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Acer Chromebook 715 review

Durable, premium simplicity

(Image: © Laptop Mag)

Our Verdict

The Acer Chromebook 715 combines light business features with Google's easy-to-use OS

For

  • Premium, durable chassis
  • Great performance
  • Over 10 hours of battery life
  • Integrated number pad

Against

  • Expensive
  • Dull, dim display
  • Poor audio

This is a Chromebook? The Acer Chromebook 715 looks like something that you'd expect to see in an office, not an elementary school classroom. That's because at $779, the 715 is a member of that growing class of premium Chromebooks that offer powerful performance in a stately aluminum chassis. But wait, there's more. The laptop has been MIL-SPEC tested, so you've got a fair amount of durability. And this is the world's first Chromebook to feature a dedicated number pad, which can come in handy for business users and students alike. And it has over 10 hours of battery life.

But a dull, dim display and weak audio are the Achilles' heel of this otherwise stellar laptop.

Acer Chromebook 715 pricing and configurations

The base model of the Acer Chromebook 715 costs $499 and has a 2.3-GHz Intel Pentium 4417U processor with 8GB of RAM, 32GB of flash memory and an Intel HD Graphics 610 GPU. The $649 midtier unit bumps you up to a 2.2-GHz Intel Core i3-8130U CPU, 64GB of flash memory and an Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU. 

Our review unit costs $779 and features a 1.7-GHz Intel Core i5-8350U processor with 8GB of RAM, 64GB of flash storage and an Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU.

Acer Chromebook 715 Design 

The Acer Chromebook 715's premium looks belie its actual retail price. The slate-gray aluminum chassis is sleek right down to its rounded edges. A dark-gray Chrome logo sits in the upper-left corner, right above the shiny chrome Acer logo.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Opening the laptop reveals more of that dark-gray aluminum. A backlit keyboard sits in a recessed panel above the glass touchpad. Directly to the right is an integrated fingerprint reader. The display bezels are thicker than I like, but not offensively so. Weighing 3.8 pounds, the 14.4 x 9.8 x 0.7-inch notebook is a middleweight. It's lighter than both the HP Chromebook 15 (3.9 pounds, 14.1 x 9.7 x 0.7 inches) and the Acer Chromebook Spin 15 (4.6 pounds, 15.2 x 10.3 x 0.8 inches) but heavier than the smaller Asus Chromebook Flip C434 (3.1 pounds, 12.6 x 8 x 0.6 inches).

Durability and security

The 715 isn't just stately, it's damned tough, thanks to its MIL-SPEC-810G certification, which ensures that this svelte system can withstand drops, shock, vibration, dust and sand. In terms of security, you have the integrated fingerprint reader to keep your sensitive data extra-safe.

Ports

The 715 has a fair number of ports

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

On the left side, you get a USB 3.1 Type-C port, USB 3.1 Type-A and a headset jack.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

On the right sits another USB 3.1 Type-C port, in addition to a microSD slot and Kensington lock.

Display

The 715's 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 display produces passable color with mediocre detail. When I watched the Wonder Woman 1985 trailer, none of the colors in this normally vibrant trailer really popped. Wonder Woman's resplendent golden armor looked lackluster, and there was no definition to the lightning the heroine used to traverse the skies.  

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Due to how listless the Wonder Woman trailer looked, I wasn't surprised to see that the panel measured only 63% on the sRGB gamut. Not only is that below our 100% minimum, it's below the 79% Chromebook average. However, it was still on a par with the Chromebook 15 and the Chromebook Spin 15 we measured for color reproduction, which measured 64% and 68%, respectively. Only the Flip C434 cleared the average at 93%. 

Due to how listless the Wonder Woman trailer looked, I wasn't surprised to see that the panel measured only 63% on the sRGB gamut. Not only is that below our 100% minimum, it's below the 79% Chromebook average. However, it was still on a par with the Chromebook 15 and the Chromebook Spin 15 we measured for color reproduction, which measured 64% and 68%, respectively. Only the Flip C434 cleared the average at 93%. 

