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Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 review: A premium Chrome-powered portable?
9:00 pm | April 2, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Chromebooks Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops | Comments: Off

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34: Two-minute review

Google wants to push its Chromebook laptops a little upmarket and to do that it's pairing up with several big brands. The latest member of this initiative is the new Asus Chromebook Plus CX34, an Intel-powered 14-inch model.

Google is calling this new class of devices "Chromebook Plus" and it's a little like Intel's Evo standard. The idea is to dictate some minimum standards of performance and features to ensure a certain level of user experience. That applies to both hardware and software.

On the hardware side, that means at least an Intel Core i3 chip or an AMD Ryzen processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1080p screen. This Asus laptop meets all that with its Intel Core i3-1215U CPU, 8GB of DDR5 memory, 256GB of UFS storage, and a 14-inch 1080p screen.

As for software, Google builds its Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps into the OS, so they all work without needing an internet connection. Meanwhile syncing both to and from Google Drive works seamlessly. Google has also built in some extra features, including webcam enhancements like background blurring and noise cancellation that work at the OS level - and will therefore work natively with any video calling platform.

The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 photographed on a tan carpet.

(Image credit: Future)

You can, of course, run most Android apps from the Google Play Store too, though the lack of a touchscreen can be problematic for apps designed to run on smartphones. More broadly, Google is making a few AI-related claims about these Chromebook Plus machines. But the hardware is nothing special in that regard, so that's a bit of a stretch.

Anyway, as a physical specimen, the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34's all-plastic chassis feels mostly sturdy barring a slightly bouncy keyboard bed. The styling is pretty bland and the screen bezels are hardly minimalist. It's not exactly ultra-thin or ultra-sleek, either, and there isn't much about the design that communicates the intended upmarket vibe. 

Overall performance is reasonable from the Intel chip. But this remains an entry-level device in performance terms and we can't help thinking that Chromebooks are better suited to more efficient and cheaper ARM-powered CPUs.

It's worth noting that only the highest spec model comes with a proper M.2 SSDs. Our test system was specified with generic flash storage. And of course, the usual ChromeOS limitations that apply to all the best Chromebooks remain for those who want to run Windows applications. All of which makes this a worthy enough device that offers reasonable value. But it's not cheap enough to be truly compelling.

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34: Price and availability

  • How much does it cost?  $394.99 / £429 (about AU$610)
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US and UK but not yet listed in Australia

The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 looks like good value compared with similarly-specced Windows laptops like the Lenovo IdeaPad 3. It meets the Chromebook Plus required specifications at a pretty appealing price - but the lack of touchscreen functionality is conspicuous compared to some alternatives, like the Acer Chromebook Spin 714.

Notionally, you're getting better performance than most similarly priced Chromebooks. But in practice, it's debatable how much CPU grunt matters on a device like this, and a Chromebook with a lesser CPU but a touchscreen and sleeker design like Asus's own Chromebook Flip series will arguably be preferable for many users. 

  • Price: 4 / 5

The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 photographed with the lid closed.

(Image credit: Future)

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34: Specs

While this is the only configuration currently available at the time of writing, Asus will be offering several other CPU, SSD, memory, and screen options. You will be able to upgrade to 10-core Intel Core i5 and i7 chips, a touchscreen, and up to 512GB of storage. However, the most significant option is arguably 16GB of RAM. That will come in handy for anyone who likes to open lots of browser tabs or indulge in heavy multitasking.

It's also worth noting that you'll need that 512GB storage upgrade to get a proper M.2 SSD. The 128GB and 256GB options make do with generic UFS flash drives with much lower bandwidth. Of course, any of these upgrades will add to the price and arguably detract from the appeal of the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34, which majors on price.

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34: Design

  • Slightly generic design
  • Sturdy build quality
  • Good connectivity

The whole point of Google's Chromebook Plus standard is to deliver a new class of devices that can compete directly with full-feature Windows laptops. It's a premium alternative to cheaper Chromebooks.

However, in design terms, the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 has a pretty bland and basic aesthetic. The plastic chassis is sturdy enough, though the keyboard bed is a little bouncy. But the relatively large screen bezels and slightly boxy chassis don't make for a terribly slick or contemporary vibe. That design also means that this 14-inch laptop isn't especially compact, though at 1.44 kg (3.17 lbs) it is reasonably light for a 14-incher.

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The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 photographed on a tan carpet.

(Image credit: Future)
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The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 photographed on a white desk.

(Image credit: Future)
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The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 photographed on a white desk.

(Image credit: Future)

Still, with two USB-C ports, two USB-A sockets, HDMI, and 3.5mm audio, connectivity is reasonable. More of a highlight is the integrated 1080p webcam. It's a definite step above most laptop webcams, even on much more expensive machines. It also has a physical shutter for guaranteed privacy.

That said, the webcam doesn't support facial recognition and there's also no fingerprint reader, so security is password-based. It's worth noting that this is a conventional laptop with no touchscreen functionality as reviewed, nor a 360-degree hinge. We're back to that basic vibe, again.

The trackpad is reasonably proportioned and there's nothing conspicuously wrong with the overall design. But the vibe is slightly dated and dreary. All of this means it's hard to get excited about the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 just based on its looks. If worthy and workmanlike is your thing, this Asus delivers. But if you're expecting Google's new Chromebook Plus platform to automatically translate into something slick and premium, you'll be disappointed.

