Acer is a famous brand for making affordable and efficient laptops; while on the other hand, Chromebooks are renowned alternative of low cost Windows laptop. So, when these two collide, you can imagine the outcome. Anyway, today we are going to review Acer Chromebook 13, which we believe, is one of the best Chromebook currently available on the market.
Acer Chromebook 13 is powered with the NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor. So far, it is the first Chromebook with an ARM based NVIDIA processor. Though, I am not a fan of ARM powered laptop, and Tegra K1 doesn’t have 64 bit support, I have to admit that the performance of this laptop is charming.
Simple and sleek design, good touchpad, 4 GB of RAM, 11 hours of battery life and amazing 1080p display, it has everything you want from a value laptop. On top of that, with base price as low as $299 on Amazon, this Chromebook of Acer is worth every cent. However, if you are planning to buy a cheap laptop, but can’t decide what to get, reading our review on Chromebook 13 surely will give you some idea.
- Simple and stylish design
- Anti-glare full HD screen
- Long battery life
- Comfortable keyboard and touchpad
- Runs cool and quiet
- Relatively powerful processor
- Good built-in graphics
- Moderate performance
- Poor viewing angles
- Plastic built
- Somewhat heavy for a 13 inch laptop
- Limited offline functionality of Chrome OS
- Limited apps
- Compatibility issue of NVIDIA processor
- Brand: Acer
- Series: Chromebook 13
- Model: CB5-311
- Processor: Quad core NVIDIA Tegra K1 CD570M-A1
- Graphics: Integrated Tegra K1 Kepler GPU
- Memory: 4GB DDR3L SDRAM
- SSD: 16GB
- HDD: none
- Optical Drive: none
- Display Type: Active Matrix TFT Color LCD
- Screen Size: 13.3 inch
- Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (16:9)
- Audio: Two stereo speakers
- Keyboard: Island style keyboard without numeric keys
- Navigation: 4.1 x 2.4 inch touchpad
- Webcam: HD webcam with 1280 x 720 pixels resolution
- Video Ports: HDMI
- Audio Ports: Headphone / Mic
- USB: 2x USB 3.0
- Media Ports: SD memory card reader
- Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11ac
- Bluetooth: 4.0
- Ethernet: none
- Width: 12.9 inch / 32.76 cm
- Depth: 9 inch / 22.86 cm
- Height: 0.7 inch / 1.7 cm
- Weight: 3.3 pounds / 1.5 kg
- Battery: 4 cell Lithium Ion 3220 mAh
- Battery Life: 11 Hours
- Operating System: 32 bit Chrome OS
- Warranty: 1 year
- Base Price: $299 at Amazon
Build and Design
To be honest, the Chromebook 13 is the most stylish Chromebook from Acer till now. The design is slim, simple and elegant. It has bright all white finish and matte outlook. The top side of the lid is decorated with Chrome and Acer logos. The whole body is made of plastic. But don’t think the build is weak. Though they used plastic everywhere, the laptop is well built and Acer used really good quality plastic. As we tested, light scratching or dirt doesn’t leave any mark.
Beside the nice island style design, the keyboard is comfortable as well. The keyboard followed standard Chrome layout. So it has search key instead of caps lock, which you can manually change if necessary. There are multimedia and shortcut keys like volume, brightness, window switch, browser controls are on the top row. The keys are comfortable and give good feedback on every stroke.
However, if you look closely, you can see some of the keys are misaligned. Also, these keys are not made to take hard pounding, which will remind you the price of the laptop. And of course, as the laptop is really cheap, it is unnecessary to mention that the keyboard has no backlit.
Though we are not really happy with the keyboard, but on the other hand, the touchpad of this Chromebook is top class. The touchpad gives really good responsiveness for both single and multi-touch gestures. The size of the pad is 4.1 x 2.4 inch, which is also quite big and spacious. The surface of the pad is sleek, so you can glide your fingers easily. Overall, comparing with other Chromebook, this one has the best touchpad so far.
Like any other Chromebook, the connectivity feature of this laptop is quite simple and limited.
Acer Chromebook 13 is equipped with a 13.3 inch screen. Despite the poor viewing angle, this display features Acer’s ComfyView anti-glare technology and matte surface, so it is not hard to read the screen while on the outside, even on a sunny day. The surprising fact of the screen is its resolution. Though it was kind of unnecessary for a 13.3 incher, the resolution of the screen is 1920 x 1080.
Acer Chromebook 13 is the first laptop having both NVIDIA processor and Chrome operating system. Along with 2.1 GHz quad core Tegra K1 processor, the laptop also has 4 GB of DDR3 memory, 1080p screen and a 16 GB solid state drive.
The NVIDIA Tegra K1 is an ARM based processor, which you may already noticed in some high end tablets and smart phones. To be precise, NVIDIA used four ARM cortex A15 cores as the main processing unit for the Tegra K1. The processor also has 2 MB level 2 Cache which is also pretty decent. As we see in the benchmark, the performance of the processor is better than Intel Celeron 2955U and almost similar to Intel Core i3 4005U. However, sadly this processor doesn’t have 64 bit computing support. So, it won’t be possible to install a 64 bit operating system in the future.
The graphics performance of the Chromebook 13 is remarkable. The integrated graphics chip came with the main processor. It is a Kepler based graphics card with 192 NVIDIA CUDA cores, 8 TMUs and 4 ROPs which is almost similar to NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M and Intel HD 4400. With this graphics card, you will be able to play almost every game supported by Chrome OS.
Surprisingly, Acer Chromebook 13 offers Fanless design. So regardless of load, the laptop will always run quietly. Also, as we tested, it doesn’t really generate much heat. You will be able to use it on lap all the time without any problem.
Acer Chromebook 13 has a 4 cell lithium ion 3220 mAh battery. According to Acer, the battery should last 11 hours long. But so far, we could get 9 hours out of it. Though we didn’t get as we were promised, personally I think 9 hours of battery life is decent for a value laptop.
The base price of this laptop is $299 on Amazon, but if you want, you can get 2GB extra ram and 16 GB of extra storage space for $80. Moreover, if you don’t think you need a 1080p screen, you can downgrade it to a 1366 x 768 pixels screen and save $20.
Though Windows is still the mainstream operating system, Chrome OS is getting popular every day. Basically, Chrome OS is made for laptop users with basic need. So, instead of Windows 8’s sophisticated look and touchscreen optimization, Chrome OS offers a simple and extremely easy user interface.
In Chrome OS, there is a menu button, which is very similar to older Windows’s start button. At the bottom of the screen, there is a bar similar to taskbar where you can pin apps of your choice, while basic settings like internet, Wi-Fi and time are on the right side of the bar.
Though you won’t be able to install software and games you used to have on your PC, you will be able to use almost all apps along with games available on the Google play store. However, offline facilities of the Chrome OS are somewhat limited. You will be able to run the laptop without an internet connection, but most of the apps require internet connection. So, you in the end, there won’t be much to do on Chrome OS without internet.
There are some compatibility issues and the processor is not as powerful as Intel Core “I” series, but the overall performance of the laptop is really good comparing with other value laptops. Anyway, Acer Chromebook 13 is not what we were promised, and it certainly isn’t the best or most powerful laptop on the market. However, it manages to redeem itself with stylish design, decent battery life, a sharp screen, and most importantly, an affordable price. So, if you are looking for a cheap laptop and interested in Chromebook, this 13 incher of Acer can be the right thing for you.