Even if you’re a weightlifting champ, I suspect you’d love a laptop that’s almost light enough to be unnoticeable in a backpack, while capable of relatively intensive processes, and gorgeous to watch movies or play games with.
It feels like an excessive dream but tech advancements in recent years have largely delivered the impossible, one of which is the ultrathin, super lightweight 2023 Acer Swift Edge 16 (Model SFE16-43) notebook. Weighing an incredible 1.24 kg only, powered by 2023 Ryzen™ 7 and Radeon™ tech, and with a stunning 16” WQXGA+ OLED display, the message looks to be that the days of sacrificing performance for portability are behind us. Without having to sacrifice bank savings too much too, if I might add.
This lightweight laptop, moreover, seems to be geared towards content creators, with the Ryzen 7840U processor promising superior productivity in apps such as Adobe Premiere Pro thanks to AI empowerment.
In this review, I subject the Swift Edge 16 to various content creation, entertainment, and gaming tests, as well as examine portability and design. Begin I begin, let me share that I’ve been using Acer laptops for over a decade and my current desktop builds are all AMD-powered.
I’m thus familiar with what Acer and AMD are capable of—I’m confident the Swift Edge 16 can handle what I throw at it. My interest is in how efficiently this lightweight entry performs the tasks that I do for a living. What sort of productivity it can provide too.
Acer Swift Edge 16 (Model SFE16-43-R98R) Key Specs
- Processor: AMD Ryzen™ 7 7840U (7040 Series)
- Frequency (GHz): 5.1 (Boost) | 3.3 (Base)
- Physical Cores: 8
- Threads: 16
- Memory: 16GB (4x 4GB) LPDDR5 SDRAM
- GPU: AMD Radeon™ 780M (RDNA™ 3 Graphics Architecture)
- Display & Native Resolution: 16-inch OLED display (WQXGA+ 3200×2000 resolution) 400nits| QHD
- Refresh Rate: 120Hz
- Storage: 512MB
Weight and Design
As far as weight and portability are concerned, the Acer Swift Edge 16 is a clear winner. No doubt about that.
Depending on how you tabulate it and your specific work requirements, it might not be the absolute best for 2023 in terms of cost-weight-performance calculations. However, hold the Swift Edge 16 for five seconds and I’ll be surprised if you’re not impressed by the weight. And the fact that despite that weight, display and other specs weren’t compromised.
It’s, moreover, pleasingly slim at just 15 mm (approx.) thick. Slip it into a laptop backpack and the bulk is no different from a hard folder.
Coming to physical aesthetics, well, the Swift Edge 16 isn’t going to make heads turn with its classic shape and austere corners. I do wish Acer could have included the elevated design from the Aspire series too. That said, it’s that easy nowadays to customise the cover with stickers; Acer has also thoughtfully shifted their logo to the edge of the cover to allow you free play.
To repeat, a clear winner in terms of portability. I add that the 1.24 kg weight is but marginally heavier than the 10.1” 2in1 laptops of the late 2010s. But the Swift Edge 16 is way beefier than those with its basic specs. With a far superior display too.
I’ll be frank. I’m firmly of the old PC workstation ways; full-size clicky mechanical keyboard and large mouse and all that. I’ll never be comfortable with the “crushed” keyboard layouts of laptops.
The keys of the Swift Edge don’t feel too squeezy, though, and that’s, of course, thanks to the large spread—this laptop is ultrathin but sizable in area because of the 16” screen. Key feel and reactions, on the other hand, are on the meek side, and when typing/writing at furious speeds, I find myself making typos more often. With the urge to exert more control too. This is probably because of the thin profile.
As for the touchpad, it’s decent. Responsive enough too and large enough for my needs. However, I suspect some users would hope for it to be more spacious or with more depth.
All in all, it’s a decent keyboard that’s functional. But there’s no reason to get excited about it.
Of note too is that this model of the Swift Edge 16, i.e., SFE16-43, comes with a numeric pad. Older versions like the SFE16-42 do not. It’s an upgrade that I’m sure many users would appreciate.
16” WQXGA+ OLED display
A 16” OLED display with 3200×2000 native resolution is the one feature that would have you eagerly checking out the Swift Edge 16 in a store. There is only one word to describe this display too. Gorgeous.
Colours are wonderfully luscious and rich. Blacks are deep and mysterious. I streamed a couple of 4K Japanese travel videos during my first test and for a good fifteen minutes, I was mesmerized by the vivid footage. 4K Night videos looked particularly awesome with the clarity assured by the superior resolution, while contrast is excellent.
