Acer unveils its first AMD-powered Chromebook

Equipped with AMD's A-series processors, the Chromebook 315 helps open up a new frontier for Google's OS.

Justin Jaffe Managing editor
Justin Jaffe is the Managing Editor for CNET Money. He has more than 20 years of experience publishing books, articles and research on finance and technology for Wired, IDC and others. He is the coauthor of Uninvested (Random House, 2015), which reveals how financial services companies take advantage of customers -- and how to protect yourself. He graduated from Skidmore College with a B.A. in English Literature, spent 10 years in San Francisco and now lives in Portland, Maine.
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Acer has been an active player on the Chromebook scene for years, and has regularly stretched the conventions of the category. In 2015, the company introduced the first Chromebook OS laptop with a 15.6-inch display -- a size that has become common since. And with the new Chromebook 315, announced today at CES , Acer has another breakthrough under its proverbial belt: one of the first laptops -- along with the Chromebook 14 that HP announced this morning -- with an AMD chip under the hood to run Google's stripped-down Chrome OS

The Chromebook 315 is based closely on what used to be the least expensive 15.6-incher in Acer's Chromebook lineup, the Chromebook 15. That particular model features an Intel Pentium processor and starts at $400. The Chromebook 315, equipped with a seventh-gen AMD A-series processor and Radeon graphics, shaves $120 off of that -- for a starting price of $280. (Converted, about £220 or AU$395.) And that's a bellwether, folks.

Today, the vast majority of Chromebooks feature an Intel processor -- either a Pentium, Celeron or Core, with integrated Intel graphics. And though some analysts speculated that AMD would allow Intel to continue to dominate the low-margin Chromebook market, clearly, that's not the case. This development should be a net positive for Chromebook fans, who have tended to be particularly price-conscious, giving them more choice and driving the price of these systems even lower.  

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We'll need to get the full list of specs and prices to figure out exactly how much lower. But, for now, we know that the new AMD-powered Chromebook 315 accommodates twice as much RAM (8GB) as the Intel-powered Chromebook 15 -- and features two USB-C ports, two USB 3.0 ports, Bluetooth 4.2 and a backlit keyboard (on the touchscreen model only). 

Acer Chromebook 315 basic specs

Size 15.6-inch
Display 1,920x1,080 IPS touchscreen, nontouch option
Operating system Chrome
Processor options AMD A6-9220C, AMD A4-9120C
Memory Up to 8GB RAM
GPU options Radeon
Storage 32GB eMMC
Connectors 2 x USB Type-C; 2 x USB 3.0; 802.11ac; Bluetooth 4.2; headphones and mic
Weight 3.8 lb/1.7kg
Price Starts at $280 in the US
Available February 2019

The Chromebook 315 comes on the market in the US in February starting at $280, and in EMEA in April starting at €349.

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