AMD-powered Acer’s Swift Edge laptop is a sweet reminder of Intel’s tax

Enlarge / Acer today announced the Swift Edge laptop.

Acer

Acer’s Swift Edge clamshell announced today is a sweet reminder of the so-called Intel tax. The PC offers a bigger screen with more expensive display technology and pixels than a similarly spec Acer Swift 5 ultralight for the same price. The other big difference between the two laptops is that the new Swift Edge opts for AMD Ryzen 6000 processors, while the Swift 5 uses 12th Generation Intel CPUs.

Acer is launching the Swift Edge in the US this Friday with a Ryzen 7 6800U, carrying eight cores, 4MB L2 cache, 16MB L3 cache, and a 2.7GHz clock speed of up to 4.7GHz. Combined with 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 1TB of PCIE 4.0 SSD storage, it will have an MSRP of $1,500.

The Swift Edge weighs 2.58 pounds and is 0.55 inches thick.
Enlarge / The Swift Edge weighs 2.58 pounds and is 0.55 inches thick.

Acer

It’s the same MSRP that the Swift 5 has at the time of writing and when we reviewed it in July. For that price, you get an Intel Core i7-1260P processor with four performance cores (2.1-4.7 GHz), eight efficient cores (1.5-3.4 GHz), and 18 MB L3 cache, as well than the same RAM and storage specs as the aforementioned Swift. Edge configuration.

The Swift Edge and Swift 5 also have a similar port selection: two USB-C ports (although Intel PC ports have Thunderbolt 4 and operates at up to 40 Gbps, instead of the 20 Gbps of Swift Edge ports), two USB-A ports (USB 3.2 Gen 1), an HDMI 2.1 port and a 3.5 mm jack.

The Intel-based Acer Swift 5.
Enlarge / The Intel-based Acer Swift 5.

Charon Harding

However, the Swift Edge might have a noticeable advantage when it comes to screen. It has a 16 inch, 3840×2400 OLED non-touchscreen, compared to the 14-inch, 2560×1600 IPS touchscreen on the Swift 5. The OLED display is specified with 100% DCI-P3 color coverage, up to 500 nits of brightness and VESA DisplayHDR True Black 500 certification. In our Acer Swift 5 reviewwe recorded 541 nits and 83.1% DCI-P3 coverage.

Of course, there’s more to a laptop than just its spec sheet; we should take a closer look at things like build quality (the Swift Edge has a magnesium alloy chassis), audio, webcam and display in action. But a first look at those specs shows you can upgrade to other places if you’re interested in an AMD CPU rather than an Intel CPU.

And there are good reasons to be. Our Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 review tested an equally-specified Ryzen 7 Pro 6850U (the Swift Edge should eventually be offered in the US with this processor as well, an Acer rep confirmed to Ars Technica) and found impressive performance, including battery life generally higher and integrated Radeon 680M graphics compared to 12th Gen Intel mobile chips. The Swift Edge won’t necessarily be as powerful as a business-focused $1,900 ThinkPad, but Ryzen 6000 has potential for Acer to tap into.

Just as there is frequently a so-called Intel tax on PCs, there is also usually an OLED tax on battery life. Acer claims the Swift Edge’s 54Wh battery can last up to 10.5 hours of video playback, eight hours of web browsing, and 7.5 hours on the MobileMark 2018 benchmark. Those are better numbers than claims. smaller than the Swift 5 with its 56 Wh battery (14, 14 and 7.5 hours, respectively).

There's also a 1080p webcam in the Swift Edge.
Enlarge / There’s also a 1080p webcam in the Swift Edge.

Acer

Acer’s Swift Edge is a new addition to Acer’s Swift line of thin and light cases, which includes the ultra-light flagship Swift 5, and Swift X AMD and Swift X Intel, both of which include dedicated graphics cards. The Swift Edge continues a trend we’ve seen over the past few years as AMD chips increasingly find their way into not just more laptop models, but more premium designs. The “Edge” moniker may also help AMD shake a reputation that has many consumers seeing its chips as a budget alternative to Intel.

The Swift Edge launches this Friday at $1,500 as listed above (SKU SFA16-41-R7SU). It should eventually boot to a Ryzen 5 6600U and hit 32GB of memory, but an Acer rep told Ars that it might not sell those configurations in the US.

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