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The One That Changes Everything: Meet the $279 Acer Chromebook 13

Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311_AcerWP_app-01

After an accidental leak earlier in the year, the lid has now finally been lifted on a powerful new ARM Chromebook from Acer, one that the company says heralds ‘a new era’. 

‘…the longest battery life of any Chromebook released so far.’

The 13.3-inch Acer Chromebook 13 is the first notebook to be powered by an Nvidia Tegra K1. This powerful and power efficient processor features a quad-core ARM Cortex A15 chip clocked at 2.1GHz and a 192-core Nvidia Keplar GPU. 

It is also only the second such device to use a full HD screen, and boasts the longest battery life of any Chromebook released so far at up to 13 hours.

But unlike regular processors where raw performance comes at the cost of battery life, the K1 architecture is able to combine both. It even includes a dedicated battery saver ‘core’ to handle light and undemanding tasks, such as basic web browsing and e-mail to save on unnecessary battery drain.

Tegra K1’s power efficiency means this Chromebook comes with a near unbeatable battery life. When combined with the slim (18mm thick), fanless (no vents, no noise) and lightweight (1.5kg) design, it makes for the most portable Chromebook yet!

Mighty Morphin’ Tegra Rangers

‘Nvidia says the Tegra K1 has 3x the graphics power of Intel’s Bay Trail chips’

But why Nvidia? Why Acer? And why now?

Nvidia says that growing adoption and use of WebGL technologies on the web (and through ‘middleware’ engines like Unity and Epic) means they are well placed to meet the demands of the next generation Chrome experiences.

The Tegra K1 is also Google Hangouts Optimized for buttery smooth, hardware-accelerated video chat.

With a visually rich and graphically immersive future on the way for the web, for the Chrome OS desktop, and for apps, it’s easy to see how the K1 – which Nvidia says the Tegra K1 has 3x the graphics power of Intel’s Bay Trail chips and ‘significantly better’ multitasking capabilities – will meet those needs.

Acer Chromebook 13 Specs

‘…HD displays at a pixel-tastic 1920×1080 resolution.’

Acer recently assumed the top spot in Chromebook shipments thanks to its (ever) expanding line of C720 Chrome devices. Based on the specifications and, importantly, pricing of the Chromebook 13 it’s hard to see their crown slipping anytime soon.

The model will ship in three variants: one with a standard HD screen, and two with full HD displays at a pixel-tastic 1920×1080 resolution.

All models feature the following specifications as standard:

  • 13.3-inch anti-glare LCD screen
  • Nvidia Tegra K1 Quad-Core Processor @ 2.1GHz
  • Nvidia Kepler GPU (192 CUDA Cores)

The base model is priced at $279 (£219 in the UK) and features:

  • HD (1366×768) Display
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB SSD
  • 13 Hour Battery Life

The higher resolution version starts from $299:

  • Full HD (1920×1080) Display
  • 2GB or 4GB RAM
  • 16GB or 32GB SSD
  • 11 Hour Battery Life

All models also include fast Wi-Fi (802.11ac with dual-band MIMO), 2 USB 3.0 ports, a full-sized HDMI out, SD Card reader, HD webcam and an obligatory headphone/mic combo jack.

In keeping with the C720 line we are expecting a touchscreen variant to appear at some point in the coming months, though it should be noted that neither Acer nor Nvidia has confirmed this to us.

When Can I Buy It?

So that’s the skinny on the specs, now for the low-down on availability. Acer has told us that US buyers will be able to get their hands on it this month, from a variety of retailers and e-tailers.

Over the coming months (read: September on) it will also be made available in Europe including the UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Spain, South Africa and Switzerland.

Pre-sales of all three models will go live today at select online e-tailers, including Amazon (tentative listings below).

Acer Chromebook 13 (HD, 2GB) on Amazon US Pre-Order Acer Chromebook 13 (FHD, 4GB) on Amazon US

  • Heimen Stoffels

    Second with an HD screen, sure. But at least this one’s gonna be available. The Samsung Chromebook 2, the other one with HD, has been pulled from almost all European stores after just a few weeks of selling and they’re still not back at the time of writing this (several weeks after the pull). I’m lucky to have one though, but anyone wanting one can’t get one anymore; they’ll have to wait for this Acer. So at least this one will be available unlike the CB2.

    • Frederic MANSON

      Yeah, I agree with you. I wasn’t lucky because I have not seen the Samsung 2 on any French web sites. But I do not care at all: this Acer is THE one I am looking for.

