Good performance and a decent display, but it can’t match the style, screen or value of the Chromebook Spin 713
- Good full HD screen
- Respectable performance
- Comfortable keyboard
- Specs are beginning to look dated
- Average battery life
The Chromebook Spin series has mostly been a triumph for Acer. The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (£700) is regularly lauded as one of the best premium Chromebooks out there, while the cheaper Chromebook Spin 513 (£320) makes up for relatively slow performance with decent battery life, good design and superb value for money.
The Acer Spin 514, with the product code CP514-2H, fits somewhere in between these two, giving you a premium feel and matching performance at a slightly lower price than the Spin 713 but with a screen that isn’t quite as impressive. It’s a solid convertible Chromebook but not one that stands out in the way that its stablemates did at launch.
Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (2022) review: What you need to know
This is a 2-in-1 convertible Chromebook with a 14in, Full HD touchscreen. It’s based around an 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1130G7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, giving you a good working specification for not just the usual Chrome OS Web apps but also Linux and Android applications should you want to install those.
We’re beginning to see Chromebooks emerge with 12th-Gen Intel chips but the 1130G7 is still no slouch and probably helps Acer build this laptop to a budget. If you find this model too expensive, Acer also sells an Intel Core i3 1115G4 model with 128GB of storage for just £499.
Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (2022) review: Price and competition
At £749, there’s some strong competition out there for the Acer Chromebook Spin 514. Lenovo’s IdeaPad 5i 14 Chromebook may not be a convertible but it comes with a 14in screen and a similar spec with a Core i5-1135G7 CPU for around £500, while the IdeaPad Flex 5i has the same CPU and a 13.3in screen in a convertible design for less than that. The HP x360 14c is another 14in convertible with the same Core i5 CPU, and that’s around £600. You can also expect to see replacement devices with 12th-generation CPUs appear in the next few months.
Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (2022) review: Design
The Acer Spin 514 takes a slightly different tack to its convertible Chromebook brethren. The desktop footprint – 321 by 210mm – is a little larger than that of the Spin 513 but its 16:9 aspect-ratio screen means it feels a bit squashed and cramped compared with the 4:3 Spin 714.
The near zero-frame screen and some nicely rounded edges make it a compact and thoroughly portable 14in laptop, though, and at a mere 1.37kg, it’s not going to add much weight to a bag or backpack. The mostly aluminium build gives it a premium feel and there’s precious little flex in the screen or give anywhere around the shell.
As with every convertible, the design gives you flexibility. Chrome OS still works better as a desktop OS than a tablet OS but being able to work in tablet format is still great for browsing and video streaming, while the tent mode – where you have the screen propped up by the keyboard at the back – works brilliantly for gaming. If you’re not bothered about this kind of thing, Acer produces a cheaper clamshell Chromebook 514 with broadly similar specs, although the screen isn’t as good as the one found here.
For connectivity, there’s a single USB Type-C 3.2 gen 1 port on each side, both of which support DisplayPort, while there’s a USB-A 3.2 gen 1 port on the right and HDMI and audio sockets on the left. The lack of any high-speed connectivity for a fast USB hard drive is a little disappointing but not as much of an issue on a Chromebook as it would be on, say, a Windows laptop aimed at creative users. On the plus side, you get support for Wi-Fi 6 (though not 6E) and Bluetooth 5.0.
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Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (2022) review: Keyboard and touchpad
With one minor caveat, the keyboard is one of the Spin 514’s high points. It has a great layout, with large, well-spaced keys and good-sized Shift, Tab, Ctrl, Alt and Return keys for your fingers to anchor onto. The cursor keys and Chrome OS function keys are on the small side but not to the extent that they’re miniscule and hard to find.
I like the key action, too. It’s light, but not too light, with a tactile bounce when you release the pressure on the key, and there’s a decent amount of travel. With a consistent feel across the surface, it’s definitely one of Acer’s better efforts.
The caveat? Acer uses a soft backlight that glows through the translucent characters on the keytops but if you leave this on during daylight hours you’ll find that – in some lighting – it renders the keys near impossible to read. This resulted in a lot of typos and significant levels of grumbling until I realised I could fix it just by simply turning off the backlight.
If I have one criticism of the Acer Spin 514’s touchpad, it’s that it’s a little small and feels slightly cramped compared with most modern laptops. You might want to connect a mouse if you’re doing anything that requires real precision work. On the plus side, the surface is smooth, highly accurate and I never found it all that bothersome in general use.
Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (2022) review: Display and sound
Not all of Acer’s mid-range Chromebooks have had great screens but the Spin 514’s 14in offering is very decent for a model at this price point. Its 1,920 x 1,080 resolution looks sharp and although the brightness levels aren’t brilliant – I measured a peak of 319cd/m2 – the low black luminance level means you still get an adequate contrast ratio of 1,042:1.
In brighter environments you might want something with more punch but in average or gloomy lighting, it’s very usable and photos, games and streaming video look fine. What’s more, where some mid-range Chromebooks’ grasp of colour is almost laughable, the Spin 514 posts competent results, with 82.8% sRGB coverage and an average Delta E colour variance of 2.07. It isn’t good enough for colour critical design work but I can’t imagine anyone will buy this Chromebook with that kind of thing in mind.The sound output has its strengths: there’s a lot of volume and more bass than you might expect on a laptop of this size. High frequencies sound harsh, threatening earache with movie soundtracks and action-heavy sequences but the speakers do work well for video calls, where the sensitive microphone and 1080p webcam also help make for a good experience. If you live your working life from virtual meeting to virtual meeting, this is a good Chromebook to do it with.
Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (2022) review: Performance and battery life
By any standard, the Spin 514 is a speedy Chromebook. Its Core i5-1130G7 CPU and 8GB of RAM put it right up there with the year’s fastest, and its scores in Geekbench 5 (1169 single-core and 2512 multi) and WebXprt 3 and 4 (280 and 182 respectively) are among the best we’ve seen.
Even in the GFXBench 3D tests it does well, hitting 44fps in the Car Chase test at native resolution. In the newer Aztec benchmark at normal quality settings, it hits a credible 52fps.
In short, the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 can handle most Chrome OS, Android and Linux workloads easily. I didn’t experience any slow or grindy behaviour during testing, even with multiple apps running and videos playing in the background.
Just be aware that even faster Chromebooks are now becoming available, not least from Acer itself. The Acer Chromebook 516 GE (£850), for example, with its Core i5-1240P CPU, wipes the floor with the Spin 514 across all these tests. Ditto for the eco-friendly Chromebook Vero 514 (£800), with its Core i7-1255U.
I was also a little underwhelmed by the battery life. In our HD video rundown test – where we play a video continuously with the screen at a set brightness and the laptop in Flight mode – the Spine 514 lasted 8hrs 6mins before running out of juice. That’s not a terrible result but other 14in Chromebooks are reaching well over ten hours these days.
Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (2022) review: Verdict
There’s a lot to like about the Spin 514. It’s a well-designed and competent Chromebook with good performance and a decent screen but there’s nothing about it that really shouts “buy me”.
With faster models now emerging that have equally good, if not better quality displays, you’re better off choosing something else. Either pay a bit more for the Spin 713 (£700) with its superb 4:3 QHD screen or wait and see how the next generation of Chromebooks stack up.