Hands-On, Laptop

Acer Swift 5 (2020) Hands-On: The First 11th Gen Intel Tiger Lake Laptop

The Acer Swift 5 has been updated for 2020, and while it’s not a major overhaul, the refreshed productivity laptop does have one exciting new hardware: Intel’s unannounced 11th generation Tiger Lake processor. This makes the Swift 5 the first laptop to be announced with the upcoming chip.

Of course, beyond the new processor, the updated Swift 5 improves upon its predecessor in a number of key areas. I managed to spend a brief time with the slim and light laptop, and I really can’t wait for it to be available here in Malaysia. It could very well be the best productivity laptop for those who want a lightweight, slim premium notebook.

So let’s talk about the Tiger Lake processor of the Swift 5 first. Now, it’s worth noting that Acer itself did not outright mention that this laptop features Intel’s 11th generation chip. But, the Taiwanese company did say that the Swift 5 comes with Intel’s new Xe graphics architecture, which is used by Tiger Lake chips.

And the new integrated graphics is one of the most exciting features of the new Tiger Lake processors. According to Intel, the Xe graphics architecture is said to be twice as fast compared to the previous generation solution. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to run any games on the new Swift 5 in the brief hands-on session to see just how fast the new integrated GPU is.

Anyway, there’s also an option to configure this laptop with a dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX350 GPU.

Another big change introduced in the refreshed Swift 5 is the Corning Gorilla Glass protecting the display. The previous model only had a matte display surrounded by plastic bezels, so the new glass covering definitely gives the refreshed model a more premium-looking design. It’s also quite impressive how the laptop still retains its lightweight nature despite sporting a glass screen now.

Speaking of which, the new Swift 5 weighs just under 1kg, and this is really quite surreal for a 14-inch laptop. Acer managed to trim down the weight of the Swift 5 by using a combination of high-grade magnesium-lithium and magnesium-aluminium for the chassis. Not only does it look good, the material feels good to the touch as well.

On top of that, the Swift 5 measures only 14.95mm thin, so it is just as portable as its predecessor. You can easily slip it into your backpack and forget about it.

As for the 14-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS touch-enabled screen of the Swift 5, it’s reasonably good. The maximum brightness seems to be bright enough for comfortable indoor use, colours look vibrant, and viewing angles are alright too. However, as the display is now protected by a Corning Gorilla Glass, it’s a glossy panel, so it won’t be able to minimise glare quite as effectively.

Acer did not give any estimate of the Swift 5’s battery life, though it did mention that the laptop can return four hours of use within 30 minutes of charging. Chances are, the 56WHr can (at the very least) match the battery life of the previous model; we got about seven to eight hours of use in our review of the 2019 Swift 5.

Port selection of the new Swift 5 remains the same as its predecessor as well, which is to say it’s not super great. There’s only one USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3 support, two USB-A connections, and an HDMI output. Pretty limited options, but they should be good enough for most consumers.

And then there’s the keyboard of the Swift 5. It has just enough travel to not feel shallow, the keys are quite tactile, and the standard layout of the keyboard is easy to get accustomed to. It’s not the best keyboard I’ve ever used, but it’s certainly not bad either. I definitely wouldn’t mind typing extensively on this keyboard.

As for the trackpad of the Swift 5, it’s decent. It’s not fantastic, but it is largely accurate. My fingers can also glide effortlessly on the smooth surface of the trackpad.

The new Acer Swift 5 improves upon its predecessor in almost every single way while retaining its winning features. It is just as lightweight, it looks even sleeker now, and it’s set to ship with Intel’s latest and greatest processors yet, though there are still quite a bit we don’t know about the upcoming Tiger Lake chips.

Regardless, if you want to get your hands on the updated Acer Swift 5, you’ll have to wait until October 2020; that’s when the productivity laptop is set to be made available globally. That’s quite some time away, but it’s not exactly surprising, given that Intel hasn’t even announced the Tiger Lake processors yet.

More importantly, how much will the Swift 5 go for? Well, for the US market, it retails from $999 (about RM4,275). For EMEA regions, it starts at $1,099 instead, which comes up to approximately RM4,700. These are not exactly affordable price tags, but the Swift 5 is a premium machine after all.