Acer Chromebook 514 (2022, Companio 828) review. | Media Pyro


The latest Acer Chromebook 514 ($459.99) pulls a difficult balancing act. If you’re in the market for a Chromebook, you may be struggling to decide between slim compacts made for K-12 classrooms and more stylish models that are priced a bit high for internet browsing and machine learning. Gmail. But at well under $500, the Chromebook 514 looks as good as any premium laptop, offers all-day battery life, and is more powerful than kids’ Chromebooks. In fact, while other Chromebooks with ARM rather than Intel or AMD processors that we’ve tested are particularly slow, the 514 is the one we’d recommend.

A Premium Design

Featured here is the Acer Chromebook 514 (model CB514-2HT-K0FZ) as part of a larger range of Chromebooks bearing the 514 designation. It’s a 2022 model with an octa-core MediaTek Kompanio 828 processor, but other models are also offered that use both ARM and Intel Core CPUs. Silicon options include the MediaTek MT8192T, the dual-core Intel Core i3-1115G4, and even the quad-core Intel Core i5-115G7. Prices range from $399 to $779 for Intel’s top systems. (See our recent review of the Core i3-based Chromebook 514 to see how it fared in testing.)

Acer chromebook 514 aluminum cover

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Equipped with 8GB of memory and 64GB of eMMC flash storage, the Kompanio 828 model is similar in design to the Core i3 version. The dimensions are much the same (0.66 by 12.7 by 8.9 inches, 2.87 pounds), and the overall layout is similar, from the thin-bezel display to the basic chiclet keyboard. One notable difference, however, is the lack of a drop hinge to support the laptop during use. Kompanio’s processor doesn’t generate the same kind of heat as mainstream Intel chips, and that difference allows the laptop to sit flat on the table and have fewer fans on the chassis.

Acer’s aluminum construction is sturdy and feels more luxurious than you’d expect for a sub-$500 Chromebook. The bare aluminum has a silver finish, and the edges are highlighted with a gem-cut chamfer around the corners and a comfortable cut below the touchpad that keeps the edge of the deck from digging into your wrist.

Acer chromebook 514 below

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The chassis itself uses a mix of materials from aluminum on the cover to polycarbonate plastic for the base and keyboard deck. However, unlike the Core i3 Chromebook 514, the balance is much better, and the laptop does not feel like it is ready to fight at the slightest nudge.

That stability will come in handy using the touch capability of the 14-inch, full HD display. It’s also a great help for anyone looking to use Android apps on their Chromebook, whether for productivity or gaming. And the system comes with a padded sleeve for carrying.

Acer chromebook 514 keyboard and touchpad

(Photo: Molly Flores)

On either side of the keyboard is a grille for the Chromebook’s built-in stereo speakers, and below the keyboard is a generous touchpad encased in Corning Gorilla Glass. Both the keyboard and the touchpad provide a pleasant enough user experience, and the backlit keyboard makes it easy to see what’s there even in darker environments.

Overall, the Acer 514 has a very basic design, but one that is extremely functional and simple. The webcam includes a bright green indicator light above the screen, so there’s never a question whether your camera is on or off. The webcam’s 720p sensor delivers decent image capture, but colors look a little washed out, and it’s not great at handling high-contrast lighting.

Acer Chromebook left 514 ports

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The port selection is not as generous as we would like. On the left side, you’ll find a single USB 3.2 Type-C port that doubles as a charging port for the laptop, along with a USB Type-A port and a combination headset/headset audio jack.

Acer Chromebook 514 correct ports

(Photo: Molly Flores)

On the right is a single USB-C port. That’s not as robust as the Core i3 model we sampled, which added HDMI video output and an SD card slot.

More Mature Chrome OS

Chrome OS has grown significantly over the years, not only in terms of user base – it overtook Apple’s macOS last year – but also as a pretty solid laptop experience.

Chrome’s environment is still an online-first one, relying on cloud-based apps like Google Workspace instead of locally stored software, but that paradigm has expanded to include all kinds of productivity and management tools, making that it is a viable option for casual browsers and business professionals.

Cloud applications and Chrome browser extensions take the place of most traditional programs, but the addition of Android support also makes Chromebooks tempting for mobile users who rely on their smartphones for work and play, giving all kinds of tools to carry through the Google Play Store.

At this point, you can do almost anything you want to do (other than professional workstation apps) on a Chromebook, provided you’re willing to be flexible about the tools you use to achieve the finished product.

Testing the Acer Chromebook 514: Performance Without the Premium

For our testing I compared the Kompanio 828-powered Acer Chromebook 514 to a handful of other Chrome OS laptops. In addition to the aforementioned Intel Core i3 version, I included Chromebooks with processing power like the Dell Chromebook 11 based on Intel Celeron and the Asus Chromebook Flip CM3, which uses a different MediaTek CPU. That left one spot for the Editors’ Choice award-winning Acer Chromebook Spin 713, so we’ll see how the Kompanio fared against a high-end Core i5 Chromebook. You can see the details of the contestants below.

For Chromebook performance testing, we rely on three benchmarks—one native to Chrome OS, one based on Android, and one online. The first is Principled Technologies’ CrXPRT 2, which measures daily performance in a range of common tasks such as applying photo effects, graphing a stock portfolio, analyzing DNA sequences, and generating 3D shapes using WebGL .

The second test, PCMark UL for Android, runs several productivity benchmarks in a smartphone-like window. Finally, Basemark Web 3.0 is a browser-based test that combines low-level JavaScript calculations with CSS and WebGL content to measure the online productivity that is so central to the Chromebook experience. Higher scores are better in all three.

The MediaTek Kompanio 514 processor outperformed the low-end processors of the Asus and Dell. But it could not match the beefier Intel Core CPUs of the other Acers, which deliver higher scores across the board – and have higher prices to match.

Next, we directly test the Chromebook’s CPU and GPU performance using Geekbench Primate Labs and GFXBench 5.0 respectively. The first imagines real-world applications from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning and multi-core processors. The latter leverages a laptop’s integrated graphics to test graphics and compute writers in low-level routines like coagulation and high-level image rendering like a game, and the results are measured in frames per second (fps).

Finally, to test the battery, we loop a 720p video of the open source Blender movie Tears of Steel with screen brightness set at 50%, volume at 100%, and Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting disabled until the system exits. For Chromebooks like the 514 whose local storage is too small to hold the file, we play the video from an external SSD plugged into a USB port.

Again, we saw performance that edged out the inexpensive Chromebook CPUs but trailed the Core i3 and Core i5 systems. The MediaTek Kompanio 828 offers a good middle ground for users who want good performance without the premium they would pay for a more powerful Intel chip.

And our test unit really delivered in battery life, not finding the middle ground between the cheap and premium ends of the Chromebook category but managing an 11-hour runtime that matches the best in the category. That gives you more than enough juice to get you through a full day of work or school without bringing the AC adapter with you.

Acer Chromebook 514 angled

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Play Amazing Posh Budgets

What the Kompanio 828-based Acer Chromebook 514 brings to the table is an elegant machine that offers much of what you want in a premium Chromebook, including a stylish build and reasonably perky performance, but still sells at a budget-friendly price. At $459.99 it’s much more affordable than a $700-or-more Intel Chromebook, while handling everyday apps capably and boasting hours of battery life. It’s not the best Chromebook you can buy, but this Acer 514 might be the best midrange Chromebook under $500.

Acer Chromebook 514 (2022, Companio 828)

The Bottom Line

The Acer Chromebook 514 with ARM Kompanio processor offers a stylish design and above-average battery life at an affordable price.

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