  • Design: 3 / 5

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34: Performance

  • Intel CPU gets the job done
  • Screen and webcam are both decent
  • Google's AI pretensions are just that
Asus Chromebook Plus CX34: Benchmarks

Here's how the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Geekbench 5:  1,458 (single-core), 4,507 (multi-core)
Mozilla Kraken (fewer is better): 
JetStream 2 (higher is better): 242
Octane 2.0: 83,372
WebGL Acquarium 30,000 fish: 45fps
TechRadar battery life test: 10h 21m

Thanks to a proper Intel Core CPU, albeit the fairly lowly Intel Core i3-1215U with two Performance cores and four Efficient, the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 has the basic performance to take on full-feature Windows laptops. The question is whether it matters.

Google is promoting the offline capabilities of these Chromebook Plus devices, promising double the performance of typical low-cost Chromebooks. Google even makes a pitch for these devices as content creation machines, including video editing.

But that's pretty unrealistic, as is the AI narrative Google is attaching to these Chromebook Plus laptops. The Intel CPU is decent, to be sure, but it doesn't have any particular AI capabilities since it lacks a dedicated NPU. So, any remotely significant AI work will be done in the cloud.

The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 photographed on a white desk.

(Image credit: Future)

It's also worth noting that if you're the sort of web browser that likes to have a zillion tabs open, this 8GB model won't cut it and you should opt for the 16GB upgrade which should be available soon. As I noted earlier, you'll need to upgrade to 512GB of storage for a proper M.2 SSD as opposed to the generic UFS flash storage in this model.

But short of running out of RAM, general system responsiveness is good. Realistically, most people will use a laptop like this for web browsing and web apps, plus some content consumption. And they'll find it's well up to the task.

As for the 14-inch display, it offers decent working space thanks to 1080p native resolution. Brightness is decent at 250 nits, and the colors are reasonably vibrant. But compared to, say, a typical tablet, it's nothing special for image quality or pixel density. The integrated speakers, meanwhile, are pretty terrible. The volume levels are OK, but the sound quality is horribly thin.

That said, one of the better hardware features is the 1080p webcam. It has much better image quality than most laptops, even far more expensive machines. It also benefits from operating-system level processing, including background blur and noise cancellation, which can be applied to any video calling or conferencing application.

Overall, the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 has the basic grunt to take on lower-cost Windows laptops thanks to its Intel CPU. But given that Chrome OS will run just as happily on a cheaper and more efficient ARM CPU, it's hard to see the logic in paying the Intel premium.

  • Performance: 3.5 / 5

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34: Battery life

The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 photographed on a white desk.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Medium-sized battery
  • But decent light-usage battery life

At 50Whrs, the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 doesn't have the biggest battery. Nor do Intel CPUs have the best reputation when it comes to operating away from a wall outlet. But perhaps thanks to the efficiency and minimal bloat of the Chrome OS operating system, battery life in light usage is decent, with over 10 hours of movie playback possible.

You'll get a lot less than that if you put any real amount of load on that Intel CPU, so bear that in mind if you're planning to run demanding software. But given the modest price point, the battery life is in line with expectations.

  • Battery life: 4 / 5

Should you buy the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34?

Buy it if...

You want a sturdy, reliable, and cheap laptop
The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 doesn't look exciting. But it's well built, has a decent screen, a good webcam, and reasonable battery life.

You don't need Windows
If what you want to do with a laptop mainly revolves around accessing your Google account and apps, the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 gets the job done.

Don't buy it if...

You want something sleek and slick
The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34's design is a little dated, with fairly large bezels and a boxy chassis design.

You want a movie machine
If you're looking for something to take on trips and holidays for watching Netflix in your Airbnb, look elsewhere. The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34's built-in speakers are terrible.

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34: Also consider

If our Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 review has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider...  

How I tested the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34

  • Used for a week in place of my usual laptop
  • Office work, general web use, Android apps, media playback
  • Ran the Techradar benchmark suite

I spent a week with the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 giving it full reign over my Google account and running all my usual apps from web browsing to photo editing. Of course, there was a spot of YouTubing and Netflixing, too, plus our suite of more formal benchmarks. I also tested the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34's battery life for both general usage and light content consumption off the mains.

Along with assessing objective performance, the aim was to get a feel for how this Chromebook stands up as an all-round replacement for a conventional Windows laptop. Just how does Google's Chromebook Plus standard stack up?

Read more about how we test

First reviewed March 2024

Acer Chromebook Plus 515 review: a solid first step in the Plus line
4:00 pm | October 1, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Chromebooks Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Acer Chromebook Plus 515: Two-minute review

The Acer Chromebook Plus 515 is part of Google’s starting lineup for its Chromebook Plus selection, which is its new standard for Chromebooks that includes updated hardware and software. It could easily stand to be one of the best student Chromebooks and even one of the best Chromebooks out there.

Though the design is similar to its predecessor, the Acer Chromebook 515, the Plus 515 sports a slightly cleaner and sleeker look. Both the keyboard and touchpad have a satisfying snap, with the latter’s high responsiveness making it genuinely enjoyable to use.

Coupled with those is the display, a 15.6-inch full HD (1920x1080) display with IPS, 16:9 aspect ratio, and integrated multi-touch. While those using the Chromebook Plus 515 for productivity work may not have a use for a large and high-definition screen, gamers certainly will. 

Though both native gaming and game streaming run roughly the same on each Chromebook in terms of fps, the Chromebook Plus 515 having a display practically made for gaming ensures that even AAA titles like Baldur’s Gate 3 or Starfield look their best when streamed. And thanks to it supporting the Wi-Fi 6E connectivity, games will run even faster with lower latency if you make the upgrade. With how smoothly it plays some of the best PC games and how gorgeous the display is, it could easily stand to be one of the best gaming laptops out there. 

