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‘Rugged’ Acer C740 Chromebook With Broadwell CPU Coming March

acer c740

Brushed iron metal, reinforced hinges

Building on its successes in 2014, Acer is to launch a wave of new Chromebooks in the early part of 2015.

Among them the 11.6-inch Acer C740 Chromebook, a model primarily being targeted at education and powered by an Intel Broadwell-U Celeron processor.

Details on this (and several other incoming devices) was passed us by our “Chrome Bandit” source, and includes broad specifications for the C740, US pricing and a tentative street date.

Acer C740 Broadwell Chromebook

Like earlier models put out by the Taiwanese multinational, the Acer C740 Chromebooks will be made available in consumer and commercial guises, though the differences between both will, we’re told, be more distinct.

The big sell here is that at least one of these devices will come bearing Intel’s fifth-generation Broadwell-based processors, providing users with a huge boost in performance, battery life and graphics performance.

Precisely which processor? Well that we don’t know. Since most of Intel’s Broadwell chips are set to be unveiled in January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the lack of specific make or model shared by Acer is understandable.

If I had to make an educated (ho ho, pun) guess with the pricing and power requirements firmly in view, something like the dual-core Intel Core i3-5010U running at 2.1GHz (and backed with Intel HD 5500 graphics) seems like a smart entry choice. Not too flashy, not too expensive, but hardly meek.

On a more tentative note I’m told that Acer is keen to keep education and consumer propositions distinct (something they’ve failed to do in the past, with consumer models being priced more attractively at the same specs). Because of this they may, at first, only offer a Broadwell-equipped SKU in its commercial offering. A consumer release would use the older, if still hugely performant, Haswell-based Core i3-4005U.

This, I should stress, is subject to change.

Rugged Design

With education being a big, big driving force behind Chromebook sales across the board, and Acer alone making up a large chunk, it’s perhaps not surprising to learn that the C740 has been designed with classrooms in mind.

The unit keeps the same overall look and feel of the CB3 and CB5 Chromebooks, but is encased in a sleek ‘brushed iron metal’ design — i.e., tough — and features reinforced hinges and display.

The Rest

The 11.6″ screen size sports a non-glare display running at a (now regular) 1366 x 768 resolution. Yes, disappointing. But as this device has clearly been made for education, LCD panels are cheaper, more robust and uses less power than full-HD IPS displays.

Also listed in the promotional materials we’ve seen:

  • 16GB and 32GB SSD options
  • 2GB and 4GB RAM options
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi w/Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • USB 3.0, SD card reader and HDMI out 
  • Battery life listed at 8.5 hours.

Acer gives a starting price of $259 for the 2GB RAM/16GB SSD model, and $289 for 4GB RAM and a 16GB SSD.

Release date is currently pencilled in for March 2015.

  • And NOW they’re back on track. Bay Trail, worse screens and terrible(r) build quality were a step backwards, especially since they were more expensive. Just wondering though, was there ever technically a C730?

  • 4dwarehouse

    I am really confused. Are they saying that the average consumer won’t be able to buy the Broadwell C740?

    • Mi Pen

      I think they saying consumers get a better version that’s unique to consumers and education gets a slower but more wear and tear resistant version for kiddies fingers.

      • 4dwarehouse


      • systemBuilder

        I don’t think that education gets a lesser machine. Chromebooks are now the dominant computer in education. Going all the way back to Digital Equipment in the 1970’s, this is the first step towards world domination so I think that Education will get a great machine …

        • Mi Pen

          Lesser cpu and ram specs compared to consumer chromebook, but tougher casing construction for school abuse and use. Not lesser machine as in bad. I have a lower spec chromebook (1.1ghz dual core haswell celeron cpu) and I agree its great for normal on the go non high end gamer use roles. Web, email browsing and education + the usual office style stuff. Plus its better for limited PC skills user than macs. New to PC users and older people just don’t need to worry about the OS and its even hassle free fun for the pros.

      • Eutropius Maximus Wagge

        I don’t understand why they’re pushing two seperate lines anyway, just build one good enough for education and sell it to me?

