The Acer Swift 3 SF315-41 Review: Ryzen Meets Laptopby Brett Howse on May 3, 2018 8:00 AM EST
- Posted in
- Ryzen Mobile
- Raven Ridge
It’s been a long time since we’ve had a chance to review a laptop powered by an AMD CPU, but Acer has now launched the Acer Swift 3 powered by Ryzen Mobile, and we’ve got a chance to look at one. AMD has had a tough run in the laptop space over the last couple of years, but with the release of Ryzen in 2017, they are hoping to turn their fortunes around. But a big part of that will be having their partners package Ryzen into laptops that are of high quality, so that’s where Acer comes in.
Acer’s Swift 3 lineup is about middle of their lineup, which includes the Swift 1, 3, 5, and 7 models, and it’s a wide lineup, with Swift 3 models in both 14-inch and 15.6-inch versions, with both AMD processors with Vega graphics, as well as Intel processors, and some of those come with an optional NVIDIA GPU as well. For this review, we’ll be looking at the SF315-41-R6J9, which is a 15.6-inch version with the top-end AMD Ryzen mobile processors in the Ryzen 7 2700U.
AMD Ryzen 7 2700U is a quad-core processor with eight threads, and it has a base frequency of 2.2 GHz with a boost frequency of 3.8 GHz. It supports dual-channel DDR4-2400, and has 384 KB L1, 2 MB L2, and 4 MB L3 cache. But possibly the most exciting feature is the Radeon RX Vega 10 graphics, and in the 2700U it’s the largest GPU available with 10 GPU cores, and a boost frequency of 1300 MHz.
|Acer Swift 3 15|
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 5 2500U
2.0-3.6 GHz 15W TDP
|AMD Ryzen 7 2700U
2.2-3.8 GHz 15W TDP
|Intel Core i5-8250U
1.6-3.4 GHz 15W TDP
8 Compute Units
Up to 1100MHz
10 Compute Units
Up to 1300MHz
|NVIDIA GeForce MX150
2 GB GDDR5
|RAM||8 GB DDR4||8 GB DDR4||8 GB DDR4 (Standard)
16 GB DDR4 (Optional)
|Storage||256 GB SATA SSD||512 GB SATA SSD||256 GB SSD|
|Display||15.6" 1920x1080 IPS|
|Networking||802.11ac Qualcomm QCA6174A
|I/O||2 x USB 3.0
1 x USB 2.0
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
SD Card Reader
|Battery||48Wh, 45W AC Adapter|
|Dimensions||370 x 255 x 19.05 mm
14.59 x 10.04 x 0.74 inches
Acer’s top model of AMD based Swift 3 comes with enough connectivity in the USB-C port (Gen 1 - 5 Gbps) along with two USB 3.0 ports, and a USB 2.0 port. There’s also an HDMI output with HDCP, and a SD card reader, which is a solid amount of connections on a laptop.
While the 8 GB of RAM might seem a bit low, for this mid-range level of notebook, it’s likely enough. Acer also includes a fingerprint reader with Windows Hello support, and Wi-Fi based on the Qualcomm Atheros QCA6174A, which is a 2x2:2 802.11ac wireless NIC with MU-MIMO support and Bluetooth 4.2.
Before we take a deep dive into the performance, let’s first go over the design that Acer has created for the Swift 3.
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kaidenshi - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - link640KB is enough for anyone.
In all seriousness, this is a midrange laptop and 8GB is midrange these days. Unless you're trying to use it for containers/VMs, 8GB is plenty for the kind of use case a laptop like this will see.
Now, if they included the right GPU to make it a gaming laptop, I'd love to see it come with 16GB with the option of 32GB. But in this case, 8GB is plenty.
Targon - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - linkThat is the problem, a mid-range laptop is generally that $450-$650 range. Add the SSD and you go into the next price category. RAM being overpriced at this point is a part of the problem, but it isn't the only reason the cheapest you can find a Ryzen based laptop is $600 at this point.
kfishy - Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - linkUnfortunately a side effect of Ryzen’s success is retailers can mark it up much more.
Jimster480 - Monday, May 28, 2018 - linkThere are $400 Ryzen 3 laptops, its just that if its a Ryzen 5+ then its double the cost.
Jimster480 - Monday, May 28, 2018 - linkIts not when its a single channel 2133mhz ram setup...
Its the cheapest ram, cheapest SSD, cheapest screen, cheapest battery.... all for a price more than an i7 + dedicated GPU with double the ram!
tn_techie - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - linkRegarding Cinebench and system tests, it's clear that premium built notebooks like Microsoft's surface products, or even the Asus Zenbooks, will have better results than the Swift 315, as the components quality and thermal solutions are way higher than the Swift's. Most plasticky midrange notebooks with Kaby Lake R chips score lower Cinebench results than the 2700U when coupled with a random nonchalant thermal solution from the likes of Acer, Asus or any of the major OEMs. The problem with Raven Ridge, is that it can't feature on higher end designs, due to the lack of LPDDR support, and therefore it won't benefit from the advantage of being on a truly premium system, with great cooling, a big battery, full cutting edge connectivity, best-in-class NVMes etc.. It's condemned, at best, to the high midrange tier, with tradeoffs and sacrifices here and there.
Spunjji - Friday, May 4, 2018 - linkI'm pretty sure it's less the LPDDR support and more mindshare / marketing dollars that keep AMD out of the high-end products.
tn_techie - Friday, May 4, 2018 - linkI think that the Ryzen brand has proved itself over the last 12 months. There's a lot of excitement around it, and its reputation is actually sky high. That's why I don't think it's the old mindshare issue, with people automatically recognizing AMD based products as low-end. However, consumers associate high-end CPUs with the premium notebook offerings. And as long as you're unable to showcase your products in the XPS, Spectre, Zenbook, Surface etc.. lineups, you won't be granted the full recognition you deserve. And the lack of LPDDR support is the main hurdle here.
Try putting a 2700U in the chassis of an XPS 13 for example. Battery life will be disappointing, but performance would be outstanding.
Jimster480 - Monday, May 28, 2018 - linkThe battery life of the XPS13 is very disappointing... especially since the Spectre and Meltdown bugs... I can barely get 4 hours out of my XPS13 just browsing in Firefox...
Its basically a useless disaster of a laptop with poor performance for anything outside of web browsing.
Intel knows it and they will pay billions to keep the ryzen chips out of something like the XPS13.
LPDDR vs DDR4 really isn't a major factor when it comes to notebook battery life. It may sacrifice an hour or two but considering the actual tested battery life of basically every intel machine post these patches for the CPU bugs.... well I think the two would be on par with the Ryzen maybe even pulling ahead.
Jimster480 - Monday, May 28, 2018 - linkExactly! There is no disadvantage to Ryzen that keeps it out of the premium sector other than that its made by AMD and Intel is throwing marketing dollars at companies to make sure AMD doesn't see the light of day.