      It’s listed on a French website (http://www.rueducommerce.fr) at €300.00 for the entry model. I will wait for the top of the top model: 4 gigs, storage 32 gigs, full HD touchscreen. That way, I can easily wait for bigger and powerful Chromebooks to come later without having the (minor) disadvantages I have with my HP 11.

      One point about the HP 11: when you set the display settings at its maximum resolution (1536×864), the benchmarks are much higher than with the “regular” display settings. Only Peacemaker shows a tiny lower score, the others are very good!!!

  • Justin Yung

    This is the one chromebook that I’m really interested in. I hope the HD screen is good. The battery life is incredible and the graphics processing should be great for vidoes, etc..

    • Heimen Stoffels

      ChromeOS is amazing on my Samsung Chromebook 2 HD screen, so if the Acer has a screen just as good, you won’tbe dissapointed at all!

      • Frederic MANSON

        Did you “play” with the fonts size or did you just use the “current” settings?? On my late Mac, I was in high rez with small fonts. It was okay because of my 24″ screen. But on a 13.3″… o_0

    • Andrew Loiacono

      Unfortunately it has TFT panel. Not quite as good looking as current IPS panels. The screen should still look good compared to other Chromebooks however. Since I have yet to see one with a IPS 1080p screen. The only Chromebook screen that will look better is of course the Pixels :P

      • othesick

        i dont understand why companys keep going with tft. no one likes it. i dont care if its cheaper its just awful. ive seen it in stores and its just murky and washed out. only morons who know nothing about technology seem to say it looks nice. its things like this that make me not want to get a chromebook. ive been holding out but i dont think i can for much longer. this model though might be my savior at last

        • Andrew Loiacono

          I feel the same way man.

  • Fean

    After that it has an ARM processor, can we install android, because android is built for ARM processors, and can we still install Linux on it ?

    • Heimen Stoffels

      You can install Linux using Crouton or dual-boot Bodhi if you’ll follow their guide for the Samsung Chromebook. You can’t install Android on it.

      • calden74

        Not the biggest fan of Bodhi, I found ArchBang to be the best option for ChromeBooks with ARM architecture, as it’s not only very resource friendly but extermely fast. Not the easiest to install when compared to others but defiantly not hard either, just takes a little reading and a little diligence on the users behalf, worth the time and effort though.

      • Travis

        Who says you can’t install Android on a Chromebook? ARM’s website seems to say otherwise:

        http://community.arm.com/groups/android-community/blog/2013/12/16/installing-android-on-the-samsung-xe303c12-chromebook

        • Heimen Stoffels

          First of all: it’s a pain in the **s to compile and install, unlike Ubuntu or Bodhi. Second of all: the Acer Chromebook 13′s hardware is not entirely supported by Android so…

    • Frederic MANSON

      You may install Linux on it BUT you will not have all the Linux apps available. A lot of them are not ported on an ARM CPU…

      • calden74

        Most of the main street stuff is and the list of unsupported apps is actually not very large. Most users will be just fine with using an ARM CPU with Linux.

        • Frederic MANSON

          I agree. It seems too that Linux on an ARM CPU is much faster than on a x86 at the same frequency. Also, from what I have seen when I install Crouton on my HP 11, the whole Linux distro seems to need small room on the SSD. Anyway, my experience of Ubuntu Unity on my HP 11 is very positive.

    • fuzzylumpkins

      Google mentioned Android apps coming to Chrome OS in the future at Google I/O

  • David Wales

    :( I just bought the Toshiba.

    • http://twitter.com/d0od Joey-Elijah Sneddon

      The Toshiba is still a great device. I love the textured backing.

      • David Wales

        Agreed, my only real wish is for 1080p.

    • http://about.me/CalebLee Caleb Lee

      It’s probably not too late to return it :)

    • Frederic MANSON

      If you have a 7 or 15 days of return, use this service.

      One thing that everyone must know is that an ARM Chromebook is not offering the same identical experience on an x86 Chromebook. There is a lot of “missing” functions for Chrome OS (look in chrome://flags and you may have a long list of unavailable functions at the end of the page).

      • David Wales

        Yeah I really just need to be able to use apps like caret for development and vnc for remote testing. I’m pretty sure they are both OK, that said I am not going to be upset about my purchase. Such is tech.

        Sadly I bought it heavily discounted (they beat a sale price for me) so returns for anything other than failure are out.

