Acer Swift X 14 laptop review with RTX 3050: Underchallenged i5-1240P

The Acer Swift X 14 (2022) offers a GeForce RTX 3050 in a light, 1.4 kg (~3 lb) case, combined with a 16:10 display in 2.2K resolution, Intel Alder Lake P CPUs ( Core i5-1240P as in our test unit or alternatively Core i7-1260P ), a very fast PCIe 4.0 SSD (512 GB), and 16 GB of soldered DDR5-4800 RAM. The robust subnotebook with multimedia ambitions also includes additional updates, such as HDMI 2.1, a 1,080p webcam, an improved sound system, and also improved keyboard. Overall, Acer combines office, multimedia, and Full-HD gaming in a compact, 14-inch laptop. While there is also a model with a more powerful RTX 3050 Ti available, the competitors offer higher power limits for the GPU and CPU, like Dell’s Inspiron 14 Plus with a Core i7-12700H and RTX 3050 (50 W) or the Asus Vivobook Pro 14 with similar hardware plus OLED screen, but the Honor MagicBook 14 with GeForce RTX 2050 should also not be underestimated. Additional Acer reviews: The case has remained basically the same, so that you can find the details in our review of the predecessor model . However, this year the lid resists warping attempts and cannot be opened with one hand anymore. The dimensions are slightly changed with the built-in 16:10 display, and the keyboard is now black, instead of white. The form factor corresponds to that of a 13-inch laptop. It is the most compact and with 1.4 kg (~3 lb), also the lightest device in our comparison field, with all the competitors also offering a dedicated graphics unit. The Acer Swift X has received a second TB4 connection, but both ports are placed on the left side. USB-A is available on both sides. HDMI was updated to version 2.1 (4K, 120 Hz). We will check this as soon as our HDMI 2.1 cable arrives. Acer offers the usual two years of warranty in Germany for its Swift series. The single-step illuminated keyboard has improved compared to that of last year’s Swift X 14 . The pressure point is well accentuated and the key resistance clearly noticeable, so that fast typing succeeds without any problems, despite the short key stroke. Other than having removed the separate Image Up and Down keys, the layout remains the same. The keyboard doesn’t have any give while typing. The touchpad is new and is made from recycled plastic called “OceanGlass.” Even though this is the same touchpad as in the larger Swift X 16 , the response behavior is significantly better and more accurate. Drag-&-drop, pinch-to-zoom and scrolling are all implemented without any problems. Although the surface offers some resistance to the sliding fingers, the touchpad isn’t bad. In terms of the display, the Acer Swift X 14 offers some welcome improvements. Not only the change to the 16:10 format but also the higher resolution of 2,240 x 1,400 pixels leads to a higher enjoyment when reading the contents of the matte IPS display. The good brightness of 330 nits is at the same level as that of the competitors in our comparison field. However, 400 nits would have still been desirable for comfortable reading of the display under a bright sky outdoors. Overall, the values of the panel are surprisingly close to those of the Dell Inspiron 14 Plus . At 1,621:1, the contrast is abundant, and together with the low black value of 0.21 nits, you can enjoy a saturated black. The white value is an optimal 6,573K. The 3:2 display of the Honor MagicBook 14 also shows similar values, although that uses PWM for brightness control. This is not the case in our test unit. The Asus Vivobook Pro 14 has by far the best panel of our comparison, offering a 3K OLED display with a 90 Hz refresh rate, but that also uses PWM. We notice a strong backlight bleeding in our panel, which is even clearly visible during regular usage. An option for an OLED panel, higher refresh rate, or higher resolution is not available. The sRGB color space is covered to 99%, which not only benefits the image quality but also allows more ambitious image processing. The AdobeRGB color space, which is important for color-accurate graphics for example, is only covered to 72.6%. The color deviations are minimal at an average DeltaE value just below <2.4 and can be improved further to just below <1 with our calibration. This includes the grayscale, which still shows some deviations at a DeltaE of 4.3 in the state of delivery. The slight Cyan tint can also be adjusted by the calibration. You can download our free color profile from the link in the box next to the brightness distribution graphic. Thanks to its matte surface in combination with a brightness of 330 nits, the display could be read easily outdoors, at least in the shade or in indirect light. In direct sunlight, the brightness is too low. The Acer Swift X 14 is designed for a mixture of office work and the occasional Full-HD gaming and/or graphics work, which is supposed to be made possible by the included GeForce RTX 3050 from Nvidia. The 16 GB of DDR5-4800 RAM that are soldered into all the models also support the semi-professional usage. In addition to the Core i5-1240P , there are also models with Intel's Core i7-1260P that include a 1-TB PCIe 4.0 SSD, instead of the 512-GB version of our test unit. AMD versions are not available anymore. Using Acer's Quick Access app, you can select among three power modes. In mains operation, these don't have any effect on the processor and graphics performance. The CPU is boosted to 50 watts for about 15 seconds, before it constantly runs at 25 watts. What changes is the