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Acer Chromebook Plus 515 review: Plus goes big

Our Rating :
£399.99 from
Price when reviewed : £499
inc VAT

While not quite perfect, the Chromebook Plus 515 is a comfortable and speedy workhorse at a very affordable price


  • Chromebook Plus enhancements
  • Ample performance
  • Impressive sound


  • Screen lacks brightness
  • Average battery life

The Acer Chromebook Plus 515 is an enticing prospect for two reasons: it’s one of the first Chromebooks we’ve seen that meets Google’s new Chromebook Plus specification, and comes with the various software enhancements designed to showcase these more powerful devices; and it’s a natural successor to the 2015 Acer Chromebook 15 – one of the earliest Chromebooks to pair a decent Intel Core i3 spec with a bigger 1080p screen and prove Google’s schools-friendly laptops could also handle serious work.

Some eight years on, the Chromebook Plus 515 is doing its best to spin a similar story. The whole idea of the Chromebook Plus initiative is to put some clear water between the cheap and cheerful Chromebooks you might be used to, and a new wave of modern, high-performance Chromebooks that can handle office work, creative apps, game streaming and more. And while there are still signs the Chromebook Plus 515 is a budget laptop, it does a solid job of making the Chromebook Plus case. There are better big-screen Chromebooks out there if you’re working with a larger budget, but if £500 is your limit, the Chromebook Plus 515 is an excellent choice.

READ NEXT: The best Chromebooks to buy today

Acer Chromebook Plus 515 review: What you need to know

A bigger sibling to the 14in Acer Chromebook Plus 514, the Chromebook Plus 515 ups the ante to bring in a 15.6in Full HD display and a more powerful Core i5 1235U CPU. With 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD it meets and exceeds Google’s Chromebook Plus requirements, and it comes with the Chromebook Plus software enhancements pre-installed.

Acer Chromebook Plus 515 lid

These include exclusive animated wallpapers and screensavers, an enhanced version of Google Photos and new AI-enhancements for video calls and meetings. What’s more, Google bundles a free trial of the Web-based Adobe Photoshop and a discount on the LumaFusion video editing app, just to show what a powered-up Chromebook Plus can do.

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Acer Chromebook Plus 515 review: Price and competition

The Core i5 version of the Chromebook Plus 515 sells at around £500, or there’s a cheaper version with a Core i3-1215U available for £100 less. That model sits at around the same price as the Chromebook Plus 514, which is worth considering if you want a smaller, more portable Chromebook with a 16:9, 1920 x 1200 screen.

If you’re after a larger Chromebook, there’s no direct competitor in the Chromebook Plus ranks, with the cheaper HP Chromebook Plus 15.6 having the same screen size but a slower Core i3-N305 CPU. However, a range of existing Chromebooks are due to receive a Chromebook Plus upgrade, which puts the Acer Chromebook 516GE, Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook 16 and Asus Chromebook Flip CX5601 into the mix. These are for the most part more expensive options, but beat the Chromebook Plus 515 in key areas, particularly connectivity, CPU power and/or screen quality.

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Acer Chromebook Plus 515 review: Design

While Acer has often used aluminium for its mid-range to premium Chromebooks, the Chromebook Plus 515 comes clad in plastic with a faux-aluminium finish, even extending to some etched diagonal lines over one diagonal portion of the lid. This might be a little disappointing but it doesn’t seem to have an adverse effect on looks; it’s a smart-looking clamshell laptop that feels very solid in its build. Indeed, it has passed the MIL-STD 810H certification for shock, vibration and temperature resistance. There’s a small amount of flex in the lid, but nothing grievous, and the keyboard deck has no sign of budget laptop bounce.

Acer Chromebook Plus 515 ports

With a footprint of 350.6 x 238.4mm, it takes up plenty of space on your desk but the 1.68kg weight isn’t too much of a burden. Although it is more of a desktop replacement than an ultraportable, you could still lug it around if you needed to.

Despite the larger size, connectivity is identical to the 14in Chromebook Plus 514, with a USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 port on either side and a matching USB-A port and HDMI 1.4 port on the left. You’ll need one of those USB-C ports for charging and the lack of faster USB and 4K/60fps video output is slightly disappointing, but the basics are all in place. What’s more, you have Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6 for peripherals and wireless networking.

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Acer Chromebook Plus 515 review: Keyboard and trackpad

Where many big-screen Chromebooks try to cram in a full-sized keyboard and numeric pad, the Chromebook Plus 515 opts, sensibly, to give a standard Chromebook layout more room to breathe. As a result, you get large, square, flat-topped keys with ample travel, good-sized Shift, Ctrl and Return keys and a full-sized space bar.

