The Acer Chromebook Spin 13 is an attractive option if your approach to Chrome OS is more demanding, as it offers strong performance, an aluminum construction, a high-res IPS display and very comfortable keyboard.
- Strong overall performance
- Aluminum chassis
- Vibrant, Roomy display
- Comfortable keyboard with included Stylus
- Average-at-best battery life
- Fairly heavy
The Acer Chromebook Spin 13 CP713-1WN-53NF is an up-scale Chromebook that’s priced in the same lounges with full-featured Windows 10-based convertibles. A case in point is the Lenovo Flex 14 (81SS000DUS), a Windows 10 convertible that goes for about the same money with similar hardware on the inside. An 8th Generation Intel Core i5 processor gives the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 plenty of performance, while its 128GB eMMC offers more capacity than the 16GB or 32GB flash drives you’d typically find in cheaper Chromebooks.
The Spin 13 is your pick if durability and power are your priorities, but we do have less pricey Chromebooks that are sleeker while packing enough power to run the lightweight Chrome OS.
Rarely do you find a laptop with an aluminum construction but isn’t sleek. That pair of words are stablemates, but we’ll only use one to describe the Chromebook Spin 13. Yes, it doesn’t come with a flimsy plastic construction, but the dark gray anodized aluminum used on the lid, keyboard deck, and bottom deck isn’t sleek. Still, the 3:2 aspect ratio, which is a move in the right direction over the 4:3 aspect ratio in last year’s Spin 13.
We’ve seen the Huawei MateBook X and the Microsoft Surface Book 2 sport the 3:2 ratio and we’re sure it’s a charm in this Chromebook. The wider 16:9 aspect ratio is common among most modern laptops, but a 3:2 aspect ratio has its advantages, especially for a 2-in-1 convertible. For one, it adds some vertical space means you scroll less when working with long web pages and documents. For another, it looks more practical as a tablet when used in portrait mode, which would otherwise feel awkwardly long on a 16:9 display.
Measuring 0.7 by 12.2 by 9.7 inches and weighing just over 3.5 pounds, this laptop feels a bit chunky, especially when used on one hand. Compared: the 14-inch Asus Chromebook C425 measures around the same size (0.7 by 12.6 by 8.3) but weighs almost a pound less (2.9 pounds), while the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 is slightly thinner (0.6 by 11.4 by 8.2) but also weighs much less (2.98 pounds).
So, you can’t quite place why the Acer Spin 3 feels bulky in the first place, considering its larger competitors weigh less. If you dig deeper, you realize that the extra ounces are due to the thick bezels framing the display, especially on the top and bottom. Having a 0.6-inch top bezel and a one-inch bottom bezel adds unnecessary weight, and leaves lots of empty space on the keyboard deck above the keyboard.
A touch display with Gorilla Glass for added protection makes for an intuitive touch experience, and so does the In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel with an impressive 2,256-by-1,504-pixel resolution. The result is a crisp and bright image, as well as wide viewing angles. You will definitely not have anything to complain about the display unless you’re accustomed to a 16:9 aspect ration, in a way that the 3:2 display here looks a bit odd.
In case you’re coming from an Apple MacBook Pro, it won’t take days before you appreciate the Acer’s 3:2 screen as something modern and useful. The screen is held in place by two sturdy hinges that allow the lid to rotate 360 degrees, meaning you can use the Chromebook Spin 13 in laptop, stand, tent, or tablet mode.
On the Acer Chromebook Spin 3, I/O port selection is lean but well chosen, offering both types of USB ports to minimize carrying an adapter around. The laptop charges over USB Type-C instead of a proprietary charging port. The left side has a USB Type-C port and a Type-A USB 3.0 port, a headphone jack and a MicroSD card slot. The last will supplement the existing 128GB of internal storage. A second USB Type-C port is available on the right side, next to a power button and volume rocker.
For convenience, you can use either of the USB Type-C ports to charge the laptops. For sound, you have downward-firing speakers that produce enough sound to fill a midsize room and are very ideal for YouTube videos, but you’ll notice the lack of bass that might get on your way if that’s what you’re looking for.
