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Lenovo IdeaPad S940 vs. Acer Swift 5: Which should you buy?

IdeaPad S940
IdeaPad S940 (Image credit: Windows Central)

These two 14-inch Ultrabooks share a lot of similarities, especially in terms of internal hardware. Whereas the IdeaPad S940 is near the top of Lenovo's lineup in terms of price and quality, the Swift 5 remains near the middle of Acer's selection. We're here to break things down to help you decide which is the better option.

Lenovo IdeaPad S940 vs. Acer Swift 5 tech specs

Lenovo IdeaPad S940Acer Swift 5
Processor8th Gen Intel
Core i5-8265U
Core i7-8565U
10th Gen Intel
Core i7-1065G7
10th Gen Intel
Core i5-1035G1
Core i7-1065G7
RAM8GB LPDDR3
16GB LPDDR4x
8GB LPDDR4
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD512GB M.2 PCIe SSD
Display size14 inches14 inches
Display resolution1920x1080 (touch and non-touch)
3840x2160 (non-touch)
1920x1080 (touch)
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620
Intel Iris Plus Graphics
Intel Iris Plus Graphics
PortsTwo Thunderbolt 3
USB-C
3.5mm audio
Thunderbolt 3
USB-A 3.1
USB-A 2.0
HDMI
3.5mm audio
Wireless802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)
802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6)
Bluetooth 5.0
802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6)
Bluetooth 5.0
CameraFront-facing 720pFront-facing 720p
BiometricsIR cameraFingerprint reader
Battery52Wh54Wh
Dimensions12.57 x 7.77 x 0.48 inches
(319.3mm x 197.4mm x 12.2mm)
12.55 x 8.29 x 0.59 inches
(318.7mm x 210.5mm x 14.95mm)
WeightFrom 2.64 pounds (1.2kg)2.18 pounds (990g)

Design and features

With both laptops sitting side-by-side, Lenovo's IdeaPad S940 is clearly the more premium PC. Its chassis is built from a solid chunk of aluminum, with hardly any flex, and overall weight and size that is common with 14-inch devices. The Swift 5, on the other hand, uses a magnesium alloy for the chassis. It's not as rigid and likely won't withstand quite as much abuse as pure aluminum, but it allows for a lighter overall build. The Swift 5 weighs just 2.18 pounds (990g) compared to the starting weight of 2.64 pounds (1.2kg) for the S940. If you want the lightest device for easy carrying, the Swift 5 is likely quite appealing, while the S940 brings a superior level of craftsmanship to those who prefer a premium laptop.

The IdeaPad S940 is just a bit thinner than the Swift 5, but ports on Lenovo's laptop take a hit. You get just two Thunderbolt 3, one USB-C, and a 3.5mm audio jack. You can always connect a powerful Thunderbolt 3 docking station for improved connectivity, but Acer's Swift 5 will natively offer more connections. It has a single Thunderbolt 3 (which can also be used for a docking station), two USB-A, HDMI, and 3.5mm audio. If you hate hubs and adapters, especially for common accessories that use USB-A, the Swift 5 should cause fewer headaches.

The keyboard and touchpad on both devices could use a bit of work. I found the Swift 5 to be mostly comfortable if not a bit cramped, and the Precision touchpad was large enough to promote productivity. The S940 also has a Precision touchpad and backlit keyboard. Both laptops have a 16:9 aspect ratio that shortens the area allowed for palm rests, so some might find typing uncomfortable. In any case, we always suggest you give the keyboard and touchpad a try in person before making a final decision.

While the S940 uses an IR camera for facial recognition through Windows Hello, the Swift 5 has a fingerprint reader. Unfortunately, it's incredibly finicky and works properly well less than half the time. If you like a quick, secure way to get into your PC, the S940's IR camera should make a far better choice. Likewise, if you value audio quality from your Ultrabook, the S940's top-firing speakers make a considerable difference. Along with two down-firing speakers on the edges of the laptop and Dolby Atmos, audio from the S940 is better than what you'll find from the Swift 5.