Like the case with portability, the Swift Edge 16 effortlessly impresses with its magnificent display.
One issue that I do have with the display, however, is its glossy nature. While this is undeniably a key element of the visual appeal, it expectedly results in glare under a variety of scenarios. There is nothing much to do in these circumstances other than to shift yourself or the laptop.
Brightness-wise, the top figure of 400 nits was adequate for me in most situations; without the beauty of the display taking a major hit under direct daylight too. Naturally, a higher figure would be desirable for many users, but that is unlikely doable without some compromise on other aspects.
The Swift Edge 16 has two speakers on the underside, both measuring about an inch long and half an inch wide. They aren’t branded with any notable audio names and given their sizes, they are as you’d expect. The sound quality isn’t something to write home about.
To be clear, they are not all bad, at least not in my opinion. For a start, they are loud enough if you push the volume into the upper range; Level 60 volume, for me, was when it started to get unbearably loud. Stereo imaging was discernible too. It is, after all, a pair of speakers on opposite ends of the underside.
But if you’re looking for reverberating bass and refined highs and all that, nope, you’re not going to get it. As is commonly the case with lower-end built-in speakers, there’s noticeable muddying too. You’d be better off with a good pair of earbuds or external speakers if you expect high-end audio fidelity.
The heart of the Acer Swift Edge 16 consists of an AMD Ryzen™ 7 7840U (7040 Series) processor and AMD Radeon™ 780M GPU. Very bluntly, this isn’t a stratospheric kind of combination but hang on, it’s no pushover either. Integrated graphics as it might be, the Radeon™ 780M is still capable of handling most modern games with some performance reduction. *
The AMD Ryzen™ 7840U is also unique in that it has a dedicated AI engine built-in for x85PCs. Based on AMD’s XDNA architecture, the techspeak goes that the engine allows for “true, dedicated AI inference model processing hardware directly to the hands of the end user,” better computational and energy efficiency, and so on.
It’s all very exciting to read about. Doubly so when you consider all these capabilities are packed into a super lightweight package. But how does the Swift Edge 16 actually fare with heavier processing tasks? Such as video rendering? How does it fare with graphic-intensive games?
I experimented with a few content creation tasks as well as played some 2022/2023 games for a few hours. The following are my “results.”
AMD reported benchmarking numbers such as 1736 (single-thread) and 12616 (multi-thread) for Cinebench R23, and 1920 (single-core) and 9622 (multi-core) for Geekbench 5.4.6. I achieved 92 (single score) and 534 (multi score) in a Cinebench 2024 CPU test.
I had no issue at all running Word, Excel, etc., with the Swift Edge 16 and quite frankly, I’ll be surprised if I did. No further words on this.
Adobe Premiere Pro Test
Before I share my Premiere Pro test results, allow me to define important parameters.
I use Adobe Premiere Pro for all my YouTube content creation needs; have been doing so for years too. However, I am not an advanced user and I rarely incorporate Adobe After Effects renders. In other words, I very much stick to basic functions and visual enhancements like trimming, color correction, transitions, etc.
For this test, I’m also using version 2024.0.0. (Same for PhotoShop below) This is important to note because Adobe promised various speed enhancements with this version. If you’re using an older version with the Swift Edge 16, the outcome might differ.
Here are the results. For a 9-minute 4K video built from different clips, with Lumetri enhancements, warp stabilisation, text, transitions, and motion graphics, etc, rendering time with the Swift Edge 16 was slightly more than 11 minutes.
Stabilisation has consistently been the most time-consuming enhancement for my Premiere Pro projects, but the Swift Edge 16 handled it relatively well. A 2-minute 4K clip required just slightly short of six-and-a-half minutes to analyse and stablise.
Working on the timeline, adding effects/clips, tweaking parameters, etc., was generally smooth and without laggy issues too.
In summary, while the Swift Edge 16 doesn’t offer overwhelming speed and processing power for video creation, it’s more than empowered enough for standard video creation without excessive waits. I’m confident it can efficiently handle all the videos I’ve uploaded on my YouTube channel in recent years.
Adobe Photoshop Test
Half an hour of photo touch-up in Adobe Photoshop yielded satisfying results. (I was working with different photo sizes between 20 and 50 MP) Standard functions like Auto-Color, etc., took but split seconds to complete. Even for a huge mural spread 10k by 10k pixels large, previews were still near-instantaneous.
