Windows has been my go-to operating system for years, but I've kept an eye on Chromebooks and have been impressed with the progress made. About a decade ago, I used one of the first Chromebooks while backpacking, and it's an understatement to say it was a rough experience with a slow device that felt like it could fall apart at any second.
Now that I've properly reacquainted myself with modern Chromebooks, it's clear that these are not the same devices I used so long ago. The Acer Chromebook Spin 714, in particular, is one of the best Chromebooks on the market today thanks to its snappy performance, huge touch display (with a built-in stylus for inking), and impressive build quality. We loved the Chromebook Spin 713 predecessor, but does the Spin 714 carry on the greatness? I've been putting it to the test for the last couple of weeks to see better where it excels and where it falls short.
Acer Chromebook Spin 714
The Acer Chromebook Spin 714's quality build, colorful touch display, comfy keyboard, and snappy performance have won me over to the side of ChromeOS. If you're looking for a high-end option that doesn't skimp on much, this is it.
- 256GB PCIe SSD
- 12th Gen Intel Core i5-1235U
- 8GB LPDDR4x
- Up to 10 hours of rated use, fast charging support via USB-C
- 2x USB-C (with Thunderbolt 4), HDMI, USB-A 3.2, 3.5mm combo audio
- 1080p front webcam
- Display (Size, Resolution)
- 14-inch IPS LCD touchscreen (1920x1200 pixels resolution), 16:10 aspect ratio
- 3.9 pounds (1.40kg)
- Auto Update Expiration (AUE)
- June 2030
- 312.4mm x 223.5mm x 18.0mm
- Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.2
- 2x upward-firing stereo speakers
- USI Compatibility
- Yes, with integrated quick-charging USI stylus
- Rigid and durable convertible design
- Snappy performance from 12th Gen Intel Core CPU
- Colorful 14-inch touch display with built-in stylus
- 1080p webcam
- No SD or microSD card reader
- Display brightness could be higher for some situations
- Speakers produce fairly weak audio
- Undersized touchpad
Price and availability
The Acer Chromebook Spin 714 I'm reviewing is model number CP714-1WN-53M9. With a 12th Gen Intel Core i5-1235U processor (CPU), 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM, 256GB M.2 PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), and a 14-inch touch display with FHD+ resolution, it'll cost you about $500 to $600 depending on where you shop. Third-party retailer Best Buy, at the time of writing, has the best price at $499, but it's unclear how long this promotion will last. It's regularly priced at Best Buy for $729.
It's easier to check Amazon's pricing history and see a steady cost decline over the last year. You can now pick it up for about $599 at Amazon, and it's unlikely to make a big jump in price if it keeps with the current trend.
Design, hardware, and what's in the box
Unpacking the box, you're greeted by the Chromebook Spin 714, a two-part 65W USB-C power adapter, and a wireless mouse. The Spin 714 also comes with a stylus for inking, with a captive silo built right into the front of the laptop.
The Spin 714 is a convertible laptop, and its dual-hinge setup allows the touch display to rotate around 360 degrees. You can use the Spin 714 as a normal clamshell laptop or tablet, with tent and stand modes in between. This provides a ton of extra versatility and makes it a good choice for those who can't decide which form factor they want more.
Some convertible laptops suffer from the bends — a plastic body doesn't translate well to the rigors of 360-degree rotation. Luckily, Acer primarily uses aluminum for the Spin 714's body, resulting in a solid laptop that feels like it can go through quite a bit of abuse. In fact, Acer put it through MIL-STD-810H durability testing to prove its lasting potential.
I'm not the first owner of this specific device, but it still looks like it was just unboxed. The slate blue finish is sharp and doesn't seem to hold onto fingerprints, plus there's a bit of polished accenting around the touchpad and along the bottom edge of the lid. The finish doesn't seem to scratch easily, but you can always add a great Chromebook sleeve for extra protection.
The port selection is fairly generous, though one noticeable drawback is the lack of a microSD or SD card reader. This is certainly more important in Chromebooks that ship with small amounts of eMMC storage, and the 256GB of onboard SSD storage will indeed be enough for many people. Still, it would be nice to have the option. The Spin 714 does, however, include two powerful Thunderbolt 4 ports that you can use to connect to a powerful Chromebook dock for ultimate connectivity. Native ports extend to HDMI for video out, USB-A 3.2 (Gen 2), and 3.5mm audio. Also, along the side of the laptop is a power button and volume rocker for easier control in tablet mode.
