Monday, November 6, 2017

Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) Review : Powerful, Thin and Power Save





Intel finally release the latest generation Core i 8th Gen processor for desktop and laptop platforms. However, unlike previous generation switches, Intel provides massive upgrades in Core i 8th Gen by adding the number of processor cores. Even for laptop platforms, the number of processor cores increases TWICE FOUR compared to Core i 7th Gen in UL Class (Ultra Low Voltage) U Series class. Yep! Core i 8th Gen U Series processors can not be underestimated computing performance. Who would have thought if a power-saving processor with a 15 Watt TDP rating would offer computing performance like other processors with higher TDP ratings.


Launched by Intel at the end of August 2017, who would have thought if in October 2017, a laptop with a base processor Core i 8th Gen U Series present in the Indonesian market coming from the manufacturer Acer. Acer itself presents three product lines for the Core i 8th Gen is Aspire E5-476G, Spin 5, and Swift 3 which will be the main topic of discussion this time. Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) we tested this time powered Core i7 8th Gen U Series processor combined with dual channel memory configuration and NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD. Even this thin laptop also features the latest add-on graphics card from NVIDIA with Pascal GPU architecture base. Let's take a closer look at what kind of performance the Core i 8th Gen U Series processor has to offer and what excellence Acer has to offer on this laptop.

Specification



Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) is captured by an Intel Core i7 8550U processor. Unlike the Core i 8th Gen desktop processors that have used the Coffee Lake CPU architecture, the Core i 8th Gen U Series laptop processor still uses the Kaby Lake CPU architecture or rather Kaby Lake-R / Kaby Lake Refresh. Significant improvement that at the same time became the appeal of Intel Core i 8th Gen U Series processor is the use of four core / quad core configuration. Previously, up to Core i 7th Gen, Intel U Series processors always use two core / dual core configuration. In particular, the Core i 8th Gen U Series processor is still equipped with Hyper-Threading technology so it is ready to handle eight computing processes at once. Increasing number of processor cores also gives another effect on increasing the number of processor cache from 4 MB to 8 MB on Core i7 line.
Like the previous generation of Intel U Series processors, the TDP (Thermal Design Power) rating of all Core i 8th Gen U Series processor variants is maintained at 15 Watt. Of course these steps have consequences more number of processor cores increased from two to four. In the Core i 8th Gen U Series, the base clock speed is set lower than the Core i 7th Gen U Series. However Turbo Boost clock speed value is maintained at the same level or higher. The Core i7 8550U itself has a base clock speed of 1.8 GHz and can go up to 4 GHz thanks to Turbo Boost 2.0 technology in a single core computing scenario.

Acer combines Core i7 8550U processor with FCBGA1356 socket motherboard based on Intel Kaby Lake-U + iHDCP 2.2 Premium PCH chipset.

The Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) memory / RAM component is directly embedded on the motherboard PCB causing CPU-Z applications to not display its specific information.

Switch to HWiNFO application finally information specification of memory / RAM Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) can be read. Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) features memory / RAM type LPDDR3 with a capacity of 8 GB. Memory / RAM works in dual channel configuration at speed 1867 MHz. Upgrading or replacing memory / RAM options are not possible in Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G).

Intel UHD Graphics 620

Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) is equipped with two graphics processing components namely GeForce MX150 and Intel UHD Graphics 620. This laptop is equipped with NVIDIA Optimus technology so that IGP and discrete graphics card can be activated interchangeably. IGP will be active in idle conditions or while in the Windows desktop environment while the new discrete graphics card will be active when the game or application requires running. Such capability has the purpose to save the use of electricity especially when using the battery.
GeForce MX150 GPU itself own GPU GP108 with Pascal architecture base as other GeForce GTX 10 Series variant. GeForce MX150 itself seems positioned as the successor to the successor of the GT 940MX. The GP108 GPU specification itself consists of 384 CUDA Cores, 32 Texture Units, and 16 ROP Units or the same as the GT 940MX GPU specification. GPU has a base clock value of 1469 MHz and can rise even higher up to 1532 MHz thanks to GPU Boost 3.0 technology. Our tests on Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) itself recorded GPU Boost 3.0 clock value can reach the number 1683 MHz. GPU GP88 is combined with VRAM type GDDR5 at 6008 MHz speed through 64-bit memory bus. While Intel UHD Graphics 620 is still based on architecture architecture GPU Processor Graphics Gen 9 LP (Generation 9 Low Power), just like HD Graphics 620.


