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Acer Chromebook 514 (2022) review
8:48 pm | April 12, 2023

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

Acer Chromebook 514 (2022): Two-minute review

If we weren’t reviewing the Acer Chromebook 514 (2022), the words ‘perfectly adequate’ would probably feel like we were doing our target laptop down. But this isn’t a normal laptop. It’s a Chromebook, for a start, which means it gets graded on a very generous curve. And it is, well, perfectly adequate, and it turns out that’s probably just what you need.

Context is everything. Inside you’ll find a relatively pedestrian combination of 11th-gen Core chip - ours being the Core i5 spin, though a Core i3 model is more readily available - along with 8GB RAM and 128GB of proper SSD storage. Not much to write home about in, say, a Windows laptop, but put to work grinding out ChromeOS it’s a package which chugs away without missing a step.

The shell, in terms of its looks, is as adequate as they come. The Acer Chromebook 514 clearly isn’t built to be flashy, it’s built for functionality and for grinding out documents. This is ostensibly part of Acer’s enterprise-focused line, so it’s made for work. It’s a sleepy grey, the bezels are thin but not spectacular, and the ports are laid out in such a way that they’ll very rarely become annoying. And yet there’s enough expansion, thanks to a pair of Thunderbolt 4 compatible Type-C ports, that you can feasibly use it any way you need to. The chassis doesn’t distract, it doesn’t get in the way, and it’s built specifically to take a knock or three - making this the ideal everyday machine to bash about in your bag.

The Chromebook 514’s keyboard is fine - not offensively mushy, not a joyous experience for your fingers, just fine. The trackpad is large and reliable. The screen is decent and bright enough, but it’s not the sharpest we’ve seen and the colour reproduction feels more like a vague approximation than anything you could feasibly use for graphics work. For the everyday grind, though, we found the Chromebook 514 entirely comfortable. Its battery life pales in comparison to ARM Chromebooks or those that have been slightly more generous with their lithium cells, but it’s enough to easily see you through a day.

And the price is just about right. While an MSRP of $780 (£480/around AU$1,130)  makes this a chunk of change more expensive than many Chromebooks, it also places this exactly where it should be in the mid-range. For a machine that performs fine and should last a while, its price tag isn’t an unreasonable ask - particularly with enterprise budgets in mind.

The point is that the Acer Chromebook 514 review model we tested had an answer to every single one of our questions. It's not one of the best Chromebooks, but it's perfectly adequate, and it makes the case for adequacy perfectly well.

Acer Chromebook 514 (2022): Price and availability

  • How much does it cost?  Reasonably priced in the UK, more expensive in the US
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US and the UK,  tricky to find in Australia 

The Acer Chromebook 514 (2022) is not spectacularly expensive, but neither is it quite in the crowded domain of budget Chromebooks. Our particular review model, the Core i5-1135G7, touchscreen, CB514-1WT version, comes in at £480 in the UK and that’s the price we’ve based our assessment on. 

If you’re in the US you may need to slightly alter your value judgement given that Acer lists it for a heftier $780. And in Australia, it doesn’t currently seem to be available - though expect to pay a premium. 

Bear in mind that if you shop around you may be able to save a little by opting for a Pentium Gold version - check enterprise suppliers for the best price.

  • Price: 4 / 5

Acer Chromebook 514 on a table

(Image credit: Future / Alex Cox)

Acer Chromebook 514 (2022): Design

  • Solid, functional chassis
  • Decent IPS screen
  • Nothing exciting - but it doesn’t need it

How, exactly, do you judge a Chromebook’s looks? The Acer Chromebook 514 (2022) is not supposed to be a flashy desk dazzler. It is built for functionality, for flinging in a bag and bringing to meetings, for getting out of the way and letting the work do the talking. 

We could harp on about the things we don’t like. We could complain about the beefy chin beneath its screen, the slightly-too-thick case, and the fact that there are far lighter laptops out there. But what would be the point? None of those things actually matter. And when you’re grading on the Chromebook scale, when you’re judging this based on other laptops which are around the same price - let alone other Chromebooks - it’s clear that Acer has hit the mark.

