Acer Chromebook Spin 513 review: a chip off a new block


The $399.99 Acer Chromebook Spin 513 (recently indexed at $349) is without doubt one of the first actual Snapdragon-powered Chromebooks to hit the marketplace. Particularly, it’s powered via the Snapdragon 7c Compute SC7180, the kind of chip you’d usually be expecting to peer in a pill or telephone. Simply from seeing that title, some readers can most likely expect precisely what this tool goes to be: a light-weight, mediocre performer with superb battery existence.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 open, seen from the back, on a stone bench.

Say hi.

That’s just about what it’s — however you get another great bonuses, too. The show is way nicer than the ones I’ve observed on different Chromebooks at this value. It’s moveable at 2.65 kilos, its audio system and microphones are serviceable, and it has a in reality clean Gorilla Glass touchpad.

If efficiency is your precedence, there are Chromebooks with higher processors you’ll get for this value. But when it’s now not, the Chromebook Spin 513 outshines even more-expensive competition in a couple of different spaces.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 on a stone bench, seen from above, open. The screen displays a pastoral landscape.

You have to idiot me into pondering this was once $600.

Glance during the Chromebooks to be had on the $300-$400 value level, and also you’ll see plenty of clunkers. Check out Lenovo’s $349 Flex 3 Chromebook, as an example, or its $309 Chromebook C340. They’re thicker than the Spin 513, with large bezels, they usually each appear to be they had been inbuilt 2014.

However the Spin 513 appears and feels love it belongs in a better value class. Acer’s fashion is thinner than either one of those gadgets at 0.61 inches, and has a a lot more trendy glance. The lid is made from aluminum, and the reflective Acer brand provides some aptitude. The bezels at the facets and most sensible are slightly small, whilst nonetheless leaving quite a lot of room to carry as a pill. It’s additionally somewhat moveable at 2.65 kilos — simple to hold with one hand, and to slide right into a backpack or briefcase.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 on a stone bench, half open, seen from the left side.

USB-C, USB-A, audio jack at the left.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 on a stone bench, closed, seen from the right side.

And any other USB-C at the proper.

Talking of pill mode, the hinge is strong, and you want two fingers to open the lid. I’m k with this, even though, as a result of there’s additionally virtually no display screen wobble (and display screen wobble is the worst).

The chassis has another options you don’t incessantly see at this value level. The keyboard is backlit, which is a big marvel. It additionally provides a at ease typing revel in, with pleasant keys which are nonetheless quiet. I’m choosy about touchpads, however this one is somewhat roomy, with a clean Gorilla Glass floor — I’d make a choice it over quite a lot of touchpads I’ve used on multi-thousand greenback Home windows laptops. And also you get a excellent, trendy port variety together with two USB Kind-C ports (supporting USB 3.2 Gen 1, DisplayPort, and DC-in), one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Kind-A, and a three.5mm aggregate audio jack. There’s a USB-C on either side, which I’m more than pleased about for charging comfort.

However the greatest spotlight for me is the show. I usually be expecting to peer unhealthy panels on the $349 value level — the Flex 3 and the C340 are each small (11.6 inches), low-resolution (1366 x 768), and dim. However the Spin 513 has a somewhat great 1920 x 1080 display screen, which is as excellent of a decision as you’ll ever see on any computer at this value. It delivers a crisp image, and it will get vivid sufficient for even some out of doors use (when you’re within the colour). In case you’re searching for an inexpensive Netflix gadget, the Spin is a brilliant candidate — particularly given its movie-friendly 16:9 facet ratio. Oh, and it even has USI stylus make stronger.

My one sadness was once audio. The Spin comes with two stereo audio system, in addition to two microphones. The Chromebook delivered respectable quantity — definitely sufficient to fill a room — however percussion was once tinny as I listened to song, and you’ll omit about bass totally. I additionally heard some occasional distortion at most quantity.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 keyboard deck seen from above, angled slightly to the right.

Acer calls this the “FineTip” keyboard.

Inside of, the 7c processor comes paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of garage. Some fashions will make stronger LTE connectivity, even though my check unit didn’t.

