Acer Swift X SFX14 review: A portable and performant powerhouse

Acer's latest lightweight laptop packs a serious punch, but it isn't without issues.

Acer Swift X
(Image: © Windows Central)

If you're planning to work with intensive pieces of software like video editors or rendering programs frequently, having a powerful PC that you can daily drive is essential. However, if you also need to stay mobile and can't tie yourself to a desk setup all day, a traditional desktop PC won't be a good fit for your needs. Instead, you should look to the laptop market; there are many laptops available that feature heavy duty specs and deliver robust performance, and they're easy to slip into a bag and take with you on the go.

Workstation-grade laptops like these are excellent, but they're usually pretty expensive and can often be heavy, too. However, Acer has addressed both of those caveats with the Acer Swift X SFX14, an affordable 14-inch device that crams some of the best specs in the industry into a slim chassis that only weighs 3 pounds. And while you can get better raw performance elsewhere, you'll be hard-pressed to find a laptop that offers as much value as the Acer Swift X SFX14 for a similar price.

Acer Swift X SFX14: Price, availability, and specs

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Acer supplied Windows Central with a review unit of the Acer Swift X SFX14. It was configured by the manufacturer with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800U CPU, an NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti, 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM, 512GB SSD, and a 14-inch FHD non-touch display.

This model costs $1,100 on both Amazon and the Acer Store at the time of writing. Other models are available as well, including versions of the device equipped with the standard RTX 3050 CPU and either an AMD Ryzen 5 5600U or an AMD Ryzen 7 5825U processor. Note that all versions of the device come with Windows 11 pre-installed.

Below are all of the different specs that you can customize an Acer Swift X SFX14 with:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
OSWindows 11 Home
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 5 5600UAMD Ryzen 7 5800UAMD Ryzen 7 5825U
GraphicsNVIDIA RTX 3050NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti
Storage512GB SSD
Display14-inch FHD display (1920x1080), IPS, non-touch (300 nits)
Ports1x USB-C2x USB-A1x HDMI 2.01x 3.5mm headphone/mic combo
AudioDual speakers
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6Bluetooth 5.2
CameraFront-facing 720p
SecurityFingerprint sensorKensington lock slot
Battery59Wh batteryUp to 10-11 hours
Dimensions12.71 x 8.35 x 0.70 inches (322.8mm x 212.2mm x 17.9mm)
Weight3.06 pounds (1.39kg)

Acer Swift X SFX14: What I like

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The most impressive thing about the Acer Swift X SFX14 is how excellent its specs and performance are relative to its price. Most laptops with hardware like the NVIDIA RTX 3050 and 3050 Ti cost at least $1,500 or more, but the Swift X clocks in with a max price of just $1,100. For a fraction of the price of other workstation-grade 14- and 15-inch laptops, you're getting something that's nearly just as capable. The Ryzen 7 5800U CPU may not be as powerful as some of the H-series Intel chips you'll find in more expensive options, but it definitely gives them a run for their money. The Swift X's 16GB of DDR4 memory is enough for creative tasks like video editing; an option for 32GB would have been nice, but that would have driven the price up.

The LED-backlit display on the Acer Swift X is also great, and it's sure to satisfy anyone who doesn't need resolutions beyond FHD 1080p. It has excellent color accuracy, strong contrast, a wide viewing angle of 170 degrees, and 300 nits of peak brightness. It's not as sharp or snazzy as the 4K panels you'll find on pricier laptops, but for an FHD display, it's a treat to use.

The Acer Swift X SFX14 delivers strong performance for an attractive price.

The battery life of the Acer Swift X SFX14 is quite strong. At around 50% brightness it lasts about 5-6 hours while doing intensive work and 10-11 hours when performing lighter tasks like text editing or web browsing. For a 14-inch laptop equipped with a Ryzen 7 CPU and an RTX 3050 Ti, that's pretty impressive. You'll likely achieve even better battery life if you opt for the standard RTX 3050, though you'll be sacrificing some power.

Finally, the Acer Swift X SFX14 is built well and has a sleek, yet modest design. The keyboard is comfortable to type on and has bright backlighting, and both a fingerprint reader and a Kensington lock slot are included for effective security. The design also features solid I/O between the USB-C port and the dual USB-A slots, and there's a standard 3.5mm audio jack as well as an HDMI 2.0 port, too.

Acer Swift X SFX14: What I don't like

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While the Acer Swift X SFX14 doesn't have many issues, one of its caveats — the lack of any storage expansion options — may be a dealbreaker for many. It's not possible to configure the laptop with an SSD larger than 512GB, which is unusual for devices like this. On top of that, there's not even an SD or microSD card slot, which is surprising. This means that your only option is to use an external drive if you want more storage, and while the best external hard drives are excellent, they can also be expensive. Ultimately, it's strange and disappointing that Acer didn't give buyers some options here.

The Swift X's lack of storage expansion options is frustrating.

Another issue I have with the Swift X is that the upper half of its trackpad feels stiff and unresponsive, which in turn makes the mousing experience frustrating at times. It's far from unusable, but there's a noticeable (and annoying) difference between the smoothness of the trackpad's bottom half and the inconsistency of its top half.

Lastly, the Acer Swift X SFX14 comes with some annoying bloatware apps, including, Dropbox, Evernote, ExpressVPN, Planet9 Link, and more. Thankfully these can all be easily uninstalled, but getting rid of the apps is nevertheless tedious. Out of the box, the user should be the one who decides what to download and install on their system, not the manufacturer.

Acer Swift X SFX14: Competition

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The Acer Swift X SFX14 is an excellent creator-friendly laptop for folks who want something on the affordable side, but if you're willing to spend a little more, there are many great alternatives you should consider. The 14-inch HP ENVY 14 immediately comes to mind with its GTX 1650 Ti GPU, 11th Gen Intel CPUs, brighter display, and up to 2TB of SSD storage. It also comes with a Thunderbolt 4 port, which is nice.

The Swift X is capable of delivering a solid gaming experience, but if gaming is something you're serious about, you'll probably be better off with the Razer Blade 14 instead. It's significantly more expensive, but it can be configured with cutting-edge specs like the Ryzen 9 6900HX, the RTX 3080 Ti, and DDR5 memory. This hardware allows it to crush the most demanding games on the market, let alone creative applications.

If you don't mind 15-inch options, the Dell XPS 15 is also a fantastic alternative. The latest models of the device feature Intel's latest-and-greatest 12th Gen H-series processors as well as the same RTX 3050 and RTX 3050 Ti you can get with the Acer Swift X SFX14. On top of that, it's also available with a variety of premium displays, including FHD, 3.5K OLED, and 4K UHD options.

Acer Swift X SFX14: Should you buy it?

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You should buy this if ...

  • You need workstation-grade performance
  • You need a device with good battery life
  • You need something affordable

You shouldn't buy this if ...

  • You want a 4K display
  • You need lots of storage
  • You can't stand stiff touchpads

While there are workstation-grade laptops out there capable of stronger performance than what you get with the Acer Swift X SFX14, the Swift X is lighter and more affordable than the vast majority of its competitors. If you're okay with sacrificing luxuries like 4K panels and Thunderbolt 4 support, the Swift X's price-to-performance balance will undoubtedly impress you.

The Swift X's lack of storage expansion options is very disappointing, and it's a shame that the top half of the trackpad can be rough to use, too. Even with these caveats, though, it's undeniable that the Acer Swift X SFX14 is one of the best Windows laptops on the market for folks who want great power at an affordable price.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.