        • Frederic MANSON

          I do not think that we must consider the Chromebooks like the other laptops. For once in all my IT job life, I am thinking to collection them and to not sell the old ones. Despite their ages, they will never be “old” with Chrome OS on them. Okay, the speeds and specs will change but as they are very at the minimum requirement, it’s not a problem.

          Maybe you should wait for the Acer i3 or any x86 powerful models. I prefer the RISC CPUs because I am a long time user of such architecture.

      • calden74

        The main features are all their and so are the codecs, you won’t be missing anything to important. ChromeOS development is also very active, new features are being added weekly so I don’t see many shortcoming here, not when we are talking about 13 hours of battery life. I’ll give up a few concessions for that.

  • http://www.live-craft.com/ Jonathan Alfonso

    This is exactly what I think a Chromebook should be. Can’t wait to grab one to replace my old Samsung Chromebook.

    • fuzzylumpkins

      I can’t wait for SoC to become the norm for chromebooks.

    • Anonymoused

      This, plus an IPS screen! (And a casing other than white)

      • http://www.live-craft.com/ Jonathan Alfonso

        The trend is either IPS or antiglare. Considering I have not experienced IPS, I’d take my antiglare because I don’t like seeing what’s behind me in my monitor :)

        • Anonymoused

          My problem with antiglare is using it with any light source around. If it’s to the side or behind you, you can barely see the screen. The angles on the HP 14 were AWFUL! But I’ve been spoiled by my HP 11′s beautiful IPS screen, and I confess that since I’ve started using it, I can’t stand any other kind of screen on any device.

          • http://www.live-craft.com/ Jonathan Alfonso

            How noticable are reflections on a fully-lit IPS display? A camera does no justice :)

          • Anonymoused

            Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever noticed any reflections on my HP 11. I’ll play around with it tonight when I get home, but it’s never been an issue for me before.

          • http://www.live-craft.com/ Jonathan Alfonso

            Thanks

  • http://NathanBrauer.com Nathan J. Brauer

    “Mighty Morphin’ Tegra Rangers”

    Nice.

  • sonicyoof

    That’s a doozy of an opener you’ve got there: “the lid has finally be lifted the lid…”

  • moe

    I think its the right price with the right specs. I hope more chromebboks adopt this new formula of what a Chromebook can be.

    • fuzzylumpkins

      1080p is the game changer. a SoC that isn’t sluggish and 1080p under $300 makes this thing a great deal.

  • sonicyoof

    Should I be reading “anti-glare” as basically… glare? In other words a glossy screen? If that’s the case it’s the one thing that ruins these for me.

    • Anonymoused

      I think it’s a typo. It lacks an anti-glare screen, and seems to have the same screen problem as the HP 14 — which is that you can’t see JACK except at certain angles and in the dark. I love the screen on the HP 11 and none other but the Pixel can top it, but the low resolution and low power… D;

      • dsdssd

        The samsungs had matte screens, so perhaps the Samsung 2 will have them too?

  • Steve Adams

    I’ll be going for the top of the range 4gb ram 32gb ssd and touch screen. Just wish it came in black but we can’t have everything

    • Frederic MANSON

      Sincerely, since I have my white HP 11, I really prefer the white than the black. Black is so common for computers, like grey. White is not so, which is strange because other colours are much more used!!

  • fuzzylumpkins

    Preordered mine. Will go very nicely with my white Moto X.

    • Frederic MANSON

      I will contact Acer France to know the date of release of the top model. Maybe, if I am under a lucky star, I will be granted a demo machine to review!!

      • Ryan Oh’Shaughnessy

        Did you find out a date of release?

  • Steve Adams

    I guess pre-order is US only? Can you link to the site I can’t find it

    • othesick

      its such a pain. all chromebooks and i mean all of them are so much cheaper in the us. i see them for like say for example 280 us dollars. then on uk sites and other european sites going for like 310 euros plus. i dont see why this is the case. it makes no sense. are they all made in the us then shipped out to the rest of the world? even then why the massive mark up? makes me not even want to buy a chromebook anymore

      • othesick

        oh and the pre order side of it makes it even worse. forgot to add that at the end :P distracted by my rage

        • Frederic MANSON

          You don’t need to pre-order it. You just wait for the release date then you may buy it with, sometimes, a lower RRP.

      • Frederic MANSON

        In Europe, all prices include the VAT which is different for each country. That’s why US prices are much lower: they do NOT include VAT.

