A new 14th Generation Intel Core Ultra CPUs makes the Swift Go 14 even more appealing
- Stunning graphics performance for an iGPU
- Bright 90Hz 2.8K OLED display
- Excellent 1440p webcam
- Shallow keyboard travel
- Battery life could be better
- Bland design
Serendipitously, the two machines go directly head-to-head, both being built around a 14in 2.8K OLED display and an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H CPU, although the Asus’ screen has a touch interface and a higher 120Hz refresh rate.
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Acer Swift Go 14 review: What you need to know
The last Swift Go 14 (from 2023) was a replacement for the highly regarded Acer Swift 3 OLED, one of our favourite ultra compacts here at Expert Reviews. In a nutshell, the Go 14 was a Swift 3 with a slightly taller display (at 16:10 rather than 16:9) and a 13th generation rather than a 12th generation Intel CPU. The 2024 Acer Swift Go 14 is that machine with a new CPU and a larger trackpad.
It made sense for Acer to resist the temptation to go for a radical design overhaul with the 2023 Go 14, because it was cheaper than the Swift 3 OLED it replaced. That made the Go 14 one of the best value 14in compacts on the market and was a reason to overlook the rather staid design.
Without confirmed pricing for the 2024 model in the UK, it’s hard to say if this play works the second time around. If the new model comes in at less or the same as the old one, then fair enough. If not, then Acer could be accused of being a bit lazy and rushing out its first Meteor Lake machine as garnished leftovers rather than a fresh-cooked meal.
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Acer Swift Go 14 review: Price and competition
Configuration tested: Intel Core Ultra 7 155H CPU, Intel Arc Graphics iGPU, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD, 14in, 90Hz, 2,880 x 1,800 OLED non-touchscreen
At the time of writing, the Meteor Lake incarnation of the Swift Go 14 isn’t on sale in the UK, despite the fact that it dropped in other European markets in December and is scheduled to go on sale in the USA in January. When it finally arrives, the top-end 32GB model will probably cost in the neighbourhood of £1,100.
Its chief rival I’ve already mentioned: the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED, which is a stunning-looking affair with a sumptuous OLED touchscreen that turns over faster than the Acer at 120Hz. It also has a very impressive sound system, US MIL-STD 810H ruggedness and a larger battery.
There was very little wrong with the 2023 Swift Go 14, even if the Core i7-13700H OLED model we tested never actually made it to the UK market. You can still buy the Intel Core i7-1355U model for £999, which is something of a bargain.
Apple’s MacBook Pro 14 is arguably the most desirable compact 14in laptop money can buy, although with a starting price of £1,699 for a machine with a 512GB SSD and just 8GB of RAM, it’s the expensive option. Battery life is class-leading, while the display and speaker systems are both outstanding.
Acer Swift Go 14 review: Design and build quality
The Swift Go isn’t much of a looker compared to the competition from Asus and Apple. In fact, it looks the same as the 2023 model, and the aluminium unibody construction is the same, too. Acer seems averse to offering any colourways in the UK other than the usual silver, which is a shame. Overall, the design is looking a little boring and dated.
In the plus column, it’s a solidly made laptop with only a small amount of flex in the lid, and a small amount of give in the middle of the keyboard deck when you press down hard. Like most Acer laptops, the bottom of the lid acts as a cantilever when you open it, lifting the back of the laptop up by a few millimetres to improve typing angle and air circulation.
There’s no change in the size, weight or shape so it still measures 313 x 218 x 14.9mm (WDH), making it compact enough to slip into a small backpack and about the same size as the Asus competition. At only 1.25kg, it’s just as easy to forget you are carrying it and the same goes for the petite 100W USB-C power brick.
Connectivity is good thanks to a pair of Thunderbolt 4 / USB-C 4.0 ports and two 10Gbits/sec USB-A 3.2 sockets as well as an HDMI 2.1 video output. You also get a a 3.5mm audio jack and a microSD card slot. One of the USB-C ports is needed for charging duties.
Opening the Swift Go up is a simple operation, but once you’ve removed the base, all you can do is upgrade the SSD and wireless card. The RAM is soldered to the motherboard, and there’s no space for a second SSD. Again, for a machine of this type, this is not unusual and 32GB of RAM is more than adequate. Removing the battery is a simple operation should you need to replace it down the line.
Wireless communications are handled by a Killer Wireless Wi-Fi 6E 1675i card, which supports 6GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.2, but there’s no support for Wi-Fi 7 in this generation.
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Acer Swift Go 14 review: Keyboard, touchpad and webcam
With the Go 14 Acer thankfully ditched the silver keycaps of the Swift 3 for more traditional black ones with a two-stage white backlight and this makes them far easier to read. The keys themselves have a rather shallow action, but the movement is precise, and the end-stop is firm. The half-height up and down arrow keys are a small irritant.
The touchpad on the 2023 Go 14 was on the small side at just 100 x 65mm, but the 2024 model has a much bigger 125 mm x 77mm affair. The surface is still made from ocean-reclaimed plastic, which is perfectly smooth, and offers no resistance to the touch. The click-action is crisp, precise and quiet.
