Acer’s Swift Edge clamshell announced today is a gentle reminder of the so-called Intel tax. The PC offers a larger screen with more expensive display technology and pixels than a similarly specced Acer Swift 5 ultralight for the same price. The other big difference between the two laptops is that the new Swift Edge opts for AMD Ryzen 6000 processors, while the Swift 5 uses Intel 12th Gen CPUs.
Acer is releasing the Swift Edge in the US this Friday with a Ryzen 7 6800U, carrying eight cores, 4MB of L2 cache, 16MB of L3 cache, and a clock speed of 2.7 GHz that can boost to 4.7 GHz. Combined with 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 1TB of PCIE 4.0 SSD storage, it’ll have a $1,500 MSRP.
That’s the same MSRP that the Swift 5 has as of writing and when we reviewed it in July. For that price, you get an Intel Core i7-1260P with four performance cores (2.1-4.7 GHz), eight efficient cores (1.5-3.4 GHz), and 18MB of L3 cache, plus the same RAM and storage specs as the aforementioned Swift Edge configuration.
The Swift Edge and Swift 5 have similar port selection, as well: two USB-C ports (although, the Intel PC’s ports have Thunderbolt 4 certification and work at up to 40Gbps, rather than the Swift Edge ports’ 20Gbps), two USB-A ports (USB 3.2 Gen 1), one HDMI 2.1 port, and a 3.5 mm jack.
However, the Swift Edge could have a notable, well, edge, when it comes to the screen. It has a 16-inch, 3840×2400 OLED non-touch display, compared to the 14-inch, 2560×1600 IPS touchscreen on the Swift 5. The OLED screen is specced with 100 percent DCI-P3 color coverage, up to 500 nits of brightness, and VESA DisplayHDR True Black 500 certification. In our Acer Swift 5 review, we recorded 541 nits and 83.1 percent DCI-P3 coverage.
Of course, there’s more to a laptop than its specs sheet; we’d have to get a closer look at things like build quality (the Swift Edge has a magnesium-alloy chassis), audio, the webcam, and the display in action. But an early look at those specs shows that you can upgrade in other places if you’re interested in an AMD CPU over an Intel one.
And there’s good reason to be. Our Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 review tested an equally specced Ryzen 7 Pro 6850U (the Swift Edge should eventually be offered in this US with this CPU too, an Acer rep confirmed to Ars Technica) and found impressive performance, including generally stronger battery life and integrated Radeon 680M graphics when compared against Intel’s 12th Gen mobile chips. The Swift Edge won’t necessarily be as powerful as a $1,900, business-focused ThinkPad, but Ryzen 6000 has potential for Acer to leverage.
Just as there’s frequently a so-called Intel tax on PCs, there’s usually an OLED tax on battery life, too. Acer claims the Swift Edge’s 54 Wh battery can last up to 10.5 hours of video playback, eight hours browsing the web, and 7.5 hours on the MobileMark 2018 benchmark. Those are better numbers than the smaller Swift 5 claims with its 56 Wh battery (14, 14, and 7.5 hours, respectively).
Acer’s Swift Edge is a new addition to Acer’s Swift lineup of thin-and-light clamshells, which includes the Swift 5 flagship ultralight, and Swift X AMD and Swift X Intel, which both include dedicated graphics cards. The Swift Edge continues a trend we’ve seen over the past few years as AMD chips increasingly find their way into not just more laptop models, but more higher-end designs. The “Edge” moniker may also help AMD shake a reputation that has many consumers considering its chips as a budget alternative to Intel.
The Swift Edge launches this Friday at $1,500 as specced above (SKU SFA16-41-R7SU). It should eventually start at a Ryzen 5 6600U and go up to 32GB of memory, but an Acer rep told Ars that it may not sell these configurations in the US.