        • othesick

          yes i understand vat but when you look at the prices i dont see just vat i see a huge mark up. i can understand logistics and import fees and vat but i dont see like 80 us dollars + added to the price. how can it cost that much to move hundreds in one go from america to the uk?

        • othesick

          but then again everything (within reason) is cheaper in the us. look at ps4 and xbox one games. the same number (60) on all games i believe. the only difference is the currency.

  • http://batman-news.com Vin

    Great to know after I waited for a Samsung Chromebook 2 13.3 4GB for 4 months to buy hands-on at Best Buy only to give up and surrender to Amonazi getting an HP-14 Chromebook 4 GB that will be in my PO Box tomorrow morning. *sigh*

    • Frederic MANSON

      I know this sentient but the good side is that you would buy it at a lower price after some time. Maybe the benchmarks and the on-production reviews will be not so happy for such Chromebook. Okay, it’s the K1 but who really knows the efficiency of the K1??

      As I wrote it somewhere, the Chromebooks are not this kind of laptop that you are in hurry to sale. You keep them and you may collect them. That’s what I will do with my HP 11.

  • lol2050

    Is it 64 bit ?

    • Frederic MANSON

      Yes, all ARM CPUs are 64 bits. The Nvidia K1 has the best core engine: 192 cores based on the Kepler architecture. This architecture is used for HPC systems.

      • clementl

        No, it;s very recent that we started getting 64-bit ARM CPU’s for mobile devices. The Tegra K1 is a 32-bits cpu. There is a 64-bits version of the K1, but that one’s a dual-core.

        • Frederic MANSON

          Oops! Mea culpa. I am so outside the ARM world that I thought that all the ARM were 64 bits. Thanks for your precisions!! :)

  • irowe

    ” up to 13 hours.” The datasheet on Acer’s website only lists 11.5 hours for all the models, even the lower-res one. http://us.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/model-datasheet/NX.MPRAA.001

    • irowe

      My claim still stands via the Acer listing but Google Chrome blog and Amazon say differently. I semi-retract my statement.

    • Frederic MANSON

      On the French reseller website, it’s listed at 14 hours. Not so bad at all!!

  • Skid Roe

    Since the $279 (US, it’ll be significantly more in Canada and elsewhere) base model still has only 2g ram and 16h disk, and the typical low-res screen, I don’t see how this changes anything, let alone everything.

    • googoolo

      But it had the FULL HD version for just $20 more.
      Wait…. I think its a SIN that other manufacture didn’t offer the FULL HD version. Considering that FULL HD is a mere $20 more.

  • http://przemekzawadzki.tumblr.com/ Przemek Zawadzki

    Better wait for other ch-books with Tegra K1…

    • othesick

      yeah. usually in my experiance anyway is the first model to use a new processor tends to be garbage. i think ill wait for reviews

  • t4exanadu

    This looks and sounds fantastic, but it’s ARM-based. I want to run Linux on my Chromebook so I can run MATLAB and that hasn’t been ported to ARM (and I have no idea if IBM is planning on ever doing that). Looks like the ASUS C300 is still my best bet. Damn this one looks nice, though. So tired of black and gray computers.

    • Frederic MANSON

      There is a Red & White version of the C300. I do not know if it is sold in the US or not, but it is available in France at €300.00 (VAT inc.).

  • moe

    This is not the best looking Acer Chromebook, i don’t mind the plastic build but the bezel is huge and HDMI and all the other ports look out of place. Hope Acer spends more time on design.

    • LiamTHX

      What do you mean, it’s not the best looking Acer Chromebook? My C720 is butt-ugly, and it leaves marks all over itself when it’s closed.

  • http://about.me/CalebLee Caleb Lee

    A post on the official Google blog confirms there is a touchscreen model :D http://chrome.blogspot.com/2014/08/a-new-type-of-chromebook-with-extra.html

  • Joe Lloyd

    The only thing I don’t like about my C720 right now is the screen. IF they addressed that, I will for sure want to get one of these!

  • SPlissken

    I assume that Flash is not working with such a processor.
    I need it in order to play alll those little flash games on internet

    • googoolo

      I have HP chromebook 11 (ARM cpu older than this tegra k1) and my 7yrs old kid play this flash game a lot.
      Club penguin is OK.
      Disney & carton network flash game about 10% didnt work.

    • http://twitter.com/d0od Joey-Elijah Sneddon

      Flash works fine in Chrome OS on ARM.