The new webcam is a highlight. It can shoot video at 1440p, which is a trick very few laptops can pull off and it comes with a full raft of image manipulation features, including background blurring, gaze tracking and automatic framing. Image quality is good but it doesn’t support Windows Hello IR facial recognition. You do get a fingerprint scanner built into the power button, though.
Acer Swift Go 14 review: Display and audio
Our review sample came with the same 16:10 2,880 x 1,800 90Hz OLED display as the 2023 model, and unsurprisingly it performed in much the same way.
In testing, it proved marginally brighter in SDR mode, peaking at 514cd/m2 compared to 502cd/m2, although in HDR mode that jumped to a maximum of 620cd/m2 from a small screen (<10%) area. Colour is abundant with gamut volumes of 167% sRGB, 115.3% Adobe RGB and 119% DCI-P3.
As with the 2023 model, colour accuracy was a bit of an issue. To start with, when I fired up the Go 14, the AcerSense CP gave us the option to swap between several colour profiles, including DCI-P3, sRGB, Rec 709 and Display P3, but switching between them made no visual difference, and against all the profiles, the Delta E hovered between 3 and 4 which is far from ideal for colour critical work.
Thinking that a reset would fix things, we did just that, only for the colour profile menu to disappear from the AcerSense software. Measuring the Delta E, I again recorded values of around 4. Stick Windows into HDR mode, and the Delta E vs the sRGB profile drops to a much better 1.07, and you get increased brightness, too. The display does look less vivid when viewing SDR content, though.
I’ve reached out to Acer to see what’s afoot here, and I’ll update the review when I hear back.
Cold numbers from the colorimeter to one side, Acer’s OLED panel does look glorious in both SDR and HDR models, even if colours are just a little over-saturated. Like the 2023 Go 14, the new model is VESA-certified DisplayHDR True Black 500.
The laptop performs adequately on the audio front. The speakers deliver 72.6dB(A) measured at a distance of 1m, which is less than the 2023 model, and the sound is on the harsh side at high volumes and could do with more bass. The Zenbook and MacBook Pro both perform much better on this front, but since they are both more expensive, that’s perhaps to be expected.
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Acer Swift Go 14 review: Performance and battery life
Powering the new Swift Go 14 is one of Intel’s new Intel Core Ultra 7 155H CPUs. This is a 16-core, 22-thread affair with 6 performance cores, 8 efficiency cores and 2 low-power efficiency cores, the last making up the NPU or neural processing unit.
The NPU takes care of local AI-related tasks like Windows Copilot – the new intelligent assistant that comes with Windows 11 – and the various webcam effects grouped under the “Windows Studio” banner, without detracting from core system performance.
In our tests, the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H had the Core i7-13700H in the 2023 Swift Go 14 well beaten as it did the Asus Zenbook running on the same CPU; the Acer did not suffer from any of the thermal issues, which knocked some of the shine off the Zenbook’s performance.
Our in-house 4K multi-media benchmark scored a very impressive 356 points, 40 points clear of the 2023 model and a whopping 64 clear of the M3 MacBook Pro, which is no slouch itself. The Zenbook’s 269 looks like very thin gruel in comparison.
The new Intel Arc iGPU is also a big step forward from the previous generation Xe graphics chip, as can be seen from the GFXBench Car Chase test. The Serious Sam 4 benchmark ran at an impressive 102fps, shading the Asus’ average of 93fps and demolishing the 60fps we saw from 2023 Acer Swift Go 14.
The 1TB SK hynix PC801 SSD that shipped with our review machine has a reputation for speed, and it’s clearly well deserved, here delivering very fast sequential write and write speeds of 4,190MB/sec and 3,455MB/sec respectively.
Battery life, on the other hand, was a tad disappointing; the new Acer Swift Go 14 only lasted 9hrs 23mins in our standard video rundown test. That’s 90 minutes less than the Asus Zenbook, which has a larger (75Wh vs 65Wh) battery and 40mins less than the 2023 i7-13700H model. Apple’s MacBook Pro is still in a world of its own when it comes to battery life, however, running for 15hrs 43mins in the same test.
Acer Swift Go 14 review: Verdict
It’s all going to be about the price. Acer says the new Meteor Lake Go 14 will start at £899 but doesn’t say if that’s for the OLED model. Assuming little change from the current Swift Go 14 OLED range that would suggest a UK price of around £1,000 for the 16GB OLED model and £1,100 for the 32GB version, which would make the Acer £250 cheaper than the 16GB Zenbook, which Asus is advertising for £1,299.
The Zenbook delivers a faster, more colour-accurate display with a touchscreen interface and stylus, better battery life and a superior speaker system. The Swift Go counters with better overall performance, a brighter display, faster SSD and a higher definition webcam.
Neither machine is likely to disappoint, although the Acer should offer better value for money, which was what we liked most about the 2023 model and the 2022 Swift 3 before it. The increased performance from Intel’s latest silicon, especially when it comes to graphics, is most welcome, though, whichever one you opt for.