Acer

Acer Chromebook 317 Review: 17-inch Chromebook trades mobility for utility

Acer Chromebook 317 Review: 17-inch Chromebook trades mobility for utility

The variety of Chromebooks has grown over the past few years as these laptops have moved from fringe devices to mainstream. There’s one thing that hasn’t changed too much with them, though, and that’s size. With the exception of the occasional 15-inch Chromebook, manufacturers have stuck with displays that are 14-inches or smaller. It wasn’t until last year that the first 17.3-inch model was released, the Acer Chromebook 317 — 10 years after the arrival of the first Chromebook.

The 317 is essentially an all-in-one portable Chrome OS desktop, otherwise known as the Chromebase. The large screen makes multitasking easy. You can stream a YouTube video in the corner while you work on a presentation and keep an eye on email or chat, all without overlapping windows. It’s big and heavy compared to all the smaller Chromebooks here, so it’s not a good option if mobility is a priority. But it’s certainly small enough to move around the house and with over 10 hours of battery life in my tests, you can work all day and still have time for a video chat with the family, gaming or streaming a movie.

To like

  • Compelling premium features for its price
  • Excellent battery life

Do not like

  • Slower Pentium processor and eMMC storage

the Acer Chromebook 317 I tested costs $500 but it’s actually starts at a low $329, £299 in the UK or around AU$590 in Australia. At this price, you get a Chromebook good for the productivity basics, but still with a large 17.3-inch Full HD display. The $500 version is significantly better inside than out with a faster Intel Pentium processor, twice the RAM, a Full HD touchscreen, backlit keyboard and 1080p webcam that improve sharpness and details of my video chats compared to typical 720p webcams. Basically, spending the extra money not only gets you better performance, but also an improved overall experience.

Acer Chromebook 317 (CB317-1HT-P5PF)

Price as reviewed

$500

Display Size/Resolution

17.3-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel touchscreen

Processor

Intel Pentium Silver N6000 1.1GHz

Memory

8GB LPDDR4X 2933MHz

Chart

Integrated Intel UHD Graphics

Storage

64 GB eMMC flash memory

Ports

USB-C (x2), USB-A (x2), audio/mic jack, HDMI out, microSD card slot

Networking

802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) Bluetooth 5.0

Operating system

Google Chrome/Android 11 operating system

Mass

4.8 pounds (2.2 kilograms)

That said, performance is still a notch or two below that of an Intel Core i-series processor or equivalent AMD Ryzen chip. So if you need the fastest performance, you’ll need to consider other options. Plus, if you plan to download a lot of apps or keep your files, photos, and videos on the Chromebook, its 64GB of eMMC flash storage will fill up quickly (and that’s slower than an SSD). There’s a microSD card slot for storage expansion, and there’s always cloud storage.

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Acer has put unique USB-C and USB-A ports on each side.

Josh Goldman/CNET

The low-end storage and processor keep this 317 from being a truly high-end Chromebook, but honestly, it should satisfy most needs for a general-purpose family machine. The large screen is definitely a bonus when you want to open multiple windows. This makes school work particularly easy compared to the 11.6-inch models usually distributed by schools. (Or at least that was the feedback I got from my kids.) And, while color accuracy and screen brightness were just decent, they didn’t detract from watching movies and to play on it. Having WiFi 6 (802.11ax) also helps, especially if you subscribe to a game streaming service like Google Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now, Amazon Luna or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Obviously, its larger size – it’s just under 1 inch thick – and nearly 5 pounds in weight make it better for home or office use than for carrying around campus or a regular route. (If you need a smaller, lighter Chromebook, here’s our best recommendations of the moment.) But unlike many 17-inch Windows laptops we’ve tested in the past at this price, battery life here is good: although Acer rates it up to 10 hours, mine ran for 11 hours and 58 minutes in our streaming video test.

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The 317 has a simple and clean design. But also dull.

Josh Goldman/CNET

It’s a little disappointing that there’s no HDMI output to make the 317 less of a hassle to hook up to an external monitor. Again, with two USB-C ports (one on each side), you can still connect a hub to meet all your needs when you want to use it more as a desktop than a laptop.

The Acer Chromebook 317 is an easy choice for a WFH Chromebook that will rarely, if ever, leave your home. I would highly recommend spending the extra money if possible for the $500 setup. Whether you like running multiple apps in the background or like to keep all the tabs you have open, the extra RAM and better processor will keep things running smoothly. Add additional features such as the Full HD webcam, backlit keyboard and touchscreen, and the case becomes even nicer.