When it comes to power, the Chromebook 15 is completely adequate. Chrome OS is deliberately lightweight, cloud-based computing designed specifically to allow these sort of low-cost computers to exist.
Here’s how the Acer Chromebook 15 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
Mozilla Kraken (lower is better): 2,998ms
Octane (higher is better): 10,611
JetStream (higher is better): 62
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 16 hours, 47 minutes
The lack of power compared to its competition never came into play using the Acer, even with multiple tabs open.
At no point did the Chromebook feel noticeably sluggish or underpowered, but it also lacks the cool stylus features and UHD displays of its competitors.
On paper, with the exception of battery life, the Acer falls way behind its competition, putting up numbers less than half as strong as both the Pixelbook and the Samsung.
The Kraken test takes close to three times as long on the Acer as it does on the Pixelbook, but the tradeoff is the Acer's battery life is absolutely ridiculous.
In fact, it’s so ridiculous that we actually had to run the battery test twice on this laptop, because it became apparent our first attempt started too late in the day. With the screen and volume set to 50%, and a local copy of Guardians of the Galaxy running on loop, the Acer refused to die.
The second battery test attempt started at 6:45am, with the Acer finally giving up the ghost at 11:32pm – that's astonishing. The manufacturer claims 12 hours of battery life, and it's rare to see actual numbers come close to manufacturer claims, much less exceed them by such a large margin.
The trade-off between power and longevity is worth it, especially when the battery life is so incredible. The Acer has no fans to drain the battery and, with less rugged hardware than either the Samsung or Pixelbook, and it never felt hot.
The Acer's screen is bright, colorful and roomy. It's ideal for watching movies and surfing the web. That extra real estate also makes it easier on the eyes for productivity, especially during tasks like word processing and managing spreadsheets. General web surfing is also lovely on the Acer Chromebook 15, with enough power to keep up with multiple tabs and streaming video.
That said, the fantastic battery is what's really to love here. Yes, it's a good looking laptop, and the screen and speakers work well together for watching movies, but it's that battery life that puts this computer at the same level as more powerful Chromebooks. You just won't find a 15-inch laptop with this sort of battery life – it's exhausting. And, the icing on the cake is that, even after almost 17 hours of continuous run-time before the battery died, it took less than two hours to charge it back up using the USB-C charger.
Even though it holds its own in most circumstances, that lack of power eventually catches up to the Chromebook 15. Once the screen starts to fill up with Ajax-heavy browser tabs, there is a noticeable lag when opening up new pages or Google Doc files. It's small, but noticeable.
The speakers are mightily loud but lack depth, stripping all subtlety from music, producing a loud but flat sound that's like listening to music from another room. Essentially, they sound like very loud phone speakers, with the benefit of being in stereo.
Chromebooks are a great way to get stuff done online at a reasonable price. To that end, the Acer Chromebook 15 is more of an attractive tool than anything else, a way to get the job done and look good doing it.
It also benefits massively from the sharp, colorful 15.6-inch touch display. Movies and online video look great on this screen, and text is crisp and clean. Using the Acer to work online is a treat, with eye strain reduced by the ample screen and its excellent text rendering abilities.
The most difficult thing in making a judgement call about the Acer Chromebook 15 is weighing its relatively low power against its magnificent battery life – it's just unbelievable. Working on the train or watching movies without fear of a dead battery is huge, and with such a gigantic reservoir of electrons from which to draw, the battery more than makes up for any sluggishness it might have running a dozen or more tabs.
Ultimately, the Acer Chromebook 15 can't compete against the Samsung and Pixelbook in terms of power and functionality. But its price, coupled with a sharp display, handsome exterior and absolutely jaw-dropping battery, make up for its shortcomings.