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Acer Chromebook 514 review: Undercover powerhouse

Straight-forward updates make for a straightforward work laptop.

Among the best Chromebooks, we've seen greater diversity of features and power levels. We've seen Ryzen Chromebooks come in and hit just as hard as Intel, and we've seen detachables make a comeback with the Lenovo Duet and now the ASUS CM3, and just over a year after we got 10th Gen Intel processors into Chromebooks, we're getting our first 11th Gen Intel processors into Chromebooks like the Acer Chromebook 514.

The Acer Chromebook 514 has one other claim to fame: it's one of the very, very few debuting with Thunderbolt 4 ports rather than regular USB-C. This means that the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 is capable of 40Gbps data transfers and is now compatible with a metric crapton of docking stations, external drives, and accessories that previously were limited to Macs and higher-end Windows laptops.

Not much has changed for the Acer 514, but really? Not much else needed to. Here's why this unassuming Chromebook will be worthy of your consideration once it arrives later this year.

At a glance

Acer Chromebook 514

Bottom line: Acer's mid-range clamshell Chromebook pales in the Spin 713's shadow, but with 11th Gen Intel processors, 8GB of RAM and Thunderbolt 4 ports, this Chromebook is ready to get down to business no matter the peripherals you throw at it.

The Good

  • Excellent performance
  • Sturdy and well-built
  • Thunderbolt 4 ports

The Bad

  • Starting price is a bit high
  • Touchscreen isn't standard
  • Charging ports are both on the left side

From $600 at Acer

Acer Chromebook 514 Price and availability

Acer will release the Chromebook 514 in August in North America at a starting price of $600. It will also go on sale in parts of Europe (EMEA) in August at a starting price of €549. All configurations will use 11th generation Intel processors, ranging from Pentium Gold to Core i7, with 4-8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage in a NVMe SSD.

August is quite a ways off, but it's nice to see the upgrade to 11th gen Intel processors is happening more quickly than the adoption of 9th and 10th gen.

Acer Chromebook 514 Wonderful workhorse

Model Acer Chromebook 514
Display 14-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS
Optional touchscreen
Processor 11th Gen Intel Pentium Gold 7505
11th Gen Intel Core i3
11th Gen Intel Core i5
11th Gen Intel Core i7
Memory Up to 8GB
Storage Up to 256GB NVMe SSD
Audio Stereo speakers
Combo audio jack
Ports 2x Thunderbolt 4 Type-C
1x USB-A
microSD slot
Battery Up to 10 hours
Features Optional fingerprint sensor
Backlit keyboard
AUE Date June 2029

The Acer Chromebook 514 is the first Thunderbolt Chromebook I've had the privilege to test out, and so far, it's a welcome addition. While the Mac-like configuration means that your USB-C hub or docking station will have to plug in on the left side, it also opens up Chromebooks to a much wider range of accessories, since Thunderbolt is the preferred spec for most top-quality docking stations because it supports twice the data transfer speed, meaning you can support more peripherals and external displays through one cable.

I used the Acer Chromebook 514 with a few Anker docking stations, USB-C hubs by Aukey and Uni, and also with a Dell UltraSharp 27 USB-C Hub Monitor, and it worked fine with all of them except a couple instances of pass-through charging not being recognized. If you need more than Thunderbolt, there's also an HDMI port, one USB-A port, and a microSD card slot, not that you'll need it with most 514 configurations, which range from 64GB to 256GB of internal storage. This is wonderful news for anyone who plans to use a large amount of Linux applications, Android apps, or keep lots of downloaded content for those 12-hour intercontinental flights.

Speaking of long flights, while the Acer Chromebook 514 probably won't last you a full 12 hours, I've been getting 7-9 hours per charge in my use the last few weeks. Screen brightness always plays a factor there, but I kept that between 30-40% for most of my testing. Since my review model was a non-touch screen, the matte coating made it slightly easier to use this screen outdoors, but it's still the basic 250 nits brightness, so you'll want to stick to the shade. If you need a Chromebook bright enough to use outdoors, you'll want the 450-nit Acer Chromebook Spin 713.