Still, I was disappointed at 715's lack of brightness. The panel averaged only 237 nits, which is well below the 258-nit average. If you like working outdoors, this isn't the laptop for you. The Chromebook 15 and Spin 15 did marginally better at 247 nits, while the Flip C434 reached 286 nits. The 715's display, meanwhile, maxed out at 250 nits. So, if you are an individual who likes to work outside, do not expect this laptop to provide decent screen lighting. To make matters worse, the webcam was grainy and choppy. The webcam felt almost like an afterthought at times — one that Acer probably would have been better off just leaving out of the laptop entirely. 

Audio

Acer outfitted a pair of bottom-mounted speakers on the 715, and I really wish they were on the keyboard deck. Playing music from some of my favorite artists on YouTube, I noticed that the laptop's sound sounded muffled and was barely able to fill a small space. I highly recommend whipping out a pair of headphones if you want to get even decent sound out of this thing.

Keyboard and touchpad 

Acer was forward-thinking enough to add a dedicated number pad to the keyboard, which is a first for Acer and the laptop world. It could really come in handy for people in  personal finance management or students who need to crunch some numbers. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Number pad aside, the island-style keyboard is well-spaced, with backlighting bright enough to type in a dim room. I found typing on the Chromebook was very comfortable, and the action had a nice click to accompany the springy feedback. I scored 106 words per minute  on the 10FastFingers typing test. The 3 x 4.2-inch touchpad is made of Gorilla Glass and is smooth to the touch. The tracking was extremely spot-on as I dragged my cursor on the screen and performed multitouch gestures. Using the bottom corners of the touchpad as right- and left-click buttons delivered firm feedback. 

Performance

Armed with an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8350U processor with 8GB of RAM, the 715 delivered an inspired performance, powering through 20 Google Chrome pages, including four pages running YouTube channels without any slowdown. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

And when we switched over to our synthetic tests, like the Geekbench 4 test, which measures overall performance, the 715 hit 14,088, sailing past the 6,100 Chromebook average. The Flip C434 with its Core m3-8100Y CPU and the Spin 15 with its Pentium N4200 CPU scored 6,968 and 4,752, respectively.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

On the JetStream benchmark, the 715 achieved 116.31, beating the 71.78 average and the Chromebook 15's (Core i3-8130U) 98.53.

Chrome OS

Google has added Android support to Chrome OS, so you'll have the full force of the Play store at your fingertips. However, not all of the apps in the store can scale up to the 715's resolution. 

Battery Life

Need to do some after-hours work? Don't worry, the 715 has you covered. The laptop lasted 10 hours and 13 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits). It easily outlasted the 9:39 Chromebook average, the Flip C434 (9:58), Chromebook 15 (9:51) and Spin 15 (9:37).

Heat

During the heat test, the Acer Chromebook 715 kept its cool. The touchpad's heat peaked at 81 degrees Fahrenheit, while the center reached 84 degrees and the bottom registered 86 degrees. Each temperature is well below our 95-degree comfort threshold.  

Webcam

The webcam won't win any awards for its image quality. The test shots I took were grainy and choppy. My skin tone looked washed out, as did my brown, black and white sweater.

Warranty and support

Acer ships the Chromebook 715 with a one-year warranty. See how the company fared in our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands ranking.

Bottom line

Acer has a winner on its hands. The Chromebook 715 delivers strong performance, thanks to its Intel Core i5 processor. I really like the fingerprint sensor, and I appreciate the inclusion of a number pad. And lasting over 10 hours on our battery test is no small feat. The notebook's MIL-SPEC-tested aluminum chassis looks premium and can take a minor beating. 

But for $779, I expected a better display and more storage. If you want a better screen experience, I'd recommend the Acer Chromebook Flip C434. It's also a convertible, which makes it extremely versatile. And at $473, it's hundreds of dollars cheaper. Still, the Acer Chromebook 715 is a great choice for mobile professionals or students.