The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 arrives aiming for a spot on our best Chromebooks list – but does it do enough to make the cut? In our comprehensive review, we'll tell you everything you need to know about this device to help you decide if it's right for you.
You may have already come across our Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review, and this is the slightly smaller and much cheaper version. Like the Spin 713, the display on the 513 folds right round, so you can almost use it as a makeshift tablet (albeit a somewhat bulky one).
Finding the best laptops on the market isn't always easy, but we'll help you out here: whether you're wondering about the Acer Chromebook Spin 513 performance, battery life, build quality, typing experience or anything else, we've got all the information you need.
Acer Chromebook Spin 513 review: design and screen
The 360-degree hinge on the Spin 513's screen is a real selling point: not only can you fold it flat against the back of the keyboard in tablet mode, you can also prop up the screen with the keyboard behind it, which works great for video calls and movies. That's not something you can do with a MacBook Pro, for example, and it's one of the key reasons why you might choose this Acer Chromebook over anything else.
As you would expect given the low price of the Acer Chromebook Spin 513, plastic dominates, but it's put together well. The bezels around the 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 pixel, IPS LCD touchscreen display are reasonably narrow, if you ignore the thick chin that holds the Acer logo, and overall it's a pretty stylish Chromebook – albeit one that you can tell sits at the less expensive end of the price spectrum. It's lightweight too, tipping the scales at a mere 113 grams.
The display itself is bright, sharp and vibrant – without being one of the very best screens we've ever come across, it does the job nicely, and shows off everything from documents to movies well. The 16:9 aspect ratio isn't great for getting work done or browsing the web, as you don't get much room vertically, but it really shines when it comes to sitting back and watching some videos (and we've already mentioned the numerous ways you can position the display too).
When it comes to ports you've got two USB-C ports, one USB-A port, and a headphone and mic combination socket, so it's a solid selection for a laptop this size. In general, while the design of the Acer Chromebook Spin 513 does feel a bit on the cheap side in places, it's got enough about it to leave a positive impression, and that versatility in terms of the display hinge is going to come in handy for a lot of users.
- Check out the best lightweight laptops
Acer Chromebook Spin 513 review: performance and features
You can get the Acer Chromebook Spin 513 with either 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, or 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage – we'd recommend the latter for some serious computing, although the price does go up accordingly. Our review unit had the higher spec, along with a Qualcomm Snapdragon SC7180 processor that definitely holds its own: we had no problems opening up multiple browser tabs in Chrome OS and jumping rapidly between them.
Chromebooks support Android apps as well now, and while games such as Alto's Odyssey and Asphalt 9 can run, the experience isn't quite as smooth as it is on an Android phone – that's partly due to the specs of the Spin 513 but also due to most titles on the Google Play Store not being optimized to run on Chromebooks. Consider this a perfectly capable machine for getting some work done, but maybe not as an Android gaming station.
Speaking of getting some work done, you don't get anything fancy like keyboard backlighting here, but the typing experience is a comfortable and pleasant one – there's some decent give in the keys, and they're nicely spaced out. The trackpad feels a little cheap and plastic when you click it, but in terms of its responsiveness when you scroll across it, we had no problems.
The Chromebook Spin 513 does get slightly warm in use, but the fan-less design means there's no sound at all, which is definitely a bonus. Acer claims a battery life of up to 13.5 hours, which we can believe – one hour of streaming video with the screen at maximum brightness knocks the battery level down about 9 percent, suggesting you'd get around 11 hours of viewing in total (and more with the screen dimmed a little).
- The T3 list of the best laptops right now
Acer Chromebook Spin 513 review: price and verdict
It's not difficult to work out the most compelling features of the Acer Chromebook Spin 513: it's reasonably affordable, it's lightweight, and it has a screen that can fold right over into a variety of positions. If those are the features that you've been looking for, and you think that Chrome OS (with a side helping of Android apps) is able to take care of all your computing needs, then this laptop is worth some serious consideration.
Since Google first introduced the concept of Chromebooks in 2011, they've made more and more sense as time has gone on – down the years, we've grown accustomed to doing more of our computing inside browser windows rather than through desktop applications, and the rise of Google apps like Gmail and Google Docs now make it much easier to do everything online (and switch between computers). For some people, a Chromebook is going to do everything they need it to.
There are some compromises if you go down to this price point. Performance is decent enough for managing multiple browser tabs at once, but Android games can stutter – that's by no means a problem exclusive to the Spin 513 in the world of Chromebooks, but it's something to bear in mind. If you want the smoothest and slickest experience that Chrome OS can give you, it might be worth paying more.
Overall the Acer Chromebook Spin 513 looks good, works well, and is competitively priced compared with other models – and speaking of the price, you more or less get what you pay for. With the 16:9 screen that bends right back, it's particularly good for watching movies and TV shows – and we'd recommend this mostly to people who want to sit back and watch some top-notch content on the go.
- Here are all the best student laptops