Between chip shortages, supply chain disruptions and ongoing price hikes, finding a high-end laptop for under $2,000 can seem impossible. Acer’s 16-inch Swift Edge model makes the case that it’s still possible to buy an ultrabook-class laptop for less than $2,000. Under $1,500. Its thin, light chassis, Ryzen 7 CPU, DDR5 memory, and 4K display all scream “premium,” but the price point is less than $500 less than similarly sized and equipped MacBook Pros.
Of course, this incredibly low sticker price comes with some discounts you should be aware of. High-concept design and ultra-sturdy construction are here to stay, backed by raw power. The battery life is also shorter than the pricier models. Instead, you’re getting performance that can handle anything you throw at it — and fast.
This review will help you decide if Acer’s balance between performance, build quality, and price makes the Swift Edge the right laptop for you.
|processor||AMD Ryzen 7 6800U|
|Display||16 inch 3840×2400 OLED panel with 60Hz refresh rate|
|Memory||16GB DDR5 (up to 32GB available)|
|Storage||1TB Gen 4 NVME SSD|
|Cameras||1080p at 60FPS|
|Battery||54Wh, rated for up to 10.5 hours|
|Ports||2 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (up to 20Gbps over DisplayPort over USB), 2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x HDMI 2.1 (HDCP support), 1 combo headphone/microphone jack|
|relationship||Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2|
|Weight and dimensions||2.58 pounds | 14.04 x 9.5 x 0.51 inches or 356.7 x 242.3 x 12.95 millimeters|
I would say this is the smallest aspect of the Swift Edge. While there isn’t a single part of the laptop that isn’t well made, most of the materials are… serviceable. For example, the outer shell is all metal, but it’s a thinner metal than most laptops with such high-end internals, and it has more flexibility than I’d like.
This theme continues on the keyboard. It provides average typing comfort and feel, with some noticeable typing. That said, the touchpad provides a satisfying mechanical click, and is as responsive and accurate as anything I’ve used on a recent Windows-based laptop.
4K display; of The high point of the system is surrounded by delightfully thin bezels, which allow the gorgeous OLED panel to shine through (more on that later). An aspect ratio greater than 16:9 provides more screen real estate for work and browsing websites. That beauty and functionality go a long way to making you forget about the outer shell and keyboard, which would look right at home on a much cheaper laptop.
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Features and ports
The port selection on the Swift Edge is another win. While some more expensive models add more cost by requiring dongles and adapters, this more budget-friendly Acer model offers two USB-A and two USB-C ports, more than enough to cover your peripheral and storage base. It also adds more flexibility to your setup by expanding the included HDMI 2.1 port with DisplayPort over USB Type-C support for additional displays.
Those extra displays may struggle to compete with the Swift Edge’s built-in screen. I’ve occasionally rambled on about the importance of 4K displays under 24 inches. However, the extremely high pixel density and beautiful color saturation (provided by the OLED panel) made me close to enjoying the show. Video streams crisp, with deep, rich blacks, and text looks razor-sharp at all sizes.
The reflective coating is more resistant to background glare than other models I’ve reviewed recently. Between that and 400 nits of brightness, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting work done in direct sunlight. Of course, that beautiful display consumes electricity, but we’ll discuss that more in the next section.
About that webcam…
I should also cover the included 1080p webcam. I won’t be as serious as I was about the built-in webcam in the Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 I recently reviewed. There are two reasons for this. First, Acer didn’t display the webcam, instead listing it on a spec sheet as an average 1080p laptop camera, unlike Lenovo’s decision to highlight it permanently on the laptop’s lid. Second, for all that lack of focus, it’s done like a Lenovo webcam: exactly how you’d expect a mid-range 1080p webcam built into a laptop in a thin and light form factor.
It’s not the worst I’ve ever used, but it has the slightly noisy, not-as-HD-as-you-expect look that most laptop webcams suffer from. Still, it’s used for full zoom calls and the like.
Finally, I note that the built-in stereo speakers are great. They won’t blow you away, but they won’t distort your audio or become excessively muddy, which is great for media consumption.
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Performance and battery life
This is at the expense of other Swift Edge features. The Ryzen 7 CPU and 16GB of DDR5 RAM (the latest standard) performed exceptionally well in all the tasks I threw at it. Basic Windows and productivity functions always feel snappy, even when trying to clutter up the room with multiple open browser tabs and multiple running programs. Although it can’t hold up to the Ryzen 9 CPU in the aforementioned Lenovo model, that model comes very close to something with an MSRP of $300+ below expectations.
The only area where it falls down a bit is gameplay. I must emphasize, the Swift Edge is not sold as a gaming PC. However, most high-end laptops can usually play mid-range games, even if they can’t deliver the frame rates used in AAA titles. Swift Edge’s performance can’t just be used in games like this. Overtime 2 And hero, And good for older titles like League of Legends or any retro/2D games you might like. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for very rare, very casual games.
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Gaming performance is a nice bonus in a work/school laptop, but battery life is often more important. Acer rates the Swift Edge at 10.5 hours for video playback and 7.5 hours on the MobileMark 2018 benchmark. I found the lower number closer to reality. Most full charges lasted around 5.5 to 7 hours. Pushing the system hard can bring that figure down to 3 hours, while implementing some modest battery-saving measures can stretch it up to 8. But I would estimate the average of 6.5 hours by implementing various functions. It is realistic expectation per payment.
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This means you don’t have to wait all day for battery life. However, it was never realistic to expect a 16-inch, 4K resolution display to push 13-inch, HD display laptops for more than 10 hours. It is another matter to be noted. If you need 10+ hours of battery life, you should consider a smaller, lower-resolution display or a heavier laptop. You can’t have everything, especially at this price point.
Hopefully, I’ve outlined the Swift Edge’s high points and drawbacks in a way that will help you decide whether its strengths and weaknesses suit your needs. I believe the ideal owner will be someone who can take full advantage of the larger 4K display. If you’re constantly struggling with short battery life or doing basic productivity work, all those pixels are going to waste.
However, if you’re a content creator who produces photos or videos in 4K resolution, or a content user who wants your broadcast video to look its absolute best, you’ll be fine with everything this OLED panel has to offer. Although not for long thanks to the included 65W charger, you’ll need to plug it in from time to time to keep that work or entertainment going.
There are options that offer you a bit more to get everything, but you need to shell out $500+ more, and then you leave out things like a 4K display. This fact alone makes the Swift Edge an excellent and budget-friendly option for the buyer of a solid workhorse laptop with one of the best 16-inch displays I’ve seen in a laptop under $2,000.
Options to consider
If build quality is more important to you than a 4K display and you can stretch your budget a bit, the Lenovo ThinkPad Z16 is a beautifully built laptop with Ryzen 9 at its core.
If you want something with longer battery life, the Dell XPS 13 Plus is one of the latest and best all-day laptops with a 13-hour plus battery.
The eternal elephant in the class when it comes to laptop shopping, Apple’s latest 16-inch MacBook Pro is the king with up to 21 hours of battery life thanks to its highly integrated and ultra-powerful M1 Pro core.