Acer Chromebook 514 Review: Everyday Performance, All Day Long
It might not look splashy, but with astonishing battery life and reliable everyday performance, the 514 is easy to recommend.
Updated March 20, 2022 6:24 a.m. PT
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Joshua GoldmanManaging Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
ExpertiseLaptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and dronesCredentials
More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Acer makes a lot of Chromebooks, and they come in a variety of configurations and screen sizes. That's great for consumers, schools and businesses because there's something to meet every need, but it can get tricky when shopping for one, especially when Acer keeps the name the same year after year like Chromebook 514.
This older version is still around, but there are also two current versions: the Chromebook 514 CB514-1W and Chromebook 514 CB514-2H/T. The latter is the one reviewed here, and it's what I would recommend to most people looking for a straight-up good Chrome OS experience in a compact lightweight body. Especially if your budget is under $500.
If you can spend a bit more, the more-expensive CB514-1W models have 11th-gen Intel Core i3 or i5 processors. They also have premium features like a full-HD webcam with a privacy shutter; a fingerprint reader; two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports; an HDMI output; a microSD card slot; SSD storage; and mil-spec construction. The price starts at $680.
But the Chromebook 514 CB514-2H/T trades the Intel processors for Mediatek's Arm-based Kompanio 828 system-on-a-chip and cuts pretty much all the premium features, though it does still have a comfortable backlit keyboard and a smooth Gorilla Glass touchpad. It would've been nice if Acer could've kept at least a couple of the Intel model's better features (I feel like keeping the HDMI out and microSD card slot aren't big asks). In its defense, the CB514-2H/T does start at $400. It doesn't seem to be available yet in the UK or Australia but the price converts to around £305 and AU$540.
Acer Chromebook 514 (CB514-2HT-K0FZ)
Price as reviewed
14-inch 1,920x1,080-pixel touch display
2.6GHz MediaTek Kompanio 828
8GB LPDDR4X SDRAM
Mali-G57 MC5 IG
64GB eMMC flash memory
USB-C (x2), USB-A (x2), audio/mic jack
802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) Bluetooth 5.2
Google Chrome OS/Android 9
2.9 pounds (1.3kg)
What's great about the Kompanio 828 system-on-a-chip is that it's a mid-range option specifically designed for Chromebooks. The price is similar to that of a newer Intel Celeron-based Chromebook but with better performance and killer battery life. Going by my benchmark testing, it handles processing tasks faster than a Celeron or Pentium processor or even the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c compute platform. It trails chips like the AMD Ryzen 3500C and Intel Core i3-1115G4, though.
Unless you're a power user or planning to do some serious gaming beyond Android apps, the Kompanio 828 should be sufficient. And because it was made for Chromebooks, it's particularly efficient. It ran for 18 hours, 30 minutes on our streaming video battery drain test. While I was using it, even when I thought I was about to run out of power, the meter always seemed confident I had a couple of hours of charge left in the tank. And even when it does run low, the 514 refills quickly.
The body on this version of the Chromebook 514 might not be built to mil-spec standards, but it didn't seem flimsy either. I commuted with it for a couple of weeks, using it on my train rides and at coffee shops. I know that's not a lot of time, but still, the metal lid didn't show any signs of wear and the rest of the chassis held up fine, too. It's really lightweight also at just under 3 pounds. The 514 is quick to start up with a flip of its lid and connects to Wi-Fi fast. This does have Wi-Fi 6 support, which isn't a guarantee on a $400 Chromebook yet.
Although the Acer Chromebook 514 might not have many of the premium features of its Intel linemate, it's still an excellent Chromebook for the money. The new MediaTek SoC surprisingly pays off here, giving the 514 good all-around performance for productivity and entertainment and long battery life to boot, all in a three-pound package.