The port selection is a bit sparse, disappointing since I would assume that the Chromebook Plus’ spec upgrade would mean more than one Type-A USB port, but at least it comes with two Type-C ports, an HDMI port, and a headset jack. Missing is an Ethernet port, which would have rounded out the selection nicely.

The webcam quality is pretty middling, nothing offensive but hardly worth mentioning. There are built-in AI tools that enhance video quality with improved lighting, noise cancellation, and more, but it doesn’t actually improve the visual quality of what’s supposed to be 1080p HD video at 60 fps unless you already have excellent lighting in your home or work office. One major positive, however, is that it includes a physical shutter right on the camera — absolutely ideal for privacy.

The sound quality is much better, thankfully, which is most likely due to the speakers being located on either side of the keyboard. Whether it’s classical music, a conference call, a streamed movie, or a video game, the audio is both crisp and sharp while avoiding muddiness or tinniness.

Practical performance between the Plus 515 version of this Chromebook versus the original 515 is like night and day. The Acer Chromebook Plus 515 is an absolute breeze to set up, with a single update when you first start your laptop and any updates after that running in the background. It takes mere seconds to start from complete shutdown and practically instantaneous from sleep mode. Benchmark scores are nearly identical to other, more expensive Chromebook models, which gives me high hopes for how future superior models will perform.

Acer Chromebook Plus 515: Price and availability

chromebook plus laptop sitting on bed

(Image credit: Future)
  • How much does it cost? $399.99 / £399.99 (around AU$633)
  • When is it available? Available now 
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US and UK 

One of the biggest benefits of the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 is that it comes at a lower MSRP compared to previous models. Its starting price of $399.99 / £399.99 (around AU$633) for the Intel Core i3 version is quite a deal, especially with its specs at least doubled from older models, better components, a superior display, and a host of other built-in software bonuses.

Compared to how much the previous models cost, with the Acer Chromebook 514 priced at $499 (about £380, AU$710) and the Acer Chromebook Vero 514 costing you $599.99 / £699.99 / AU$1,289, the Plus 515 is much more affordable and offers 

There is a downside, however. It’s only available in the US and UK, with availability for other regions unknown right now, including Australia.

  • Valve: 4.5 / 5

Acer Chromebook Plus 515: Specs

chromebook plus laptop sitting on bed

(Image credit: Future)

The Acer Chromebook Plus 515 that was sent to me for review included the following: Intel Core i3-1215U CPU, Intel UHD Graphics GPU, 8GB RAM, and 128GB of storage.

As with any other Chromebook, this particular model cannot be reconfigured. However, there will be future models with different configurations and price points to choose from, including and up to a 13th-Gen Intel Core CPU.

Acer Chromebook Plus 515: Design

chromebook plus laptop sitting on bed

(Image credit: Future)
  • Great keyboard and touchpad
  • A little heavier and thicker than other models
  • Great sound quality

At first glance, the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 looks like any other Chromebook, with a grey chassis and the Google logo in the top corner. It does have a sleeker feel to it with a slightly thinner chassis than the Acer Chromebook Vero 514, though it weighs a bit more than other older Chromebook models, mostly likely thanks to the large screen size. 

It’s especially heavier and thicker than the original Acer Chromebook 515 model, though the screen size, RAM, and storage remain the same between the pair. Due to its size and weight, it’s a bit harder to carry it around, although most medium and larger-sized bags should be up to task.

The keyboard and the touchpad feel satisfying to use, with a nice snap to each keystroke and press of the touchpad. I especially appreciate the width of the keys as it minimizes typos even with larger fingers. And the touchpad is refreshingly accurate, which is ideal for gaming as I discovered while playing Baldur’s Gate 3.

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chromebook plus laptop sitting on bed

(Image credit: Future)
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chromebook plus laptop sitting on bed

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chromebook plus laptop sitting on bed

(Image credit: Future)
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chromebook plus laptop sitting on bed

(Image credit: Future)
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chromebook plus laptop sitting on bed

(Image credit: Future)

It has a balanced enough port selection with one Type-A USB port, two Type-C ports, an HDMI port, and a headset jack. But it’s missing an Ethernet port, and the USB port numbers are lacking, which is disappointing considering that it’s a Chromebook built specifically for the Plus line. I would have expected it to have a superior port selection.

The keyboard doesn’t include a numlock pad due to the speakers on either side of it, though that does mean the audio quality is quite solid. The sound is clear and crisp, with multiple instruments and even vocals distinctive from each other. This makes for great sound quality whether you’re streaming movies, in a conference call, or playing video games. I was genuinely shocked by how good the audio was, in terms of voices, sound design, and music, when I played Baldur’s Gate 3.

On the other end of the quality spectrum is the webcam, which on its own is just not very good, despite it being a 1080p FHD webcam that runs at 60fps. But like many other laptop webcams, without very good lighting it doesn’t hold up well. There are some AI tools that can be downloaded to enhance lighting as well as cancel out extraneous background noise, but those don’t raise the actual quality of the camera image itself. But if you need something solely for work, then this is perfectly suitable. It does have a physical shutter, which is a refreshing rarity among laptops.