Display

The Swift 5's display got a boost in this refresh, covering 99% of the sRGB gamut and coming in with an 86.4% screen-to-body ratio. It's a great look, even at an FHD resolution, and touch functionality is included. To help combat glare, there is a matte finish on the display. This is especially welcome due to the screen not getting remarkably bright. A 1920x1080 resolution is your only option here; if you want 4K, you'll have to turn to the IdeaPad S940.

Lenovo's laptop has an optional 4K (UHD) display option with native HDR 400 support. It surpasses 500 nits brightness, and it covers 100% of the sRGB color gamut and 86% of the AdobeRGB gamut. It doesn't have touch functionality, however, which might be a letdown for some. If you'd like touch, you'll have to go with the more standard FHD offering. All displays have a glossy finish, and all use Lenovo's Contour Display technology. The edges of the display curve away (just like a phone) for a slimmer bezel look. This amplifies the premium look of the S940, especially next to the more traditional look of the Swift 5.

Keep in mind that opting for the 4K display with all that brightness will significantly sap battery life in the S940. In our testing, the S940 with 4K managed only about 6.5 hours of life on a charge. The Swift 5 managed about eight hours on a charge with the FHD display.

Performance and price

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

The Acer Swift 5 has optional 10th Gen Intel Core i5 and i7 processors (CPU) depending on your workload and budget. The Core i5 option will save you more than $100 (opens in new tab) compared to the Core i7 model, but for some, the extra performance will be well worth the elevated cost. Otherwise, Swift 5 models all come with 8GB of RAM and a 512GB M.2 PCIe solid-state drive (SSD). The SSD can be upgraded after purchase, but RAM is soldered to the board.

The IdeaPad S940 is also available with the same 10th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU, but there are also some models available with 8th Gen Intel Core i5 and Core i7 hardware. You'll pay less for the older CPUs, but you won't quite get the same performance or perks. With 8th Gen Intel CPUs, there's no Wi-Fi 6, something that Swift 5 offers standard. Whereas the Swift 5 currently has two models for sale, there are far more customization options for the IdeaPad S940. Add up to 16GB of RAM and a 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD to go along with the 10th Gen Core i7 CPU. Like the Swift 5, the S940's SSD is upgradeable but RAM is soldered.

A Swift 5 with 10th Gen Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, and 14-inch touch FHD display costs about $900 (opens in new tab), while a Core i7 model with otherwise similar specs costs about $1,025 (opens in new tab). That's a pretty solid deal and will no doubt factor into your final decision.

An IdeaPad S940, without any of the frequent Lenovo discounts, starts at about $1,500 (opens in new tab), and that's with an 8th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU, FHD display, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD. However, that price can be knocked down to less than the introductory Swift 5 model thanks to a sale. Building your own S940 with 10th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, and FHD display has prices starting out at about $1,535 (opens in new tab).

It's clear you will pay considerably more for the IdeaPad S940 with 10th Gen Intel hardware, but at least there are more options to choose from. You're going to get more performance for less from the Swift 5, but there are currently only two options to choose from (Core i5 and Core i7).

The IdeaPad S940's numerous configurations will suit more people

Lenovo's IdeaPad S940 is a premium Ultrabook with multiple configurations (and a customizable model) to choose from. You will pay more for models with 10th Gen Intel hardware, but those who prefer the aluminum chassis and gorgeous 4K display won't want to turn anywhere else. Better audio, IR camera for Windows Hello, and the Contour Display tech are no doubt attractive features, and the S940 is ultimately a better choice for most people.

The Swift 5 is right for light travelers

Acer's Swift 5 won't quite match up against the IdeaPad S940 in terms of premium build quality, display, and audio, but it is considerably lighter and available at a competitive price. Port selection is better on the Swift 5, and altogether it's much better cut out for a mobile life. As long as you don't want a 4K display and can live with some of its shortcomings, the Swift 5 will still make a great laptop.