  • moe

    Hoping for more innovation rather than spec bumps

    • systemBuilder

      I’d like to see something with a 12.5″ screen, 1600×900, and a 37%+ speed bump to keep up with the higher resolutions screen, and no loss in battery life.

      • Eutropius Maximus Wagge

        You don’t need a speed bump to drive a higher resolution, you need a better GPU. The Tegra K1* has it but it’s pretty gutless on the CPU front so it’s basically a wash (aside from the whole ‘no x86’ part which would be an instant dealbreaker for most enthusiasts anyway).

        • systemBuilder

          The problem with ARM cpus is that they run a half the speed of an x86 cpu. I think people would accept ARM cpus if they were competitive in speed. ARM has spent its whole life trying to hit a certain power point, with speed as a secondary consideration. Turns out this is now hindering its growth.

  • Needs a touchscreen model. I’m spoiled by my C720P.

  • B Brad

    No 8GB option? Between websites, browsers, native clients, and android compatibility seems like a laptop should have twice the ram a phone/tablet in 2015.

    • 8GB…? Why? I’ve never used all 8GB of RAM on my desktop while virtualizing and using Chrome at the same time. I simply see no need, as better task management would make 4GB more than enough.

      • B Brad

        It’s not “needing 8GB” it’s needing more than 4GB. Also not today, but over the life of the computer (at least 3 years).

        Today’s chromebox/books are fine with 4GB. But chrome OS, chrome, and websites are all getting more intensive. Thus android phones moving from 1GB to 2GB to 3GB over the last few years.

        So now google’s adding android apps to chrome. Clearly running the OS, chrome, AND apps will use more ram than today’s OS + chrome (which is fine with 4GB).

        Investing in a sodimm slot or an extra $30 of ram seems like cheap insurance on a device that should last at least 3 years.

  • Gfame103

    When the F*** is someone going to put out a Chrombook with some processing power!!!! I’m so tired of “Powerwashing” my Chromebook every few months just to get some speed back.

    • Rather than doing that, try this — clear cache & remove non-necessary extensions. Should speed it up significantly, rather than having to do a power wash every time it slows down.

      Also, try not to get an ARM-based Chromebook (Samsung Series 3, HP 11 1st & 2nd gen, etc.)

      • BKarno

        Good point. I got a noticeable boost of speed back in all my Chromebooks when I removed all of the extensions that I never use.

    • systemBuilder

      The c720 2955U and i3 models do a pretty good job on 3D games in “playonlinux”. My son gets 25-40 fps in league of legends on a c720p. This is no slouch computer. The chromebooks with n2820, n2830, n2840, n2920, those are the slowpokes, but the 2955U, its fast and kind of a miracle that Intel sells it at a pricepoint available to sub-$300 chromebooks.

  • Reed Kerr

    This is nice… I like the rugged design idea. I’m still waiting for a 13-14 inch Chromebook with a Celeron or Pentium processor (no Atom/Bay Trail stuff) with a 1080 IPS screen, 32gb, 4gb RAM, and 802.11ac wireless. It would run Arch Linux so beautifully. :)

    • Same here Reed, good specs, good screen and 13.3/14 inch screen size, let us take the chromebooks to a next level.

    • bellduck

      Yes, give us HP Chromebook 14 (or 13) with a 1080p IPS-screen and Broadwell. 10/10 would buy.
      I already have the HP 14 with Haswell, and it’s superb on everything but the screen.

  • As a chromebook lover, I am curious to see this model. I think Acer has firm plans to produce and promote the “chromebook” agenda which is a really good news considering they offer a great value for money and hence in line with the overall ethos of the chromebooks.

  • Guest

    I did a spreadsheet and I think it will have one of these cpu’s …

    speedup vs.







