Acer 13 CB5-311-T9B0 Chromebook (13.3-inch Full HD, NVIDIA Tegra K1, 2GB)
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Acer 13 CB5-311-T9B0 Chromebook (13.3-inch Full HD, NVIDIA Tegra K1, 2GB)
Acer CB5-311-T9B0 Chrome book comes with these high level specs: NVIDIA Tegra K1 4-Plus-1 Quad Core ARM Cortex-A15 Mobile Processor up to 2.1GHz with third generation battery-saver core, Google Chrome Operating System, 13.3" Full HD Anti-Glare Widescreen LED-backlit Display, NVIDIA Kepler GPU with 192 NVIDIA CUDA cores, 2048MB DDR3L SDRAM Memory, 16GB Internal Storage, Secure Digital (SD) card reader (supports up to 64GB SDXC), 802.11AC Wi-Fi featuring MIMO technology (Dual-Band 2.4GHz and 5GHz)
- NVIDIA Tegra K1 Quad Core 2.1 GHz Processor
- 2 GB DDR3L SDRAM
- 16 GB Internal Storage
- 13.3-Inch Screen, NVIDIA Kepler GPU with 192 NVIDIA CUDA cores
- Chrome, 11-hour battery life
The third was the Asus C300M. I love the fanless design and awesome battery life, even love the flat deck with no indent for the keyboard. However, versus the Haswell processor, the Bay Trail, as all have reported, underperforms noticeably. This shows itself in a number of small ways, but in not such a small way when scrolling through photo-rich sites and long forum pages. The screen image is generally lagging behind your actions, sometimes a lot, as if you were towing it behind you with a bungee cord. The performance deficit was enough that I found myself grabbing the Haswell Toshiba when I had to do presentations, particularly those depending heavily on web-based images and streaming video.
The fourth, which I have only had for a day, is the Acer CB5 full HD Chromebook with the Nvidia processor. If I wanted full HD, why didn't I get the new Toshiba with the superior IPS display? Oh, I wanted to, but my experience with the Bay Trail gave me pause. At full HD, the graphics performance had to be worse than the Asus, and I simply did not want to get into performance worse than I already chosen to leave behind. As it turns out, and as one might expect, the Nvidia takes care of the full HD graphics performance just fine, much like the Haswell does with the lower resolution screens. It is also fanless and gets incredible battery life. As to its performance outside of that, I can't say just yet, though my initial sense is, graphic performance aside, it is very Bay Trail like. Will update this review when I have more time with it.
I don't need all these Chromebooks, so which will I keep? The 11.6" Haswell Acer goes for the reasons above. And I really hate to say it, but the Bay Trail Asus goes too. Bye bye, Bay Trail. When you get a performance boost (which will probably be pretty soon, knowing Intel) I will see you again.
Update: After 10 days I can say this is my favorite chromebook of the four. Main reasons are the screen resolution, i.e. real estate, and the overall solidness of the unit. It's much more substantial than the Asus or Toshiba, which tend to creak and flex a bit, and is as good as my 13" Acer Aspire Ultrabook. My initial sense of the general performance has remained, that it is very Bay Trail like. Wish it snapped along like the Haswell, but I can live with the trade-offs for what I like about it. One persistent bother though. What idiot decided it would be a cool to do it in white with a matte finish?! Looks like I will have some unanticipated new cleaning duties.
I'm going to focus a lot on the new processor as it is the first Chromebook to use the NVIDIA Tegra based K1 processor.
*** THE NEW NVIDIA TEGRA K1 CPU ***
Switching to the NVIDIA Tegra based K1 CPU has given the newest Acer Chromebook 13 a peppier power plant while retaining the same 2GB RAM, 16GB on-board storage as its predecessor. The Chromebook c720 was the best Chromebook you could buy until the introduction of the Chromebook 13 although since it's so new, only time will tell if it truly outshines the Acer c720.
UPDATE: 11/26/2014: After using this Chromebook for the past couple months, I have noticed considerable lag and freezing with the new processor. I'm also noticing the Chromebook maxing out its 2GB of RAM simply by having 7 browser tabs open with no apps running. My Acer c720 did not have this problem. Not sure if it's because of the new processor technology or just this particular processor but I am not very happy with its performance at the moment. I'm waiting to hear back from Acer about whether or not a firmware update will be released to fix this issue as others have reported very similar problems.
While the more powerful NVIDIA CPU may seem like a major upgrade, in reality and actual use-case scenarios, the difference will be virtually unnoticeable to the user. Why? Because the Acer c720, running a lower end Intel Celeron processor packed enough power to do literally everything you needed to do on a Chromebook.
The problem with the new Tegra K1 based processor from NVIDIA is that during extensive testing, it is having problems running some apps because of compatibility issues. Why does that matter? Well, since the Acer Chromebook 13 is the only Chromebook on the market right now using the NVIDIA Tegra based K1 processor, many Chrome app developers haven't built their apps to run on these CPU's and as a result, some apps simply won't run on this new model. While this won't affect everyone, especially those of us who only use the core Chrome apps like Google Docs, Sheets, Calendar, Drive, and so forth, it will affect users who heavily use other niche apps available on the Chrome App Store.
