Acer Chromebook 15 CB515-1HT-C2AE Review
The new Acer Chromebook 15 CB515-1HT-C2AE is an excellent choice for anyone looking to replace an aged Windows notebook with an affordable, sleek and powerful Chromebook.
- Spirited overall performance
- Large 15.6-inch HD screen
- Great battery life
- Solid overall value
- Awesome speaker placement
- Lacks dedicated video output
- Some distortion in audio
Back in May 2016, Google first announced that it would be updating its Chrome OS to allow for Android Apps Support. While the rollout to Chromebook devices has been slow, there are now a healthy number of first and third-party devices that can fully run hundreds of millions of apps available from the Google Play Store, thanks to a lead by Google’s Pixelbook. In 2019, Acer returns with a bigger Acer Chromebook 15 CB515-1HT-C2AE that is Google Play Store ready.
We are reviewing the Acer Chromebook 15 CB515-1HT-C2AE. This sleek and lightweight notebook is powered by Google’s Chrome OS operating system.
It picks up from the Acer Chromebook 3 with Google Play Support, but not its being offered in a bigger, full HD 15-inch touchscreen. Aside from the bigger screen, the system comes with Intel’s Celeron N3350 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage.
Did Acer cut many corners to deliver such a premium design at an affordable price? Or, its simple the ultimate Windows-killer we’ve all been waiting for. Let’s see!
Acer Chromebook 15 design
Save for the keycaps and bottom of the device that extend to the single hinge, everything on the Acer Chromebook 15 is cut from a Pure Silver finish. Acer created a gorgeous laptop with a clean metallic exterior that is not a fingerprint. Its hinge revolves a full 180 degrees, meaning you can lay it flat on a desk and easily share the screen with colleagues.
Unlike 2-in-1 convertibles in the market like the Google Pixelbook and Samsung Chromebook Pro, the CB515-1HT-C2AE skimps on features such as Tent and Stand modes. On dimensions, it’s a pretty petite system despite the 15-inch screen, measuring only 0.75 inches thick, much thinner that the Lenovo ThinkPad 13 (0.78 inches) but the same size as the Acer Chromebook 15 CB515-1HT-P39B (0.75 inches).
But that also means you don’t get the cool Tent or Stand mode that you’d otherwise find in a 2-in-1 convertibles, the like of Google Pixelbook and Samsung’s Chromebook Pro. Practically, the dull-black hinge does a good job visually concealing the existing gap between it and the base, unless you put the Chromebook up close to your eyes.
Acer Chromebook 15 ports
The Chromebook 15 remains the only choice if you want to run Chrome OS on a 15-inch laptop. HP and Acer have 14-inch models, and the rest have 13-inch screens – and sometimes, smaller. With a bigger chassis comes good connectivity.
On the left side, you’ll find a USB Type C 3.1 Gen 1 port with power input support alongside a USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 port. On the opposite side there is a headphone/microphone combo jack, a microSD card reader, another USB-A port and an additional USB-C power that also supports power input.
It doesn’t have an HDMI or DisplayPort, but those can always be hooked via the USB-C ports with the correct adapter. Also missing is an Ethernet port, instead Internet comes via 2 x2 Wireless AC supporting Wi-Fi connections of up to 867Mbps and Bluetooth 4.2.
Acer Chromebook 15 display
As previously mentioned, the CB515-1HT-C2AE’s touch screen is based on IPS technology, which readily offers rich colors and wider viewing angles as compared to older TN displays. However, the viewing angles largely depend on the content being viewed. For instance, the included backgrounds on the Acer Chromebook 15 looks gorgeous, vibrant and sharp.
Plus, the Chrome OS interface looks pretty, with perfect blacks and sharp, highly colorful icons, just like you’d have them on a high-res smartphone. But once you pull up a movie from Google Play, the colors look slightly washed out.
The visual excellence is backed by a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, something that’s becoming standard on Chromebooks. In the same category, we have Chromebooks like the Google Pixelbook and the Samsung Chromebook Pro that break the 2,400 x 1,60 barrier, but in the process, they do sacrifice physical screen size (12.3 inches) in order to achieve the higher resolution. Still, the Chromebook 15 can go higher with a crazy 2,160 x 1,215 resolution, only that it isn’t a ‘recommended’ setting.
