Almost two years ago to the day, we had a chance to check out Acer’s Swift 3 laptop featuring AMD's first Ryzen Mobile platform, Raven Ridge. Acer has been a strong partner for AMD, generally being one of the first out of the gate with new designs featuring AMD’s latest platforms, and this year that partnership has played out again. Today we are taking a look at the newest AMD APU offering, the Ryzen 4000 "Renoir", which is at the heart of Acer’s latest iteration of the 14-inch Swift 3. With a brand-new AMD processor and some innovations in the Swift 3 design itself, both AMD and Acer have made some tremendous improvements for 2020.

Ryzen 7 4700U

The big news for 2020 is AMD’s new APU platform, codenamed Renoir. Selling as the Ryzen 4000 series, these new APUs bring a number of major updates to AMD's platform, as the company further sands down the rough edges from the Ryzen 3000 Picasso series. Key to this is a much-needed jump from GlobalFoundries' 12nm process to TSMC's class-leading 7nm process, giving AMD a much-wanted boost in transistor performance and overall energy efficiency. Coupled with a number of further optimizations at the chip and driver level, and AMD's latest APUs are proving far better suited for thin-and-light mobile designs than their predecessors.

Under the hood, like AMD's desktop processors introduced last year, the new Ryzen 4000 series APUs are the first laptop-focused products from AMD which feature their Zen 2 CPU cores. Designed hand-in-hand with TSMC's 7nm process, the Zen 2 architecture has further boosted AMD's performance across both IPC and clockspeeds, and the small cores have allowed AMD to get away with 8 of them in even a laptop APU. Meanwhile the iGPU is based on the same Vega architecture graphics as both the 2000-series and 3000-series APUs, but in a new configuration. Thanks to TSMC’s 7nm process, AMD has been able to crank up the GPU frequency much higher than before – so much higher that they’ve actually scaled back on the number of GPU compute units, while still promising improved GPU performance over the previous generation of APUs.

Ian had a chance to take the new Ryzen 4000 platform for a spin in early April, although that sample was the 45-Watt H series. Many of the concepts carry across though, so if you’ve not yet had a chance to catch up on Renoir, be sure to check out the Ryzen 9 4900HS review. The 45-Watt processor range is pretty much the standard in high-performance notebooks, but the vast majority of laptops on the market stick to the lower-powered 15-Watt range, which is what we have in the Acer Swift 3.

Acer has opted for what is likely to be one of the most popular SKUs in the AMD Ryzen 4000 range, the Ryzen 7 4700U. AMD has gone a very non-traditional route for this part, offering eight physical CPU cores, but disabling simultaneous multithreading (SMT). All of AMD’s H-Series lineup of 45-Watt processors do offer SMT, but only two of the new U-Series provide this, with the Ryzen 5 4600U offering 6 cores and 12 threads, and the Ryzen 7 4800U providing 8 cores and 16 threads, all in the 15-Watt thermal design power (TDP) that is so common on laptops. In the typical 15-Watt laptop space, AMD is the first to offer 8 cores, just not always with SMT.

On the GPU side, the Ryzen 7 4700U offers 7 Vega-architecture Compute Units (CUs), with a maximum clockspeed of 1600 MHz. Compared to the previous generation Ryzen 7 3700U, the GPU drops three compute units, but bumps the maximum frequency from 1300 MHz to 1600 MHz, so we shall see where this plays out in terms of performance.

The Acer Swift 3

Acer has managed to bundle a lot of product into the Swift 3. The 14-inch notebook features a 1920x1080 IPS display that, albeit lacking touch support, does get showcased well thanks to the Swift 3's thin bezel surround. The laptop ships with 8 GB of DDR4-3200, and though we would have loved to see LPDDR4X, the capacity is what is important here, and 8 GB is a good amount for a budget-friendly laptop like the Swift 3. Also, Acer has managed to outfit this notebook with a 512 GB SSD, which is fantastic. They will also be offering a less-expensive version with a Ryzen 5 4500U, 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD.

 
Acer Swift 3 SF314-42
  Ryzen 5 Ryzen 7
Model Reviewed
CPU AMD Ryzen 5 4500U
6 core 6 thread 2.3-4.0 GHz
2x 4MB L3 15W TDP
AMD Ryzen 7 4700U
8 core 8 thread 2.0-4.1 GHz
2x 4MB L3 15W TDP
GPU AMD Vega 6
6 CUs 1500MHz Boost
AMD Vega 7
7 CUs 1600MHz Boost
RAM 8 GB Dual-Channel DDR4-3200
Storage 256 GB PCIe NVMe SSD 512 GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Display 14-inch 1920x1080 IPS
Networking Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200
2x2:2 802.11ax
Bluetooth 5.0
Audio Stereo Speakers
DTS Sound
Battery 48 Wh Li-Ion
65-Watt Charger (barrel connector)
USB Power Delivery Support
Right Side USB 2.0 x 1
Headset jack
Battery Charge Indicator
Left Side USB 3.2 Gen 1 x 1 with power-off charging
USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C w/DisplayPort, PD
HDMI 2.0
Charging connector
Dimensions 323.4 x 218.9 x 15.95 mm
12.73 x 8.62 x 0.63 inches
Weight 1.2 kg / 2.65 lbs
Camera 720p Super High Dynamic Range
Extras Fingerprint Reader
Price (MSRP) $629 USD $649 USD

