Acer Swift X (SFX14-41G) review – an ultrabook for gamers and professionals

Acer’s Swift X is one of the most anticipated devices this year. It aims to be a small, powerful notebook that will allow young users to play games, do professional work, and look fresh at the same time.

How it plans to do it? Well, for starters, there is a low-key package, which honestly looks like any other Swift laptop out there. However, the magic happens on the inside. There, you will find an energy-efficient CPU with a lot of horsepower – the AMD Ryzen 7 5800U. As we saw with the IdeaPad 5 Pro (14″) it has a lot of potential, which wasn’t completely fulfilled.

What was more shocking, was to see the graphics options. Instead of the usual suspect – GeForce MX450, Acer has gone for a more risky approach. You get an RTX 3050 or RTX 3050 Ti at your disposal, so not only there is a significant amount of graphics power, but also some ray-tracing capabilities.

We are also eager to test out the display, because of Acer’s confidence in showcasing the capabilities of their device with image-manipulating software.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://www.laptopmedia.com/series/acer-swift-x-sfx14-41g/

Contents


Specs Sheet

Acer Swift X (SFX14-41G / SFX14-42G) - Specs

  • AUO B140HAN06.8 (AUO683D)
  • Color accuracy  3.0  1.0
  • HDD/SSD
  • up to 2000GB SSD
  • M.2 Slot
  • 2x 2280 M.2 NVMe slots  See photo
  • RAM
  • up to 16GB
  • OS
  • Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro, Windows 11 Home
  • Battery
  • 59Wh, 4-cell, 59Wh
  • Body material
  • Aluminum
  • Dimensions
  • 322.8 x 212.2 x 17.9 mm (12.71" x 8.35" x 0.70")
  • Weight
  • 1.39 kg (3.1 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), Power Delivery (PD), DisplayPort
  • HDMI
  • 2.0
  • Card reader
  • Ethernet LAN
  • Wi-Fi
  • 802.11ax
  • Bluetooth
  • 5.2
  • Audio jack
  • 3.5mm Combo Jack
  • Features
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Web camera
  • HD
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Microphone
  • 2x Microphones with Acer Purified Voice
  • Speakers
  • 2x Front Facing Speakers
  • Optical drive
  • Security Lock slot
  • Kensington Lock

All Acer Swift X (SFX14-41G / SFX14-42G) configurations

#CommissionsEarned

What’s in the box?

Inside the package, there is nothing more than the mandatory paperwork, and a 90W power adapter.


Design and construction

Acer has done a decent job in the presentation of this device. It has a metal body and lid, which offer a premium cool feel. Ultimately, it’s not really different from what we are used to with Swift laptops. On the other hand, considering the hardware inside, this laptop is pretty lightweight (1.39 kg). Its profile is also rather thin at 17.9mm. We were happy to see that the construction is pretty solid, and doesn’t bend too much when twisted.

Furthermore, the lid can be opened with a single hand. If you look closely at some of the images, there is a couple of rubber feet on the bottom side of the lid. They grip the desk and lift the backside of the base from the ground. This should provide a lot more air to the cooling fan, and will make typing slightly more comfortable.

By the way, this device’s matte display has thin bezels around it. The top one houses a 720p Web camera.

Moving to the keyboard we see a backlit unit with average key travel and clicky feedback. As usual with these types of devices, our only concern is the way the Arrow keys are set up. Not only are they small, but they are merged with the “Page Up” and “Page Down” buttons. Unfortunately, the Power button is adjacent to the backspace key, and there is no input cancelation of any sort. In our case, it resulted in some accidental laptop shutdowns.

Now, the touchpad probably won’t be the best reason to buy this machine. Yes, its gliding is good, and the tracking is fairly accurate and responsive, but it is nowhere near the best on the market. Thankfully, though, it can be clicked throughout the whole area, and more importantly, the fingerprint reader is separated from the touchpad.

Before we move to the bottom panel, we would like to point out the location of the heat exhaust. Yep, it is firing at an angle towards the bottom right part of the display. As for the bottom plate, there you will find the speaker cutouts and the ventilation grills.

Ports

On the left side, you can see the power plug, a USB Type-C 3.2 (Gen. 2) port, an HDMI 2.0 connector, and a USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) port. Then, on the right, there is a security lock slot, another USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) port, and an audio jack.


Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance

To get inside of this device, you need to remove all 11 Torx-head screws. After that, take the bottom panel away with the help of a plastic pry tool.

It has a battery pack with a capacity of roughly 59Wh.

Sadly, the memory is soldered to the motherboard, and as for now, there are two options. Either 8 or 16GB of dual-channel RAM. On the other hand, the storage options comprise two M.2 PCIe x4 slots.

Lastly, there is the essential part of the notebook – the cooling. It is made of two heat pipes, a decently sized heat sink, and a pretty large fan.


Display quality

Acer Swift X (SFX14-41G) uses a Full HD IPS panel, model number AUO B140HAN06.8 (AUO683D). 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.

Also, a video with locked focus and exposure.

The maximum measured brightness is 376 nits (cd/m2) in the middle of the screen and 372 nits (cd/m2) average across the surface with a maximum deviation of 6%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen and at maximum brightness is 6720K (average) – slightly 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 25% Brightness (White level = 141 cd/m2, Black level = 0.075 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 very good – 1890:1.

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 X (SFX14-41G)’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers 97% 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 X (SFX14-41G) 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 = 23 ms.

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 X (SFX14-41G)’s backlight doesn’t use PWM for brightness adjustment. This makes it comfortable for long 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.

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 X (SFX14-41G) configurations with 14.0″ AUO B140HAN06.8 (AUO683D) (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

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 X (SFX14-41G)’s speakers produce a sound with good quality but average maximum volume. Its low, mid, and high tones are clear of deviations.