  • Design score: 4 / 5

Acer Chromebook Plus 515: Performance

chromebook plus laptop sitting on bed

(Image credit: Future)
  • Performs well for productivity work
  • Games well too
  • Host of new software options

Here's how the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

TechRadar Battery Life Test: 5 hours and 13 minutes
Chromium Github Octane Benchmark: 83,806
Browserbench Jetstream Benchmark: 259
Kraken Benchmark: 478ms
WebGL Aquarium (30,000 fish): 50 fps

Considering the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 is cheaper than many other Chromebook models with similar specs, its benchmark performance being close is quite remarkable. The 30,000 fish version of the WebGL Aquarium benchmark saw initial frame rates between 51-62, with it dipping as low as 47 after a few minutes of running. The Kraken Javascript, Jetstream 2, and Chromium Github Octane benchmark results are also comparable to similar models.

Performance outside of benchmarks is even more impressive. Startup from shutdown is in mere seconds while starting up from sleep mode is nearly instantaneous. The new feature of a single update while setting up with additional ones happening in the background is ingenious – if Windows OS followed suit, it would be a miracle. Running several tasks at once and switching between them is a breeze as well, with no slowdown whatsoever, and that includes playing games with other tasks in the background.

If you have a game streaming service like Nvidia GeForce Now and a solid internet connection, then the Chromebook Plus 515 works well. Gameplay for even AAA titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Baldur’s Gate 3 is super smooth, and the full HD display with 250 nits of brightness only enhances the experience. There’s also Steam Borealis that’s up and running and still in beta, which allows certain titles like Minecraft to run natively in Chrome OS. It works quite well, though the fullscreen mode isn’t completely stable as of right now. 

Of course, like any other Chromebook, Chrome OS can be pretty limiting, as you can only download whatever is on the Google Play store and a good chunk of those apps are made for phones or tablets. The Chromebook Plus selection has been doing its best to combat that with a host of new software and AI-powered features. This ranges from built-in video and photo editing tools to accessibility enhancements to AI features that summarize reports and enhance search results.

The partnership between Google and Adobe also brings with it Firefly, which means that any Chromebook Plus laptop will have Photoshop as well as tons of other video editing and graphic design software coming with it. And from what I tested so far, it all works quite well. Even a memory hog like Adobe Photoshop wasn’t enough to remotely slow down the Plus 515.

  • Performance score: 5 / 5

Acer Chromebook Plus 515: Battery life

chromebook plus laptop sitting on bed

(Image credit: Future)
  • Battery life is disappointing
  • Charges fast

Google claims that the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 will run for up to 10 hours and, unfortunately, I have to dispute said claim. The TechRadar movie battery test results showed me that it can only handle a little over five hours of continuous use before dying, which is quite disappointing for a Chromebook – that’s not even a full workday. Productivity testing has also proven similar results, with a slightly higher battery life.

However, it does have a fast recharge time, needing only a little less than an hour to fully recharge the battery. At least you won’t be glued to the outlet for long, though you may be anyway if you decide to game or stream movies with it.

  • Battery life: 3 / 5

Should you buy the Acer Chromebook Plus 515?

Buy it if...

If you need a productivity machine
This is definitely meant as a productivity machine, not only thanks to its extremely fast startup and ability to juggle multiple tasks without breaking a sweat.

You're eco-conscious
Google has put plenty of effort into making the Chromebook as eco-friendly as possible, with the recycled glass trackpad and the use of recycled plastics in the chassis and keycaps, so if environmentally friendly tech is important to you, this is a great option. 

Don't buy it if...

You need specific software or programs
Chromebook OS is limited to what is available on the Play Store in terms of software so if you need to use very specific numeric, scientific, or creative programs a Chromebook might not be the best choice for you.  

You want a very powerful device
While the specs on this one are higher than many previous models, if you need processing power for creative works and hardcore editing then this isn't the laptop for you.

Acer Chromebook Plus 515: Also consider

If our Acer Chromebook Plus 515 has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider...  

How I tested the Acer Chromebook Plus 515

  • I tested this laptop for about two weeks
  • I tested productivity work, streaming, and gaming
  • I used a variety of benchmark tests and hands-on testing to gauge performance

To test out the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 I used a full suite of Chromebook benchmarks to rank CPU performance on a variety of uses. I also tested out general performance while switching between multiple tasks like productivity work, conference calls, streaming, and more.

This laptop is primarily used for productivity work, which was my main method of testing. However, I also used it for other tasks like streaming and gaming, to see how well it performed.

I’ve tested out many laptops, including Chromebooks, which gives me plenty of experience with properly benchmarking them. I also have extensive knowledge of testing out general performance including productivity and benchmarking.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed October 2023

Acer Chromebook Spin 314 (2023) review: the laptop I wish I’d had as a student
7:13 pm | September 20, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Chromebooks Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops | Tags: | Comments: Off

Acer Chromebook Spin 314 (2023): One-minute review

The single best thing about the Acer Chromebook Spin 314 is how easy it is to take around with you, no matter where you’re off to or what carrier bag you’ve got this laptop will become your most helpful travel companion. I was pleasantly surprised when I first received our review unit of the laptop and was able to slip it into my little tote bag, with room to spare for both the charger and my current paperback of choice. 

In terms of design, for what the Chromebook is offering in terms of simplicity and portability I think it looks like the perfect productive machine. No fancy aesthetics or unnecessary frilly, this is likely my favorite Chromebook design so far, and as a long-time Macbook girl that claim carries a lot of weight coming from me. The Acer Chromebook Spin 314 could be the best laptop for you if all you want is something to work on, maybe watch a few shows, and put away until the next day. 