Despite the strong APU, RAM, and storage offerings, Acer is not done there. The Swift 3 also features Wi-Fi 6 thanks to Intel’s AX200 wireless adapter, which means 2.4/5.0 GHz wireless support with 160 Mhz channels if your router is has the correct capabilities. There’s also an integrated fingerprint reader for Windows Hello Support, and the entire package is contained in an all-aluminum chassis which weighs just 1.2 kg / 2.65 lbs. Considering the $649 MSRP, this is an incredible value.

Design
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  • Dug - Thursday, May 7, 2020 - link

    Did you guys ever consider you got a bad unit?

    I don't see any of the issues you had in other reviews.
    If you did, it would be prudent to announce that at the beginning of a re-review.
    Reply
  • zodiacfml - Friday, May 8, 2020 - link

    Forgot to leave a comment. This laptop is almost perfect for me, 8 core and I don't need discrete. But, the cooling is abysmal. It reaches 100 degrees and stays at 90C?! I have a cheaper Lenovo but its cooling is overkill for an Intel-U TDP SoC. Reply
  • LaMpiR - Friday, May 8, 2020 - link

    So, a 649$ laptop costs in Europe 890$. How is this possible? Reply
  • neblogai - Saturday, May 9, 2020 - link

    Something was probably wrong with the sample Anandtech got. Here is a video of FarCry5- Swift 3 4700U temps stay at nice and cool ~69C even in the long and action packed scene: https://youtu.be/8A2XFdAZLPQ . There is also another test with a 4500U model from the same channel- no temperature issues there either, nor in any of the ~20 games tested. Other channels, like Dave Lee, also say that cooling is just so capable and quiet, that Acer should have upped cTDP higher. Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Saturday, May 9, 2020 - link

    Maybe it's just me, but the whole article seems very deceptive.

    The headline should be: "The Acer Swift 3 SF314 Notebook Review: Swift Gets Slower With Kneecapped Ryzen 4000"

    The little TDP graphic should be 8+ watts, not 15.
    Reply
  • neblogai - Sunday, May 10, 2020 - link

    It is just you. Acer would not be wrong to call Intel models 'Swift 3', and AMD models - 'Swifter 3'. Reply
  • watzupken - Sunday, May 10, 2020 - link

    The throttling is to be expected when you see a 1.2kg laptop. Where can they cut in order to lose few hundred grams, when the battery size is the same? Surely its got to be the cooling solution. If you are looking for performance, these ultra slim laptops are not for you. The same problem plagues Intel based laptops as well. As PC maker/ manufacturers go crazy about cutting weight and size of laptops, a lot of these thin laptops suffer from thermal throttling, poor upgradeability and missing port convenience.

    In this case, I think there may be something wrong with the fan curve and should be resolved through some software updates. The cooling solution looks normal to me after cracking open a few of these laptops with low power processors. Only observation is that the heatsink is getting thinner over the years, which will certainly impact cooling. Mid end models should have a longer heatsink with slightly bigger fan to cover the longer heatsink, while high end models may end up with dual heatsink and fan cooling solution to get around the slimness.
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Monday, May 11, 2020 - link

    Yes, it's "just me" because apparently 8 watts is "Swifter" than the 15 it's supposed to run at.

    At least the 15W graphic appears to have been removed. That's something.
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Monday, May 11, 2020 - link

    "The throttling is to be expected when you see a 1.2kg laptop. Where can they cut in order to lose few hundred grams, when the battery size is the same? Surely its got to be the cooling solution. If you are looking for performance, these ultra slim laptops are not for you."

    I don't buy this excuse.

    When a company sells a product it shouldn't be a bait and switch deal.

    If Acer wants to post "8+ watts" as the TDP of the CPU in a prominent place that's one thing. If it lists 15W and/or just the CPU model then that's not good enough.

    Moreover, it should be made clear to the consumer that the CPU is throttled to get to that 8 watts, not that it's just so efficient it can function at 8 watts to do the equivalent of what should take 15 for the same CPU because of something special about the machine's design.

    If the machine can't handle a 15 watt CPU then it should be throttled to what it can handle and that should be the spec sold to consumers, not the spec it can't handle.
    Reply
  • ReallyBigMistake - Sunday, May 17, 2020 - link

    "Key to this is a much-needed jump from GlobalFoundries' 12nm process to TSMC's class-leading 7nm process"

    I am calling it but GF days are numbered.
    Reply

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