With a 3.09-pound (1.4kg) weight, the Spin 714 is right in the sweet spot for convertible laptops. It's not so heavy that it impairs your ability to use it as a tablet, but it's also not so light that it feels cheap. And, of course, the aluminum build will prove more resilient than plastic. The laptop measures about 0.71 inches (18mm) thin, which is on the thick side for a tablet, but I really had no problem using it as such. However, those with smaller hands might have a different experience.
Display and inking
Many of the best cheap Chromebooks skimp on the display resolution and quality, and even some high-end Chromebooks seem to ignore the need for pixels in order to keep the price down. That's not the case here. Acer stretched the touch display to a 16:10 aspect ratio, making it just a bit boxier than the traditional 16:9 ratio. This gives you more screen real estate to work with, and it also translates better to tablet mode.
Something like 3:2 is ideal for a tablet, but 16:10 is still an upgrade. This ratio translates to a boosted 1920x1200 (FHD+) resolution; it's plenty crisp inside the 14-inch size, with respectable color and contrast that keeps the screen from looking washed out. When working in tablet mode, the screen's bezel provides a spot to firmly grip the device.
The screen's glossy finish will reflect windows, overhead lights, and bright surfaces. Unfortunately, I struggle in some locations to get a clear view, which isn't helped by the lackluster brightness capacity. The screen also picks up a lot of smudges and fingerprints despite its antimicrobial coating, further aggravating the issue. Keep a cloth nearby and plan on working away from any bright windows for the best experience.
Acer covered its inking potential with a built-in stylus with its own silo for safekeeping. You can pull it out and get to work as easy as that, and you always know where it is when you need to jot down a note or make a sketch. It's also a great alternative to the small touchpad. The stylus has a smooth stroke, and 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity ensure a precise feel. If you're not a fan of the thin pen style, the Spin 714's USI compatibility means it'll also work with many more of the best stylus pens on the market.
Camera, speakers, and keyboard
The Spin 714's keyboard has a slight indent to keep the keys in line with the palm rests (preventing key marks on the screen when closed), and overall it's much better than I was expecting. I generally type thousands of words per day and have no problems continuing that trend here. Keys have a ton of travel, there's a smooth landing when bottoming out, and the backlight helps with working after hours.
In addition, the laptop's 14-inch size keeps it from feeling cramped, and even those coming from a Windows or Mac device should enjoy what Acer has put together. One drawback is the touchpad's size. The included wireless mouse and touch display provide alternatives, and the touchpad tracks well, but the small size is nevertheless irksome.
At a time when many of us are still working and learning from home, having a quality webcam is a huge deal. The Spin 714's 1080p camera is just that, delivering a clear picture for stills and video. It handles exposure very well — a large, bright window is almost always behind me during meetings — and it even comes with a discrete shutter for added privacy. Even those who often use a webcam shouldn't see much need for additional hardware.
I love the top-firing speaker setup that finds the dual outputs between the keyboard and display. This prevents muffling, especially in notebook mode, and you feel like the sound is coming straight at you. Unfortunately, a distinct lack of bass makes the mix sound a bit tinny. It's most noticeable when listening to music or watching movies but not as bad when voice or video conferencing.
Software and performance
Coming from a Windows-centric workflow, I found switching to ChromeOS for a couple of weeks interesting. It wasn't nearly as much of a transition as I expected — no doubt aided by the fact that a lot of work is handled through Google Workspace — and I've been able to accomplish all work, including word processing, photo editing, heavy web browsing, and video conferencing without any issues or hiccups. And if you're coming from another ChromeOS device, you shouldn't find many surprises.
I can appreciate the system's overall snappy feel. Intel's 12th Gen Core processors launched in 2022, and though 13th Gen Intel hardware is now available, the Core i5-1235U in my review unit puts out a ton of performance. It has two Performance cores, eight Efficient cores, and 12 total threads, with a Turbo that can hit 4.4GHz for brief sprints. In addition, it's equipped with integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics that can run at up to 1.2GHz, giving you plenty of overhead to play around with should you want to enjoy some games (it'll even work with the Steam beta on ChromeOS). The laptop's fans were barely louder than a whisper, even under load, and core temperatures never exceeded 62 degrees Celsius.
The Chromebook Spin 714 also sports 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM for easier multitasking and an M.2 PCIe SSD that easily beats any sort of speed that eMMC storage can offer. Altogether, you're getting a speedy system that can handle just about anything you throw its way. Here's a look at how the Spin 714's Core i5 performance compares to some other common CPUs found in other Chromebooks.
