I tested Acer’s $799 AI laptop for a week and there’s one feature I can’t give up


Acer Swift Go 14

Kyle Kucharski/ZDNET

ZDNET’s key takeaways

  • The Acer Swift Go 14 (2024) is an AI-ready ultraportable laptop that starts at $799. 
  • It’s a lightweight, powerful laptop with Intel’s new AI processor, a touchscreen, and a slick media playback menu.
  • However, for a laptop so optimized for media, its speakers leave much to be desired, and it comes with some bloatware and ads.

The 14-inch Acer Swift Go is among the first round of laptops to come loaded with Intel’s Meteor Lake AI processors, and it does so for $799, a mid-range price point right in the sweet spot for many consumers. 

The Intel Core Ultra 7 155H processor isn’t this laptop’s only draw, but it does offer impressive performance that propels it up to the hang with other machines like the Zenbook 14 OLED, and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 12, both of which are significantly more expensive.

Also: I tested Lenovo’s dual-screen laptop and it improved my productivity in profound ways

The thin and lightweight form factor of the Swift Go 14, one of its best properties, makes this one of the more compact laptops available right now, and for that reason, has a spot on ZDNET’s best lightweight laptops list as the best lightweight laptop for AI functionality. And at just 2.87 pounds, it definitely qualifies as an “ultraportable.”

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AI-powered tasks like Windows Copilot and generative features in Adobe Photoshop work smoothly and efficiently by taking advantage of the dedicated neural processing unit (NPU) so you don’t see a hit to overall performance. And this performance edge will likely become more noticeable over time.

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The display is crisp and bright enough for most people at 400 nits. The 1920 x 1200-pixel IPS touchscreen has an anti-glare, matte coating, which looks good but also makes it responsive and precise, and I found myself using it more often than I typically do. 

The Intel Arc Graphics card on this machine also performs better than I expected. Visuals are crisp and snappy, and the laptop is able to quickly hop from tab to tab running YouTube and Twitch at high resolutions with near-instant loading times. You can upgrade to an Iris Xe GPU at the point of sale, but I was able to do some light gaming on this machine as-is with impressive results, something I didn’t necessarily expect.

The Acer Swift Go 14 was made for media, and that is apparent when you look at the trackpad. Upon navigating to a browser tab with media playability, the trackpad automatically lights up with LED icons for volume control and mute functionality, track skipping, and perhaps the most handy: the ability to min/max the video window with a single tap.

Acer Swift Go 14

Kyle Kucharski/ZDNET

This illuminated quick menu on the trackpad itself is among the first of its kind I’ve seen, and after a short learning curve, became second nature to use.

The most obvious issue with this is that you have to click around the media controls when they’re illuminated, but it didn’t pose as much of a problem as I expected, as it fades in and out based on what content is active. It does, however, remain illuminated even when the screen turns off when idle. Utilizing LED icons is something I saw on the Dell XPS 14 (2024) as well, which used this concept for its function keys. 

This also makes the trackpad on the Swift Go 14 quite large. I found myself activating it with my palms simply when typing, requiring some adjustment to how I position my hands.

Also: I tested Dell’s 2024 XPS 14 laptop and can’t recommend it enough

Regarding the ports, there is quite a bit to offer here. Two USB-C ports on the left side (one of which you’ll need to charge with) are accompanied by an HDMI and USB-A. On the right, there’s a microSD slot, a headphone jack, and a Kensington lock. The Swift Go 14 also has a 1440p webcam that is sharp and clear, and the AI-powered PurifiedVoice 2.0 noise reduction and auto-adjustment make it seamless for video conferencing.

Acer Swift Go 14

Kyle Kucharski/ZDNET

Upon fully extending the lid, the small rubber nodes on top act as props, elevating the laptop to allow for better keyboard access while also improving ventilation in the process. It gives the laptop a sturdy foundation, as I personally can’t stand a laptop that slides around.

Also: Acer’s new $399 Chromebook Plus may just be the best budget laptop right now

When talking about some of the less desirable aspects of this otherwise solid machine, the first thing to mention is its sub-par speakers. For a machine that’s so optimized for media playback, it would have been cool to have a little more oomph in these guys. That being said, no laptop speakers are particularly fantastic, and most of us are going to pair with either a Bluetooth speaker or pair of headphones anyway. 

The other thing to note is the bloatware and ad pop-ups that persisted in Windows, even over a week into normal use. I understand that part of this advertising strategy is responsible for cutting costs on a final product, but it’s still not a great user experience.

ZDNET’s buying advice

In terms of day-to-day performance, I worked on the Swift Go 14 for a week, and I can say that it’s a snappy, responsive, and agile laptop, especially for the price. The Intel Core Ultra 7 processor easily bumps this laptop up to compete with higher-priced machines, and future-proofs it with AI readiness.

The Swift Go 14 brings solid performance, a crisp display, and useful media playback controls that I can’t stop thinking about, resulting in a well-rounded and capable laptop. 

For those interested in one of the better configurations of the Swift Go 14, Acer says Costco will offer a WUXGA touch display model with an Intel Core Ultra 7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage for $799 starting in May. You’ll just have to be a little more patient.

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