Acer Swift 7 vs. LG gram 14: Do you prioritize design or performance?

The revamped Acer Swift 7 SF714, revealed at CES 2018 and branded as "the world's thinnest laptop," is expected to hit markets sometime April 2018. LG's gram lineup, strong contenders in the thin and light category of devices, also has a 14-inch model expected to hit markets this spring alongside 13- and 15-inch models that are already available. If you're shopping around for a new 14-inch device and love the idea of something that's incredibly mobile, you probably have both of these laptops in your sights. I'll compare the two here to help you decide which is best for you.

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Acer Swift 7 vs. LG gram 14Z980: Specifications

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CategoryAcer Swift 7LG gram 14Z980
Intel Core i7-7Y75
Intel Core i5-8250U
Intel Core i7-8550U
Display size14-inch IPS
14-inch IPS
(touch and non-touch)
Display resolution1,920 x 1,080 (FHD)1,920 x 1,080 (FHD)
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 615Intel UHD Graphics 620
Storage256GB PCIe SSD256GB PCIe SSD
CameraFront-facing 720pFront-facing 720p
BiometricsFingerprint readerFingerprint reader
2 x 2 MU-MIMO
Intel XMM 4G LTE
802.11ac (2 x 2)
Bluetooth 4.1
Two USB-C 3.1
3.5mm audio
Two USB-A 3.0
microSD reader
3.5mm audio
BatteryUnspecifiedFour-cell 72WHr
Dimensions0.35 inches (8.98mm) thick12.7 in x 8.3 in x 0.6 in
322.58mm x 210.82mm x 15.24mm
Weight2.6 pounds (1.2kg)2.19 pounds (965g)
PriceAbout $1,700About $1,150

Acer Swift 7 vs. LG gram 14Z980: Performance

Acer opted to stick with seventh-gen Y-series processors (CPU) in the new Swift 7, though they have been bumped up to the Core i7 version for a bit more power. These run on a 4.5W thermal design point (TDP), sucking up a lot less power than a standard desktop CPU and still less than the common Intel U-series CPUs.

For example, the eighth-gen Core i5-8250U and Core i7-8550U chips in the gram 14Z980 have a 15W TDP, but they also deliver four cores rather than two and have a higher frequency for better performance.

Built with the same-sized battery, the Swift 7 would theoretically get better battery life, but Acer hasn't yet specified the size, saying only that in testing it should get about 10 hours of life. Those tests are usually designed to eke every last drop of power out of the battery, and real-world usage will likely show a very different number. The gram, on the other hand, is stocked with a 72WHr battery, and in testing the 15-inch configuration, I saw about 12 and 13 hours of life.

Both laptops come with an available 8GB of RAM, but the gram uses DDR4 compared to the Swift 7's DDR3. The performance difference here won't be too noticeable. If you need the most storage possible, the gram can be had with up to a 512GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), whereas the Swift 7 is capped at 256GB. If you need a laptop with the best possible performance, it looks like the gram is really your best choice.

Acer Swift 7 vs. LG gram 14Z980: Design and features

The gram 14Z980 is built from a nanocarbon-magnesium hybrid that helps keep its weight at an impressively low level, but the sacrifice is a bit of flex in the lid. It weighs about 2.19 pounds (965g), which is significantly less than the Swift 7 at 2.6 pounds (1.2kg).

Some of the Swift 7's weight comes from the unibody aluminum design, which helps keep it a bit more solid when the lid is open. As for thickness, the Swift 7 wins without contest at 0.35 inches (8.98mm) compared to the gram's 0.6 inches (15.24mm).

Part of the trade-off with something so thin is a lack of key travel on the Swift 7's backlit keyboard. If you're someone who types all day, you might want to test this thing out before investing. The gram's keyboard doesn't have to be squeezed into quite as thin space, and you'll likely be able to feel a difference if using them side-by-side.

Both laptops have fingerprint readers for Windows Hello, and both have front-facing HD webcams, though the one on the Swift 7 is located below the display. If you hate the idea of a nose view, the gram's camera is where it should be, above the screen.

The Swift 7's thin body likewise doesn't leave much space for ports, and you're getting just two USB-C 3.1, a nano-SIM slot, and a 3.5mm audio jack. The USB-C ports are versatile, but the gram has USB-A, USB-C, HDMI, and microSD, providing a much more rounded selection. The Swift 7 has it beat with LTE connectivity, though; if you're in need of a constant internet connection, there's really only one choice.

Acer Swift 7 vs. LG gram 14Z980: Display

Both laptops are available with FHD (1,920 x 1,080) touch displays, though if you don't care for the touch function on a standard clamshell notebook, the gram 14Z980 comes in a non-touch configuration. Neither laptop has an available pen to go along with it, and neither laptop can be converted into tablet mode.

The Swift 7 has edge-to-edge glass for a seamless look, but it has a significantly larger "chin" below the display. The gram, though it has a bit of a ridge along the bezel to keep the display from touching the keys when closed, has far less of a chin for an overall look of having less bezel.

I haven't been able to measure color accuracy in the Swift 7, but the gram 15Z980 came back with 100 percent sRGB and 76 percent AdobeRGB in testing. Both displays will likely be suitable for you, but the ability to choose non-touch and save some battery and cash might push the gram over the top.

Acer Swift 7 vs. LG gram 14Z980: Price

Thin tech almost never comes cheap, and the Swift 7 continues this trend. It's expected to cost about $1,700 when it launches in April. Compared to the gram 14Z980, which starts at about $1,150 for a non-touch version with Core i5 CPU and about $1,550 for a touch version with Core i7 CPU, you might already have made up your mind.

That Core i5 is still going to easily outperform the seventh-gen CPU in the Swift 7, and the eighth-gen Core i7 configuration with touch display (still cheaper) further widens the performance gap. Still, design counts for a lot, and the money spent on the thin Swift 7 will no doubt be worth it in the long run if you're into the cafe culture.

Acer Swift 7 vs. LG gram 14Z980: The final word

The Swift 7 is all about design, placing high performance on a lower step. The idea of having "the world's thinnest laptop" is no doubt quite attractive, but if you're involved in any kind of work that requires multitasking, you'll wish you had something with a bit more processing power. One point where it excels is connectivity. Being able to access LTE networks wherever you are is an enormous boon to travelers.

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The gram 14Z980, which is still a thin laptop with a lower weight than the Swift 7, has that extra performance, and at a lower price. The gram line is also available in 13- and 15-inch configurations, while it looks like the Swift 7 will be staying at a 14-inch size.

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More resources

Check out these links for more info about LG's gram lineup.

Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt brings to Windows Central more than eight years of experience writing about laptops, PCs, accessories, games, and beyond. If it runs Windows or in some way complements the hardware, there’s a good chance he knows about it, has written about it, or is already busy testing it.