Thin notebooks are nothing new, but they’re getting thinner by the day. Manufacturers are beveling the edges, and chamfering the bezels in order to shave precious millimeters off of their latest designs, and Acer’s latest takes it one step further. The Acer Swift 7 comes in at just under 10 millimeters, which makes it almost half as thin as a Macbook Air.
Yep, the very same Macbook Air that conveniently fits inside a manila envelope is in danger of being out-thinned by upstart Acer. This, of course, begs the question. Can Acer’s latest really contend with Apple’s legendary hardware design? Check the spec comparison below for a closer look at the software and hardware powering both machines.
Macbook Air 13-inch (2016)
Acer Swift 7
|Thickness||17 mm||9.98 mm|
|Weight||2.96 pounds||2.4 pounds|
|Keyboard||Full size, backlit keyboard||Full size keyboard|
|Processor||Intel Core i5 1.6GHz (3M Cache, up to 2.7GHz)||Intel Core i5|
|RAM||8GB of RAM||8GB of RAM|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 6000||Intel HD Graphics|
|Display||13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit widescreen display||13.3-inch LED-backlit display with IPS technology|
|Resolution||1,440 x 900||1,920 x 1,080|
|Storage||256GB/512GB SSD||256GB SSD|
|Networking||802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0||TBD|
|Ports||USB 3 ports (2), Thunderbolt 2 port, headphone jack||USB Type-C ports (2), headphone jack|
|Webcam||720p FaceTime camera||TBD|
|Operating System||Mac OS X El Capitan||Windows 10|
|Availability||Now – Apple Store||Fall 2016|
Right out of the gate, the Acer Swift 7 crushes the Macbook Air in display quality. Acer has wisely opted for a high-quality IPS display, while this year’s Macbook Air sticks with a TN type display, which just can’t compete to the color fidelity and clarity an IPS display can provide.
While the Macbook Air does boast a decent screen for such a small computer, it cannot compare to the rich detail and crystalline color quality the Acer Swift 7 provides with its top-of-the-line IPS display. There’s just no contest here, and when you compare the Macbook Air’s display to really any other display on the market, the Air is really starting to show its age.
To put it in perspective, the Galaxy Note 7 has a higher resolution screen than the 2016 Macbook Air. In fact, most current-gem smartphones have sharper screens than the Macbook Air — including Apple’s own iPhone 6S Plus. The Air still showcases 1,440 x 900-pixel resolution, whereas the Acer’s forthcoming offering sports 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution.
Winner: Swift 7
Which one will weigh you down the most? The Macbook Air, but not by much.
The Acer Swift 7 is impossibly thin, coming at 9.98 millimeters, which renders it nearly half as thick as the Air. To use the iPhone comparison again, the Swift 7 is barely 2.5-millimeters thicker than an iPhone 6S Plus — and about as thick as a 6S Plus with a case on. That’s pretty impressive and makes the Air look like a monster. That said, when it comes times to toss your notebook in your bag in the morning, those extra millimeters probably aren’t going to weigh you down too much.
Battery life also differs between the two, with the Macbook Air edging out the Swift 7 in terms of manufacturer estimates. Apple claims the Macbook Air will offer 12 hours of wireless web browsing, and Acer claims the Swift 7 will give you around nine hours of use on a single charge. Really though, your mileage will vary depending on your workload.
Winner: Swift 7
When it comes to plugs and ports, the Macbook Air has a slight edge over the Acer Swift 7. The Swift 7 only offers two USB Type-C ports, a headphone jack, and a power plug. Without standard USB ports, you’re going to need adapters to plug in anything but the newest peripherals and accessories. The Macbook Air, on the other hand, offers up two USB 3 ports, one Thunderbolt 2 port, a headphone jack, and an SDXC card slot. It’s a standard offering which doesn’t kick your flash drives to the curb or require any additional adapters.
Winner: Macbook Air
Here’s where things get really subjective. The Acer Swift 7 and the Macbook Air look nothing alike, but they’re both stylish in their own right.
The Acer boasts a slick, black-and-gold finish that is deliberately eye-catching. Seriously, this thing is not a subtle machine, it’s not quiet or understated, it’s dazzling and bright yet somehow classy. It’s a sequined evening gown or a tailored tux in black-and-gold. Maybe not appropriate for all occasions, and definitely not for everyone. The Macbook Air looks drab by comparison, and that might be a good thing.
The Air isn’t going to stop traffic — it’s a familiar design that most of us see every day in coffee shops, classrooms, and around the office. Simply put, the Macbook Air is quiet, forgettable, and blends into a crowd like a button-down and khakis.
Is one better designed than the other? In terms of style, they appeal to different impulses. The Acer Swift 7 begs to be noticed, whereas the Air simply won’t be. They’re both good looking machines, however, and their super-slim engineering makes them both feel solid and dense. They both have a premium build quality through and through — no flexible plastic here.
The Macbook Air is available now, starting at $999 for the 13-inch model. The Acer Swift 7 will retail in the United States and Europe for $1,000, starting in October. When it comes to pricing, the Air and Swift 7 are on even footing, as are competitors such as the Dell XPS 13 and Asus Zenbook.
It’s almost unfair to declare the Swift 7 the winner on account of the fact that the Macbook Air hasn’t been overhauled since April. The latter machine features last-gen hardware — and a very last-gen display — while the Swift 7 is kitted out with the best internal components Acer could fit in a super-slim build.
All things being equal, the Swift 7’s razor-thin design really cuts the competition down to size. Other than a few minor nitpicks, the Swift 7 is definitely a better choice if you’re OS agnostic and wouldn’t mind a few envious glances in your local coffee shop.
Winner: Swift 7