Updated: Aug 20, 2021
This is one of the first few laptops to feature the Intel Iris Xe Max graphics and we’re definitely going to talk about it. If you’re looking for a lightweight laptop to use as a daily driver, the Acer Swift 3x is an option to consider.
To start off, this laptop does actually come in two distinct colours that are not your usual black and white. You have the option to choose from either Steam Blue or what we have here, Safari Gold. To give it a little bit of flair and character, the hinge is of a different colour, cyan. In any case, no matter which you choose, both colours look really nice and they are a smooth matte finish, so you won’t need to worry about fingerprints at all.
Open it up, and you’ll get a 14-inch IPS display that has a Full HD resolution and covers 100% sRGB. Needless to say, it’s a great panel that provides a solid experience, be it for casual use like web browsing, or slightly heavier use like photo or video editing, or even gaming.
Apart from the standard webcam, keyboard and trackpad, the Swift 3x does also feature a fingerprint sensor, which is a really nice touch. It’s really easy for authentication and is probably the method you would want to use most to log in to your account.
Despite being a lightweight laptop, the Swift 3x does still feature a healthy amount of ports. On the right, you get a standard 3.5mm combo jack, a full-sized USB 3.2 and a Kensington lock slot. On the left, you get your DC power port, HDMI, another full-sized USB 3.2 and last but not least, Thunderbolt 4.
This laptop also comes equipped with a 58.7 watt-hour battery that can last you up to 17.5 hours of use, though a more realistic number would be 10 hours of actual use. But, if you still run out during the day, you’ll be glad to know you can also fast charge the Swift 3x. With 30 minutes of charge time, you can get up to 4 hours of use.
Lastly, this laptop also comes with Wi-Fi 6 which we would say is a must-have when choosing a daily driver in this day and age.
So that’s a short overview of the design of the Swift 3x, and all the physical function and features you can expect from it. But we now need to talk about what really makes this special, and that’s the Intel Iris Xe Max graphics in this laptop.
The Swift 3x that we have right here sports the Intel Core i7-1165G7, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB NVMe SSD, and of course the Intel Iris Xe Max graphics.
First up, the main difference between the standard Iris Xe graphics that comes integrated with the CPU and the Iris Xe Max comes down to two things: a higher clock speed frequency of 1.65GHz and the addition of 4GB of dedicated LPDDR4x graphics memory.
This basically means that on paper, the Iris Xe Max is slightly more powerful than the integrated Iris Xe. But what’s more interesting is how Intel Deep Link ties the CPU and the GPU together to really make use of that enhanced performance.
There are 3 main functions to Intel Deep Link.
The first is Dynamic Power Share, where the system is able to intelligently route power between the CPU and GPU to boost performance depending on what you’re working on. So if a specific application requires more CPU power at any given point in time, the system would reduce the power to the GPU and reroute that same amount of power to the CPU instead, giving it a boost.
It also works the other way around, so it’s vice-versa. Compared to the traditional fixed and pre-defined power limits for a CPU and GPU that are independent of one another, this technology bridges the two and allows either chip to fully live up to its potential within the same power limit of the laptop.
According to Intel, you can expect up to 20% better CPU performance, or up to 40% better GPU performance with Dynamic Power Share. Needless to say, this is also a smart automated technology that runs in the background, so you’ll enjoy the benefits of it without even doing anything.
The second is Additive AI. This is pretty straightforward. In any supported applications which make use of AI, Iris Xe Max is able to provide faster performance compared to systems paired with a comparable 3rd-party GPU such as an NVIDIA MX350.
The third and last of this initiative is Hyper Encode. As the name suggests, encoding is now much faster. Intel claims up to 1.78 times faster encoding compared to a full-blown RTX 2080 using NVENC, against their own new Deep Link AI media encoders built right inside Iris Xe Max for a multi-stream.
Now to be fair, what we’ve just mentioned comes directly from Intel themselves and their internal testing. So do take that with a grain of salt. The reason we are unable to do in-depth testing of the same parameters is because the support for Iris Xe Max isn’t as widespread as of yet. At the moment, there are a few applications which make use of Deep Link, with the more prominent ones such as OBS and Handbrake, but that’s about it.
With that said, we still did run our standard benchmarks using DaVinci Resolve, and the results are pretty promising.
The 10-minute 1080p edit took about 35 minutes to render while the 15-minute 4K edit took about 1 hour and 12 minutes to render. In comparison to the Intel Core i7-1165G7 with the standard Iris Xe in the Asus ZenBook Flip 13, the render times are definitely faster.
And if you’re interested in the gaming side of things, CS:GO runs pretty decently at 1080p with high settings and averaged 60 frames per second. Devil May Cry V is much more demanding, but yet we were able to run it at 1080p medium and averaged about 41 frames per second. Genshin Impact was also a pretty enjoyable experience at 1080p medium, averaging around 48 frames per second.
It is very similar to the standard Iris Xe, and can definitely provide an entry-level gaming experience at 1080p, even more so if you’re totally fine with 30 frames per second. If you’re worried about temperatures, you won’t have to be, because both the CPU and GPU averaged 75 degrees celsius in both creative and gaming workloads for the most part.
Overall, the Intel Iris Xe Max is looking quite promising. There is definitely that slight uplift in performance compared to the standard Iris Xe, and with how Intel is building an entire ecosystem around the chip, it should get better with time and might prove to be advantageous in comparison to NVIDIA or AMD, especially within the entry-level graphics segment. Acer has also done a great job with the Swift 3x, being able to provide ample performance in a lightweight chassis, yet without any drawbacks in terms of thermals.
This content is brought to you in partnership with Acer.