More advanced, or should I say more recent functions like Neural Filters and Generative AI expectedly took longer to complete. But we’re not talking about unbearable wait times. Enlarging a 20 MP photo 2x using the Super Zoom neural filter took two minutes. A large Generative AI fill on a 10k pixel wide photo took less than half a minute for most instructions.
Compressing and saving huge files needed only seconds too.
Safe to say, the Swift Edge 16 is well-capable in handling most standard editing tasks in Photoshop.
AI-Empowered Camera Features
This is worth mentioning, even though it might not be of high importance to many users.
Thanks to the AMD Ryzen™ AI, the Acer Swift Edge 16 is capable of using new video conference enhancement features built directly into Windows 11, with these features extending to any application that uses the built-in camera output. Specifically, these features are Automatic Framing (a moving, auto-focus), Eye Contact (creates the impression you’re constantly maintaining eye contact), and Background Blurring.
They’re nifty. I’ll say the background blurring effect, which comes with two options, is also more natural compared to those performed by standard conferencing software.
With or without these features, the Swift Edge 16’s 1440p QHD webcam is still a superior accessory, further enhanced by Acer’s Temporal Noise Reduction tech. (Dim surroundings are less grainy) I don’t vlog but I believe this feature will be very attractive to vloggers who are just starting out.
Gaming was a mixed bag for me. I was able to install and play games such as Spiderman Remastered and Hogwarts Legacy. In the case of Spiderman Remastered, I was able to game with displays on high settings too, with no issues other than the keyboard getting warm (see below).
That being said, I was unable to achieve a decent frame rate for Far Cry 6 even when I adjusted everything to the lowest settings. The game was still playable but the graphics were less smooth. There feels to be a very, very slight lag to gameplay too. *
As for graphic quality, well, this was “hard” to judge because that gorgeous 16” OLED screen makes even games on minimal video settings look awesome. Naturally, the 120 Hz refresh rate helps too.
* Other online reviews encountered no issues with Far Cry 6, and even reported impressive frame rate. I’ve tested this repeatedly but for whatever reason, I was unable to achieve similar results. Since the Swift Edge 16 had no issues with games that were at least just as resource-intensive, I assume it might be an issue with my installation of the game.
According to MSI Afterburner, operating temperatures consistently stayed within a 60 – 65 degrees Celsius range when running the more intensive processes of Adobe Creative Suite, etc. While playing Spiderman Remastered, temperatures went higher to the 70 – 75 range, but the Swift Edge 16 never got warmer than that. Actually, there was only once when the temperature briefly reached 75 degrees.
More of note would be how the upper edge and left upper segment of the keyboard get warmer to the touch during these moments. It doesn’t scorch, of course not, but it can be worrying. A cooling pad might be a necessary accessory in these circumstances.
As for fans, they are noticeable when in “performance” mode, i.e., during higher temperatures. But the hum is nowhere near annoying.
The Swift Edge 16 comes with a 54Wh battery and overall performance was, to me, average. With a mixture of installation, surfing, graphic work, and gaming, I lasted slightly over 2 hours before the battery level dropped to 35 percent. Pure gaming, without surprise, drained the battery faster.
The above happened with power settings on “balance.” I leave it to you to interpret these findings based on your needs.
As is obvious, the main selling points of the Acer Swift Edge 16 (SFE16-43) are portability and display. This is one great-looking, ultrathin laptop that’s easy to bring around.
When you’re traveling but do not wish to compromise on visual entertainment, when you need to deliver attractive presentations with a laptop screen, this lightweight model delivers the goods without burdening you with weight.
Being lightweight doesn’t mean a compromise on processing and graphic power too, and Acer did a great job in this area. As mentioned above, the Swift Edge 16 doesn’t come with astonishing processing prowess but it gets the job done for most basic work and content creation tasks. Provided you’re not too demanding, and as long as you don’t mind the weaker battery performance or how the keyboard could get warm during certain operations.
Coming to price, the Swift Edge 16 is in direct competition with other ultrathin notebook series by other makers. There are, of course, also various minute physical and processing differences within this competition, with the Swift Edge 16 “winning” in some aspects while weaker in others. In the end, I suspect final buyer decision might boil down to a matter of brand preference and experience.
In view of that, I’ll sum this review as such. This is a laptop with a display you wouldn’t get tired of looking at, with a portability that’s a delight too. I wouldn’t recommend it for serious or heavy gaming, but occasional (lighter) gaming is fine and it wouldn’t have issues handling standard work or content creation tasks.
If you’re on the move a lot, if you need to work while on the move, this is a work companion you’ll appreciate.