Acer Chromebook Spin 514 is an ideal model for the user looking to enter Google’s PC ecosystem. The latest version for 2021 announced at CES in Las Vegas, it’s a semi-rugged convertible aimed at the mid-range of the market, with premium chassis and finish, good performance based on AMD’s Ryzen Mobile and marketed at a price adjusted for its features.
Chromebooks have long been a real alternative to Windows and macOS in almost all fields of use. They are the best-selling Linux-based computers, they have been able to beat the almighty Windows in some segments such as education and in 2020 it was the platform that grew the most when the confinements due to the COVID pandemic forced to acquire infrastructure for telework, online study and leisure at home.
Just as Google has been improving the Chrome OS operating system in the ten years of existence of Chromebooks, to bring it closer to what a classic desktop offers and increasing compatibility with Android and Linux applications, manufacturers that support the platform have also been increasing the level of hardware.
While in the beginning these devices used ARM chipsets for entry-level devices, today they use the latest x86 generations from AMD or Intel. In fact, this Spin 514 is the first Acer Chromebook to use Ryzen Mobile processors. The manufacturer has kindly given us a unit for testing and here are our impressions.
Acer Chromebook Spin 514, specifications
|Model||Spin 514 CP514-1H (new from 2021)|
|Display||14-inch multi-touch IPS – Gorilla Glass|
|Resolution||FHD – 1920 x 1080 pixels – 60 Hz|
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 5 3500C|
|GPU||AMD Radeon Vega 8|
|Memory||8 Gbytes DDR4|
|Storage||128 Gbyte SSD|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0
2 USB 3.2 Type A ports
1 USB 3.2 Type C ports
|Miscellaneous||MIL-STD 810G, Stereo speakers, microphones|
|Battery||3-cell lithium ion 56 Wh|
|Dimensions||322 x 225 x 17 mm. 1.65 kg weight|
|Operating System||Chrome OS|
It’s hard to stand out in design in front of the endless offer of laptops of all kinds (and very similar) that the industry has to offer. This Acer Chromebook Spin 514 tries with a quality finish on an aluminum chassis and beveled edges on the lid (and touchpad) that give it a more refined look. It’s finished in a ‘Mist Green‘ color, where the green tint is almost imperceptible and looks more like dark grey. The lid is printed with the Chromebook branding and symbol. For our taste attractive and a big leap over entry-level Chromebooks where polycarbonate materials abound.
Like any convertible, it has a hinge system that allows you to rotate the screen up to 360 degrees to place it above the keyboard and favor the different modes of use of this type of equipment: laptop, tablet or the intermediate ‘tent’ for presentations or multimedia.
The hinges feel sturdy, with a sense of solidity at any angle you place it, which is accentuated by the fact that the device has MIL-STD-810 military-grade certification against shocks, drops, vibrations and temperature changes.
It’s heavier than a laptop with the same screen size, but it’s not too different from other mid-range convertibles. The same as its thickness, ‘chubbier’ than a laptop, but in our opinion compensated by its greater versatility of use and the degree of resistance.
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The external ports that we’ll look at in the next section are well placed on the sides, as are the two ventilation nozzles next to the hinges where hot air is expelled from the effective cooling system that’s included.
An interesting design feature is that as you open the display angle, the back of the convertible rises. Not only does this provide additional airflow, but it also tilts the keyboard slightly to facilitate the typing experience while at a desk.
The bottom cover is made of polycarbonate and can be removed by acting on 10 TORx screws which allows us to access the inside of the machine for maintenance / upgrade. It has four support feet, well placed and integrated into the set, along with other air vents and speakers, in a position that is not ideal as we shall see later.
<img src=”https://www.muycomputer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Acer-Chromebook-Spin-514-8.jpg 1241w, https://www.muycomputer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Acer-Chromebook-Spin-514-8-500×347.jpg 500w, https://www.muycomputer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Acer-Chromebook-Spin-514-8-630×437.jpg 630w, https://www.muycomputer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Acer-Chromebook-Spin-514-8-768×533.jpg 768w” alt=”We review the Chromebook Spin 514, Acer’s first with. Ryzen Mobile 42″ width=”1000″ height=”694″ />
The display offers a 14-inch diagonal, an ideal size for balancing mobility and productivity. It has an IPS panel, with multi-touch technology, native FHD resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio. The side bezels are quite small, with the top bezel being slightly smaller because it includes the webcam and microphones, while the bottom bezel is a huge size for a discreet screen-to-body ratio of 78%. The screen is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass coating. As for the digitizer, it works very well and the notebook reacts perfectly to touch usage.
While the color treatment or viewing angles are adequate, the maximum brightness level (in the neighborhood of 210 nits) is too low for outdoor use. It also doesn’t particularly stand out in contrast, nor in support for color palettes, although in this section it was to be expected because the purpose of this convertible isn’t image editing. On the other hand, the white backgrounds are ‘clean’ and the sharpness is good on the edges of the letters and icons.
