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Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2021) review: Still one of the best

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
599
inc VAT

It’s only received minor upgrades, but this is still a class-leading, great value Chromebook convertible

Pros 
Excellent screen
Great 2-in-1 design
Nippy performance
Improved connectivity
Cons 
Keyboard could be better
Battery life is merely good
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Acer’s Chromebook Spin 713 is something of a Chromebook classic. Like Google’s Pixelbook Go or Asus’s Chromebook Flip series, it’s a great example of a premium Chromebook, marrying good performance, sensible design and an excellent screen at a reasonable price. Now that it’s back with a processor upgrade and a connectivity upgrade, is it still one of the best Chromebooks on the market?

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Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2021) review: What you need to know

There’s a definite sense of ‘If it ain’t broke’ about the new Chromebook Spin 713 – what changes there are seem subtle. Most notable is the shift from Intel’s 10th Generation to its 11th Generation Core processors, and the replacement of the old USB 3.1 Type-C ports with Thunderbolt 4. Throw in Wi-Fi 6, a 256GB M.2 SSD and a fingerprint reader, and this is one of the best-specced Chromebooks on the market.

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Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2021) review: Price and competition

That doesn’t mean there isn’t stiff competition. The Chromebook Spin 713 starts from £599, which puts it right up against the Asus Chromebook CX5, which has a similar spec and convertible form factor, but also a bigger 15.6in screen. The smaller 14in CX3 is another great-looking 2-in-1, though we’ve yet to see one in the flesh.

Meanwhile, the PixelBook Go remains a very strong alternative. It has an outdated processor and a higher price point – the cheapest variants are near-impossible to find – but the design and ergonomics are still top of their class.

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Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2021) review: Design

If you’ve seen previous versions of the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, the new model will look very familiar. The dimensions are nearly identical, and the biggest change we spotted was a mere 7g reduction in weight. The all-metal chassis, with its MIL-STD 810H rating, still feels rock solid, and it retains the same square-ish form factor, thanks to the 3:2 aspect ratio screen. It’s a design that’s beginning to lose a little of its wow factor, but it’s still one of the best-looking Chromebooks out there.

It’s also one of the most practical designs we’ve encountered, partly because it’s one of few convertibles that works well in every mode. The squarer screen is better for both tablet mode and tent mode, and while the size and weight means you won’t mistake it for an iPad, it’s great for sofa surfing or a Netflix binge.

In regular clamshell mode it can be a serious productivity workhorse, and in stand mode (keyboard down, screen angled up) you can use it with an external keyboard and mouse as a mini-All-in-One.

What’s more, connectivity is excellent. You get Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 in addition to two Thunderbolt 4 ports on the left-hand side and a USB 3.0 port on the right. There’s also an HDMI output and a useful microSD card slot. Whether you need cheap storage, high-performance storage, a network adapter or a full-on dock, you’re basically covered. In fact, there’s an argument that, given how we tend to use Chromebooks, Acer might even have gone overboard.

Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2021) review: Keyboard and touchpad

If there’s an area where Acer could make a few improvements, it’s the keyboard. It’s not bad, with a spacious layout and good-sized, flat-topped keys, but it’s lacking in feel. There’s not much travel, the action feels slightly loose and there’s just a hint of side-to-side wobble in the keys. There’s nothing here that you can’t get used to, but the Pixelbook Go and Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 both do better on this count.

Still, we’ve no such reservations on the touchpad. Measuring 10.6cm by 7.9cm, it’s a great match for the 3:2 screen and flawlessly responsive to boot.

The new Chromebook Spin 713 also features a slim fingerprint reader just underneath the keyboard on the right hand side. However, this only works when you wake the Chromebook from sleep, rather than when you turn it on or sign in. It might make the Spin 713 more secure, but it’s also more than a little annoying.

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Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2021) review: Display and sound

Throughout its incarnations, the Spin 713 has had a brilliant 13.5in 2,256 x 1,504 resolution screen. It’s bright, crisp and colour reproduction and contrast look great to the naked eye. In our tests, it produced a maximum brightness of 386.5cd/m² and reproduced 99.3% of the sRGB gamut, even managing to cover a respectable 83.1% of DCI P3. Those figures are ever so slightly lower than we measured for last year’s model, but that’s probably more down to panel-to-panel variation than any kind of downgrade. Colours are accurate, with a Delta E of under 2, and everything from photos to movies to Stadia games looks spectacular. You’ll find it hard to get a screen this good on anything else at this price point.

The audio quality is just as impressive. The Spin 713 can go pretty loud when it needs to, yet audio remains clear and rich, with little sign of tinniness and a great sensation of space when you’re playing games or watching video. The front-firing speakers also do a great job no matter what mode you’re using it in.

Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2021) review: Performance and battery life

The Chromebook Spin 713 comes in Core i3 and Core i5 variants, but for most of us the cheaper version will be more than fast enough. The Core i3-1115G4 is a modest dual core, four thread CPU running at 3 to 4.1GHz, but the performance in our benchmarks is up there with the best from any Chromebook that we’ve seen.

The Geekbench 5 scores (1161 single-core and 2600 multi-core) are mediocre by most laptop standards, but the scores in browser-based benchmarks like BaseMark 3, MotionMark and CRxprt, see the Spin 713 actively outpacing any 10th Generation Core i5 Chromebooks that we’ve tested.

What does this mean in practice? Well, demanding Web-based image-editing apps run smoothly, and you can have a ton of browser tabs open without any serious slowdown. Web pages load in a flash, and everything runs smoothly. You’ll want more 3D power for any serious gaming, but otherwise it’s a very slick experience.

Battery life is just a mite disappointing. We’re getting used to seeing Chromebooks hitting 12 hours or more of battery life, which makes the new Spin 713’s nine hours and 11 minutes a little underwhelming. To put it in context, though, that’s still enough for a good working day, and so hardly a fatal flaw.

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Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2021) review: Verdict

Acer hasn’t reinvented its flagship Chromebook here, but I’m not sure it matters. The Chromebook Spin 713 remains a superb Chrome OS convertible and there’s nothing to gripe about: especially now that the great screen is now partnered with enhanced connectivity and improved performance. In short, it’s still a classic. If you’re in the market for the latest, greatest Chromebook, it needs to be right at the top of your list.

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