Solid 2-in-1 design
Responsive touch display and trackpad
Fine backlit keyboard
Excellent battery life
Performance not top-notch
The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 is an affordable, stylish 2-in-1 machine meant to appeal to a wide range of potential buyers. Affordable, in this case, doesn’t mean cheap. The Spin 513 has appealing materials and design, enough performance to get your work done, and plenty of battery life to last the day. Find out if this is the Chromebook for you in the Android Authority Acer Chromebook Spin 513 review.
What you need to know about the Acer Chromebook Spin 513
- Acer Chromebook Spin 513 (4GB RAM/64GB storage): $399/£399/€429
The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 is priced right. The main version being sold in the US features 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and comes in one silvery finish. Acer hasn’t said if other variants of the machine will be sold over time. The device lands in the upper echelon of Acer Chromebooks sold by Walmart. Many of Acer’s devices on Walmart.com are priced $300 or less, so a $400 machine is a step up.
Acer hopes the Spin 513 will appeal to students, people who work from home, and tech lovers seeking a Chromebook for general computing purposes. It’s not meant to be a gaming machine or heavy productivity workhorse. Its thin and lightweight build makes it portable and its 2-in-1 convertible design means it can be used in more ways than one.
How is the design?
The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 sure features a lot of chrome. The top lid is made from aluminum and has a polished, beveled, reflective edge that defines the 513’s shape. It catches the eye for sure. This is joined by a reflective chrome Acer logo. Together these give the machine some flash. Most Chromebooks blend in, so anything to help the device stand out is okay in my book.
Beyond that, it’s a fairly straightforward 360-degree design. Rotating hinges join the two halves of the device and allow for a full range of articulation between them. Acer says the Spin 513 offers four usage modes: laptop, tent, tablet, and presentation. Each of these works in its own way and lets people get out of the 513 what they want. The hinges feel strong, smooth, and hold the lid exactly where you want it to be.
It’s a slim and light Chromebook. The 13.3-inch display allowed Acer to keep the overall footprint down. The device measures 310 x 209.35 x 15.55mm (12.2 x 8.24 x 0.61 inches) and weighs in at 1.2kg (2.65lbs). This makes it highly portable. It easily fits into backpacks, sacks, and other bags without weighing you down. I carried it around NYC for a day and never felt burdened by it.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 sure features a lot of chrome.
Overall, the build quality, which mixes metals and plastics, is solid. Nothing about this $400 Chromebook feels cheap or inexpensive. There’s something here for everyone to like.
How are the display and keyboard?
If there’s one thing cheap Chromebooks have in common, it’s lots of unappealing bezel space. The 13.3-inch display has relatively thin bezels on three sides (top and left/right edges), but there’s a solid inch of black bezel below the display. This makes for a screen-to-body ratio of 78%, says Acer. It’s not a bad look.
The screen is a Full HD panel in a 16:9 aspect ratio. While this is a common aspect ratio, it’s not preferred by everyone. You’ll find 16:9 is great for watching movies and other online content, but productivity-minded people might prefer a device with a 16:10 display for the additional vertical space.
See also: Best Chromebooks under $300
Another common detractor to low-priced Chromebooks is low-res displays. Full HD is all anyone can ask for at this price point and it works well with the 13.3-inch dimensions. I found the screen to look crisp. On-screen elements such as icons and text had well-defined edges and were easy to read.
The display is also touch-enabled and protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. I found touch to be simple and responsive whether in laptop, tablet, or tent mode.
Apart from the display, the keyboard is the other most essential part of any laptop. The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 has a solid keyboard that gets the job done. The backlight is one feature I can’t live without, and I was pleased to see Acer made sure the Spin 513 has backlit keys. My only complaint is that the light aggressively shuts off after a few seconds of no input. The keyboard is full-sized but lacks a number pad (something we wouldn’t expect on a 13-inch device).
The Chromebook Spin 513 has a solid keyboard and a large, responsive touchpad.
As for the keys themselves, they are a little bit soft in the travel department. They’re also fairly large and require a lot of pushing. I prefer keyboards with shorter action, but you may find it’s right up your alley.
I am a big fan of glass trackpads, and the Spin 513 has a large, responsive, Gorilla Glass-covered touchpad that gets the job done.
Does the battery hold up?
Acer gave the Chromebook Spin 513 a 4,670mAh, 36Wh lithium-ion battery. The two-cell power pack is rated for all-day use, and it delivers.
Acer says the rated runtime of the Spin 513 is 13.5 hours. I saw average battery life of 13.2 hours. Just shy of Acer’s rating, but close enough. I saw one instance where the battery exceeded the maximum by about 15 minutes.
With 13+ hours of power, the Chromebook 513 offers more than enough run time to get your work done, watch movies, or browse the web for info on a school project.
How’s that Qualcomm processor?