I worked with this laptop for several days and honestly, it was the most stress-free testing I’ve done in a while. Because it’s so thin and light, I could slip it into my bag and carry on with my life without my shoulders screaming, and with a good 10 hours of battery life sometimes it wouldn’t leave my bag for a day or two purely because there was no rush to plug it in and charge it. As usual, the simple ChromeOS interface is free of any unnecessary apps or clutter and you can boot it up, sign in, and get to work in like 10 minutes right out of the box. 

If you’re looking for the best student Chromebook, you’ve come to the right review. The Acer Chromebook Spin 314 is everything you need and more to get you through the school year without splashing out a frightening amount of cash. The touch display makes reading digital textbooks or annotating notes a breeze, and the glass-like trackpad is a joy to use. 

The Intel Pentium processor inside means you can work and watch at the same time without any impact on performance, making multitasking easier - of course, part of the credit here goes to Google for making ChromeOS such a resource-light operating system. Overall, I really enjoyed my time with the Acer Chromebook Spin 314 and I’m actually quite sad I can’t hold onto it forever. 

Acer Chromebook Spin 314 (2023): Price and availability

  • How much does it cost?  $380 / £329 / around AU$661 
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US and UK, tricky to find in Australia 

Chromebooks are often heralded for their affordability compared to other laptops, and the Acer Chromebook Spin 314 lives up to that and more. This is probably one of the best cheap laptops you can buy right now in terms of pure value for money.

Keep in mind that the cheaper price tag often indicates somewhat limited capabilities, so if you want to play games beyond mobile app games (via the Google Play Store), you’ll have to look elsewhere. 

This sentiment extends to users looking for a device with some serious computing power, as once again, Chromebooks are for your everyday basic tasks - if you want to run resource-intensive software, you’ll need to find something else. For everything this device offers, the price is very reasonable.

  • Price: 5 / 5

Sid view of Acer Chromebook SPIN 314

(Image credit: Muskaan, Future)

Acer Chromebook Spin 314 (2023): Specs

There are a few different models of the Acer Chromebook Spin 314, with our review unit effectively taking the entry-level position. There is actually a cheaper Spin 314 that uses a MediaTek Kompanio processor, but that model is older and uses a slightly different chassis.

As for other models, it's a bit confusing; the US Acer website list a far more expensive model ($679.99) but it's missing some specs, most notably any storage details - and I couldn't find it for sale anywhere, either. As such, I've included only the specs for our standard-model review unit below.

Acer Chromebook Spin 314 (2023): Design

  • Solid, functional chassis
  • Sleek and Stylish
  • Comfortable typing experience 

I absolutely love the design of this laptop. This may be my youth showing, but I think it looks so retro and cute. The silver plastic chassis and overall rounded design remind me of the laptops my dad used to use - and sometimes let me play Minesweeper on - and I think the choice to go 'back to basics' was a smart move on Acer's part. 

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Acer Chromebook Spin 314

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Acer Chromebook Spin 314

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Acer Chromebook Spin 314

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Of course, it wouldn’t be called a Spin if it didn’t spin - well, at least offer some kind of mobility. The full HD touchscreen offers impressively sharp colors without feeling too harsh, and the ability to turn your thin laptop into a slightly chunky tablet thanks to the 360-degree hinge is perfect if you want to snuggle up in bed to binge your favorite shows.

In terms of connectivity, you get a good selection of ports that include two USB-C ports, standard USB-A, and HDMI, so you can hook up quite a few peripherals and also connect it to a monitor if you want a dual-display setup. 

Typing on this laptop is a dream once you get used to the Everything Button (ubiquitous on ChromeOS devices) replacing the caps lock, and as someone who notoriously hates most laptop touchpads, the Acer Chromebook Spin's is very tactile. Also, Acer uses ocean glass in the touchpad's construction, meaning the pad is made of recycled materials - a small but welcome addition that I appreciate.

Although its minimalist appearance might not be for everyone, I can’t really fault the design of the Acer Chromebook Spin 314; it’s probably my favorite Chromebook so far. That's saying a lot, because I’m not very sweet on Chromebooks myself as a committed Macbook girl.

  • Design: 5 / 5

Acer Chromebook Spin 314 (2023): Performance

  • Good performance 
  • Great storage speed
Acer Chromebook Spin 314 (2023): Benchmarks

Here's how the Acer Chromebook Spin 314 (2023) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Mozilla Kraken (fewer is better): 608.1ms
Speedometer: 301
JetStream 2 (higher is better): 213.4 points
TechRadar battery life test: 10h 15m

Of course, the Acer Chromebook Spin 314 runs on Google’s ChromeOS, the easiest system to navigate and learn if you’re just starting out on your laptop journey. It’s suitable for most everyday tasks like browsing the web, collaborating on documents, streaming a favorite show, or just watching YouTube. The laptop is generally geared towards lightweight web-based activities, though that's not to say it isn't a strong contender for our list of best student laptops or even the best Chromebooks

The Acer Chromebook Spin 314 can pull a decent level of speed and computing prowess from its Intel Pentium Silver N6000 processor, and both within the benchmarks and general stress tests - plus frantic multitasking from me trying to do a million things at once - it breezed through everything I threw at it.

This laptop comes with 4 GB of DDR4 memory, which I'd say would be insufficient for a Windows laptop but is less of an issue here. There's also only 128GB of local eMMC storage, which again could be an issue were it not for ChromeOS's reliance on cloud storage via Google Drive. Naturally, these specs are modest overall, but that's not a huge problem for a Chromebook - especially one as competitively priced as this.