In terms of appearance, Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) did not offer significant changes in body design than its predecessor. Like other thin laptops, Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) uses a metal body to keep it sturdy when in use. Surface around the keyboard area and behind the screen is given a touch of metal brush finish that makes the appearance feels elegant as well as luxurious.

The thin body becomes one of the attractions offered by Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G). Compared to AA (14.5 mm) batteries, the thickness of Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) when the screen is closed is only 4.5 mm apart.


As for the long and wide sides, Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) has a body size of 33.81 x 23.39 cm which makes it easy to put in a bag of medium size. Even with a weight of about 1.7 kg, Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) classified as lightweight when traveling.

Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) uses 14-inch LED LCD screen with Full HD / 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution and pixel density reaches 157 PPI. The Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) screen has used the widely known IPS (In-Plane Switching) panel capable of displaying richer and more accurate colors and has a very wide viewing angle of up to 170 °.

While not using the touch screen, the Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) screen surface reinforced the Corning Gorilla Glass coating that strengthens and protects the screen from damage risk. Quite unfortunate, the Corning Gorilla Glass layer makes the laptop screen to be reflective that can interfere with wear comfort due to the shadow of the surrounding environment. Raising the screen brightness to a maximum can reduce even if not eliminate it completely.


The Acer Swift 3 hinge (SF314-52G) allows the screen to rotate up to 180 ° from closed conditions.

On the left side of Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) can be found DC-IN connector, 1x HDMI, 1x Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps), 2x Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps), and headphone microphone combo jack.

While on the reverse side can be found holes Kensington Security Slot, 1x USB 2.0, memory card reader and two indicator lights.

Acer Swift 3 keyboard (SF314-52G) adopts chiclet button design with wide sectional size (except button in top row and bottom right corner) so it is ready for user with big finger though. Each button is placed at a wide enough distance thus reducing the risk of a compressive error. The keyboard feels soft when pressed with a short pressing distance like other thin laptops and also quiet when operated.


Acer Swift 3 keyboard (SF314-52G) is equipped with backlit lights that can help recognize the button in the dark room / less light.

The power on / off buttons are plugged in with the other keyboard keys. Fortunately short keystrokes do not directly make the laptop experience the process ShutDown / Sleep / Hibernate.

The touchpad area of ​​Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) blends with the left and right click buttons. The placement of the touchpad is good enough with enough space for large hand sizes in the palmrest area.

Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) features a fingerprint reader sensor for more security during the Windows login process.



Quite unfortunate side of the keyboard area feels a bit sharp to the touch. Makes a sense of comfort less when typing with palms resting on the sides of the edge.

Acer Swift 3 side down sections (SF314-52G). There were three feet of laptop support from hard rubber material and a row of ventilation holes where fresh air came into the cooling system.

Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) is equipped with two speakers placed near the front of the laptop.


The Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) hot exhaust ventilation hole is positioned towards the laptop screen hinges. Design like this does have the contribution to make the body of the laptop becomes thin but cause some of the hot air passes through the surface of the screen, but also thrown backwards.

Acer Swift 3 power supply device (SF314-52G) has a power supply capability of up to 65 Watt. Fortunately this charger device only has a weight of about 311 grams so as not to burden when brought with a laptop.


CPU Clock Analysis

Using the Intel XTU application, we monitor the Core i7 8550U working speed on the Cinebench R15 benchmark and get the results as above. At the beginning of the benchmark, the working speed of the Core i7 8550U can reach 3.6 GHz with a working temperature of 92 ° C.

However, not long after the Cinebench R15 benchmark started running, the Core i7 8550U working speed dropped to 2.36 GHz and stays stable until the benchmark finishes. Temperature during the benchmark runs until it is in the range of 64-65 ° C only.

We also do a similar monitoring when using Blender application and get conditions that are not much different.

