The Acer Chromebook 514 makes its presence known with a tantalizing 14 hours of battery life. If you’re not impressed, then you must not know much about Chromebooks: Our previous experience with these usually inexpensive laptops have never been this good. Laptop Mag has been testing Chromebooks for nearly a decade, and the Acer Chromebook 514 has the longest lasting battery life of any Chromebook we’ve ever reviewed.
Couple this with speakers that are far better than they have any right to be, decent performance all around (although it could be better), and an inexpensive price tag, and you have an easy buy for anyone in need of a sub-$500 Chromebook. However, we’re not exactly ready to shine the “greatest Chromebook ever made” trophy for it just yet.
Unfortunately, the Acer Chromebook 514 is hindered by a poor display that fails in both brightness and vibrancy tests, an unbelievably difficult touchpad, and a webcam that doesn’t accomplish much except making you look unkempt. However, despite its flaws it still makes its way onto our best Chromebooks page.
Acer Chromebook 514 price and configurations
The Acer Chromebook 514 I tested costs $460 and is built with a MediaTek Kompanio 828 ARM Cortex A76 CPU, Mali-G57 MC5 integrated graphics, 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM, 64GB of flash memory storage, and a 14-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS touchscreen. Other configurations allow you to downgrade the RAM and storage space to 4GB and 32GB, respectively. If you need more flash storage, you can max it out to 128GB. You can also choose whether the display is touchscreen or not.
The cheapest model comes in at $400 with similar specs as the unit we tested, save for its 4GB RAM and non-touch display. The most expensive model goes for $530 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
Acer Chromebook 514 design
The Acer Chromebook 514’s simple aesthetic will appeal to minimalists, but it won’t do much for anyone who enjoys pizazz in their laptop designs. The lid’s silver hue is pretty much its only defining trait, and while it looks generic, the shiny sleekness is urbanely pleasing. This is also complimented by a reflective Acer engraving (that can mirror your face if you peek into it) and a dark gray Chromebook logo sitting above it.
Opening up the lid reveals two speakers on the left and right side of the black keyboard. There’s a silver touchpad with a shiny trim to distinguish its border, while a sticker at the bottom right showcases the laptop’s many features. This includes, but is not limited to, the promise of 15-hour long battery life and narrow bezels (which aren’t that narrow).
The top bezel houses a 720p webcam; the bottom bezel features another reflective logo. The left and right bezels aren’t enormous, but they’re not narrow either. I do find it amusing that the bottom bezel of the display features a shiny sticker with the text “FULL HD 1080,” as if the minimum expectation is something to celebrate. There might as well be another sticker next to it that says “WILL RUN CHROME.” Chromebooks with displays at 1280 x 720-pixel resolution do exist, but it’s usually obvious by their size.
The Acer Chromebook 514 comes in at 12.7 x 8.9 x 0.7 inches, with an approximate weight of 2.87 pounds. It’s larger but lighter than the Lenovo Flex 5 (12.2 x 8.4 x 0.7-inches, 2.97 pounds), but for the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (12.7 x 8.9 x 0.7-inches, 3.64 pounds), it manages to be significantly lighter — even though they’re both the same size.
Acer Chromebook 514 ports
The Acer Chromebook 514’s port assortment is rather underwhelming. The left side on the Acer Chromebook 514 features a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port, a USB Gen 1 Type-A port, and a headphone jack.
The right side is quite simple, with only one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port available.
While this isn’t a terrible selection of ports, we would hope for a microSD card reader and Kensington lock. Chromebooks are designed to be taken on the go, so having a way to upload data from a microSD card and protect the laptop from thieves with a Kensington lock is important.
Acer Chromebook 514 display
The Acer Chromebook 514’s 14-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel display is an underwhelming affair. Outside of the FHD crispness provided by this inexpensive piece of hardware, those with a discerning eye for display quality will not be impressed.
I watched the trailer for Jurassic World: Dominion and quickly noticed how dim the Acer Chromebook 514’s display is. At maximum brightness in a dark room, it felt like there was a transparent black layer over the display. Even during a daylight scene when a giant crocodile dinosaur munched on a cage at sea, it seemed held back by the hardware’s lacking nits. The saturation also looked really off, with faces appearing unrealistically cool with little depth to the colors.
The Acer Chromebook 514’s colorimeter tests show that the display is truly lacking, only covering 46.2% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. This is significantly below the Chromebook average of 70% and just slightly worse than the Lenovo Flex 5 (47%), but it did a little better than the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (42.8%).
The Acer Chromebook 514 didn’t do much better in our screen brightness test, hitting a low average of 224 nits. Once again, this is significantly lower than the Chromebook average brightness of 294 nits and Flex 5 (260), but it did better than the Spin 514 (209 nits).
Acer Chromebook 514 keyboard and touchpad
The Acer Chromebook 514’s black keyboard is a little smaller than others I’ve tested, but it worked just fine for me. It’s possible I’m used to smaller keyboards, as the previous laptop I tested (MSI Prestige 14 Evo A12) had a huge keyboard, so I would underestimate the placement of keys and end up with garbled sentences full of nonsense. But with the Acer Chromebook 514, I felt right at home typing.