Acer Chromebook Spin 314

(Image credit: Future)

I worked on this laptop for a few days and while it was an adjustment to get used to the Everything Button, I’m genuinely sad I have to let go of this laptop. While I was using it I was thinking about my younger self, in school and university, and wondered at how much easier my life could have been if I had my hands on a laptop like this.

I wouldn’t have had to lug around a monstrously heavy machine, and it could've comfortably pulled double duty as an entertainment device in tablet mode. I can’t stress enough how much I recommend this laptop to students. 

If you’re going to be doing an essay-heavy degree, you should be looking at the Acer Chromebook Spin 314. Thanks to Google's cloud ecosystem, you can just pick up where you left off with your coursework on any device. 

Plus, it’s super refreshing to work on a device without all the clutter of regular desktops but still with basically everything you’d need to get through the day. 

  • Performance: 4 / 5

Acer Chromebook Spin 314 (2023): Battery life

Acer Chromebook Spin 314

(Image credit: Future)
  • 10-hour battery life
  • All-day use out of a single full charge 

The battery life of the Acer Chromebook Spin 314 lives up to the 10-hour estimate provided by Acer, clocking in at 10 hours and 15 minutes during our battery life benchmark. 

In the time I spent reviewing it, I only had to charge it twice - which is pretty impressive, and my biggest pet peeve when reviewing laptops is needing to have them constantly plugged in. You can leave the house, work on it all day, then come home and get at least two hours of Netflix time before you have to plug it in again.  

  • Battery life: 4 / 5

Should you buy the Acer Chromebook Spin 314 (2023)?

Buy it if...

You’re a student on a budget
Acer keeps it simple but sweet here: this is a plain laptop that is designed to get you through the day, and for the price you're getting a good, reliable product.

ChromeOS is your thing
ChromeOS has gained popularity and is genuinely a very good operating system, particularly if you work across multiple devices and want to take advantage of the Google ecosystem.  

You’re often on the move
There are lighter machines and smaller machines, but for a 14” laptop this is tough (and cheap) enough to happily withstand the hustle and bustle of commuting.

Don't buy it if...

You need more computing power 

Chromebooks are perfect for day-to-day or low-intensity work, but if you need a machine to run statistical programs or withstand some heavy-duty workloads, this isn't for you. 

You need to use specific programs
If you need to use rendering software, want to dive into animation, or play the latest games, you're not going to be doing that on this - or most other Chromebooks, for that matter. Perhaps a MacBook Air would be a better choice? 

Acer Chromebook Spin 314 (2023): Also consider

If our Acer Chromebook Spin 314 review has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider...  

How I tested the Acer Chromebook Spin 314

  • Several hours a day over the course of a week
  • Office work, general web use, Android games and apps, media playback
  • Techradar benchmark suite, real-world tests, using the laptop for work

I used the Acer Chromebook Spin 314 as my main device for a few days for work and as a personal computer over the weekend, testing it over a week in total. I did all my usual work with it - which mostly comprises word processing, online research, and video calls - and then used it in tablet mode to watch YouTube at home.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed September 2023

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook review
6:05 pm | December 20, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Chromebooks Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Two minute review

Spec Sheet

Here is the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen2 2.55GHz
Graphics: Qualcomm Adreno GPU
Screen: 13.3-inch 1920 x 1080p multitouch OLED, 400 nits
Storage: 128GB eMMC Flash storage
Ports: 2 x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen1, 1 x Pogo pin connector
Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1
Camera (Front): 5MP RGB; (Rear) 8MP RGB w/ autofocus
Weight: 2.24lbs (1.02kg)
Size (W x H x D): 12.04 x 7.35 x 0.28 ins (305.86 x 186.74 x 7.23mm)
Battery: 42WHr w/ Rapid Charge

The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook remains one of the best laptops (and certainly the best Chromebook) you can buy, even now that it's three years old. It still offers a premium experience that many Chromebooks simply can't match - especially thanks to its gorgeous OLED display, which puts more expensive laptops to shame.

Because Chromebooks don't need as much power to run, they don't age as quickly as Windows 11 laptops, and that's especially true of the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook, which launched with incredibly powerful specifications for a Chromebook, including 8GB of RAM, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen2 chip and Wi-Fi 6 support. This made it a brilliant performer when it launched back in 2021, and that remains true today.

At 13.3-inches diagonally, the Duet 5 Chromebook's keyboard is much more like those found on Ultrabooks, which still don't have the most spacious keyboards, but are still much more accessible, and it has a much more comfortable keyboard that its predecessor, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook.

At this size and with a 16:9 screen ratio, though, this is much more of a laptop that can operate as a tablet, as it is a bit unwieldy. This is in contrast to last year's 10.1-inch, 16:10 ratio model, which was a better tablet than a laptop, owing to the cramped keyboard.

The keys on the Duet 5 Chromebook keyboard aren't backlit, like its predecessor, and the keyboard itself is still pretty flimsy, also like its predecessor. 

The trackpad could also be better. Our fingers encountering enough friction to give us some uneven swiping and gesturing, but it's not bad enough that you can't get used to it and adjust the amount of pressure you're applying appropriately.

The other accessibility criticism we had of last year's Duet Chromebook – that the magnetic kickstand could be a pain to extend at times – still remains. 

A pullable tab or lanyard here could easily fix this deficiency, but it looks like we might have to wait until next year for a better design here (or, you can pick up Microsoft's Surface Adaptive Kit, which will work with any device, not just the Microsoft Surface Pro 8).

