Acer’s place in the laptop industry is a strange one. For a long time, the brand was associated with budget laptops and often shared design elements with its Taiwanese rival, Asus. Recently, though, the company seems to have found its niche, and in an unlikely place.
Acer now makes some of the best Chromebooks on the market, ranging from the premium Chromebook Spin 713 to the super affordable Chromebook R11. It clearly knows it’s on to something and is releasing three new Chromebooks this week at CES: the Chromebook Spin 513, Chromebook Spin 315, and Chromebook Spin 314.
In case you were wondering, the reason this trio is being unpacked before the CES festivities begin is that they don’t rely on new Intel, AMD, or Nvidia chips. These are more budget-friendly than the Spin 713, so instead of Intel Core, they use MediaTek and Intel Pentium/Celeron CPUs. Anyone who has heard those words uttered knows these aren’t meant to be performance beasts, but remember, Chrome OS tends to run just fine on lesser hardware. If that doesn’t bother you, then let’s take a closer look at each model.
The Spin 513 is the most intriguing of the three. Not because it’s the most expensive, but because it costs $599 (not exactly cheap for a Chromebook) yet runs on a MediaTek Kompanio 1380 processor.
What the hell is that? I hear you asking. It turns out, MediaTek made a line of chips specifically for Chromebooks and named them Kompanio (1,000 points to anyone who knew that). I haven’t tested one of these before, but $599 for a laptop with a MediaTek chip doesn’t sound like a winning recipe. But then, if the processor can run Google’s famously lightweight operating system and most Android apps without any hiccups, maybe we shouldn’t care too much about the numbers.
That’s a big if, though. MediaTek hasn’t exactly lit up the scoreboard with its laptop processors, so let’s hope this “Kompanio” is a significant step forward. It will get an assist from 8GB of dual-channel DDR4X RAM and is paired with integrated Arm Mali-G57 MC5 graphics.
If the MediaTek chip doesn’t end up being a bottleneck then the Spin 513 could be a great mid-range Chromebook, at least based on its other features and specs. One that stands out most is the 13.5-inch, 2256 x 1504 display with a 3:2 aspect ratio. That should offer plenty of detail, and if it’s the same one found in the Spin 713 then we’re in for a treat. The aluminum convertible laptop is also relatively portable at 0.6 inches thick and 2.8 pounds and passed MIL-STD 810H durability tests.
Acer claims the battery lasts for 10 hours on a charge; I’ll be honest, I was anticipating a longer runtime given what I suspect is a low-power processor. We’ll see how it holds up in our battery test, but anything below 10 hours would be a disappointment.
The Chromebook Spin 513 will be available in North America in June 2022 starting at $599.
If you want a larger screen, the Chromebook 315 sports a 15.6-inch, 1080p anti-glare display available in either non-touch or touch options. This is a standard 16:9 panel so it is better for watching movies than scrolling web pages. There are three processor options: an Intel Celeron N4500, Celeron N5100, or Pentium Silver N6000.
These pair with 8GB of DDR4 RAM, UHD graphics, and either 64GB or 128GB of eMMC storage. What those specs say is that the Chromebook Spin 315 was made to get a portable 15-inch Chromebook into customers’ hands for as little money as possible. But if even this thing isn’t large enough, check out the Chromebook Spin 317, which has, you guessed it, a 17-inch display.
While the Spin 315 isn’t powerful, it is fairly portable at 0.8 inches and 3.5 pounds. Better yet, there is enough room on its chassis for a USB-A port and four USB-C inputs, two on each side. Again, Acer rates the Chromebook 315's battery life at a respectable 10 hours.
The Chromebook Spin 315 will be available in North America this month starting at $300.
Let me spare you the suspense: the Chromebook 314 is essentially the Chromebook 315 but with a 14-inch display. You get the same processor options, battery life is also 10 hours, and the chassis passed military-grade durability tests.
The main difference is that the Chromebook 314 has a 14-inch, 1080p anti-glare touchscreen display versus the 15.6-inch panel on the larger model. Also, based on the images, dual speakers flank the keyboard whereas the 315 cramps in a numpad instead.
Geared more toward students, the Chromebook 314 will be available in June starting at $299.