The screen leaves us with a bittersweet feeling. The necessary cost savings to bring the convertible closer to the mid-range may have influenced the choice of panel. Demanding users looking for something better in this area will have to opt for the top model, a Chromebook Spin 713 with a remarkable screen, which also offers a 3:2 aspect ratio much more suitable for daily production tasks.
Keyboard, connectivity and battery life
The keyboard is one of the components we liked most about the Acer Chromebook Spin 514. The concave keys help keep your fingers in place, while the soft-touch finish makes it easy for those of us who have to ‘pound’ it intensely. Very comfortable to use with a key travel of 1.6mm, it allows for flawless typing and we scored well with the 10fastfingers test we used for testing.
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It’s also backlit, automatically turning on when you touch it. Its layout follows the Chromebook standard, with a dedicated search/menu key, browser controls, brightness and volume. The touchpad accompanies the keyboard. It’s large, and it’s fast, responsive, accurate, and smooth. While you’ll likely add a laptop mouse to the equation when working at the desktop, the input peripherals on this Acer Chromebook Spin 514 shine at a high level.
The connectivity section also leaves us with mixed results. The external ports and outlets are adequate, but it’s unreasonable for a convertible (mid-range and up) to arrive in 2021 without upgrading to a standard as important as Wi-Fi 6. Don’t get us wrong; the dual-band Wi-Fi 5 included on this device doesn’t work badly at all, but it would have been better prepared for the future with the new wireless connectivity standard, especially considering that it doesn’t have an Ethernet LAN connector as standard.
Nor can it be equipped with LTE mobile broadband. This feature is always an option, but it wouldn’t have hurt to offer it considering Chrome OS’s focus on the Internet and the cloud. The lack of Thunderbolt 4 is less important for a Chromebook and the full-size HDMI output is enough to connect the device to an external display.
On the left side we find a USB Type-C port used for power, a USB Type-A (3.1) port, a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack, a microSD card slot, and the power button.
<img src=”https://www.muycomputer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Acer-Chromebook-Spin-514-5.jpg 1276w, https://www.muycomputer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Acer-Chromebook-Spin-514-5-500×197.jpg 500w, https://www.muycomputer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Acer-Chromebook-Spin-514-5-630×248.jpg 630w, https://www.muycomputer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Acer-Chromebook-Spin-514-5-768×302.jpg 768w” alt=”We review the Chromebook Spin 514, Acer’s first Chromebook with Ryzen Mobile 52″ width=”1000″ height=”393″ />
On the right side we have another USB Type-C port (USB 3.1), a Kensington lock slot, the HDMI digital video out, a second USB-A port, and the volume rocker. Enough said.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 514 features stereo speakers on the bottom of the machine. Their sound is clear, but quite tinny, lacking bass and tends to distort when you turn up the volume, which is typical for most laptops. We use headphones and we get a better performance.
The webcam with simple HD resolution doesn’t stand out either. Considering the increasing use of videoconferencing, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for manufacturers to pay more attention to this component, but we have to say that -with some honourable exceptions- and as in the case of sound, the lack of quality affects the majority of the laptop segment.
We liked the convertible’s battery life even more. In YouTube video playback we came close to the manufacturer’s promised figures of 10 hours, while for general tasks at 70% brightness we got on average around 7 hours of use. Getting a full charge from 0 to 100% will take just over two hours. There are other Chromebooks that are better in this area, although they are not convertibles and do not have AMD CPUs.
The choice of a Ryzen Mobile is a good one. It’s the first time Acer has used this architecture in a Chromebook and the best we can say is that it has offered us a solid and sufficient performance for any task on a computer under Chrome OS.
And that the Ryzen 5 3500C is not the latest or the most advanced of AMD for laptops, but it has four cores and eight native processing threads with working frequency of up to 3.8 GHz, 4 Mbytes of third-level cache and a Radeon Vega graphics with eight execution units and frequency of 1.2 GHz, which as in the CPU section is more than enough to move this convertible with solvency.
<img src=”https://www.muycomputer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Acer-Chromebook-Spin-514-9.jpg 1184w, https://www.muycomputer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Acer-Chromebook-Spin-514-9-500×208.jpg 500w, https://www.muycomputer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Acer-Chromebook-Spin-514-9-630×262.jpg 630w, https://www.muycomputer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Acer-Chromebook-Spin-514-9-768×320.jpg 768w” alt=”We analyze the Chromebook Spin 514, Acer’s first book Spin 514 with Ryzen Mobile 56″ width=”1000″ height=”416″ />
This is helped by the 8 GB of RAM. Welcome considering how much of a memory hog Chrome is when we have a lot of tabs open in the browser. And we’ve had a lot of them in our tests. Also noteworthy is the internal storage based on PCIe solid state drives. This is a big improvement over the eMMC storage used by Chromebooks at the lower end of the market, which should be phased out as soon as possible.
