I had a chance to install Linux and test-drive an Acer Swift (SF114-32) laptop today. What a fantastic unit! This is definitely my go-to recommendation for very-low end Linux laptops. It's got that "ultrabook" form-factor, vibrant 1920x1080 display, and solid battery life, all for below $200 price tag when purchased refurbished. On top of all that, Linux is easy to install. You really can't do better at this price-point!

This is a continuation of my review of GNU/Linux operating systems on low-end Acer laptops. If you are interested in a more thorough review of Ubuntu 18.04 on the other models, see the articles I wrote about Ubuntu 18.04 on the various Acer Aspire 1 models (A114-31-C4HH, A114-31-C5GM, A114-32-C1YA, A114-32-P0K1).

Specs

  • Cost: $199 for Acer Re-certified (2019 price)

  • Display: 14 in, 1920x1080 FHD, IPS screen for great viewing angle

  • Storage: 64 GB eMMC SSD

  • Memory: 4 GB RAM

  • CPU: Intel Pentium N5000, four cores at 1.1 - 2.7 GHz

  • Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 605

  • Camera, 3x USB, HDMI, 1x USB-C, and SD card slot, fingerprint reader

  • Very light and sleek form-factor with impressively little little wasted space / bevel

  • Battery: 2-cell Li-Ion Battery -- it claims "Up to 17 Hours Battery Life", but on Linux doing a variety of tasks (web browsing, image editing) I could only get in the vicinity of 5 hours.

Differences from Acer Aspire 1

Big differences

  • Intel Pentium N5000 processor - This represents a respectable upgrade over either the Celeron N3560, or the Celeron dual core N4000 chip. Definitely the best CPU of the bunch!

  • Screen & battery seem to be higher quality

Minor differences

  • Sleeker faux metalic design with less screen bevel. Slightly smaller form factor (and if I'm not mistaken, lighter), but has a 14" screen.

  • Keyboard is slightly different, missing the extra row of Home/Pg Up /Pg Dn / End keys on the right. This

  • New features: Fingerprint reader, USB-C

  • No Eithernet port (unlike A31, A32)

Verdict

This laptop represents some nice improvements over the Acer Aspire 1 product line, which previously were my favorite at this costpoint. Best low-end Linux Laptop! Seriously, I have looked a lot, and I can't find anything in the sub $300 price-point that compares.

The main drawbacks? The main issue for me is the 4 GB of memory is limiting: You'll have to be careful about too many tabs. Even though a full Ubuntu 18.04 GNOME 3 desktop runs decently on it, you may want to use a more minimalist desktop environment to save on memory.

Installation process

This laptop has the same BIOS and very similar hardware to the Acer Aspire 1 A32, so the installation process is the same. Read the previous guide for more information about that.

Like the Aspire 1, installation is similarly smooth, with one exception: After enabling the F12 Boot Menu, switch the touchpad to "Basic" mode: do <down> <down> <enter> <down> <enter>