Acer Swift 5 (2022) vs MacBook Air M2 — Which laptop wins?

Acer Swift 5 (2022) vs Apple MacBook Air M2
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We recently reviewed the Acer Swift 5 (2022) and found it to be a stylish, lightweight and powerful Windows 11 laptop. This is due to its 12th gen Intel Core CPU, 1600p display and speedy 1TB SSD. The laptop is also cheaper compared to rivals with similar specs. Though it’s not perfect, the latest Acer Swift 5 is a solid choice given its $1,499 price.

This begs the question: how does the Acer Swift 5 compare to the Apple MacBook Air M2? Since we’ve reviewed both laptops, we wanted to conduct our own comparison to see how they stack up. And most importantly, help you decide which one to choose.

Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Specs 

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Acer Swift 5 (2022)MacBook Air M2
Price$1,549 (as tested)$1,899 (as tested)
CPUIntel Core i7-1260PApple M2 chip
Display14-inch, WQXGA, 2560 x 1600-pixel touchscreen13.6-inch, 2560 x 1664p Liquid Retina
Ports1 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C, 1 HDMI, 1 USB-A, 1 lock slot, 1 headset/mic jackMagSafe, 1 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C, 1 headset/mic jack
Battery Life11:24 (tested)14:06 (tested)
Dimensions12.2 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches12 x 8.5 x 0.4 inches
Weight2.7 pounds2.7 pounds

Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Price 

The latest Acer Swift 5 comes in a single configuration. It packs a 14-inch LCD touch display at a crisp 2560 x 1600 resolution, along with an Intel Core i7-1260P processor, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD. It’s priced at $1,499, though we’ve seen it selling for more at some retailers and you may be able to pick it up for less with an Acer promo code.

The MacBook Air M2 starts at $1,199. The starting configuration gives you an 8-core CPU, 10-Core GPU, 8GB of unified memory and 512GB of storage. This is a premium machine, but those are good specs for the money. However, if you spec it out similar to the Acer Swift 5, Apple’s notebook costs a whopping $1,899.

For some, the $300 price difference could be the dividing factor between these two systems.

Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Design

The Acer Swift 5 has taken on a number of luxurious tweaks that convey a premium allure. Whereas the previous Swift 5 design was fairly generic, the latest version has beautiful edges with a double-anodized gold treatment, complete with a diamond-cut line pattern that Acer says features cuts that are thinner than a single human hair.

Paired with the Mist Green surfaces, the Swift 5 stands apart from the ultra-thin competition without looking overdone or garish. It’s a smart color duo that’s subtle and stylish, and the small, gold Acer logo at the top of the outer shell matches the thankfully understated allure.

Acer Swift 5 on desk

The latest Acer Swift 5 features a lavish new design with golden trim. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Unlike Acer’s cheaper notebooks, such as the Aspire 5, the firm has shaved some of the bulk off of this 14-inch laptop. At 12.2 x 8.4 x 0.59 inches and a mere 2.65 pounds, it’s a little thicker and wider than Apple’s new M2 MacBook Air model, but it’s a smidge lighter than that 2.7-pound rival. Despite the light weight, the Acer Swift 5 has a hearty, sturdy-feeling build, thanks to its aerospace-grade aluminum chassis.

Like Acer’s more affordable laptops, the Swift 5’s keyboard is elevated slightly when you open up the device, as the base of the display nudges the back of the notebook upward ever so slightly. It’s a subtle enough lift that most users probably won’t even notice, but anyone who hates a fully flat keyboard should appreciate it.

MacBook Air M2 2022

The MacBook Air remains true to its moniker thanks to its light weight design. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The MacBook Air M2 is so thin it could easily be mistaken for an iPad when closed (especially if the Apple logo is facing out). That’s how slim this notebook is. Measuring just 0.44 inches thick with the lid open, an everyday Bic pen looks chunky next to this machine.

Overall, the Air M2 is 20% smaller than the previous Air in terms of volume, and yet you get a bigger 13.6-inch display. Some people may not like the notch at the top of the screen, which breaks the aesthetics by swooping down to the bottom of the Menu bar. But it doesn’t prove too distracting when doing day-to-day work.

The 2.7-pound all-aluminum chassis delivers a great balance of durability and light weight, and we appreciate the sleek rounded corners and pronounced lip that makes this laptop easy to hold and open with one hand.

If you want to make a statement, you could get the MacBook Air M2 in Starlight (pale gold) or Midnight (dark blue). However, if you’re feeling more conservative, you can opt for Silver or Space Gray. Just watch out for scratches if you go for the Midnight one though, as this particular color can reportedly scuff easily. 

Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Display 

The Acer Swift 5’s screen is a stunner. It’s a 14-inch panel at WQXGA resolution (2560x1600) or 1600p, which means it’s quite a bit crisper than your typical 1080p panel seen on the vast majority of laptops. At that resolution, text and graphics look super sharp throughout. It’s a 16:10 aspect ratio, too, which means the screen is slightly taller than typical widescreen (16:9) dimensions.

The Swift 5 doesn’t disappoint in terms of brightness or vividness. In our testing, we measured an average of 457 nits of brightness — short of the 489 nits measured on the M2 MacBook Air, but still plenty bright.

MacBook Air M2 2022

The MacBook Air M2 has a decently bright display. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

LCD IPS panels like the Swift 5's don’t typically pack as much of a punch as OLED rivals, but at 131.7% of the sRGB color gamut and 93.3% on DCI-P3 color space, it’s a bold panel that I struggled to find fault with. It beats both the M2 MacBook Air and Dell’s XPS 13 OLED on both marks.

Based on our testing, the MacBook Air has a brighter screen but the Acer Swift 5 has a greater range of colors.

Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Ports 

Acer didn’t skimp on ports with the Swift 5, providing plenty of connectivity despite the slim frame. You’ll find a pair of USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports on the left side, along with a single USB-A port and HDMI port for plugging in an external monitor. Meanwhile, the right side of the laptop adds another USB-A port to the mix alongside a 3.5mm headphone port and the Kingston security lock slot.

MacBook Air M2 2022

The new MacBook Air M2 supports MagSafe charging. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple keeps things minimal with the MacBook Air M2 port selection. You’ll find two Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports on the left side along with a MagSafe power adapter.

The latter connection makes it easy to attach the cable connector magnetically to the system, and it also helps prevent the laptop from falling should someone accidentally tug hard on the cable. The right side houses a headphone jack for those still using wired headphones, and it’s nice to have just in case your wireless earbuds or wireless headphones run out of power.

Acer’s laptop is the clear winner when it comes to port selection.

Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Performance

The Acer Swift 5 packs plenty of speed thanks to the latest 12th-gen Intel Core i7-1260P chip. With 16GB RAM alongside, you’ll find ample power for everyday use and multitasking, including loading up on browser tabs and streaming all sorts of media.

On the Geekbench 5.4 benchmark test, we registered a multi-core score of 9,859. This beats the new 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro (8,911), although it doesn’t quite match the score of the pricier 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro (12,477).

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Acer Swift 5 (2022)MacBook Air M2
Geekbench 5.49,8598,919
Handbrake (minutes, seconds)7:357:52

The Acer Swift 5 showcased its creative prowess in our Handbrake video test, in which we transcode a 4K clip to 1080p. It completed the task in just 7:35. That’s faster than Apple’s new M2 MacBook Air (7:52), albeit slower than the M2 MacBook Pro (6:51). Still, it beats the pants off of last year’s Windows laptops with 11th-gen i7 chips, like the Dell XPS 13 OLED (18:12).

Performance-wise, the Acer Swift 5 bests the MacBook Air M2. Of course, it’s wise to consider that numbers don’t always tell a complete tale. If you’re doing everyday tasks like web browsing and watching streaming videos, you won’t notice a stark difference between the two laptops.

Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Webcam

The Acer Swift 5 has a respectable 1080p webcam. It captures a lot of detail while cutting down noise, and accurately represents colors when you’re well-lit. However, it can suffer a bit when heavily backlit. You’ll also get a lot more fuzz in low-light scenarios.

MacBook Air M2 webcam

The MacBook Air M2's camera is serviceable but we wouldn't ditch a dedicated webcam for it. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Similarly, the MacBook Air M2’s 1080p webcam is good but not great. Maybe it’s not a fair comparison, but we wouldn’t give up on the Logitech C920 for video calls. The overall picture quality is sharp enough for the Air.

In short, both have serviceable webcams but neither will blow you away, quality-wise.

Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Battery life

This is one area where Apple’s laptop obliterates Acer’s.

On our battery rundown test, in which the laptop continuously surfs the web with the display brightness set to just 150 nits, the Swift 5 lasted for about 11:25. However, the M2 MacBook Air pushed quite a bit further to 14:06.

While the Acer Swift 5 lasted for over 11 hours in our test, our review says it barely lasted five hours during everyday use with the screen set to max brightness. As we said in our review, that’s unacceptable for a laptop that costs $1,499.

Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Bottom line 

With all due respect to the Acer Swift 5, it’s not exactly grabbing headlines the way the MacBook Air M2 did when it launched during the summer. However, as our tests have revealed, Acer’s machine defeats Apple’s in a number of key categories.

While the MacBook Air M2 has a brighter screen and superior battery life, the Acer Swift 5 has better overall performance, at least based on our numbers. The Acer Swift 5 is also $300 cheaper than a similarly specced MacBook Air. As we said up top, price alone may be a determining factor. But if you’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem, the price might be worth it.

Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on X/Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.