The go-away grey of its upper chassis and screen lid gets just the slightest hint of sparkle; the black bezels around the screen are unspectacular and not distracting in the slightest. 

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Acer Chromebook 514 on a table

(Image credit: Future / Alex Cox)
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Acer Chromebook 514 on a table

(Image credit: Future / Alex Cox)
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Acer Chromebook 514 on a table

(Image credit: Future / Alex Cox)

While we are, again, grading on a scale, the touchscreen IPS panel is as good as you’ll get in this price bracket. Yes, it’s a little fizzy - we had a similar complaint about the larger screen of the Chromebook 515 - and its colour reproduction could be slightly better, but this isn’t really made for ultra-accurate graphics manipulation or even for media: it’s made for work.

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Acer Chromebook 514 on a table

(Image credit: Future / Alex Cox)
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Acer Chromebook 514 on a table

(Image credit: Future / Alex Cox)

In that context, we don’t think Acer has put a foot wrong. You can work on the Chromebook 514. It has a generous selection of ports - a pair of Type-C ports on its left edge joined by an HDMI output and audio jack, a Type-A USB 3.1 port on the right along with a microSD connector. Only the addition of Ethernet (and perhaps a little desk-friendly rearrangement, putting one Type-C port on either side) would have made it better.

Acer also boasts of the Chromebook 514’s military-grade drop testing; while we wouldn’t take it into a warzone, it feels entirely sturdy and we‘d have no problem slinging it in a bag.

  • Design: 4 / 5

Acer Chromebook 514 (2022): Performance

  • Smooth and snappy performance
  • Great storage speed
Acer Chromebook 514: Benchmarks

Here's how the Acer Chromebook 514 (2022) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Mozilla Kraken (fewer is better): 688.1ms
Speedometer: 293
JetStream 2 (higher is better): 194.4 points

Chrome OS doesn’t pose the biggest technical challenge. That’s basically why it exists at all. So it’s not a huge surprise that the Chromebook 514 can pull a fair lick of speed out of its 11th-gen Core i5 processor. Sure, Rocket Lake isn’t the very latest platform and doesn’t quite touch on the extra efficiencies ushered in by Intel’s newer chips, but it’s sharp enough to give Chrome OS everything it needs. This loads fast copes with large numbers of tricky tabs and behaves like a laptop that could potentially cost a lot more.

Being backed up by a proper SSD, although small in our review unit at 128GB, gives the Acer Chromebook 514 (2022) an extra boost. Manual file manipulation feels far quicker than the equivalent action on eMMC storage - a cheeky Chromebook cost-saving staple - and we’re sure that the snappiness of the OS owes just as much to the storage as it does to the CPU.

The keyboard and trackpad layout is perfectly functional, with a pleasing legend on the keys and smooth Gorilla Glass topping the generous trackpad. All very useable and inoffensive, and the Chromebook 514’s typing action is, frankly, pretty excellent. Budget-friendly laptops have a tendency to skimp on their keys, but this is far from the mushy, unpleasant experience of some of its rivals: it’s tight, consistent, and comfortable. 

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Acer Chromebook 514 on a table

(Image credit: Future / Alex Cox)
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Acer Chromebook 514 on a table

(Image credit: Future / Alex Cox)

It does, naturally, have its limits. Attaching more than one additional screen is slightly more than the Chromebook 514’s integrated graphics can manage. Running Android apps is perfectly feasible but, at least for those with heavy graphical demands, ends up somewhat stuttery. And, yes, this is a Chromebook - one with the requisite hardware to competently run a Linux install if you’re feeling fruity, but most won’t. Chrome OS is its own limitation, however small that limitation might be becoming.

All-in-all, though, the Chromebook 514 comes up very much on the correct side of any cost/benefit analysis there is. As a work machine, or just a reasonably-sized sit-on-the-couch browsing the web machine, it does its job without missing a beat. It may not be the luxury experience of high-end Chromebooks, but it’s certainly more muscular than those costing very little less. 

