Acer

Acer Chromebook 514 Review: Everyday performance, all day

Acer Chromebook 514 Review: Everyday performance, all day

Acer makes many Chromebooks, and they come in a variety of configurations and screen sizes. It’s great for consumers, schools and businesses because there’s something to suit every need, but it can get tricky when buying one, especially when Acer keeps the same name year after year. like Chromebook 514.

This Old version still exists, but there are also two current versions: the Chromebook 514 CB514-1W and Chromebook 514 CB514-2H/T. The latter is the one reviewed here, and it’s what I’d recommend to most people looking for a good Chrome OS experience in a compact and lightweight package. Especially if your budget is under $500.

To like

  • Incredible battery life
  • Backlit Keyboard
  • Matte touchscreen
  • Good daily performance
  • Padded laptop sleeve included

Do not like

  • Many features cut from the high-end Intel version

If you can spend a little more, the more expensive CB514-1W models have 11th generation Intel Core i3 or i5 processors. They also have premium features like a Full HD webcam with a privacy shutter; a fingerprint reader; two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports; an HDMI output; a microSD card slot; SSD storage; and built to military standards. Pricing starts at $680.

But the Chromebook 514 CB514-2H/T swaps Intel processors for Mediatek’s Arm-based Kompanio 828 system-on-chip and strips out just about all high-end features, though it still has a comfortable backlit keyboard and smooth Gorilla Glass touchpad. It would have been nice if Acer could have retained at least some of the best features of the Intel model (I feel like keeping the HDMI output and microSD card slot aren’t big asks). In its defence, the CB514-2H/T does not start at $400. It doesn’t appear to be available in the UK or Australia yet, but the price converts to around £305 and AU$540.

Acer Chromebook 514 (CB514-2HT-K0FZ)

Price as reviewed

$460

Display Size/Resolution

14-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel touchscreen

Processor

2.6GHz MediaTek Kompanio 828

Memory

8GB LPDDR4X SDRAM

Chart

Mali-G57 MC5 IG

Storage

64 GB eMMC flash memory

Ports

USB-C (x2), USB-A (x2), audio/mic jack

Networking

802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) Bluetooth 5.2

Operating system

Google Chrome/Android 9 operating system

Mass

2.9 pounds (1.3 kg)

What’s great about the Kompanio 828 System on Chip is that it’s a mid-range option designed specifically for Chromebooks. The price is similar to that of a new Intel Celeron-based Chromebook, but with better performance and exceptional battery life. In my benchmark tests, it handles processing tasks faster than a Celeron or Pentium CPU or even the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Compute Platform. It does, however, trail chips like the AMD Ryzen 3500C and Intel Core i3-1115G4.

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There are left and right USB-C ports so you can charge on either side.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Unless you are an experienced user or planning to some serious games beyond android apps, the Kompanio 828 should suffice. And because it was designed for Chromebooks, it’s especially efficient. It ran for 18 hours and 30 minutes in our streaming video battery drain test. While I was using it, even when I thought I was about to run out of power, the meter always seemed confident that I had a few hours of charge left in the tank. And even when low, the 514 recharges quickly.

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A simple silver Chromebook.

Josh Goldman/CNET

The body of this version of the Chromebook 514 might not be built to military standards, but it doesn’t feel flimsy either. I commuted with it for a few weeks, using it on my train rides and in cafes. I know it’s not a lot of time, but the metal cover showed no signs of wear and the rest of the chassis held up well as well. It is really light too at just under 3 pounds. The 514 is quick to boot with a flip of its lid and quickly connects to Wi-Fi. This supports Wi-Fi 6, which isn’t yet a guarantee on a $400 Chromebook.

While the Acer Chromebook 514 may not have many of the high-end features of its Intel companion, it’s still a great Chromebook for the price. The new MediaTek SoC pays off surprisingly here, giving the 514 good overall performance for productivity and entertainment and long battery life to boot, all in a three-pound package.