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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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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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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