For basic tasks like checking email, using Google Docs, browsing Facebook or getting lost in Amazon recommendations, the Chromebook 514 is a solid performer. It’s when we have a dozen or so tabs open, along with an Android app or two, that we notice a slowdown. It doesn’t screech to a stop, but some tasks, like opening an app, seem to take longer.
Here’s how the Acer Chromebook 514 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
Mozilla Kraken: 2,953ms
Octane 2: 12,860
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 11 hours and 28 minutes
The Intel Pentium processor in the Chromebook 514 just doesn’t have the oomph to keep up with what, we imagine, most users shopping for a Chromebook at this price point will consistently throw at it. Just look at the benchmarks for the HP Chromebook 13 and Acer Chromebook Flip C320, both of which were tested with an Intel Core m-series processor – there’s no comparison.
The Chromebook 514 is no match for the HP Chromebook 13’s Intel Core m5, which more than doubles the former’s the Octane and Kraken scores. The Flip C302 and its Intel Core m3 saw a 3x performance boost in the JetStream test, and nearly doubled the 514’s performance in the rest of the benchmarks. Keep in mind, the C302 is priced the same as the Chromebook 514, and the 514 doesn’t even come close to matching its performance.
The Chromebook 514 has two downward facing speakers, and to be honest, they don’t sound good at all. The sound is hollow and muffled, with most of the audio somehow working its way to the hinge. This feat at one point left us with the impression that the speakers were at the back of the housing. Actually, for a brief moment, we thought the speakers were somehow part of the hinge.
You’ll want a pair of headphones if you plan on using the Chromebook 514 to listen to a lot of music or watch a lot of movies.
Acer’s website claims the battery life of the Chromebook 514 should be enough to get through 12 hours of use. Normally, laptop battery life estimates from the manufacturer fall well short of reality. However, in TechRadar’s movie test, the Chromebook 514 made it 11 hours and 28 minutes before powering off. That’s pretty darn close to Acer’s estimate.
Daily use of the Chromebook 514 wasn’t nearly as impressive, but we have every bit of confidence that its battery is more than enough to power through a day note taking in class.
In comparison, the HP Chromebook 13 made it 8 hours and 1 minute, while the Asus Chromebook Flip C302 reached 10 hours and 46 minutes in the same test. Both are respectable results, but the Chromebook 514 blows them away.
Android and Linux support
Chrome OS supports both Android and Linux apps. We installed several Android apps from the Play Store and enabled the Linux feature in Chrome’s settings. Android apps are still hit or miss on Chrome OS overall. You’re either forced into using the phone version of an app, or hoping that there’s a decent tablet-optimized version of the app.
Despite interface limitations, the Chromebook 514 has no apparent issues running Android apps during our testing. But, if you’re going to have multiple apps and tabs open, you will feel a slowdown.
After enabling Linux support, we installed a couple of apps, all of which loaded and ran as they should. Albeit a little slower than we are used to on other Chromebooks, Linux support is still in beta, so we won’t be overly critical.
Outside of battery life, there’s a lot left to be desired here. Performance is underwhelming, the display is just OK and the trackpad is frustrating. At this price, we expected more. That’s the crux of the Acer Chromebook 514’s problem: It’s priced to compete with premium laptops – but the laptop doesn’t deliver.
If the Chromebook 514 were priced lower, the expectations would follow. But, that’s unfortunately not the case. You can get a far more powerful and capable Chromebook for the same price. It’s hard to recommend the 514 over the Chromebook Flip.
If battery life is paramount to everything else, then sure, the Chromebook 514 is worth considering. Otherwise, there are better laptops for this price that come with far less compromise.