  • Performance: 4 / 5

Acer Chromebook 514 (2022): Battery life

  • Lasts a decent amount of time…
  • …though ChromeOS seems to have no idea how long that’ll be

If you want maximum battery from a Chromebook, Intel simply isn’t the best choice. There are stacks of ARM-based options out there that’ll go for age if you’re happy to take the performance hit. But for an Intel-based machine, this isn’t nearly as bad as you’d expect. Fully charged it’ll take you from one end of a work day to the next, particularly if you’re not testing it too much.

Our tests didn’t quite see it reaching the ten hours Acer quotes; eight and a half hours was the limit, with closer to seven when streaming a lot of videos. You’re within your rights to argue, but we feel like that’s entirely reasonable for a machine of this price and relative performance.

  • Battery life: 3 / 5

Should you buy the Acer Chromebook 514 (2022)?

Buy it if...

You’re not looking for pizazz
Acer keeps it simple here: this is a plain, grey laptop which isn’t out to blow you away with features or flashy gimmicks. It’s just there to knuckle down and do its job.

You’re OK with Chrome OS
A mid-range machine of a similar price might be a better choice if you really need all the features of Windows. Online-only work is becoming a more than plausible option, but it’s your only option here.

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 rigours of a rucksack.

Don't buy it if...

You need real power
Let’s use the word ‘adequate’ once more, for old time’s sake. The package here is slick and speedy, particularly running under Chrome OS, but it’s no world beater.

You need to work with colour
It’s not awful, but we didn’t find ourselves particularly impressed with the colour reproduction of the Acer Chromebook 514’s otherwise-decent screen. For graphics work it’s a dud.

You work long, long hours
The battery is fine, but it’s not going to allow you to burn the midnight oil without plugging in. Type-C charging does at least mean the task of finding juice is made a little easier.

Acer Chromebook 514 (2022): Also consider

If our Acer Chromebook 514 (2022) review has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider...  

How I tested the Acer Chromebook 514 (2022)

  • 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 committed to using the Chromebook 514 as my main laptop for a week. That meant using it for writing work and research during the day, and for general media consumption and web browsing in the evening. 

During the course of testing the Chromebook 514 was also subjected to a battery of tests; the three main Techradar Chromebook benchmarks, as well as tests of Android game performance, heavier productivity apps, and a specific looping video battery life test.

I'm a long-tenured tech writer, and have been testing laptops in various forms since the late 20th century. Whether it's a full-on gaming beast or the lowliest of cut-price chuggers, I know the things to look for and the buttons to push. 

Read more about how we test

First reviewed February 2023

Acer Chromebook 515 review: capable Chromebook, not best for business
12:15 am | March 1, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Acer Chromebook 515: Two-minute review

I was excited to get my Acer Chromebook 515 review unit - one which skews the Chromebook formula by stirring in the adjective ‘big’. After all, Acer and Chromebooks go hand in hand. The company has probably the widest catalogue of ChromeOS devices and isn’t afraid to apply slightly more adventurous designs, like that of the Chromebook Spin line, to a product category that’s usually pretty dull.

We’re even more excited (and a little surprised, too) to find out it’s actually decent. Part of that quality comes from its internals. Yes, a package of 11th-gen Core i3, 128GB SSD, and 8GB RAM might seem a little lacking in a regular £449 (around $550 / AU$790) laptop, but put it to work powered by the ChromeOS, and it’s enough to make it really fly. This is a machine that rarely feels like it’s trying too hard, and there’s a Core i5 version (which may even be available for a very similar price) if you feel you’re going to need to push it harder.

Then there’s the 15.3” screen that, while probably at the bottom of the pile as far as IPS displays go, is plenty visible, can be dialled up to a decent brightness, and is one of the largest you’ll find on a Chromebook - at least until Acer decides the bananas 17” Chromebook 715 is due a refresh. 

The full-sized keyboard is a luxury even if it’s squashed enough to make acclimatisation a little tricky. The battery is huge and will easily see you through an entire day’s work. It’s solidly built, feels sturdy on the lap or on the desk, its speakers are absolutely fine, and the hinge is basically wobble-free. The Acer Chromebook 515 is just a good laptop that happens to run ChromeOS, which somehow makes it better.