Benchmark (Higher is better)
Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (Core i5-1235U)
Acer Chromebook 514 (MediaTek Kompanio 828)
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 (Snapdragon 7c Gen 2)
Acer claims that its three-cell Li-Ion battery can run for up to 10 hours, but manufacturer claims don't usually reflect real-world usage. Going about my daily tasks, which involve fairly heavy web browsing (with tens of Chrome tabs open at all times), photo editing, and video conferencing, the Spin 714 was able to make it more than eight hours without needing a charge. Screen brightness varied as I moved around the house, but it was often at maximum to combat glare. That's enough to get most people through a day of work.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 714's battery will get you through a workday, with plenty of extra overhead for streaming or light work.
I also ran a test to see how long the Spin 714 could last while streaming uninterrupted video. I performed this test with the screen set at about 75% brightness and speakers set to 50% volume. The Spin 714 lasted more than 16 hours in this test, making it suitable for long-haul flights or other extended periods away from AC power where you aren't necessarily pushing the performance hardware.
Some underpowered Chromebooks can last longer on a charge, but you won't get nearly as much performance overhead. The mix of system speed and battery life in the Spin 714 is almost perfect, and professionals and power users who don't want to wait around for apps to load or tasks to complete will be able to capitalize.
HP's lineup of business-focused Dragonfly laptops has bled over into the Chromebook space, and last year we saw the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook make an appearance at CES 2022. This 13.5-inch device is still available today and includes 12th Gen Intel Core U-series CPUs, up to 32GB of RAM, up to 512GB of SSD storage, and a gorgeous 13.5-inch touch display with up to a QHD+ resolution. It's an absolutely stunning laptop made for professionals, and it even includes optional 5G connectivity, a fingerprint reader, inking support, and a 5MP webcam to aid in office work. The downside? It starts at over $1,100 even when on sale, pricing out average customers.
For 2023, HP stepped things up with the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook. Its webcam was bumped up to 8MP, the QHD display can reach up to 1,200 nits, and it has a gorgeous design with top-firing speakers and an RGB keyboard. It's expected to hit the market this year, but don't expect it to come cheap.
Bringing the price down a bit from the Dragonfly laptops, we can still find some stiff competition for the Spin 714. The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 that we reviewed is another 14-inch convertible Chromebook with a sleek aluminum body, comfy keyboard, and plenty of performance overhead from Intel's 11th Gen Core CPUs (with up to a Core i7 available).
It's quick, it has a built-in stylus, and there's an SD card reader to go along with the generous port selection; however, it has a lower-res 720p webcam, a smaller battery (that runs for about six hours), and its 16:9 display isn't as impressive. Nevertheless, you can find models with a Core i7 chip, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage for about $1,000, while Core i3 models with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage cost about $650. The Acer Chromebook Spin 714 is still a better deal, and it's the one I'd recommend first.
And finally, the Lenovo Flex 5i for 2022 is likely the closest match to the Spin 714. It's available with up to a 12th Gen Intel Core i5-1235U CPU, 8GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage, and a 14-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio, 100% sRGB color, and about 300 nits brightness. It has a 1080p webcam, plenty of ports including a microSD card reader, USI support, and a modest starting price. Don't confuse this 14-inch convertible with the 13.3-inch Flex 5i Chromebook that we also reviewed favorably. If you can find a 14-inch Flex 5i Chromebook for less money than the Spin 714, you'll get a lot of the same features and still have some money left over to pick up some great Chromebook accessories.
Should you buy the Acer Chromebook Spin 714?
Putting the Acer Spin 714 through its paces for this review has been a perfect reintroduction to the world of Chromebooks. I didn't expect to enjoy my time with the device nearly as much as I did, and I attribute that to Acer's attention to detail. The Acer Spin 714 is one of the best Acer Chromebooks and one of the best overall Chromebooks on the market today. The convertible's aluminum chassis is durable and versatile, the built-in stylus is always there when you need it, typing is comfortable, and battery life goes and goes. The 12th Gen Intel Core processors provide plenty of juice to handle pretty much any task, and I had no slowdowns while going about my daily workflow.
That's not to say there aren't some blind spots. For example, the lack of an SD or microSD card reader is a drag, but at least you have a few speedy SSD options to play around with. Also, the audio is thin coming from the top-firing speakers, but sound remains unmuffled and will get you through voice and video conferences. And you can always plug in a headset when you really need to hear clearly. The last real major drawback is the tiny touchpad below the keyboard, but the touch display, stylus, and included wireless mouse can, in most cases, help you avoid this issue.
I wish the screen was brighter to help contend with glare. But otherwise, I found nothing wrong with the display. It's colorful, the contrast looks good, and there's no washed-out look to detract from the laptop's otherwise high-end presentation. Sure, you can find cheaper Chromebooks out there, but professionals and power users who want plenty of performance overhead and a high-quality build should seriously consider this Chromebook.