Display Analysis

Acer has outfitted the Swift 3 with a 1920x1080 IPS display, which is a big improvement over the TN displays that used to plague AMD based systems. This is a display with a Corning Gorilla Glass cover, but there’s no touch.

To test the display capabilities, we leverage SpectraCal’s CalMAN software suite, along with an X-Rite i1DisplayPro colorimeter for brightness and contrast, and an X-Rite i1Pro2 spectrophotometer for color accuracy testing.

Brightness and Contrast

Display - Max Brightness

Display - Black Levels

Display - Contrast Ratio

The Acer doesn’t come close to other laptops in terms of overall brightness, at just 260 nits, so outdoor usage, especially with the glass over the display, is going to be a challenge, but the black levels are very good, so the contrast ratio is very solid. The display goes down to 20 nits, which is still fairly bright, but would be fine in a dim room. This isn’t a tablet you’d use in bed, so there’s likely no need to go down to the low single-digits we see on some devices.

Grayscale

SpectraCal CalMAN

Display - Grayscale Accuracy

Here was a surprise. Acer absolutely delivers in terms of grayscale out of the box, with fantastic RGB balance, and a great average result without the big spikes we sometimes see closer to 100% white on some systems. Gamma is a bit low, but still close to the 2.2 level we’d like to see.

Gamut

SpectraCal CalMAN

Display - Gamut Accuracy

Here’s a good sign that Acer considers the Swift 3 a lower-tier model. This display doesn’t even come close to covering the entire sRGB gamut, with all three primary colors short of the target at 100%. The blue results are especially terrible, with an error level of 17.6 at 100% when you’re looking for a result under 3.0.

Saturation

SpectraCal CalMAN

Display - Saturation Accuracy

This is just a more comprehensive view of the gamut results, so it’s not surprising to see a less than amazing average error level here too. All of the sweeps are well short of the targets, and the error levels start to creep up very early.

Gretag Macbeth

SpectraCal CalMAN

Display - GMB Accuracy

The GMB test is the most comprehensive, covering not just the primaries and secondaries, but also various colors in between, and the important skin tones. With the lack of gamut coverage, there’s plenty of errors here, but for the most part, they are a lot less severe than the pure primaries.

The following image shows the target color on the bottom and the actual displayed color on the top. This image will be relative though because any errors in your own display will prevent an absolute look at the differences, but you can still clearly see the excellent grayscale results, marred by the lack of gamut coverage on the deeper colors.

SpectraCal CalMAN

Display Conclusion

This is definitely a mixed bag conclusion. Acer is targeting a lower price bracket on the Swift 3, and that shows when you see a display that is this far short of covering all of sRGB, but at the same time, they offer some of the best out of the box grayscale results we’ve seen outside of perhaps a Surface device. Still, at a $949 MSRP for the laptop tested, it would be nice to see a display that can cover all of sRGB.

The 1920x1080 resolution is the perfect fit for this laptop as well, allowing Acer to keep the price down, but still offering enough resolution for a 15.6-inch device. You can easily run this at 100% scaling, which avoids any issues you’d see with higher resolution laptops, although most of those issues are a huge problem anymore.

GPU Performance: Vega at 15-Watts Battery Life and Charge Time
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  • neblogai - Friday, May 4, 2018 - link

    It is not reasonable to wish an integrated GPU with ~30Gbps memory bandwidth to demolish discrete GPUs that by themselves have higher TDP than this APU, and also double or triple the memory bandwidth. Showing the same result as 940MX is a wonderful result- as AMD solution does the same with no need for extra dGPU and memory chips on the motherboard, and cooling for them. And if more GPU power is needed- then discrete GPU should be used for AMD's laptop as well- games will run great with it's fast quadcore CPU. Reply
  • niva - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - link

    It's very reasonable to expect an APU system to deliver better battery life, especially in idle power scenarios, than one running a core i7 with a discrete GPU. Either something is wrong with this system, they forgot to change some setting in the BIOS, or this is a complete failure on the part. The idea that this is a gaming laptop is just stupid. It's an ultra book, with better graphics capabilities than an integrated Intel chipset, but still an ultra book. I'm not even talking about performance here, I'm strictly talking battery life.

    Also, the idea of just adding a discrete GPU to an ultra book... never mind.
    Reply
  • neblogai - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - link

    Discrete GPU is switched off in non-gaming, so it is basically AMD APU vs Intel APU working. It is true that Intel's chips are more efficient- after all- for many generations Intel were milking desktop with quadcores, while investing into being better at low TDP power efficiency. That is at the time when AMD was balancing on the limit of bankruptcy, and staying in survival mode till Zen arrived. So- AMD sure has a lot to improve with their design, and OEMs- with laptop designs/optimisations when using AMD APUs.
    As for using discrete GPU in a Ultrabook- just have a look at a ASUS Zephyrus GM501 which is 2cm thin and has a GTX1070 and other no-compromise parts. And there are at least 3 lower tier chips from nVidia alone that sip less power, making gaming on an Ultrabook possible.
    Reply
  • samal90 - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - link

    That GPU power though. I can't wait to see what next year's APUs will be like with the 7nm Navi. Intel might as well just drop the R&D for integrated graphics and license from AMD like they did with the Vega. Reply
  • keg504 - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - link

    What is CABC? Reply
  • Brett Howse - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - link

    Content Adaptive Backlight Control. It can change the brightness depending on what's on the screen as a way to cut power draw, but it can be kind of annoying especially when it can't be disabled. Reply
  • keg504 - Friday, May 4, 2018 - link

    Oh, thanks.
    Is this a recent feature OEMs have started implementing? This is the first time I'm seeing it in a review
    Reply
  • iwod - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - link

    I think there is something wrong with Ryzen JS vm benchmarks. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - link

    That's what we thought. But everything repeatedly checks out and we can find no systematic flaws. It looks like it just takes the 2700U a bit too long to respond to short, bursty workloads. Reply
  • iwod - Friday, May 4, 2018 - link

    Interesting. Would there be a small pieces on this topic specifically?

    Or in other words, Intel is very aggressive with their Turbo?

    Also wondering if the Adrenaline drivers made any difference.
    Reply

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