The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 is one of the very few Chromebooks to ship with a Qualcomm — rather than Intel or MediaTek — processor on board. Specifically, the Spin 513 is powered by the Snapdragon 7c Compute SC7180 with an Adreno 618 GPU. The configuration of the device we have includes 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, but no expandable storage slots. I would have preferred to see a bit more RAM or storage, or at least expandable storage at this price point. Acer did suggest late last year that a version with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage will also be available. However, this hasn’t been further detailed at the time of publishing this review.
Though the Snapdragon 7c supports LTE connectivity, the model we tested does not. Acer told us that a commercial model with integrated LTE will be launched later, with price and specs to be announced.
Testing showed the Chromebook Spin 513 to be a solid everyday machine.
As for day-to-day use, I’ve tested the Snapdragon 7c in Windows machines and can tell you that basic performance of this chip is solid. Whereas in Windows machines the Snapdragon 7c introduces an app limitation based on the ARM compute profile, you’ll find no such limitations here in Chrome OS. The 7c delivers the power the Spin 513 needs to push through everyday tasks. It allowed the device to download and install Android apps, and it never suffered from slowdowns or lag while I tested the Chromebook.
While the Spin 513 didn’t set the world on fire with its benchmark performance in my testing, the results showed the Chromebook to be a solid everyday machine. Most importantly, the Spin 513 managed dozens of open tabs at a time without slowing down.
- Ports: The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 has two USB-C ports, one USB-A port, and a 3.5mm combination headphone/microphone jack. You’ll need one of the USB-C ports to charge the Chromebook, but Acer says the USB-C ports are full-fledged USB 3.2 (Gen 1) with DisplayPort.
- Speakers: Two speakers generate stereo sound. The sound is fairly decent for a $400 Chromebook. Two mics join the speakers to help with audio during video calls.
- Video camera: The Chromebook 513 is limited to a 720p HD cam, which isn’t good enough for this day and age. I looked a bit ragged in the video calls I conducted, and low-light performance wasn’t great.
- Chrome OS: Chrome OS is, of course, Google’s Chrome-based platform for laptops. This machine can also run Android apps and has full access to the Google Play Store.
Acer Chromebook Spin 513 specs
|Acer Chromebook Spin 513|
|Processor||Qualcomm SnapdragonTM 7c Compute Platform|
Qualcomm Kyro 468 Octa-core CPU (up to 2.4GHz)
|Display||13.3" IPS display|
Full HD 1920 x 1080
High- brightness LED-backlit TFT LCD with integrated multi-touch
16:9 aspect ratio
Corning Gorilla Glass
|Graphics||Qualcomm Adreno 618 GPU|
|RAM/storage||4GB LPDDR4X SDRAM|
|Battery||36Wh, 4,670 mAh, 7.7 V 2-cell Li-ion battery pack|
|Webcam||1280 x 720 resolution|
720p HD audio/video recording
Super high dynamic range imaging (SHDR)
|Weight||1.2 kg (2.65 lbs.)|
|Dimensions||310 x 209.35 x 15.55mm |
12.2 x 8.24 x 0.61 inches
Value and competition
The market for $400 Chromebooks is packed with competition. Acer did a solid job with the Chromebook Spin 513 in terms of the value equation by nailing the basics. The design is appealing and the machine is well built. The 2-in-1 design gives it lots of functionality. Moreover, Acer dialed in the right screen size/resolution, the right keyboard, and the right battery life. You’d have to spend more for a larger Full HD touch display or better performance.
Competitors to the Spin 513 include the Lenovo Flex 5, which has a 13-inch Full HD display, 4GB of RAM, and a 360-degree hinge. It bests the 513 in one category: the processor. For $40o, the Lenovo Flex 5 has an Intel Core i3 chip on board, which should outperform the Spin 513’s Snapdragon 7c.
If you have a little more room in your budget, you might consider the Asus Flip C434. It’s one of the best-reviewed Chromebooks in the last few years and though it’s a little bit older, it still holds up. It’s available online for about $470.
If you want to stick with Acer, the Chromebook 514 or 515 are in the same ballpark price-wise but give you bigger screens.
Acer Chromebook Spin 513 review: The verdict
Acer has crafted a competitive Chromebook in the Spin 513. It slots into the low-end of the mid-range and has plenty of fight in it to take on other Chromebooks in the market.
In the plus column, the Acer Chromebook Spin 513 features a well-built, 360-degree spin design that makes the laptop more useful than a standard clamshell. Acer did a good job with the 13.3-inch Full HD touch screen. The keyboard and touchpad combination kept pace with my input demands, and the large battery delivered long-lasting life.
Few Chromebooks offer as many features and as much value at this price point, despite the shortcomings.
In the minus column, some might chide Acer for selecting the Snapdragon 7c silicon. It’s not the most powerful processor on the market, but it managed to push through day-to-day computing tasks with no problems. I’m more disappointed by the meager 4GB of RAM on the base model I reviewed and the lack of expandable storage. Another USB-A or USB-C port might have been nice too, and the 720p webcam is definitely not up to snuff for dedicated video callers.
Despite all that, the Acer Chromebook Spin 513 is a fine machine for the money. You’ll find few Chromebooks that offer as many features and as much value at this price point.