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Lenovo ThinkPad Duet 5 Chromebook

(Image credit: Future)
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Lenovo ThinkPad Duet 5 Chromebook

(Image credit: Future)
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Lenovo ThinkPad Duet 5 Chromebook

(Image credit: Future)
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Lenovo ThinkPad Duet 5 Chromebook

(Image credit: Future)
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Lenovo ThinkPad Duet 5 Chromebook

(Image credit: Future)

The magnetized backplate on Duet 5 Chromebook also has a small cutaway for a Lenovo Active Pen stylus to clip to the back, but the stylus isn't bundled with the device by default, and even when it is included it will cost extra.

Speaking of costs, one of the best things about last year's Duet Chromebook was its price. Starting at $279 / £279 / AU$424, the smaller Duet Chromebook was a fantastic value for the price.

This year's Duet 5 Chromebook is more expensive, starting at $429 ($499 as tested), and AU$799 in Australia. Unfortunately, the UK is in for a tough time as Duet 5 Chromebook starts at an eye-popping £899

We're hoping that this is only a temporary issue, and we've reached out to Lenovo for some context for the extraordinary price differential in the UK. We'll update this review if we hear back from the company. UK pricing aside, the increased price of the Duet 5 Chromebook isn't unexpected given its larger size and improve hardware.

In terms of improved hardware, we need to start with the display. Last year's Duet Chromebook was a 1,920 x 1,200 LCD IPS panel, which was outstanding for a 10.1-inch screen. 

The Duet 5 Chromebook is a step down in resolution to 1,920 x 1,080, but the panel is upgraded to OLED, making it exceptionally bright and vibrant. While both Duets are rated for 400 nits of brightness, the difference with an OLED display is simply incredible.

The OLED display alone more than justifies the increase in price, and the fact that it starts at only $429 in the US makes this a fantastic deal. Even when bumping up to the 8GB RAM configuration for $499, you still get a 13.3-inch 2-in-1 Chromebook with a 1080p OLED display for under $500, which is pretty much unheard of – and it's worth every penny.


Here is how the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
Kraken JavaScript: 1,845ms
Octane 2.0 JavaScript: 23,798
Jetstream 2: 83.4
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 16 hours 20 minutes

The display isn't the only thing that got an upgrade this year, with the Duet 5 Chromebook stepping up to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen2 processor from the MediaTek P60T chip in last year's Duet Chromebook.

Both of these are high-efficiency ARM-based chips, so neither is going to pack the same kind of raw performance as an Intel Core i3 processor, which some of the beefier Chromebooks feature. 

The Snapdragon 7c Gen2 is still a huge improvement over the MediaTek P60T. The Snapdragon 7c Gen2 finished the Kraken JavaScript benchmark in 1,845ms, compared to the MediaTek P60T's time of 3,940ms. That's just better than twice as fast as last year's Duet Chromebook.

Still, the Snapdragon 7c Gen2 is lagging in terms of benchmarks vis a vis other Chromebooks, but it still felt reasonable snappy when we were actually using it. So unless you're really looking to directly compare the Duet 5 Chromebook against the Asus Chromebook Flip C536, Google Pixelbook, or the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, you're not likely to see any performance lag – though it will still be there.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook review
1:01 pm | October 7, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Chromebooks Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: October 2020
• Still on sale and new models also available
• Launch price:
$339 / £299 / AU$499
• Official price now: $349 / £399 / AU$549

Update: February 2024. We originally reviewed the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 back in 2020, and since then Lenovo has released several new iterations of the Chromebook. However, you can still buy the 2020 model we reviewed here, and while the price has slightly risen since the initial review (thanks, inflation), it is substantially cheaper than newer IdeaPad Flex models, which are premium Chromebooks with prices to match. This is why we still believe that this version of the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 remains one of the best student laptops you can buy.

Two-minute review

If context matters, the most critical qualifier concerning the new Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook is cash. This thing is cheap. At under £300 in the UK and less than $350 Stateside (around AU$500), it’s affordable enough to earn some leeway when it comes to expectations.

Which is handy, because there are one or two shortcomings you really can’t miss. The most obvious is the Flex 3’s 11-inch screen. Given the tablet convertible 2-in-1 remit, diminutive proportions aren’t automatically an issue. They could be an advantage. In this case? Not so much, thanks to some hugola bezels including an exceptionally elephantine chin. 

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3

(Image credit: Future)

The net result is not only a conspicuously old fashioned-looking device but also one that’s bigger than it might otherwise be. The 1,366 by 768 pixel native resolution of the screen is likewise a reminder of an earlier era. In fact, the old school vibe extends beyond the screen. Aesthetically, everything from chassis to keyboard gives the impression of being somewhat oblivious to the last decade of laptop design.

With the exception of the 360 degree hinge, that is. It’s solidly executed and marks a literal and metaphorical turning point around which the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook transitions to its strengths. This is a very solid feeling device, especially given the price point, with a remarkably rigid body. 

The Flex 3 is also decked out with impressive connectivity. Both sides of the chassis sport USB-C and USB-A sockets, which are complimented on the left by a micoSD card reader and headphone jack on the left and a volume rocker and power switch on the right. We just wish the latter was located inside near the keyboard. It’s all too simple to accidentally bump it when switching between tablet and laptop modes.

If the sheer quality of the Flex 3 is surprising, its core specifications are less so. Processing power comes from an Intel Celeron N4020 CPU. That’s a dual-core chip derived from Intel’s low-power and low-cost Atom line of processors, rather than the premium high performance Core family.

