Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (2021, AMD) initial review: Versatility is its charm

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Gone are the days when Chromebooks were ultra-budget laptops with barely visible screens. Sure, we’ve seen super-high-end models, too, but when it comes to balance Acer has got everything in check with the Chromebook Spin 514.

This 2021 model, the second-gen refresh of the 2018 original, steps up the features by introducing AMD Ryzen for the first time to a Chromebook, promising decent performance at a fair price and long-lasting battery life too.

Being a Spin model it also has a dynamic hinge which means the product can be setup and orientated in various different ways for more versatile use. With Chromebooks already a popular hit, how does this one stack up?

Acer Chromebook Spin 514 review photo 2

Design & Display

 

  • Anodised, sandblasted aluminium chassis with military-grade durability
  • 360-degree hinge for laptop, tablet, stand and tent screen positions
  • Display: 14-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS LCD touchscreen panel
  • Ports: 2x USB-A & 2x USB-C (3.2 Gen 1 support)
  • Weight: 1.55kg / Thickness: 17.35mm
  • 1x 3.5mm headphone jack

With a 14-inch screen, we think the Chromebook Spin 514 hits the sweet spot in terms of size. It’s not too big, not too heavy, but doesn’t forego the all important must-have ports – there’s the legacy USB-A and more up-to-date USB-C ports – to cater for all eventualities (this model doesn’t have an HDMI out, but the Enterprise version, designed more for business than school-goers, does).

The screen is an IPS LCD panel, which means the viewing angles are decent, and with touch control you can either use the pointer or your fingers to interact with the Chrome OS (that’s Google’s on-board operating system).

Image result for Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (2021, AMD) initial review: Versatility is its charm

A key sell to any Spin product is its 360-degree hinge, which here means you can use the Spin 514 as a laptop, push the lid flat so it’s like a chunky tablet, or flip it around so the screen stands up with the keyboard hidden, or in a different ‘tent’ formation with the keyboard behind – the last two of which might be useful for interactive touchscreen sessions.

While the Spin 514’s bottom bezel is rather chunky – as you can see from the more pronounced black bar there – the left and right bezel is much smaller, giving the screen a decent ratio against the body. It’s a fairly neat design for a Chromebook that’s not ultra-pricey.

Hardware & Performance

  • AMD Ryzen 3000 C-series processor, up to 16GB RAM, AMD Radeon graphics
  • Up to 256GB on-board storage, microSD card expandable
  • Google Chrome OS operating system

Under the hood this Chromebook sports AMD’s Ryzen 3000 C-series processors. Why does that matter compared to tried-and-tested Intel? This AMD is a 7 nanometre chipset, which means the transistors measure 7nm, not 10nm like Intel’s equivalent. That means smaller distances for signals to travel which, in turn, results in lower power consumption, lower heat, and longer-lasting battery life. It’s why AMD is proving a popular choice in laptops at the moment – not that there’s anything wrong with Intel by any means.

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