I won’t claim that it comes without annoyances. It’s great having a pair of USB 3.2 Type-C ports, one on either side of the chassis, but the omission of an Ethernet socket on a machine that’s very much aimed towards business deployment seems pretty bone-headed. The Chromebook 515’s webcam is absolutely terrible, a similarly confusing choice on a machine that’ll presumably be used for video conferences. Its screen struggles with colour reproduction and can feel a little fuzzy on the eyes. And it’s big (which is kind of the point) but heavy with it, meaning it’ll make an impact on your bag.

Still, as Chromebooks go - and it’s a bar that’s rising ever higher - this is a very solid option.

Acer Chromebook 515: Price and availability

  • Cheap enough in the UK - but the Core i5 version might be just as cheap
  • Pricier in the US
  • Tricky to find in Australia
Acer Chromebook 515: SPECS

Here is the Acer Chromebook 515 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: Intel Core i3-1115G4 Processor (Dual core, 3.0 GHz)
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
Screen: 15.6" IPS Full HD (1920x1080) non-touch
Storage: 128GB SSD
Optical drive: None
Ports: 2x USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 4), 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, HDMI, audio combo jack, microSD reader, fingerprint sensor
Connectivity: 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.0
Camera: 720p webcam
Weight: 3.02 pounds (1.37 kg)
Size: 8.7 x 12.7 x 0.7 inches (22 x 32.3 x 1.9 cm; W x D x H) 

In the UK, the Core i3 version of the Acer Chromebook 515 appears to be exclusive to Currys’ business vertical, priced at £449. Its upgraded Core i5 cousin is also a Currys exclusive, with an MSRP of £549, though you’ll likely find it cheaper - as I write it’s discounted to £457.50, and given the processor upgrade and doubled storage, we’d probably lean in that direction if the price is still right.

US readers won’t find these precise specs in local stores; Amazon and the like stock an otherwise identical Core i5 spin, which starts at a probably-too-expensive $729. In Australia, you may be able to find a Core i3 version for AU$727, though it’s not clear whether Acer officially stocks it on southern shores.

Larger Chromebooks like this are a rarity, so it’s hard to compare the Acer Chromebook 515 against a direct competitor. If you can cope with a little less screen real estate, Acer’s own Chromebook Spin 713 offers significantly more luxury and flexibility for $699 / £599 / around AU$980; in the US, it’s absolutely a better option. There’s also the slightly smaller Acer Chromebook 514, which cuts screen size and excises the numerical pad, but otherwise offers a similar level of specs. 

  • Value: 4 / 5

Acer Chromebook 515 on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future / Alex Cox)

Acer Chromebook 515: Design

  • Large screen leaves room for a big keyboard
  • Ports aren’t perfect

The Acer Chromebook 515 is an unashamedly business-focused machine and has the design to match. There’s a full-sized keyboard (with an asterisk) featuring a number pad perfect for long days spent battling Google Sheets; that asterisk, at least on the UK version reviewed here, refers to its tiny Return key and slightly narrowed numpad. Neither are deal breakers, and one’s fingers get used to them quickly. But the transition from a proper keyboard can be slightly jarring. 

Acer Chromebook 515 on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future / Alex Cox)

Thankfully, the typing action is consistent and, if not deep, at least very definite. The off-centre positioning of the Gorilla Glass-covered trackpad means there’s plenty of space to rest one’s palms. As Chromebooks go (and they usually go far smaller), this may be the most comfortable keyboard experience going.

Obviously, the size of a laptop base tends to be proportional to the size of its screen, and the Acer Chromebook 515 doesn’t skimp on panel inches nor on the size of its chin bezel - it’s a chunky one, and reasonably heavy with it.

Whether you’ll love its 15.3” 1080p display, though, is dependent on how accurately you need to be able to interpret colours. I’s an IPS panel, though one with a relatively limited golden viewing angle and a slightly fizzy, washed-out look to it. I found it, again, comfortable - at least in the intended context of work - but disappointing when watching video.

Looks-wise, as befits a business machine, this is almost entirely unexciting, though Acer has tucked in a couple of pretty concessions. The chassis is a dark muted grey, but hold it at the right angle, and you’ll spot just a hint of glittery sparkle. A white backlight picks out the keyboard beautifully as well. Plus, there’s a fingerprint reader and a physical slide-over cover to block the webcam - though it should be noted that it doesn’t actually disable the camera itself.