    • jsebean

      Google implements their own Flash plugin (PPAPI) that works fine on ARM, including the ARM Chromebooks. It’s the exact same flash that you use in chrome on x86.

  • andreas.arambasic

    Interesting. Then again, 1)I’d rather like a x86 fanless CB and 2) it’s Acer.

    • googoolo

      There’s no fanless x86 CB on the market

      • andreas.arambasic

        Really? Thought both of ASUS CBs are.

  • view2share

    Toshiba Chromebook 13.3″ = fast processor, such a quiet fan, you just won’t here it, and eight hour battery, as in more than enough for the day – on the road. $279. The Toshiba looks pretty good, and at 3.3# is light in weight. I like the Intel Haswell processors.

  • Bluegrapes

    I would buy this if it came with a intel haswell processor :(
    Arm is kind of crappy with Ubuntu.

  • Morten Andersen

    This new Acer Chromebook looks very nice. I only hope there SOON also will a 11,6″ model. These few centimetres (2-3 cm.) mean a lot when one is preferring the smallest footprint and is satisfied with the 11,6″ screen size.

  • chikaraginger

    At 11″, why buy a chromebook? Get a tablet with a keyboard. The iPad Air is both more portable and probably more capable and is almost 10″.

    • RGS

      In case you missed the title, or the rest of the article, this is a 13″ chromebook.

      Even if it was 11″, wont this be much cheaper than an iPad? A tablet with a keyboard is simply not the same as a laptop. The iPad may be more capable in a few areas – most notably gaming. But the chromebook also has distinct advantages in other areas.

      • Diego Desiderio

        forget the ipad i want a chromebook Acer

      • chikaraginger

        Unless you’re 100% Google Docs, Chrome OS is a niche case for many businesses. They don’t have the app ecosystem or dev support yet and don’e have the pervasiveness of Windows.

    • Diego Desiderio

      and more expensive too

  • alangberg

    Looks great, but IMHO it would be even greater with a 14″ or 15″ screen (I have two older HP Chromebooks with 14″ and they’re still quite portable)…and why not 3 USB ports?

    • othesick

      thats what everyone wants. if you look at the market share for laptops 15 inches is by far the most popular highest selling models. the only one that comes close is 14 inch then a huge drop to 13 inches. i know it uses up more battery but give the people what they want and no tft god damnit. the only reason why i havnt bought a chromebook yet is because of tft 11 inch screens flooding the market and i have no interest in them

  • Charlie Du

    But here’s my problem. K1 is a gaming orientated chipset. What’s the point with that beast of a mobile gpu when you don’t really game with a chromebook.

    • Oliver Lopez Felix

      the chromebooks usually are slow if you open too many tabs or if you try to load a heavy webpage so this should solve that, not neccesarily for gaming but for good performance if you use the chromebook for not only youtube and facebook, i use online IDE’s to make webpages so i want this so bad, i normally need a lot of tabs open but i dont really need an OS so i want this so bad.

  • owain harris

    What I would love to see is a tablet/Chromebook combo, a bit like what Microsoft do with their Surface line up. Except, it would run Android OS when in tablet mode (multi window would be cool) and then when you dock it to a keyboard it boots into Chrome OS. It would make a great little content device / light work device.

    • Tony Francis Tirona Degan

      this is exactly what i hope they bring to market. no need for separate laptop/tablet. perfect solution for college students

  • http://www.jeremy-ozog.fr/ Jérémy

    This Chromebook looks promising. :)
    But is there a real benefit of having a FullHD screen for such a screen size? By fitting more content on the screen, wouldn’t it be hard to read it?

    • http://github.com/cben Beni Cherniavsky-Paskin

      I have whopping 3200 x1800 at this same 13″ size (Yoga 2 Pro) and love it! The theory of “retina” screens is not necessarily to fit more content, but see same content with sharper, easier on the eyes, fonts. (Although being *able* to fit more content is nice)

      In practice, software support for such high DPI varies a lot – some were hard to configure, some impossible. My screen is a mixture of 95% normal and 5% tiny fingers and UI elements…
      But that was on Linux; Chrome OS should be much better since everything inside the browser can be zoomed. And full HD resolution has been with us for enough time to be well supported. I’d certainly prefer a FHD chromebook to the typical 1366×7** offers.

  • LeDisquser

    Everything seems very nice appealing apart from that fugly design which would put any person that has a little bit of taste off.