It seems that the Core i7 8550U on the Acer Swift 3 laptop (SF314-52G) will work steadily at a speed of 2.3-2.4 GHz when the entire processor thread is used to compute. The working temperature is below 70 ° C when at such speed. Of course the working characteristics of the Core i7 8550U on Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) may be different on other laptops since every manufacturer has their own "recipe" in making laptops.

Test Results - System Benchmark



PCMark 7 Creativity contains a set of tests to assess system performance in viewing, editing, transcoding, and storing photos and video files.

PCMark 7 Entertainment contains a set of tests to assess the performance of the system in recording, viewing, streaming, and transcoding television shows and movies. The performance of the system in importing, organizing, and browsing music files along with playing games are also tested here.

PCMark 7 Productivity contains a set of tests to assess system performance in loading wirsite pages and running home class office applications.

PCMark 7 Computation contains a set of tests to assess CPU and GPU computing performance.

PCMark7 Storage contains a set of tests to assess the performance of storage components on a system.

Power Consumption

Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) power consumption in a gaming scenario where the workload of processor components and discrete graphics cards is highest at 51-52 Watt. Still quite far from the maximum ability of Acer Swift 3 power supply device (SF314-52G) capable of supplying electricity up to 65 Watt. While the usage scenarios without involving discrete graphics card use only about 29-30 Watts only. Interestingly on idle conditions the use of electricity is below 10 Watt.

Battery Life


Setting: Windows Power Option - Balanced | Windows Brightness - 1/10 | Speaker Volume - 20% | Airplane Mode - On (Video Playback) | WiFi On & Bluetooth Off (PCMark 8 - Youtube - Web)

Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) shows satisfactory battery performance in our test scenario. Three of our tests successfully prove the claim of Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) battery life reaching 10 hours. However, in battery testing using PCMark 8 Works (Writing Documents, Browsing Websites, Creating Spreadsheets, Video Chat) battery life does not reach half of the other tests. For testing Web browsing is quite surprising us with battery life like that. There is a possibility of switching from FireFox to Chrome to be the cause of the endurance of Web Browsing testing to be longer than previous laptop review articles.

Please note the above test describes the battery life for activities carried out continuously without stopping. For activities that are not done continuously by providing a pause, battery life should last longer. The use of different operating systems and applications will also characterize the use of different batteries.

Conclusion


Core i7 8550U - Testing Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) successfully eliminates our curiosity for the latest Core i 8th Gen U Series processor line performance. Although still present with a 15 Watt TDP rating, the Core i7 8550U does not feel like a power-saving processor from Intel before. The Core i7 8550U successfully displays outstanding performance for a power-saving processor, especially in multi-threading applications, thanks to a 4-core / 8-thread configuration. Our test results show a significant computing performance leap from the Core i7 7500U to the Core i7 8550U, some even reaching over 50%. Not until there alone, a number of variants of desktop processors with TDP rating more than doubled even able to offset the performance. But unfortunately Intel did not disclose in detail the working speed of Core i7 8550U when all threads are used. Monitoring by us shows a working speed ranging from 2.3 to 2.4 GHz in 3D rendering applications such as Blender or Cinebench R15. Not too far from the base clock value of 1.8 GHz. The use of dual-channel memory configuration and NVMe SSD also makes Core i7 8550U can exert its best performance.

GeForce MX150 - Our curiosity will be derived desktop graphics card GT 1030 for laptop was satisfied when testing GeForce MX150 in Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G). Although not positioned as a gaming laptop, our test results show different results. Who would have thought if this thin laptop is able to run the game at high frame rate at Full HD resolution even though the graphics quality setting can not use the highest. But if you want maximum visual quality without sacrificing frame rate, lower resolution makes the game run more smoothly in GeForce MX150.

Temperature - The working temperature of Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) itself is quite unique especially for processor components. The temperature of the processor can rise up to about 90 ° C, but will be stable in keeping below 70 ° C as seen in our tests. While the temperature of the graphics card is quite satisfactory and still in the safe zone.

Battery & Power Consumption - Although equipped with a processor and graphics card with such capabilities, Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G) power consumption in the highest condition was only recorded in the 50-55 Watt range only. Even a battery life claim of up to 10 hours was successfully proven in our tests even though it did not happen in the scenario using PCMark 8 Work.

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