Drivers

All of the drivers and utilities for this notebook can be downloaded from here: https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/support-product/8933?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 notebook’s 58.75Wh battery pack lasts for 15 hours and 11 minutes of Web browsing, and 11 hours and 48 minutes of video playback.


CPU options

By the time of writing this review, the Swift X is only available with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800U processor.

Acer Swift X (SFX14-41G / SFX14-42G) CPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the CPUs that can be found in the Acer Swift X (SFX14-41G / SFX14-42G) models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Acer Swift X (SFX14-41G / SFX14-42G) 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.


GPU options

Here, the graphics options include the RTX 3050, and RTX 3050 Ti, both of which come with a 40W TGP.

Acer Swift X (SFX14-41G / SFX14-42G) GPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the GPUs that can be found in the Acer Swift X (SFX14-41G / SFX14-42G) models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Acer Swift X (SFX14-41G / SFX14-42G) 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.


Gaming tests

Far Cry 5 Full HD, Normal (Check settings) Full HD, High (Check settings) Full HD, Ultra (Check settings)
Average fps 63 fps 58 fps 53 fps

rise-of-the-tomb-raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) Full HD, Lowest (Check settings) Full HD, Medium (Check settings) Full HD, Very High (Check settings)
Average fps 112 fps 78 fps 39 fps

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018) Full HD, Lowest (Check settings) Full HD, Medium (Check settings) Full HD, High (Check settings)
Average fps 97 fps 56 fps 51 fps

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands Full HD, Medium (Check settings) Full HD, High (Check settings) Full HD, Very High (Check settings)
Average fps 58 fps 53 fps 46 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.

AMD Ryzen 7 5800U (15W TDP) 0:02 – 0:10 sec 0:15 – 0:30 sec 10:00 – 15:00 min
Acer Swift X (SFX14-41G) 3.09 GHz (B+63%) @ 73°C 2.99 GHz (B+57%) @ 75°C 2.73 GHz (B+44%) @ 75°C
Lenovo IdeaPad 5 Pro (14″) 2.31 GHz (B+22%) @ 55°C 2.32 GHz (B+22%) @ 59°C 2.41 GHz (B+27%) @ 66°C

Well, the results from the table above are self-explanatory. The Swift X manages to push its CPU to significantly higher clock speeds than the IdeaPad 5 Pro (14″). This is further helped by the more thermal headroom given by Acer’s engineers.

Real-life gaming

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 2 min) GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 30 min) GPU frequency/ Core temp (Max Fan)
Acer Swift X (SFX14-41G) 1182 MHz @ 63°C @ 37W 1167 MHz @ 69°C @ 38W
MSI Katana GF66 1675 MHz @ 73°C @ 60W 1660 MHz @ 78°C @ 60W 1699 MHz @ 67°C @ 60W

If we have to be honest, we are happy with the results in the graphics tests as well. Indeed, the frequency is very far off that of MSI Katana GF66’s GPU, but we are talking about a 40W TGP.

Comfort during combined load

And this came with a very little toll on comfort. The temperature on the outside was okay, and the noise was not too loud either.


Verdict

We didn’t anticipate this. We knew that the Swift X is a really promising prospect, but we didn’t see that coming. Gone are the days where you need a bulky device for your professional needs, or to play the latest AAA titles. The technology has gone so far that an ultrabook that weighs 1.39 kilos has enough processing power to completely obliterate the full-blown 45W chips from the last couple of years.

Moreover, you get ray tracing, and if we are not wrong, this is the lightest laptop on the market right now that gives you this technology. Indeed, you shouldn’t expect 4K gaming on Ultra in Cyberpunk 2077, but 1080p is absolutely possible.

Acer Swift X (SFX14-41G)’s IPS panel (AUO B140HAN06.8 (AUO683D)) has a Full HD resolution, comfortable viewing angles, and a very good contrast ratio. Its color coverage is 97% of sRGB, and its backlight doesn’t flicker at any brightness level. Furthermore, our Gaming and Web design profile helps it achieve great color accuracy. Ultimately, this panel is suitable for professional work.

Speaking of pro work, we were a bit disappointed to see the lack of an SD card reader and memory upgrade options. Sadly, the RAM of this device is soldered to the motherboard, and the best way to make sure you get the most out of your Swift X is to get the highest spec option. Which right now is a 16GB version – still not perfect for some tasks.

In addition to all of the aforementioned, you get a fingerprint reader, Wi-Fi 6 support, two M.2 slots for storage upgrades, and a battery that lasts for more than 15 hours of Web browsing.

Ultimately, the compromises around this machine are a lot less than its advantages. Its tiny package and absolute monstrosity of power make us think that it will be one of the best sellers in 2021.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://www.laptopmedia.com/series/acer-swift-x-sfx14-41g/

Pros

  • Beautiful screen with 97% of sRGB coverage and accurate colors (when our Gaming and Web design profile is present) (AUO B140HAN06.8 (AUO683D))
  • No PWM (AUO B140HAN06.8 (AUO683D))
  • Up to 15 hours of Web browsing on battery
  • Almost all-metal built with a lid leverage system
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Surprisingly good performance
  • Wi-Fi 6, and dual M.2 SSD support


Cons

  • Soldered memory
  • No SD card reader

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Superguy
Superguy
1 year ago

Good review overall. I bought 2 of these as soon as they were available on Amazon: 1 for me, and 1 for my son that’s in the military. I think there are a couple of other things that need to be mentioned though. First off, I think this is more of a creator/business type laptop that is also capable of gaming. It’s definitely not a gaming laptop, but it does well enough that it’s kind of jack-of-all trades.The 40W 3050 Ti was a bit of a disappointment to me. Performance can be improved if you use MSI’s Afterburner app with… Read more »