fan behavior, which we discuss in more detail in the Emissions segment below. The Silent Mode only has an effect on the performance during combined CPU+GPU load and in combination with the Windows' Best Performance power profile. But it will only affect the GPU performance, which will then start fluctuating (around 25 watts on average). In battery operation, the performance is distributed among the two components independent of the selected mode: 9 watts (CPU) + 11 watts (dGPU). The most interesting case is the combination of Performance Mode with Windows' Best Power Savings profile. The Dynamic Boost of the GeForce RTX 3050 will then be activated (35 watts + 5 watts), and the graphics performance increases by 5 to 10%, depending on the application. However, we ran our GPU tests as well as all the other performance tests in the with the Best Performance Windows profile in combination with Performance Mode in Acer's Quick Access app. The WLAN and video battery runtimes, on the other hand, were determined in the corresponding balanced modes. Our test unit of the Acer Swift X 14 is run by a Core i5-1240P from Intel. Its four Performance cores offer a maximum clock speed of 4.4 GHz. Here, they reach 3.2 GHz and then level out to 2.1 GHz after about 15 seconds, so that the CPU's clock speed at least remains above the basic clock speed of 1.7 GHz. After several minutes, the temperature lies at 65 °C (149 °F). Since the cooling system is capable of cooling 64 watts constantly – in scenarios under combined CPU/GPU load – the power limit of 25 watts (PL1) is slightly disappointing. In the larger Swift X 16 , the same processor runs about 15 to 25% faster with a PL1 of 35 watts. The predecessor model with a Ryzen 5 5500U hexa-core processor is at the same level in multi-core tasks. At that time, you also had an option for a Ryzen 7 5800U octa-core processor, which usually runs faster than an Alder Lake with the same TDP. The Asus Vivobook Pro 14 with a Ryzen 5 5600H is only barely surpassed. Depending on the application, Honor's MagicBook 14 and Dell's Inspiron 14 Plus keep a distance of about 40 to 60% to our test unit, which is due to their faster Alder Lake H processors. We measured the performance, raising the power limit to 45 watts with the "Throttlestop" tool, while the temperatures increased to a maximum of 87 °C (188.6 °F). With this, the performance increase in the multi-core applications is up to 33%. However, we don't recommend running the CPU outside the limits specified by the manufacturer. We only want to demonstrate what kind of potential is wasted here. At least, the performance doesn't decrease in battery operation, not even in the Silent mode. The system performance is just as good as that of the larger Swift X 16 with the same CPU and SSD. In our comparison field, only the systems with the Alder Lake H processor do better. Particularly during web surfing, we see a significant improvement compared to last year's model. However, no test unit in our comparison field can come even close to a MacBook Air with an M2 or M1 SoC. The SSD benchmarks clearly show that the Micron 3400 used here is a PCIe 4.0 SSD. Correspondingly, it is only surpassed in our comparison field by the particularly fast Samsung PM9A1 of the Honor MagicBook 14 . A positive point: In contrast to the Acer Swift X 16 , which uses the same SSD, in the Swift X 14 it is throttled only slightly (12 to 13%) at most. This might be due to using a heat pipe here. In our test unit, the dedicated graphics unit from Nvidia is a GeForce RTX 3050 , but alternatively, the Ti version of the same graphics card is also available. It is suited for Full-HD gaming and for easy 3D or video work. Since Acer has decided for the lowest TGP of 35 watts, the Dell Inspiron 14 Plus with the same GPU but 50-Watt TGP surpasses the Acer Swift X 14 by 18% in the 3D Mark benchmarks. The Asus Vivobook Pro 14 is also allowed to power its RTX 3050 with up to 50 watts. If you choose the RTX 3050 Ti during the purchase, the Swift X should be able to catch up with the competitors, since Schenker's new Vision 14 leads our performance rating with this GPU at the same 35-Watt TGP. At least, the larger Swift X 16 with the Intel Arc A370M and the predecessor model with the GTX 1650 can be surpassed by 30%. But alternatively, the latter was also available with an RTX 3050. In battery operation, we recommend deactivating the Nvidia GPU for gaming of other graphics-intensive tasks. This is because in that case, Intel's integrated Iris Xe7 graphics unit runs about 3x as fast, since the RTX 3050 is provided with only 5 watts of power. When gaming, the trend of the synthetic benchmarks continues: Due to the low 35-Watt TGP, the GeForce RTX 3050 from Nvidia used here ends up barely behind the GeForce RTX 2050 in the Honor MagicBook 14 . The largest advantage is to the Intel Arc A370M in the Swift X 16 (+57%). The competitors with the same GPU but in the 50-Watt version and also the RTX 3050 Ti in the Schenker Vision 14 achieve 20% more frames per second on average. Full-HD gaming at high details is also often possible smoothly in newer games. Regardless of the selected power mode, you will always be hearing a constant fan noise. Even Silent Mode won't really be silent, not even during idle operation. But at least, the noise will then almost blend in with the surrounding noises. As soon as you open a website, the fan already gets louder. However, this still remains within acceptable limits in Silent Mode, and there are neither any