Keyboard & Touchpad
Even with the Spin 3’s roomy dimensions, the touchpad is smaller than it should be; but it does feel accurate, providing a smooth glide thanks to its Gorilla Glass coating. The impressive experience extends to the keyboard, that is roomy, backlit and has snappy keys that are comfortable for speedy typing.
The laptop comes with a built-in stylus that’s cleverly notched into a slot on the front edge to the right. It’s a thin and square stylus that isn’t the most natural feeling especially for a note-taking instrument, but it offers a few useful features. For instance, it offers pressure sensitivity and is handy for navigating Windows when you’re using the Acer Spin Chromebook 3 in tablet mode. For serious sketchers and artists, it’s a BYOS – Bring Your Own Stylus – affair.
The Acer Spin 13 (CP713-1WN-53NF) is billed as a premium Chromebook, and its price gets you more than an aluminum chassis. Instead of the usual low-end processor you’d find on budget Chromebooks, this one goes higher to compete with entry-level Windows-based notebooks in features and performance. Under the hood, it delivers an 8th Generation quad-core chip, the Intel Core i5-8250U, 8GB RAM and 126GB eMMC storage.
There’s another configuration of the same base model that tops out with 16GB RAM, while the starting model rock a Core i3 chip and 4GB or 8GB RAM. As configured, our review model puts its hardware to good used and churns out exceptional performance over most of its competitors.
On typical use, the Acer Chromebook Spin 3 feels snappy even with 20 Chrome tabs open. It will play YouTube videos smoothly, and you’ll comfortably work with Google Docs and Sheets without any lags. The only culprit in this power surge is battery life. While the Spin 13’s U-series CPU is an efficient chip, it’s still not as efficient as some other Intel parts -say, Celerons, Pentiums, or Y-Series Core chips – that are commonly fitted in Chromebooks.
Still, you’ll get just over 10 hours on a single charge, for as long as you won’t be hitting the machine and throttling the 2K resolution screen’s brightness to maximum for hours on end. And to the Spin 3’s credit, it triumphs over the 7-hour ceiling of the Celeron-powered Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 (LTE).
The Acer Chromebook Spin 13 is an attractive option if your approach to Chrome OS is more demanding, as it offers strong performance, an aluminum construction, a high-res IPS display and very comfortable keyboard. In fact, it marks a paradigm shift over the light-duty, low-cost Chromebook from back then that were only meant for browsing the Net as well as run Google Drive apps and an occasional Android app.
Is there a better alternative?
And in paying the premium price for a Chromebook, be sure that you really need the extra storage, the additional processing power brought to you by additional CPU cores and more RAM, 2-in-1 convertible design and the screen’s higher-resolution. Otherwise, we are quite partial to the Asus Chromebook C425 (C425TA-DH384)’s strong overall performance and sleek, all-metal design and lower price.
With the Chromebook C425, however, you’ll lose on the 2-in-1 design, the intuitive touch screen and it gets half the Spin 3’s storage, but it still compensates with strong overall performance, a sleek design and offers excellent battery life, while remaining quite affordable.
In case you find Chrome OS limiting, there are exciting Windows 2-in-1 alternatives that aren’t very expensive. Top in the list is the Lenovo Flex 14 2-in-1 that delivers an AMD Ryzen 5 processor, 12GB RAM, 256GB NVMe SSD storage, Radeon Vega 8 graphics card and solid I/0 port options, including USB-C. It remains our Editors’ Choice for entry-level 2-in-1 Windows-based convertible laptops.
Should you buy it?
Yes. Although pricey, the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 (CP713-1WN-53NF) isn’t your average Chromebook. It packs the type of features and performance you’d ordinarily find in a premium PC or MacBook: an aluminum exterior, a backlit keyboard and a vibrant high-res display with an included Stylus pen.
If those features excite you and willing to go further with Chrome OS, the Chromebook Spin 13 should be rightly at the top of your short list.