Acer laptops don’t always stand out from the crowd, but there are two things the company consistently does well: make excellent Chromebooks and offer great value. Acer’s newest laptop, the Chromebook Spin 514, checks both boxes, positioning itself as the go-to recommendation for those who want a premium laptop at a budget-friendly price.
I haven’t tested the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 yet, so the laptop could still hit a hurdle upon release, but this seems like a strong entry looking at the specs and price alone. The standout feature of the Spin 514 is the new AMD Ryzen 5000 C-series processors, which should provide a huge performance jump over the previous model and rival the speeds of the pricier Intel-based Chromebook Spin 713. It is joined by a portable metal design, a 1080p display, and a few other welcome features.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 514 will be available in the third quarter of this year at a starting price of $579 when equipped with an AMD Ryzen 3 5125C CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD.
The Chromebook Spin 514 isn’t the most exciting-looking device. To put it gently, it looks utilitarian. What it does offer is durability and quality materials: the Spin 514 has aluminum top and bottom covers and was certified to military-grade STD 810H durability standards.
There are some pleasing angles on the deck and some fancy chrome trim, but that’s about it—this is your basic black-on-silver convertible with chunky display bezels. At 3.3 pounds and 0.63 inches, the Spin 514 is as portable as most premium laptops in this class, and shouldn’t add much weight to your backpack as you haul it to your next class.
What’s most exciting about the Spin 514 boils down to three letters: AMD. The laptop uses newly announced Ryzen 5000 C-series chips, Chromebook-specific versions of AMD’s Barcelo: Zen 3 APU refresh. If that’s all gibberish, it means the Spin 514 should be faster than any AMD-powered Chromebook before it—and the margin should be huge. In fact, AMD says the flagship Ryzen 7 5825C chip boasts 67% better web browsing performance than the previous Ryzen 7 3700C, and supposedly tops Intel’s 11th Gen chips.
We need to validate those results ourselves, but I’m rather optimistic given the excellent performance we’ve seen from AMD-powered laptops over the past year or so. As always, your mileage may vary, because the Spin 514 starts with a Ryzen 3 5125C and goes up to a Ryzen 7 5825C. The latter is the very first eight-core, x86 CPU for Chromebooks. These chips are paired with 16GB of LPDDR4 RAM and up to a 256GB SSD.
Each of these chips will be powerful enough to stream your favorite shows or movies, which are showcased on a 14-inch, 1080p display. There’s nothing special about this panel, and in fact, it’s one of the few remaining 16:9 screens in its category. I’d personally prefer a taller aspect ratio, and hope the next version shifts to at least 16:10.
Some nice perks not found on every Chromebook are a Gorilla glass-coated touchpad, an optional backlit keyboard, and a 1080p webcam. You also get two USB-C ports, a USB-A port, a headphone jack, and an HDMI connection (that last one is only on some units, apparently).
Acer rates the Chromebook Spin 514's battery life at up to 10 hours, which has me worried. If it is 10 hours, that would be only slightly above average for Chromebooks. However, laptop makers have a tendency to exaggerate by using outdated benchmarks. I’d be surprised if I saw similar results in my own testing, which more closely mimics real-world runtimes. We should find out in the coming month once Acer sends us a review sample.