Acer Chromebook R 13 review

The R is for Really long battery life

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Chromebooks have earned a bit of a reputation for lacking power compared to their Windows counterparts. And it’s been true to a degree — Chromebooks have traditionally occupied the lower end of the notebook market, and as such, they have tended to use lower-power components. 

But, times are changing, and so are Chromebooks. More powerful Pentium- and Core i series-based Chromebooks are becoming more common, and slower machines, like the Chromebook R 13, are getting left behind.


Here's how the MacBook performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Kraken 1.1: 3302.6ms
Octane 2.0: 9,588
Jetstream: 57.176
Battery (TechRadar movie test): 12 hours, 12 minutes


While the R 13’s Kraken score of 3,302 milliseconds is an improvement over some older Chromebooks – like last year’s HP Chromebook 14 – it’s significantly slower than the scores put up by the higher priced ($499) Asus Chromebook Flip C302, which completed the benchmark in less than half the time. 

The same holds true with the Octane and JetStream scores, where the Asus Chromebook Flip performed two to three times faster on the benchmarks.

The R 13 intermittently suffers from choppy interface animations, less-than-smooth scrolling, and sluggish window dragging. Some tasks also caused Spotify streaming music to stutter in my testing. Again, if performance is your number-one priority, you may want to pass on the Chromebook R 13 and instead spend a little more on similar convertible Chromebooks, like the aforementioned Asus Chromebook Flip and Samsung Chromebook Pro ($549).

It’s not all bad, of course: the Chromebook R13 boots up quickly, and handles most web browsing and productivity tasks just fine (most of the time, anyway). Videos also play back smoothly for the most part, even in full 1080p HD resolution. And Chrome OS is as lightweight and responsive as ever, making lackluster raw performance less of an issue.

A battery that keeps going

While the raw performance numbers aren’t remarkable, the battery is impressive. Acer says the Chromebook R 13’s three-cell, 4,670 mAh battery will last for twelve hours. And, in our experience, that’s not much of an exaggeration. 

In our video battery test — in which we loop “Guardians of the Galaxy” over and over until the battery dies — the Chromebook R 13 lasted 12 hours and 12 minutes with the screen set to 50% brightness. The Asus Chromebook Flip C302 managed 10 hours and 46 minutes in the same test, while the Samsung Chromebook Pro reported 8 hours and 43 minutes.

In our hands-on time, we never quite got to the 12 hours we saw in the video playback test, but we did manage to eke out over 9 hours in everyday usage — browsing the web, streaming music via Spotify, watching YouTube videos, and writing this review — with the display at 50% brightness. As always, your mileage will vary depending on your usage patterns, but with the Chromebook R 13, you can leave your charger behind and make it through the day.

Sight and sound

The Acer Chromebook R 13 is built around a 13.3-inch IPS LCD screen with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. That is pretty much the norm for 13-inch Chromebooks, though some higher-end Chromebooks now feature much higher-resolution screens.

For the most part, it’s a good screen. Text and images appear crisp and clear at both 1,920 x 1,080 and 1,536 x 864 resolutions. Contrast and color saturation are deep, but I did notice that colors were slightly muted compared to how they appear on my trusty, late-2012 13-inch MacBook Air. (We’ve seen this quirk in multiple Chromebooks now, which leads us to believe that this may be a color calibration issue rather than a hardware shortcoming.) 

Unless you’re into photography or are comparing one screen to another side-by-side, though, you probably won’t really notice a difference.

The R 13’s stereo speakers are acceptable, if a little tinny (they’re laptop speakers, after all). They’re placed on the bottom of the machine, which means they’ll sound muffled if you have the R 13 on a soft surface. They sound best when you have the notebook on a desk or tabletop, and they’re sufficiently loud. 

USB-C is in (and so is USB 3.0)

The Chromebook R 13 features one USB 3.0 port, as well as one USB-C port used for charging and other USB-C devices. You’ll also find an HDMI port, a microSD slot, and a headphone jack. 

It’s a decent number of ports, but you’ll need an adapter to use the USB-C port with standard USB peripherals. Also, since you charge using the USB-C port, you’re down to only one USB port while charging. 

A Chrome OS tablet, sort of

Like the Samsung Chromebook Pro and Asus Chromebook Flip C302, the Chromebook R 13 has a screen that can flip around 180 degrees, effectively turning it into a tablet (When in tablet mode, the keyboard and trackpad are disabled to prevent accidental trackpad and keyboard input). 

It’s not an ideal setup — Chrome OS isn’t really pulling off a touch-friendly operating system just yet –so it can be a little tedious to use. Still, the option is there if you want it, and you may find Google Keep, with its drawing tools, to be a useful app for jotting down quick notes. 

We also noticed that the screen was a little slow to respond to touch input such as scrolling and drawing, but this may be related to the overall interface sluggishness noted earlier.

We liked

The Acer Chromebook R 13 is a notebook built to last — at least in terms of battery life — and it outclasses the battery runtime you’ll find in comparable convertible laptop-tablet hybrid Chromebooks from Asus and Samsung. Also, the display, while not perfect, does a good job at rendering text and images.

We disliked

Performance, while acceptable in real-world use, does not quite match up to similar, though more expensive, Intel-based Chromebooks from other vendors. In addition, the Chromebook R 13’s build quality is suspect — the notebook’s case is surprisingly flexible (and no, that isn’t a good thing). 

Final verdict

If you’re looking for speed and sizzle, look elsewhere. The Acer Chromebook R 13 is not going to wow you. Its performance leaves something to be desired. It isn’t the sleekest piece of kit around. It isn’t particularly inexpensive. But, it runs for a really long time on a single charge.

For a lot of people, that alone might be enough. If battery life is on the top of your wish list, the Acer Chromebook R 13 is worth a look. Otherwise, it does little to distinguish itself from the pack.