  • systemBuilder

    I did a spreadsheet on the january processors and I think it will be one of these new celerons …

    name, model, clock, speedup vs. 2955U, passmark-1-cpu, passmark-N-cpus, Number of cpus.
    haswell Celeron 2955U 1.4Ghz 0.00% 809 1522 2 << currently in c720p
    broadwell Celeron 3205U 1.5 Ghz 12.50% 910 1712 2 << new
    broadwell Celeron 3755U 1.7Ghz 27.50% 1160 2183 2 << new
    broadwell Celeron 3805U 1.9Ghz 42.50% 1654 3111 2 << new
    haswell i3 4005U 1.7Ghz 20.52% 975 2495 4

  • Nickolai Leschov

    I wonder how they keep coping with 4 GB of RAM, let alone 2 GB. I’m running Ubuntu and I regularly hit 4 GB RAM with Just Chrome, upgrading to 8 GB and SSD fells like a _must_ for productive office work.

    • Techtechtechy techtech

      I spoke with an Acer representative some time ago, he told me the 2GB models are just to hit a certain pricepoint, and that for a good experience 4GB is a necessity. I have both a 4GB and a 2GB Acer CB5 13′ Tegra K1 chromebooks, and the 4 obviously preforms a lot better, but its never slow or a bad experience at all. Very good software optimalisation I presume. I dont think the Chrome you run in Ubuntu is exactly the same as on ChromeOS. (Plus chromebooks always run on SSDs ;) )

    • systemBuilder

      Chrome OS can doing compression paging (copying unused data and compressing it in RAM) so a 2 GB chromebook might behave like a 3GB normal computer. But, accessing a random tab in a browser might be slow since most of that would need to be uncompressed.

  • micronaut

    i wonder if this one will spontaneous power off like the c720? “rugged” and “acer” aren’t usually words I would use in the same sentence after experiencing their shoddy build quality.

    • Eutropius Maximus Wagge

      Eh, it’s rugged enough for an x86 laptop the price of a 3DSXL, and the charger port is the least worrying one I’ve ever seen on an Acer simply because the plug can’t wiggle enough to shear the connector off its board. Mine has a dead Z key after eight months of being shoved into a messenger bag and getting squashed by groceries though.

  • Btw, did anyone notice this yet? The x131e Chromebook isn’t just for schools anymore. Could be the best value for a Chromebook I’ve seen in a LOONG time. (Plus: yay, some friggin’ Windows drivers)

    • Anonymoused

      Very weird — its tech specs list a few Windows OSes, but not Chrome OS (despite the page description calling it a chromebook).

      Edit: Clicking the tech specs gives you this misinformation, so it seems like some kind of copy-paste error they didn’t bother fixing. If you scroll down on the page you’ve linked, the correct specs are listed.

  • ChrisGX

    I assume this unit is not fanless. Personally, I like the fanless low power dissipation units better. That said, some will always go for performance without regard for other considerations so I am happy to see Acer expanding its range of Chromebooks. I don’t really believe the quoted prices for the unit (although it would be great if true). If there is a “i” in the CPU name, generally Intel wants good money for it.

    • systemBuilder

      The Fanless machines use atom-architecture CPUs. The 2955U and the new cpu in the c740 (broadwell Celeron 3205U, most likely) uses a pentium-architecture CPU, and needs a fan. In return for a fan, it runs 60% faster, per clock cycle. I’ll take one with a fan, please.

      • schade33

        Right – I mean, the fans on the Chromebook are pretty quiet in my experience using the C720P… almost unnoticeable.

        • Eutropius Maximus Wagge

          Yeah I don’t even hear them. For me the main draw of a fanless design would be the ability to just toss it anywhere without having to worry about it sucking in a ton of dust or having the vents obstructed rather than any noise concerns but it’s not a big enough deal that I’m going to pick it over superior performance.

          • pbjtime247

            in addition, all of the internals are quite accessible from just one panel that if you open it up (and of course void the warranty) it’s easy to blow out dust from the MB, fan and heatsink

        • bellduck

          The fan in my HP Chromebook 14 is a little noticable, and is always on. However, it (almost) always runs at the same speed, so it doesn’t bother me.

  • Hexxah24

    My school already has these.

  • Guest

    Is the top of the lid actually metal or just some cheesy fauxluminium?