Although Chrome OS does not need as much hardware as Windows to perform tasks and beyond synthetic test results, we were more interested in the real experience of use that we will see in the next section, we have run some tests like Geekbench obtaining results similar to those of other computers with the same processor and -obviously- much higher than a Chromebook with ARM or a basic Intel Celeron.
The same with PC Mark’s Work 3.0, which scores rendering or searching web pages, editing images and video at different resolutions and frames per second, documents or presentations, loading .pdf files, manipulating data in spreadsheets and other tasks in which we normally work.
We already say that the overall behavior of the team has been remarkable and the Ryzen Mobile, without being the latest generation of AMD is a very suitable chip for this team.
Experience using the Acer Chromebook Spin 514
Setting up the convertible is as easy as any Chromebook and trivial for anyone using a Google app, as you just need to enter your credentials. Once you’ve defined the language and keyboard to use, we connect to a wireless network for Internet access and define the profile (work or personal) we’re going to use by logging in with a Google account or a phone, in a similar way as we would when using the Chrome browser.
Built-in two-factor authentication sends a notification to your smartphone for enhanced security. By activating the Smart Lock feature, you’ll be able to unlock your computer account without typing your password. After selecting the sync items, in a second you’ll find yourself on a desktop that’s as minimalist as it is familiar if you’re using Google’s browser. It’s not for nothing that Chrome OS is the browser’s version “on steroids” and support for web apps, though in recent times it’s been moving closer to what a more traditional desktop offers. Without the bloatware that abounds in Windows, by the way.
The purchase of any Chromebook has exclusive advantages in buying apps or services from Google or third parties. You get a free year of Google One cloud storage service (100 GB capacity); three free months of Stadia Pro gaming service or three free months of YouTube Premium. Take advantage of them if you think so.
The device boots up cold in about eight seconds. Most of our usage time was spent in the Chrome browser browsing dozens of open tabs, and this convertible passes the test with flying colors. It also fulfills computer productivity tasks, creating documents or presentations, or in the multimedia section, playing videos and others in what is its preferred use.
We took advantage of the gift of the Stadia Pro subscription to take up Google’s gaming platform. This Acer is a device with enough features for streaming, cloud, on-demand and general online gaming services on platforms like Stadia that work independently of any operating system or even hardware. Google Stadia is still ‘green’, but in a few years, once consolidated the new methods of distribution of games, Chromebooks will bridge the gap in games offered by a computer with Windows.
And of course Android. If Microsoft is on its way to support it in Windows 11 with the new Android subsystem, here it comes standard with Play S support.tore and install and run apps and games from Google’s mobile system is as easy as we do on a smartphone.
And if you use an Android phone you can see how the union with the Chromebook is total. For example, the Phone Hub function has an integrated control center that brings key capabilities of the phone, you can see the tabs you last opened on the mobile; respond to messages or calls; authenticate the computer from the mobile; check battery life and cellular signal and a long etc.. And for the future, Fuchsia OS is expected to merge Chrome OS and Android into a single system.
And Linux too… “All Chromebooks will be Linux-ready in short order,” the Chrome OS director of product management announced at Google I/O 2019. Considering that Chrome OS is based on a custom Linux kernel, it’s strange that the announcement that “Chromebooks will be Linux laptops” didn’t come sooner.
Running as a virtual machine with Debian, it integrates with Chrome OS so that when you install a Linux app it appears alongside the rest in the Chrome OS launcher. There is no doubt: Google ‘adds muscle’ to its platform with all this increased support under which will also offer the long-awaited ‘Game Mode’ to support Valve’s Steam.
We liked Acer’s convertible. Although it is not perfect (no WiFi 6, screen brightness, webcam and regular sound, thickness and weight …) is a good example of the rising level that are reaching the Chromebooks leaving behind the misconception that they were intended for the entry range. Together with the improvement of Chrome OS in all areas, it makes it a very real alternative to its Windows counterparts.
Acer’s device is well built and finished; it’s tremendously versatile with its convertible form factor; it has outstanding components like the keyboard and the Ryzen Mobile (even if it’s from previous generations) is a solvent processor for this device.
The tested version of the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (new model from 2021) is the one that offers the top hardware configuration. It has an official price of $599 and is available in Spain on the manufacturer’s website
for 649 euros. Acer also markets versions of this same model with 4 Gbytes of RAM and 64 Gbytes of eMMC flash storage.
If you’re looking for a more affordable approach to Acer’s Chromebooks, you can find versions of the same model marketed in previous years with Intel Celeron processor from 254 euros, although you won’t get the same experience with less memory and eMMC storage
to what the tested configuration offers (which we recommend) is the one that uses a Ryzen 3 and can be found for 510 Euros
There’s plenty to choose from at major retailers and if you’re considering other alternatives you can check out our latest Chromebook buying guide
. Final rating SUMMARY
Acer Chromebook Spin 514 confirms the rise of Chrome OS devices. A versatile convertible that offers several modes of use, well built and finished with aluminum chassis, with a fantastic keyboard and for the first time in an Acer Chromebook powered by AMD’s Ryzen Mobile processors
Design and build quality9