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Acer Chromebook 515 on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future / Alex Cox)
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Acer Chromebook 515 on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future / Alex Cox)

Port distribution is clever with a USB 3.2 Type-C port on either side, even though you’re restricted to a single Type-A port, and you’ll need to rely on a dongle for Ethernet as there’s no built-in network port.

  • Design: 3.5 / 5

Acer Chromebook 515: Performance

  • Smooth performance that barely stutters
  • Android apps are functional but not fantastic

Here's how the Acer Chromebook 515 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
Mozilla Kraken: 647.7ms
Speedometer: 280 runs/minute
JetStream 2: 162.031 

Running ChromeOS isn’t the biggest challenge for a laptop, but Google’s web-first OS is often paired with some less-than-capable budget hardware - a combination which somehow makes it look a lot more difficult than it is and leaves a bad taste in many mouths. 

No such bitterness here: at no point did the 11th-gen Core i3 inside my review unit feel lacking in desktop use. An SSD as opposed to eMMC is a treat - file manipulation here is far swifter than on some lesser Chromebooks. Its generous-enough 8GB RAM keeps up even with a large number of tabs open, and Wi-Fi 6 ensures connectivity stays speedy and the Chromebook 515’s wireless reach is very decent.

The benchmark results back this up – while they’re not the very highest we’ve seen, they’re more than acceptable. This is a machine, which crosses the line between power and price, that somehow scores on both fronts. It’s a pleasure to use. Even the speakers keep up - they’re not mind-blowing, and the fact that they’re downfirers means they won’t work well on every surface, but they’re perfectly competent.

Acer Chromebook 515 on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future / Alex Cox)

That said, it’s maybe not quite meaty enough to convincingly deal with Android translation. The games I tried were mostly slick, though suffered from occasional hitches and slowdown - ironically, you’ll want to go for the kind of ARM hardware that makes ChromeOS feel terrible (or use something like BlueStacks on a Windows machine) if you’re really looking for a laptop which can run Android.

Given its supposed business credentials, it’s hard to forgive the Chromebook 515’s 720p webcam. It’s awful. At least its fuzzy, dark image smooths out your rough edges, I suppose.

Now, there’s not really a way to get through a Chromebook review without a critique of ChromeOS itself, and so I must (by law) include one here. Being confined to what is essentially a limited walled garden of software may not suit every use case. This isn’t a machine for gaming; it’s not one that can run full-fat Windows apps or (at least without a little tinkering) Linux software. It’s a web browser in a box.

But heck, if your business runs Google apps by default, this might be one of the most easy-to-manage laptop platforms there is. If you just want a machine to help you thumb through Twitter, Reddit and TechRadar while you’re sat on the couch, the massive screen of the Acer Chromebook 515 makes it a comfortable option. ChromeOS isn’t the barrier it once was.

  • Performance: 4.5 / 5

Acer Chromebook 515: Battery life

  • Lasts a decent amount of time…
  • …though ChromeOS seems to have no idea how long that’ll be

To say the Chromebook 515 has shockingly good battery life would be a little disingenuous. I was surprised it lasted as long as it did, but it’s not the kind of twelve-hour performer you might find elsewhere in the Chromebook world.

While it’s obviously going vary depending on the kind of work you’re doing - and tasks like video playback do tend to drain it a little quicker - there’s almost no way that this won’t see you through a full day, particularly if you can convince yourself to dial down the brightness a little. Acer claims it should reach up to ten hours on a charge; expect eight and a half.

Do bear in mind that ChromeOS’ battery life estimations are wildly inaccurate, seeming to vary by the minute and may in fact be entirely fictitious. But even if you never quite have a clue how long you have remaining, the battery here is entirely acceptable. USB Type-C charging just seals the deal.

  • Battery life: 4 / 5

Should I buy the Acer Chromebook 515?

Acer Chromebook 515 on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future / Alex Cox)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

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

Acer Chromebook 515: Report card

  • First reviewed February 2023

How I tested the Acer Chromebook 515

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test