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
  SF315-41-R8PP SF315-41-R6J9
Model Tested
SF315-51G-51CE
CPU AMD Ryzen 5 2500U
Quad-Core, Eight-Thread
2.0-3.6 GHz 15W TDP
AMD Ryzen 7 2700U
Quad-Core, Eight-Thread
2.2-3.8 GHz 15W TDP
Intel Core i5-8250U
Quad-Core, Eight-Thread
1.6-3.4 GHz 15W TDP
GPU Radeon Vega
8 Compute Units
Up to 1100MHz
Radeon Vega
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
2x2:2 MU-MIMO
Bluetooth 4.2
I/O 2 x USB 3.0
1 x USB 2.0
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
HDMI
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
Weight 2.2 Kg
4.85 lbs
2.2 Kg
4.85 lbs
2.1 Kg
4.63 lbs
Pricing (MSRP) $749.99 $949.99 $799.99

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.

Design
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  • Zan Lynx - Friday, May 04, 2018 - link

    It might be something to do with power plans. Is it running default Windows Balanced, Ryzen Balanced, or some other thing? It matters.

    I know that in Linux using the standard cpufreq settings is a bad idea for Ryzen. It disables in-cpu speed setting and limits it to 2 GHz until the driver gets around to noticing the extra load. Just setting the CPU to its maximum allowed speed is better. The CPU can then decide to run slower when there isn't anything to do, but is instantly ready for high speed.
    Reply
  • neblogai - Friday, May 04, 2018 - link

    On the other hand- Acer Aspire with 2200U runs games better with it's CPU limited to 1600MHz- because then more power is directed towards the iGPU, it boosts higher, and provides better fps. Reply
  • darkich - Saturday, May 05, 2018 - link

    See my comment above..the iPhone also crushes it on GPU side. Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, May 07, 2018 - link

    "No, it can’t compete with the GTX 1060 in the Surface Book 2, but it does outperform the GT 940MX in the original Surface Book. The GPU in the Ryzen 7 2700U is just impressive."

    I'd like to see this pitted against the MX150 in its sibling Intel model. That also beats the 940MX by a fair bit per watt.
    Reply
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  • lmcd - Wednesday, May 09, 2018 - link

    If you still have this laptop, please give us an overview of its Linux performance. Doesn't have to be anything super great and could just be a pipeline piece.

    Reason I ask: old AMD laptop CPUs stunk. Intel IGPs still stink. Nvidia graphics on Linux stinks. Graphics switching with discrete AMD on Intel stinks. Net result: this might be the best option. Even if you just ran an old bench like Unigine Heaven and did web browser rundown tests or something like that, I would be extremely grateful.
    Reply
  • ballsystemlord - Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - link

    I am in agreement with Imcd. Linux gets lost when it comes to the laptop.
    I must point out Imcd, that xonotic and openarena would be better benchmarks by far for linux than Unigine Heaven as they are native programs not requiring the luser to purchase them and are both highly optimized.
    As for Linux CPU benchmarks, a linux kernel compile would be standard. A web one would be firefox or webkit based. A pdf render could be done with gv. A few imagemagick benchmarks can use openmp and opencl. Blender is also a native program and can render on both CPU and GPU. You could transcode video with ffmpeg. Audio with the included tool (flac, oggenc, etc.), would also be good.
    Reply
  • Jimster480 - Monday, May 28, 2018 - link

    Personally.... this laptop is actually HORRIBLE for the price.
    Another work of Intel's anticompetitive hand in the jar.

    Ryzen parts are cheaper than Intel parts.... but for some reason they have to make the laptop with bottom-tier specs and a top-tier price... FOr this price I can buy a full 15.6 i7 HQ laptop with a dedicated GPU and a nice IPS screen and M.2 or NVMe drive...
    Instead I get a forced 8GB soldered 2133 (probably single channel) memory to gimp Ryzen as much as possible... and atrocious screen and a subpar battery.
    Just so that NOBODY will actually purchase this. ANd this type of gimped trash configuration is the same across all brands.
    Every company is making the same overpriced garbage, meaning that nobody will buy Ryzen laptops just due to the outragous uncompetitive pricing and performance.

    None of these MFG's have a justification for these prices... and every OEM that has announced any good Ryzen laptop.... well it hasn't ever shown up. Just like Acers own Nitro 5 Ryzen laptop (looking to be the first good Ryzen laptop that will launch) and they just pulled the plug on it some days ago after being 40 days late with launching it...
    Reply

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