slots at the same time. Not bad, whatsoever.
Acer Swift 3X (SF314-510G)’s IPS panel (Innolux N140HCE-EN2 (CMN14D5)) has a Full HD resolution, good contrast ratio, comfortable viewing angles, and 96% of sRGB coverage. Moreover, our Gaming and Web design profile helps it achieve very accurate color-representation with an Average dE of 0.8. Usually, this means that designers, photographers, and e-commerce retailers would be happy to use the machine, however, our particular unit suffered from uneven luminance with the most pronounced deviation being in the bottom left corner of the display.
Well, there are some minor issues, like the slight flex on the keyboard when you press on it, and the fact that you won’t be able to open the lid with a single hand. Also, the speakers are pretty mediocre, to be honest.
However, in terms of build quality, you get an almost full-metal device, with admirable portability, and the ingenious lid leverage system, popularized by their competitors – ASUS a couple of years ago.
So, if your work includes content creation, and you like occasional gaming after work, the Swift 3X (SF314-510G) is a surprisingly capable device. However, we would wait for Intel to optimize their drivers before we form a concrete opinion on the performance of this GPU.
- Beautiful screen with 98% of sRGB coverage and accurate colors (when our Gaming and Web design profile is present) (Innolux N140HCE-EN2)
- Doesn’t use aggressive PWM to adjust brightness (Innolux N140HCE-EN2)
- Up to 19 hours of Web browsing on battery
- Almost all-metal built with a lid leverage system
- Fingerprint reader
- 28W Tiger Lake CPUs + Intel Iris Xe Max dGPU setup
- Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6, and dual M.2 SSD support
- Quiet speakers
- No SD card reader
- The drivers for the Iris Xe Max are still not optimized
You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/acer-swift-3x-sf314-510g/