Acer Chromebook Plus 515 keyboard closeup

The key action isn’t bad, either, with a bit more spring and snap than you tend to find on some of Acer’s softer-feeling keyboards. Having spent a few days working on this Chromebook, I’ve found it very usable and comfortable, particularly as the palm rests provide plenty of support and there are no sharp edges to irritate your wrists.

All that space also leaves room for a larger touchpad, and the combination of the 125 x 82mm size and smooth OceanGlass recycled plastic surface makes this one a real asset when you are navigating around Google Workplace documents or dual-finger scrolling. Given that this is an inexpensive laptop, the basic ergonomics are really rather good.

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Acer Chromebook Plus 515 review: Display and sound

The display, on the other hand, is a little disappointing. The maximum brightness is 283cd/m2, with a black level of 0.203cdm2 and a contrast ratio of 1,394:1. There’s a bit more punch to images than on the Chromebook Plus 514, and it’s slightly easier to work with in moderate to bright conditions. However, sRGB coverage is still fairly low, at 65.9%, and colours aren’t as rich or as vivid as on, say, the Acer Chromebook 516GE or Asus Chromebook Vibe CX34 Flip.

Acer Chromebook Plus 515 desktop

On the audio side, the Chromebook Plus 515 is in a different league to its smaller cousin. The output is much more powerful and rounded, with a tone that only gets strained when you turn up the volume all the way. The DTS-branded speaker system is also pretty good at steering surround effects, making it a decent option for streamed games and movies for those who don’t like having to plug some headphones all the time. It’s one of the best-sounding Chromebooks I’ve used outside the gaming-focused models.

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Acer Chromebook Plus 515 review: Performance and battery life

With its Core i5-1235U CPU, the Chromebook Plus 515 is an impressively speedy Chromebook. Its Geekbench 6 scores of 1,802 (single-core) and 5,773 (multi-core) mean it’s a little slower than the Asus Chromebook Vibe CX34 Flip (1,805 and 6,517) but its results in the WebXprt 4 and JetStream benchmarks put it level. Performance is also broadly similar to last year’s Acer Chromebook Vero 514. Given the Asus uses the same CPU, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise, and both are amongst the fastest Chromebooks that we’ve tested.

Acer Chromebook Plus 515 Geekbench 6 chartAcer Chromebook Plus 515 Geekbench 6 chartAcer Chromebook Plus 515 WebXprt 3 chart

With the fairly light requirements of Chrome OS, there’s more than enough power here to handle more demanding productivity and creative apps, and even Linux apps run through the built-in compatibility layer won’t cause you any problems. In general use it’s a pleasure to work with, handling browser windows stacked with 12 to 20 tabs and switching between apps without a pause.

We cover the new features of Chromebook Plus in more detail in the review of the Acer Chromebook Plus 514, but Acer’s plus-sized 515 has all the grunt you need to make the Magic Eraser tool in the enhanced Google Photos work instantaneously, while the generative AI features in the Chrome OS version of Photoshop also work at lighting speed. There’s ample power here for image or video-editing, and with the offline file sync features of Chromebook Plus, using local apps such as LumaFusion becomes more practical. ChromeOS is still not our first choice of platform for creative work but if your needs are relatively lightweight and colour accuracy isn’t absolutely critical, the Chromebook Plus 515 is a perfectly workable device.

Acer Chromebook Plus 515 Battery life chart

Battery life could be better, with the Chromebook Plus 515 only just scraping through 9hrs 3mins of HD video playback before running out of juice. That’s hardly surprising given the big screen and speedy processor, though, and it’s only the 14in and smaller models where we’ve seen Chromebooks last 10 to 12 hours or more.

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Acer Chromebook Plus 515 review: Verdict

The Chromebook Plus 515 has the same issues as the Chromebook Plus 514, in that the screen brightness isn’t where we’d like it to be, and the battery life is underwhelming. Yet these aren’t such serious problems on the Plus 515, partly because it’s a better fit for mostly desktop use, and because the screen has slightly more punch and contrast. What’s more, the strong all-round performance and excellent ergonomics count for a lot.

It would be great to see a big-screen Chromebook Plus unit with a brighter display and more premium materials, but that machine would cost significantly more. When you look at what the Chromebook Plus 515 delivers for the money, it’s excellent value – and one of the strongest options in the new line-up of Chromebook Plus devices.

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