- Intel Ultra 7 delivers good performance and future-proofing
- Improved Intel Arc integrated graphics
- Great battery life
- Crisp 1440p webcam with effective AI AV features
- Dull design
- Noisy and hot under load
- AlterView background a terrible AI example
- Keyboard, touchpad are meh
The Acer Swift Go 14 is one of the first laptops to feature a new Intel Core Ultra chip, which the chipmaker unveiled last week at its AI Everywhere event. Given its approachable price and utilitarian design, the Swift Go 14 is a great example of how AI is popping up everywhere and anywhere. Many next-gen products arrive with sky-high prices and daring new designs, but the latest Swift Go 14 starts at only $800 and keeps the same uninspired look of the previous version.
What’s different is on the inside. Namely, the new Core Ultra 7 processor features Intel’s new Meteor Lake mobile chip architecture that adds a small two-core neural processing unit (NPU) designed to assist with AI workloads along with the chip’s array of CPU and GPU cores. The typical owner of this mainstream laptop is unlikely to see any tangible gains from the new NPU until software catches up and you begin to use applications designed to take advantage of local AI processing. The processor’s new integrated Intel Arc GPU, however, offers an immediate benefit over Intel’s previous iGPU. The Swift Go 14 performs competitively on today’s apps while letting you keep an eye on the future as more software takes advantage of the NPU.
Acer Swift Go 14 SFG14-72T
|Price as reviewed
|14-inch 1920×1080 IPS touch display
|Intel Core Ultra 155H
|16GB DDR5 SDRAM
|Intel Arc Graphics
|1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
|USB-C Thunderbolt 4 (x2), USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (x2), HDMI 2.1, combo audio jack, microSD card slot
|Wireless Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3
|Windows 11 Home 22H2
The Acer Swift Go 14 starts at $800 for a configuration with an Intel Core Ultra 5 125H processor, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Our test system costs $1,000 and features a Core Ultra 7 155H chip, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. It features the baseline display option, a 14-inch IPS panel with a 1,920×1,200-pixel resolution. There are display upgrades available, including a model with a 2.8K OLED panel that also costs $1,000.
Meteor Lake models of the Acer Swift Go 14 are not yet available in the UK or Australia, but you can find the previous SFG14-71 models based on 13th-gen Intel processors starting at £1,000 in the UK and AU$1,999 in Australia.
Based on the Core Ultra 7 155H, the Swift Go 14 is the first Meteor Lake laptop to hit CNET Labs. The Core Ultra 7 155H processor offers six performance cores, eight efficiency cores and a total of 22 processing threads. This hybrid architecture of combining performance and efficiency cores isn’t new. What’s new is the addition of the low-power, dual-core NPU to assist AI task acceleration and new tile architecture that stacks “chiplets” like pancakes designed to allow an optimal mix of performance and efficiency.
Our current suite of benchmarks lacks AI workloads to put the new NPU through its paces. On our application tests, we saw a substantial gain on PCMark 10 compared with the previous-gen Swift Go 14 that’s similarly configured but based on a 13th-gen Core i7 H-series chip. There was only a slight performance gain on Cinebench and no gain on Geekbench. (Skip to the end of the review to see the results of our testing.)
Larger performance gains were had in 3D graphics. The move from the previous Intel Iris Xe to Intel Arc graphics resulted in a boost in 3D performance. On our 3DMark tests, the Swift Go 14’s scores were clearly superior to those of laptops with Iris Xe graphics. Before gamers get too excited, however, the 3D scores were well behind those of the Acer Swift X 14 and HP Victus 16, each of which features entry-level Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics. Still, it’s good to see Intel making strides in its integrated GPU, which has long lagged behind AMD’s Radeon integrated graphics.
To get a sense of the Swift Go 14’s gaming capabilities with its Intel Arc graphics, I first ran the Riftbreaker benchmark. On the GPU test, it averaged 67 frames per second, a far cry from the 173 fps and 198 fps that the RTX 4050-powered Acer Swift X 14 and HP Victus 16 averaged, respectively. The Swift Go 14 was unable to run our Shadow of the Tomb Raider test at 1,920×1,080 with highest quality settings, but it averaged 56 fps at 1080p at the lowest quality settings. The Swift Go 14 did get loud and hot when running games — not surprising given its compact dimensions. The fans spun constantly, and the keyboard became warm after only a few minutes of play.
The Swift Go 14’s battery life is impressive. It lasted 12 hours and 40 minutes on our online video streaming battery drain test, which was hours shorter than the M3-based MacBook Pro but hours longer than Windows laptops based on a previous-gen Core i7 H-series chip. That’s a big leap in runtime even if Apple’s silicon still leads the way in battery life.
Exterior is not ultra
The exterior of the Swift Go 14 isn’t nearly as interesting as what’s on the inside. It’s a generic silver enclosure with little to differentiate it from other laptops in its class. Perhaps the only characteristic that separates it from many other brushed aluminum laptops is its gentle wedge shape that tapers toward the front. It’s not an unappealing design, but you certainly wouldn’t know who made it until you saw the discreet Acer logo on the lid or — if you know Acer’s laptop lines — the subtle Swift wordmark just below the keyboard.