Alongside the Celeron chip is 4GB of system memory and just 64GB of eMMC-style storage. All told, it’s a pretty unimpressive technical line up that represents a bottom-rung Intel-powered solution. Were this a Windows laptop or convertible, that would be enough to have us running for the hills. However, the Chrome OS environment is both less demanding and also cloud-centric. So, outright performance and local storage are not as critical.

All of which means that the subjective experience is much better than you’d get in the Windows environment with the same hardware. The Lenovo Flex 3 feels pretty responsive, whether it’s streaming video or working in Google Docs. In tablet mode, the touchscreen functionality is fairly slick, with only occasional stuttering from the interface when swiping or scrolling.

As for battery life, this is one seriously long lasting machine, notching up over 16 hours of video playback.

Ultimately, it all comes back to that context. This is not a high performance device. But when you factor in price, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook is both surprisingly effective and appealing, and one of the best Chromebooks right now.

Spec Sheet

Here is the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 1.1GHz Intel Celeron N4020 (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 2.8GHz Burst)
Graphics:  Intel UHD Graphics 600
Screen: 11-inch IPS touchscreen, 1,366 x 768 pixels
Storage: 64GB eMMC SSD
Ports: 2x USB-C with charging, 2x USB-A 3.1 Gen1, microSD
Connectivity: 802.11AC (2 x 2) WiFi, Bluetooth® 4.2
Camera: 720p webcam
Weight: 2.64 pounds ( 1.2kg)
Size: 0.7 x 11.41 x 8.18 inches (17.8 x 290 x 207.8mm; H x W x D)

Price and availability

At $339 (£299, AU$499) the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook packs quite a punch. It’s full-function 2-in-1 with an 11-inch IPS display and excellent build quality. It makes the likes of Google’s now defunct Pixelbook look incredibly expensive.

Of course, there are now numerous affordable 2-in-1 Chromebooks to choose from, including the Acer Chromebook Spin. The general theme in that class of Chromebook involves low-power processing and limited storage. The Flex 3 is no exception.

Meanwhile, alternatives such as the Asus Chromebook Flip and HP Chromebook X360 demonstrate what a little more cash will buy. But the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 has carved out a little niche of its own thanks to that particularly good build quality and some good features including dual USB-C ports.

Design and features

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3

(Image credit: Future)

Rounding out the main features, wireless connectivity takes the form of WiFi 802.11 AC and Bluetooth 4.2. Cutting edge, the Flex 3 is not. But the core functionality is all present.

De-box, power up and it’s initially hard to look past those bezels. The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook has some pretty epic borders around its 11-inch touch-capable display. The lower chin, in particular, is enormous.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3

(Image credit: Future)

The immediate consequence is a device a full size larger than it would be with more modern bezels. It’s around the same proportions as many 13-inch laptops. Arguably, that’s not ideal for a device that also doubles as a tablet. The smaller generally the better when holding tablet devices.

The Flex 3 also looks a little dated. That’s not just a function of those bezels. The limited 1,366 by 768 screen resolution adds to that impression. As does the general design aesthetic. Trendy and slick the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook most certainly is not.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3

(Image credit: Future)

But what it doesn’t feel is cheap. The chassis is extremely rigid and the 360-degree hinge that allows this machine to transform into a tablet feels robust. That sense of engineering quality extends to the keyboard, which has plenty of keystroke and a really solid base. There are far, far more expensive laptops which lack keyboards of this quality.

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Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3

(Image credit: Future)
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Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3

(Image credit: Future)

The dual USB-C sockets, which both support charging, are another feature you might not expect on such an affordable machine. Not only do they allow you to both charge and connect peripherals via USB-C at the same time. Situating a port on each side of the chassis gives you total flexibility when you plug into the wall. A minor detail, perhaps, but you’ll occasionally be very thankful for it.

Lenovo has also placed a conventional USB-A port on both sides of the chassis, while a microSD card reader and volume rockers also make an appearance. Our only reservation in this area is the side mounted power button, which is rather too easy to hit when converting the Flex 3 from laptop to tablet and back.

In terms of specifications, at this price point expectations need to be kept in check. Processing power comes from an Celeron chip with Intel’s cheaper, lower power Atom-derived cores rather than high performance Core items. There’s also only 4GB of RAM and just 64GB of local storage in sub-optimal eMMC configuration. But then you’re not going to get 8GB of system memory, a large M.2 SSD and a premium processor in a 2-in-1 device without paying far, far more.


Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3

(Image credit: Future)

Here's how the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
Mozilla Kraken: 2,109ms
Octane: 17,669pts
JetStream: 59.311pts
Battery life (TechRadar movie test): 16 hours and 20 minutes

Were this a Windows machine, that Intel Celeron chip, 4GB of memory and 64GB eMMC SSD would be enough to invoke fear of the almighty, as in almighty awful performance. But not in a Chromebook.

Granted, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook is no powerhouse. But running Google’s Chrome OS and the G suite of apps, it’s more effective than you might think. That Intel chip has decent video decoding chops, too, thanks to some dedicated hardware. So, decoding video streams or locally stored video files puts very little load on the CPU cores. You can generally count on smooth video playback.

The same can’t quite be said of scrolling around apps and web pages. However, the touch functionally is reasonably responsive. The stuttering and stalling is momentary rather than chronic. More demanding web pages, such as Google Drive, do occasionally feel a little laggy. But it’s not enough to truly slow you down.

Battery life

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3’s Intel Celeron N4020 CPU is not normally something to show off about. However, it surely contributes to the fairly epic 16 hours-plus of video playback. That’s true all-day battery life and it’s the kind of performance you’d never get from a budget system with a full fat Intel Core process. Clearly less is sometimes more.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...