These app developers will likely not be in a hurry to make their apps cross compatible when only one Chromebook model is utilizing the processor, at least not until other manufacturers start using the ARM based processors. And again, there's no guarantee any other manufacturer will. Intel, although known to be the sleepy giant when it comes to introducing new processors, has gotten the hint and is working on a new Intel Core M processor to be used in Chromebook devices and is due to be available in late 2014.
I'm pretty partial to the Intel x86 based CPU's as they're the type you'd typically find in typical laptops and desktop computers and have a proven track record of success in mobile devices such as tablets and Chromebooks. Only time will tell if Acer's switch to NVIDIA Tegra based processors was a good move for the company, or a premature one.
As an avid Linux user who has Ubuntu Linux installed on my Acer 720, I'm also a bit concerned on how the new processor will work with Linux and its apps. Some more detailed testing (which I will update you on) should give us an idea of how well they play together. I know this doesn't apply to most people, however, many of us do use Linux for various reasons and switching processors from x86 to NVIDIA Tegra, could be deal breakers for us.
Since I'm partial to the Intel x86 based processors, I'm personally waiting until later in 2014 when Intel releases its Core M processor before ditching my trusty Acer c720 Chromebook. While the Intel Core M processor based Chromebooks will likely cost a bit more, I personally feel the benefits will definitely be worth it. We should also see the same screen or a slightly upgraded one, perhaps offering touch-screen, or glossy finish versus the current matte finish. Since the NVIDIA Tegra processor is so new to Chromebooks, I want to wait to see how they work in the real-world as people's comments begins rolling in. Will it really be all it claims to be or will the drastic change in processor type be a deal breaker?
*** BUILD QUALITY ***
Like most Chromebooks, with the exception of the outrageously overpriced Google Pixel (top of line model costing nearly $1,500 for a Chromebook,) the new Chromebook 13 sticks to the trend of a plastic body with decent build quality and durability, not much different than you'd find on your...Read more
This review will be a comparison of the C720 and this Chromebook. Just to be clear, this is the Acer Chromebook 13, 1080p, 2gb of ram, 16GB ssd. This chromebook is quite a bit bigger than the C720 - that's the first thing you notice. 13.3 inches is very noticeably larger than 11.3 inches. The body is white instead of black - something I hated about the C720 - the black part around the monitor reflected everything badly. The white Acer 13 does not reflect - the anti-reflective screen does a very good job of not reflecting anything however it makes the text not as sharp as you'd expect - but being able to use this outside (which I have) - I'm willing to live with a not so sharp screen. I had an iPad mini retina and although the text was super sharp, I couldn't use that anywhere there was just a little bit of reflection. So in my opinion that's a huge plus.
A big negative about a 1080p Chromebook is that all the text is super small. I'm nearsighted so I usually don't have a problem with small text but it's uncomfortably small. I usually have to Ctrl+ every website at least once (twice for comfortable reading). I'd set the settings to 120 zoom but then the Hangouts app doesn't work (only works with zoom at 100). So that is why I took off one star. I love the space of a 13.3 inch monitor. I love no reflection from the black bezels. But the super small text makes this uncomfortable in its default setting.
The keyboard is something I disliked about the C720. The keyboard was way too mushy for my liking although extremely reliable. I do 180+ wpm and type for hours at 150 wpm. The C720 keyboard has lasted me pounding on it for over a year - the keys are worn and shiny but it can take a lot of abuse. The Acer 13 keyboard is the same keyboard but a bit more raised. The keys of the C720 are more sunken in vs the Acer 13. Thus, the Acer 13 is a bit more comfortable to type on due to the raised keyboard - the keys seem to have a bit more tactile feedback but that's probably because it's new vs my year old C720. I'm not looking forward to them wearing as I use it and becoming shiny though.
Performance? Yeah, the C720 is noticeably faster. The C720 scores 3500+ on the browsermark.rightware.com. My Acer 13 scored 2111. The C720 doesn't seem to be as smooth but it does load pages faster - the Acer 13 seems to flow a lot more smoothly but overall it is a bit slower. I don't notice the slowness while using the laptop. The extra cores seem to ensure a lag free smoother environment.
Battery life? I am seeing 11-15+ hours of normal to heavy usage. My C720 reports 11-14 hours of battery life but in real world usage I see 8+ hours. I haven't had a lot of time to test the Acer 13's battery but I noticed when using arm chips that the battery life indicator seems to under estimate time left vs the intel processor Chromebooks.
One more thing I find annoying about this laptop is the bright blue LED status light .... in a dark room with the brightness down it is uncomfortably bright but not incredibly so. I'm probably going to end up taking a black magic marker to it sooner or later.
Overall, I'm pleased with the Acer 13. It doesn't have an annoying barely noticeable CPU fan that my C720 has. It has better battery life. The case is a lot more solid than the C720. Big points: no reflective black bezel. It looks a lot "cooler." Keyboard is more comfortable (just barely) vs the C720. The screen real estate is awesome. No-reflection is a HUGE+ for outdoor use. Size is a little big for my liking after using 11.5 Chromebooks for the last few years.... but I think I'll get used to it. Hopefully Chrome OS will have more 1080p support in the near future... Text is a bit small. But yeah, I'll recommend it. My most favorite Chromebook is the C720. #2 is definitely this Acer 13.