Acer Chromebook 15 inputs
On the Chromebook 15, Acer delivers sweet sound with two up-facing speakers on either side of the keyboard. Simply said, Acer did rip out the number pad to have the speakers in place. It also means that they had to compact the keyboard to a small degree, taking up around 11 inches of space from the left to right. Being a 15-inch laptop, this design doesn’t affect typing whatsoever, it feels comfortable even for those coming from a full size mechanical keyboard.
The keys are well laid out, feel a little bit wide, and each key press is awesomely firm and quiet. The keyboard has white backlighting, something you’d readily appreciate in dark environments than in well-lit spaces.
Meanwhile, the touchpad is super responsive, and allows you to move the curser at the lightest touch. It supports Chrome OS features such as two-finger scrolling, right and left swiping, right-click to tap, and more. Its color matches the Pure Silver screen, while sending a glass-like feel to your fingertips.
Acer Chromebook 15 performance
The Acer Chromebook 15 CB515-1HT-C2AE is powered by Intel’s Celeron N3350 processor. This is an entry-level processor, consisting two cores with a maximal clock speed of 2.4GHz, and 2MB of cache making it a perfect candidate for inexpensive laptop models.
It is designed to offer stable performance, only for non-demanding routine tasks, including light web browsing, work in text-based programs or general multimedia playback.
For a chip that provides great performance while only eating six watts of power, the N3350 gets the job done well, backed by 4GB RAM and 32GB storage capacity. It’s at best a sideways move from the Celeron 3205U processor in last year’s Acer Chromebook 15.
The Chromebook 15 feels extremely zippy on daily Chrome OS functions, including loading applications, surfing the web, and streaming video. That muscle is partly due to the operating system itself, which is much ‘lighter’ than Microsoft’s Window operating system. Chrome OS mostly depends on web-based apps, although it now supports Google Play Android-apps as well.
Intel’s processor includes Intel HD Graphics 505, a basic integrated option that’s not designed for high-resolution gaming. You can get away with basic graphics at low settings, and it even performs better than the Rockchip RK3399 found on the Asus Chromebook Flip C101P.
Still, without a dedicated, discrete graphics chip or a stronger Intel processor, the CB515-1HT-C2AE’s display can only be best enjoyed when watching video.
Acer’s product page lists the Chromebook CB515-1HT-C2AE’s battery at 14 hours, but the 3220mAh battery has a maximum duration of 12 hours as correctly indicated on the Chromebook. For a Chromebook, 12 hours on a single charge is very achievable, meaning you get all day battery life in college or at work on a single charge.
The new Acer Chromebook 15 CB515-1HT-C2AE is an excellent choice for anyone looking to replace an aged Windows notebook with an affordable, sleek and powerful Chromebook. Now that it includes Google Play makes it an even better choice for college students who need the convenience of a smartphone in a laptop.
Outside lack of dedicated video output, you get peppy performance backed by a thin and light form factor and an excellent battery.
Is there a better alternative?
The Asus Chromebook 15 CB515-1HT-C2AE is the biggest Chrome OS device with a 1080p touchscreen you can buy right now — and it remains one of the best Chromebooks overall. The closest competitor that comes to mind is actually in-house, Acer’s own Chromebook 15 CB515-1HT-P39B. It features a 15-inch non-touch display, but includes an even better quad-core Intel Pentium N4200 processor in a similar, timeless design.
Should you buy it?
Yes. If you’re considering jumping on the Chromebook bandwagon, Acer’s latest 15.6-inch offering is a great place to start. At this price point, it’s a solid value as a budget laptop and, unlike its smaller-screen peers, the new Chromebook 15 can easily work as either a portable companion or your main home PC.
Acer Chromebook 15, Intel Celeron N3350, 15.6" Full HD Touch, 4GB LPDDR4, 32GB Storage, Google Chrome, Pure Silver, CB515-1HT-C2AE, 15-15.99 inches
4 used from $164.99