annoying high-frequency nor electronic noises in our test unit. Even though almost 50 dB(A) are reached in the stress test, due to the low frequency of the fan noise, we did not feel that this was particularly annoying. The fan also remains significantly quieter in Silent Mode here, without a loss in performance. The temperature development is okay overall. Only during the artificially produced stress test, we measure some hotspots at up to 51 °C (124 °F). In real applications, the temperatures remain within the acceptable range. On the other hand, the predecessor with an AMD processor remains cooler, and the Dell Inspiron 14 Plus is the coolest in our comparison field. The stress test shows again that the 25-Watt limit of the CPU was chosen very conservatively, since we don't measure any high temperatures (76 °C, 169 °F), not even under combined load with Prime95+FurMark. During this time, the processor still manages to maintain the basic clock speed of 1.7 GHz. In the hour-long stress test with The Witcher 3, the dGPU still reaches a clock speed of 1,280 MHz, which is about 20% higher than the maximum boost of an RTX 3050 with a 35-Watt TGP. In the FurMark stress test, it still has a boost of about 10% below the maximum. The two 2-Watt speakers, which are pointed downward, were improved. Although they still don't deliver any bass, at least they get fairly loud at 86 dB(A) and are able to fill a larger room. The mids and highs are also reproduced in a linear and balanced fashion. However, for enjoyment of music or movies, you should use external audio devices, which can be connected via the audio port or Bluetooth without any problems. During idle operation as well as with simple applications such as Office and web browsing, the power consumption of the Acer Swift X 14 conforms more or less to the class average. The Dell Inspiron 14 Plus consumes significantly more power, while the predecessor of the Swift X with an AMD CPU is noticeably more efficient. Under load, the system consumed a maximum of 96 watts, but this was either the case during the unrealistic stress test or only for a few seconds while gaming. After that, the consumption mostly levels out at about 70 watts, so the included 100-Watt charger is sufficient. When web surfing in Balanced Mode with the brightness adjusted to 150 nits, the Acer Swift X 14 (2022) lasts for an additional 40 minutes compared to the predecessor with an AMD processor. This isn't far from a good 11 hours. The competitors in our comparison field last about as long, except for the Dell Inspiron 14 Plus , which stops running 3.5 hours earlier. Theoretically, the RTX 3050 could turn the Acer Swift X 14 into a powerful Full HD gaming laptop for the road. But in practice, the graphics performance unfortunately crashes completely, away from the outlet. However, we guess that a future BIOS update might remedy this situation. Aside from that, the light and compact 14-inch laptop is far ahead of the Intel Arc A370M in its large, 16-inch sibling, the Swift X 16 . The predecessor was already available with a graphics processor up to an RTX 3050 Ti and an AMD Ryzen 7 5800U , which offers a higher performance at the same TDP than an Intel Alder Lake processor. In addition, the fan is almost always running, even if the Silent Mode offers some help here without suffering any loss in performance. This is hard to comprehend, also considering the low CPU power limit of 25 watts, when competing devices such as the Dell Inspiron 14 Plus and Honor MagicBook 14 provide their CPU with 40 watts constantly, while remaining even cooler and quieter. On the other hand, they weigh 200 to 300 grams (~7 - 10.6 oz) more. With an AMD version, many of these problems probably could have been avoided. At the same time, Acer's Performance mode unexpectedly doesn't lead to any performance gain, and even Windows' own "Best Performance" doesn't change anything. Those who can live without a 16:10 display and Thunderbolt are better served with the quieter predecessor, even if this year's model also brought some smaller improvements in the keyboard, webcam, speakers, and connection equipment. For those for whom a Vega iGPU is sufficient, the Acer Swift 3 AMD (2021), which shares the same construction, can already be found from 600 Euros (~$598). Or you can take a pick among the competitors: The best display (3K OLED + 90 Hz, but reflective) can be found in the Asus Vivobook Pro 14 , which is also impressive otherwise. The Dell Inspiron 14 Plus offers the fastest CPU/GPU combination in a 14-inch multimedia laptop of the midrange, but you'd have to live with a lower battery life of ~7 instead of the 11 hours of the Swift X 14. And finally, there Asus Zephyrus G14 Ryzen 9 GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q Laptop Review: Kicking Core i9 to the Curb is Honor's MagicBook 14 with a 3:2 display and RTX 2050 , which doesn't show any significant deficiencies and is available at a similar price of 1,300 Euros (~$1295). For the same price, the Asus Zephyrus G14 with a 120-Hz WQHD display (16:9), Ryzen 9 5900HS, RTX 3050 with a 60-Watt TGP, and expandable RAM is also interesting, although it is thicker and heavier. At the time of this test, the Acer Swift X SFX14-51G (i7-1260P, 512 GB/16 GB, RTX 3050) is listed in Acer's online shop for $1200 but currently out of stock. Amazon offers the same model for $1230 .

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Published on : 2022-11-06 01:04:00

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