The standout here is the 11th Gen Intel Core processors inside the 514, and Chrome is blazing fast on the i5 inside my pre-production model. 8GB of RAM absolutely helps with that; even when running ten tabs across two screens during a Google Meet video call, the Acer 514 held up quite well. Chrome OS has been getting more and more refined over the last year, with Chrome OS 89 and 90 each bringing useful new features like the expanded clipboard, the Tote for quick-accessing recent files, and Linux for Chrome OS finally leaving beta.

Turning back to the hardware for a minute, the keyboard here is backlit — thank you, procrastination gods — but the function row has an extra key near the middle: there's a dedicated screenshot button, which opens the new screenshot toolbar that was added in Chrome OS 89 a couple of months ago. Given how much pace sits on each side of the keyboard on this 14-inch Chromebook, I was hoping we'd get up-firing stereo speakers, but nope, they're on the bottom again. If you're at a table, they'll sound okay, but sitting in my lap on the couch, they sound about as meh as you'd expect, which is a shame given the $600 starting price point here.

Acer Chromebook 514 Mind your configurations

The power available for the Acer Chromebook 514 is more than adequate — but also depends entirely on how expensive a configuration you opt for. I highly recommend an i3 or higher if you intend to work full-time on this Chromebook. I also recommend a model with 8GB of RAM if you need to actually do things on your Chromebook while on video calls, which can hog resources.

This is a business-grade Chromebook, and as such the configurations allow companies to shave down prices by foregoing higher storage and the touchscreen. There are three screen configurations for the 514, but only one is touch-enabled. This was my first non-touchscreen Chromebook in about a year, and I fully admit that I've been absolutely spoiled by them.

By that same stroke, it's difficult to swallow the notion of $600 Chromebooks without a touchscreen, especially when they're standard on so many models. Just do yourself a favor and opt for touchscreen models; it'll make interacting with apps and games far, far more enjoyable.

Acer Chromebook 514 Competition

We're starting to get more Chromebooks with 11th Gen Intel processors, but for now the Acer Chromebook 514 will compete with HP Pro c640, and the Acer comes out on top in every category there, from performance to battery life to screen quality. The HP x360 14c is a much better competitor, and it has the benefit of being a 2-in-1 that you can use in more angles.

Some of the 514's stiffest competition comes from within the Acer lineup: the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 is less expensive thanks to its Ryzen process and more flexible with the 2-in-1 format, and the new Acer Chromebook Spin 713 that went on sale last week is less than a hundred dollars more for a significantly better 2K touchscreen, better speakers, and the same 11th Gen processors and Thunderbolt 4 ports.

Acer Chromebook 514 Should you buy it?

You should buy this if ...

  • You want a solid laptop that can take a beating
  • A touchscreen isn't a necessity
  • You already use Thunderbolt accessories

You should not buy this if ...

  • You need more flexibility
  • Your budget is strained
  • You can't wait to buy
4 out of 5

The internal upgrades for the Acer Chromebook 514 this generation are small, but they are significant. Once combined with the June 2029 Auto Update Expiration date, this is a Chromebook that should last you for the rest of the decade if you decide to grab it this fall. Thunderbolt 4 means that hopefully you shouldn't have as much docking station difficulty as normal USB-C Chromebooks, and the 11th Generation processors are ready to power whatever workload you throw at it.

No-nonsense powerhouse

Acer Chromebook 514

From $600 at Acer

She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid.

Acer's mid-range clamshell Chromebook pales in the Spin 713's shadow, but with 11th Gen Intel processors, 8GB of RAM, and Thunderbolt 4 ports, this Chromebook is ready to get down to business no matter the peripherals you throw at it.

Source: androidcentral

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