Acer Chromebook 13 (2018) review

A Chromebook out of time

Acer Chromebook 13

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One of the benefits of Chrome OS is that you don’t need that much horsepower to get work done. An Intel Celeron processor and 4GB of RAM is more than enough for most Chromebooks. So, the Acer Chromebook 13, with its Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, is an absolute unit. However, you should keep in mind that with an Ultrabook-class processor, fan noise is absolutely something you’ll have to deal with here. 


Here’s how the Acer Chromebook 13 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Mozilla Kraken: 1,105ms
Octane: 34,774
JetStream: 163
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 8 hours, 4 minutes

We were able to get all of our work done without issues, blowing up our Google Chrome tab count to ridiculous totals, while playing music on Spotify and chatting in Slack. When it comes to horsepower, you’re definitely getting what you’re paying for. 

The Acer Chromebook 13 manages to beat the Google Pixelbook in pretty much every test, thanks to that 8th-generation Kaby Lake Refresh processor. For instance, in the Google Octane test, the Acer Chromebook 13 scored a whopping 34,774 points, compared to the Pixelbook’s 27,554. If you’re getting a Chromebook for work, this will get the job done. It’s just a shame that this hardware is locked to what the Chrome browser could do. 

Acer Chromebook 13

Battery life

And, likely thanks to the improvements to efficiency in Intel’s 8th-generation chips, the Acer Chromebook 13 also lasts longer than the Pixelbook. We looped local video at 1080p at 50% brightness and volume, with Bluetooth turned off, and the Acer Chromebook 13 lasted an impressive 8 hours and 4 minutes. Impressive indeed, though it is short of the 10 hours that Acer claims (which is no surprise). 

Compared to the Google Pixelbook, which lasted 7 hours and 40 minutes in the same test, that’s about 24 minutes more battery life, which is notable, but probably isn’t going to change your mind. 

And, when it comes to more typical workloads, the Acer Chromebook 13 seems to last us through most of our workday – though that is mostly word processing in Google Docs, and we aren’t exactly conservative with our battery usage. You can expect this Chromebook to last you through your workday, as long as you don’t overzealously pump up the screen brightness like we do. Just get ready to toss it on the charger when you get home – luckily it uses a standard USB-C charger, so you won’t have to fish out a proprietary cable. 

Acer Chromebook 13

Software and features

With most Chromebooks these days, Android app integration is kind of a given, including the Acer Chromebook 13. But, using Android apps without a touchscreen isn’t the best experience. While chat and productivity apps like Slack or Messenger generally work without issue, it’s usually a better experience to just run the browser version. 

And, while this Chromebook is in no way, shape or form marketed as a gaming device, we just had to download Asphalt 9 – more out of a sense of morbid curiosity than anything else. The verdict? 

Playing Android games on this device probably isn’t the best use of your time. The game assigns random keys to different touchscreen controls, and one of them doesn’t even work. When instructed to press ‘space’ to turbo boost, even after furiously mashing the spacebar, nothing happens on screen.

Most photo editing apps we tested are equally frustrating. Google’s own Snapseed is nigh unusable, as the interface doesn’t translate to a mouse and keyboard at all. Everything you do, even just cropping photos, takes so much longer. Again, we’re not sure why the Acer Chromebook 13 doesn’t have a touchscreen, especially considering the price. 

So, while you can download Android apps, you probably shouldn’t – stick to the browser when possible.

Acer Chromebook 13

Final verdict

The Acer Chromebook 13 is one of the most powerful Chromebooks we’ve ever used, and has a robust build that will see it survive many knocks and bumps that happen on the road. It even has a lovely display that’s great for productivity. This all makes the Acer Chromebook 13 a great device for travelers that do all of their work in a browser.

However, the high cost of this device, coupled with the lack of a touchscreen and decent speakers, makes this a puzzling laptop. Especially in a world where the Google Pixelbook exists, there’s nearly no reason to go with the Acer Chromebook 13, even if it’s $200 cheaper. 

Frankly, you can get a similarly specced – or better – Windows laptop for around the same cost. For most people that’s what we’d recommend. 

Bill Thomas

Bill Thomas (Twitter) is TechRadar's computing editor. They are fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but they just happen to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop them a line on Twitter or through email.