The 7c definitely works — however the revel in was once a bit of gradual. I’ve been the usage of the Spin as my number one paintings driving force for every week, and I used to be ready to get executed maximum of the issues I had to — Google Doctors for paintings, emailing, tweeting, and so forth. However I were given impatient now and then. Resizing a window or sending it to fullscreen, as an example, takes just a little longer than it does on $600 gadgets. There have been events the place my Google Document would freeze, and I’d have to attend a pair seconds to renew operating.

Not like with ARM Home windows machines, the Spin 513 doesn’t include restrictions on which Android apps you’ll obtain. However a few of them had been glitchy. Slack, as an example, was once best usable in a tiny phone-sized window, and entirely iced over each time I attempted to fullscreen it. Gmail additionally every now and then iced over once I attempted to archive messages via swiping, and I infrequently needed to repeat the motion. I didn’t have both factor when the usage of the similar apps at the Intel-based Flex 3 final week.

And a few issues didn’t paintings in any respect. Zoom conferences within the Zoom app weren’t imaginable in this tool — in spite of the usage of the similar web connection I at all times use, my audio lagged up to now in the back of on calls that individuals couldn’t perceive me. Modifying a batch of pictures in Google Footage was once additionally a gradual and stuttery revel in that I wouldn’t suggest. It’s onerous to grasp whether or not those will also be attributed to Snapdragon compatibility problems that can toughen over the years, or whether or not they’re past what the processor can do.

Now, none of this implies the Spin 513 is a nasty computer. However it does imply I’m now not the objective target audience for this Chromebook, and my same old administrative center workload is a bit of above its best ceiling. You definitely wouldn’t wish to use this when you’re doing the rest greater than what I used to be doing. That incorporates the rest elaborate with Linux, and the rest that calls for an exterior observe.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 seen from the left, half open, on a stone bench. An apartment building is in the background.

I simply wish to Zoom, guy.

The top right corner of the Acer Chromebook Spin 513 seen from above.

No fingerprint sensor in this.

For comparability, the Spin 513 is in large part competing with Mediatek and Intel Celeron machines. It’s tricky to check the Snapdragon 7c to those chipsets (on the subject of energy) as a result of their structure is totally other. The most efficient I will say is that anecdotally, I had a relatively sooner revel in at the Flex 3 with the Celeron N4020. Zoom calls had been extra possible on that gadget (even though they had been nonetheless unhealthy). With that stated, I don’t suppose the variation is noticeable sufficient to make the Flex 3 a greater purchase until you’re in reality choosy. Each gadgets are in reality best intended for elementary duties. Suppose extra fundamental college stage versus highschool or faculty.

The flipside of this low efficiency is that the Spin’s battery existence is in reality superb. I averaged 10 hours and quarter-hour to a fee. That was once steady use, with a extra intense workload than someone must in reality be placing this Chromebook thru, and display screen brightness at 50 %. In case your brightness will probably be decrease, you’re doing more uncomplicated issues than I’m, and also you’re taking some breaks (most likely on all 3 counts), I believe you’ll be capable of move a pair days with no need an outlet. The 45W charger could also be somewhat small, and gained’t upload a lot weight for your backpack.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 sits on a stone bench, open. The screen displays a pastoral scene.

No glare right here. (This was once within the colour.)

The large query with a Chromebook that prices $399.99 is whether or not the drawbacks are issues you’ll are living with. On this case, the large problem (and the large space the place the Spin 513 is a bit of in the back of competition) is the processor and the restricted RAM. It’s essential to grasp what the program isn’t made to do.

However when you’re most commonly searching for YouTube and lightweight surfing, this Chromebook is certainly the most efficient worth I’ve observed at its value level. On the subject of the keyboard, touchpad, and display screen, in addition to the strong construct, hinge, and trendy port variety, it’s extra similar to one thing just like the $649 Pixelbook Pass than to different finances Chromebooks just like the Flex 3 and the C340.

The extra fascinating comparability is to Lenovo’s $279 Chromebook Duet, which additionally comes with 4GB of RAM, in addition to a MediaTek chip. In case you’re open to a pill shape issue, that tool has higher battery existence, and its processor flies. However it’s additionally somewhat a small tool (10.1 inches), so it gained’t be a greater purchase when you’re searching for a full-sized computer.

The Chromebook Spin 513 gained’t be for everybody. However it’s definitely the tool it got down to be — an enduring, moveable gadget for mild workloads — and when you’re buying groceries within the $399 vary, it’s definitely value a glance.

Pictures via Monica Chin / The Verge

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