I took the typing test at 10FastFingers.com on the Acer Chromebook 514 and managed to hit 88 words per minute with its keyboard. This is lower than when I took the test on a keyboard I’m familiar with and managed to hit 107 wpm. This mostly had to do with my inability to get used to the Caps Lock key being replaced with the search key. Although this is the Chromebook way, it’s a way that I will never appreciate. Otherwise, the keyboard’s size worked well for me and the key travel had enough depth to be satisfying.
The Acer Chromebook 514’s touchpad isn’t good. The traction is unsatisfying, as I need to fight against its surface to move the cursor. And pressing the touchpad puts the cursor in a half-second limbo where it’s unmovable. This quickly interrupts the flow of my work and makes productivity a little more difficult. We highly recommend using an actual mouse and connecting it to the laptop if you intend to use it during work.
Acer Chromebook 514 audio
The Acer Chromebook 514’s top-facing speakers are surprisingly good, offering crisp, clear audio in most songs I threw at it. One song I tried didn’t do too well, but most music will be high quality, so it won’t be necessary to use one of our best computer speakers or best wireless headphones. But if you’re willing to spend the extra cash, it’ll offer a great upgrade anyway.
I listened to “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” by Kate Bush, and what struck me immediately was how loud and clear Bush’s voice came through the speakers. The ambient synths had their ethereal quality perfectly captured in contrast to her highs and lows, but as the track escalated in intensity, some sounds would get lost against one another (specifically the background drums). Still, it was a pleasant listening session.
I then jumped to “Unspoken” by The Ninth Wave, which shared similar strengths. The Acer Chromebook 514 is fantastic at translating voices clearly without completely overpowering the rest of the track. I was truly floored as the speakers handled the song continuing to add more and more instruments into the weave without mistepping. Each drum hit, guitar strum, synth note and vocal cord came together into an awesome translation of this great song. I stared at the Chromebook thinking, “I cannot believe this sounds so good.”
I ended off with “dying on the inside” by Nessa Barrett, which is the first time these speakers showed weakness. The overwhelming production that combines a slew of electronic instruments to make up the chorus comes across fine, but it doesn’t sound as crisp as I expected. There’s a noticeable raspiness behind every element of the production, especially Barrett’s voice, which isn’t present when played through high quality speakers.
Acer Chromebook 514 performance
With a dozen YouTube videos open at the same time, I began to notice some sluggishness in the video loading, and it was clear the computer had a moment of struggle while transitioning over from the advertisements to the video itself. But otherwise, it performed rather decently, as any slowdowns lasted half a second. While browsing various websites on the internet, text loaded in quite fast, but I did notice that images sometimes took an extra second to fully come into view.
With an MediaTek Kompanio 828 ARM Cortex A76 CPU, Mali-G57 MC5 integrated graphics, 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 64GB of flash memory storage running the Chrome OS, the Acer Chromebook 514 performs well enough for its price.
During our Geekbench 5.0 synthetic performance test, the Acer Chromebook 514 hit 2,219, which is just barely above our Chromebook average of 2,204. But it’s quite a bit worse than both the Lenovo Flex 5’s score of 2,336 (11th Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4 CPU) and Acer Chromebook Spin 514’s score of 2,792 (AMD Ryzen 5 3500C)
The Jetstream 2 benchmark, which tests web-browsing performance, showcased more of the Acer Chromebook 514’s weaknesses with a score of 81.6, which is considerably lower than the Chromebook average (109), the Spin 514 (111.2) and the Lenovo Flex 5 (152.9).
Acer Chromebook 514 battery life
The Acer Chromebook 514’s battery life is its focal point. It's the most impressive quality by a mile, making it perfect for long trips or getting through a work day without needing to recharge. In our Laptop Mag battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the Acer Chromebook 514 lasted an entire 14 hours and 8 minutes on a single charge.
This is significantly higher than our Chromebook average of 9 hours and 3 minutes, and easily blows the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (7:38) and Lenovo Flex 5 (7:25) out of the water.
Acer Chromebook 514 heat
The Acer Chromebook 514 doesn’t run particularly hot, but parts of it exceeded our comfort threshold. Its touchpad remained at a cool 79 degrees Fahrenheit during use; its underside got up to a low 85 degrees. At its hottest, our tests showed it ran at 101 degrees in a certain spot of its underside, which is a little bit higher than our recommended 95-degree comfort threshold.
Regardless, we didn’t notice this Chromebook running super hot during our tests.
Acer Chromebook 514 webcam
Unsurprisingly, the Acer Chromebook 514’s 720-pixel webcam is atrocious. Images come out grainy and the camera is bad at balancing light levels in a dark room, and even in better lighting, it comes out as an overly pixelated image that won’t do you good in most cases.
If you don’t have any plans to use a camera for meetings, this should be fine, but most people will want the best webcams for external use.
Acer Chromebook 514 software and warranty
The Acer Chromebook 514 comes with the Chrome OS installed, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering that’s the point behind a Chromebook. This means that the only thing you’ll have installed when opening up the laptop is Google Chrome itself.
The Acer Chromebook 514 makes a convincing case for itself with fantastic battery life that lasts 14 hours, a solid set of speakers that truly impressed my cynical ears, and passable performance wrapped up in an inexpensive package. However, while this Chromebook runs fine, it could perform way better.
Its faults persist with a display hindered by poor color range and low nits of brightness. I also wasn’t particularly impressed by its frictionless touchpad, which constantly forced me to fight against it when getting work done.
However, if you can look past these faults, the Acer Chromebook 514 is a great Chromebook with record-breaking battery life that’s more than worth its cost.