It is an all-metal chassis, which isn’t always a given under $1,000, where you might end up with a metal top cover for the lid and keyboard deck and a plastic bottom panel. The Swift Go 14 has a fairly solid feel, but the lid and keyboard deck both have some flex. It’s not nearly as solid feeling as the 14-inch MacBook Pro or Dell XPS 13 Plus, but both of those models cost hundreds more. The Swift Go 14 weighs a hair less than 3 pounds, which is average for its size.
The laptop also supplies a typical selection of external connections. You get two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, two USB Type-A ports, an HDMI out and a combo audio jack. It’s always good to get two of each type of USB connection, but I wish the USB-C ports were split across the left and right edges so I could charge the laptop from either side. I’m not always sitting with an outlet to my left. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find a microSD card slot included.
The keyboard and touchpad are both serviceable. The keyboard feels roomy, and the keys offer good travel, but I wish they had a firmer response. The touchpad features a matte surface for smooth gliding and accurately recorded my various multitouch gestures, but the click response has too much travel to the point of feeling mushy. And don’t be fooled by Acer’s OceanGlass branding for the touchpad: The touchpad is made from plastic waste that might otherwise end up in oceans. It’s plenty smooth, too.
Our test system features the baseline display option. It’s a 14-inch IPS LCD panel with a 1,920×1,200 resolution, a 16:10 aspect ratio and touch support. The resolution suffices for the size of the display; text and the edges of images look sharp. Unless you absolutely need touch support, however, I recommend the OLED option. The Swift Go 14 SFG14-72-72YK offers the same CPU/RAM/SSD as our test system for the same $1,000 price but supplies a 2,880×1,800 OLED display. You will likely sacrifice some battery life for the higher-resolution OLED display, but it will undoubtedly offer superior contrast and a sharper picture.
My first experience with the display was not a pleasant one. When I powered on the Swift Go 14 for the first time, I was greeted with an animated Windows background that moved slightly as I adjusted the cursor on screen. It was very distracting and became increasingly annoying when I couldn’t find a way in settings to change it to a normal, static Windows wallpaper. It turns out Acer included an app called AlterView that uses AI to turn 2D images into wallpapers with jittery 3D effects. Thankfully, I was able to disable it.
The Swift Go 14 is the rare example of a laptop with a webcam that has a higher resolution than that of its display. The display is 1,920×1,200 and the webcam produces a 2,560×1,440 picture. Images looked crisp and well balanced on the Swift Go 14 display and should look even sharper to your video conference mates if they are looking at you on a higher-resolution display that can take full advantage of the 1440p camera.
I got off to a rocky start with this first example of an AI PC with the AlterView desktop background that I absolutely hated. I had a better time testing the AI features for the webcam and its microphone. With Acer’s Purified Voice app, I was able to isolate my voice in a recording. I recorded videos with a podcast playing on my phone only a few feet away from me. In the first video, without AI noise reduction, the podcast could clearly be heard in the background. In the second video with AI noise reduction enabled, the podcast voices were greatly reduced to the point of nearly being removed completely. I could only hear the faintest traces of background noise, although my own voice did sound modulated at times. On the whole, it was very effective in elevating my voice above background chatter. This enhanced noise reduction is a basic example of what the NPU is designed to handle.
The camera itself has AI features by way of Windows Studio Effects. The best effect was automatic framing that keeps your face in the frame as you move back and forth and side to side in front of the laptop. You can also blur your background in video calls, and the camera did an effective job of recognizing the edges of my head and keeping me in focus without too many jagged edges.
The webcam lacks an IR sensor, which means using facial recognition for log-ins is out. The power button, however, doubles as a fingerprint reader.
The Swift Go 14 is an odd choice for a launch partner, although I suppose the laptop’s dull design puts the focus on Intel’s new Meteor Lake CPU. The generic Swift Go 14 is like the background that AI blurred to highlight the laptop’s processor. The immediate benefits of the Core Ultra 7 are its efficiency that resulted in a long battery life, and the new integrated Arc graphics are a clear step up from Intel’s previous integrated GPU — along with modest gains in application performance. As software developers begin to update or introduce new applications with AI features that can take greater advantage of the Meteor Lake NPU, the allure of the Swift Go 14 will grow. But by then, I’m afraid there will be more alluring laptops from which to choose.
The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets and other computer-like devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device’s aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both objective and subjective judgments.
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|Acer Swift Go 14 (SFG14-72T)
|Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 3.8GHz Intel Core Ultra 155H; 16GB DDR5 RAM; 128MB Intel Arc Graphics; 1TB SSD
|Acer Swift Go 14 (SFG14-71)
|Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-13700H; 16GB DDR5 RAM; 128MB Intel Iris Xe Graphics; 512GB SSD
|Acer Swift X 14
|Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-13700H; 16GB DDR5 RAM; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050; 1TB SSD
|Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320
|Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-1360P; 16GB DDR5 RAM; 128MB Intel Iris Xe Graphics; 512GB SSD
|HP Victus 16
|Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-13700H; 16GB DDR5 RAM; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050; 1TB SSD
|Apple MacBook Pro 14 (M3, 2023)
|Apple MacOS Sonoma 14.1; Apple M3 (8-core CPU, 10-core GPU); 16GB unified memory; 1TB SSD