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Acer's new Chromebook Spin 514 features a fanless design and improved webcam

·Deputy Managing Editor
·3-min read

As part of its usual autumn laptop refresh, Acer is announcing a host of new Chromebook today that'll roll out in the coming months. There are four models being refreshed today: the Chromebook Spin 514, Chromebook 515, Chromebook 514, and Chromebook Spin 314. That's a lot of product names, but Spin devices can flip around with a 360-degree hinge, and the last two digits denote the screen size. That should hopefully ground you as we go through these new models.

Most interesting is probably the Spin 514 (pictured above), which combines a 14-inch 1080p touchscreen that has minimal bezels with Intel's 11th-generation Core i3, i5 or i7 processors. This laptop has no fans, which means these probably aren't the highest-powered versions of Intel's chips, but they should still provide solid performance for Chrome OS. Acer also put some focus on the webcam, a wise choice given how we're all still stuck on videos calls for the foreseeable future. It's a 1080p camera with a blue glass filter and new noise-reduction technology to remove things like light flares. We'll have to see how this works in practice, but given how many laptops have entirely mediocre webcams, any improvements here will be welcome.

Other specs include up to 16GB of RAM, up to 512GB of storage, Intel Iris Xe graphics and 10 hours of battery life. The Spin 514 weighs in at 3 pounds, so it's not going to be the lightest thing to use in tablet mode, but otherwise it sounds like it'll be a very good Chromebook — it also simply looks nice and well-built, at least as far as I can tell from these images. And Acer has a solid track record of making very good Chromebooks, so hopefully that'll continue here. The Spin 514 is expected to arrive in the US in January and starts at $700.

Acer's Chromebook 515 (which comes in consumer and enterprise editions) has similar specs to the Spin 514, though it has a larger 15.6-inch display. Given the large size, this laptop isn't a convertible, which is probably a smart move. For a 15-inch laptop, though, it's pretty light — only 3.75 pounds. It comes with the same 11th-generation processor options as the Spin 514, though it also has a budget Pentium Gold option (paired with Intel's UHD graphics rather than the Iris Xe). The Chromebook 515 will initially be available in Europe this month for €499; the Enterprise version will come to the US in January 2022 starting at $640.

Acer has a few less expensive Chromebooks coming out, as well. The Chromebook Spin 314 starts at $500 and arrives in the US in November. For that price, you'll get a 14-inch screen with an unfortunate 1,366 x 768 resolution, which is pretty unacceptable in the year 2021. It also features budget processors in the form of Intel's Pentium Gold or two Celeron options and has a 360-degree hinge, as the name implies. More intriguing is the Chromebook 514, which pairs a 14-inch, 1080p display with MediaTek's 8-core Kompanio 828 processor and 8GB of RAM. We haven't tested a MediaTek Chromebook in a while, so we can't say for sure how it'll perform yet. But Acer is promising 15 hours of battery life, and the laptop weighs less than 3 pounds, so it does have some potential as a budget Chromebook (the 514 will cost $400 when it is released in December). 

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