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Acer Announces Trio Of Chromebook 13 Models Running Nvidia’s Tegra K1 SoC

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 10 comments

There’s a flood of chromebooks coming soon, and Acer is quick out of the gate with its Acer Chromebook 13, which will be available in a trio of SKUs. Most notable about these new laptops, however, is the beast within: the Nvidia Tegra K1 SoC.


All three models sport the Tegra K1 chip as well as 13.3-inch displays, although one model offers a resolution of 1366x768 while the other two boast full HD panels.

$279.99 will get you the lower-resolution CB5-311-T7NN model with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of SSD storage, and Acer says this SKU can manage an impressive 13 hours of battery life. The CB5-311-T9B0 ($299) also has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, while the CB5-311-T1UU ($379.99) doubles up with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The two higher-res Chromebook 13 models promise 11 hours of battery life.

The Acer Chromebook 13 models are fanless and measure 0.71 inches thick and weigh 3.31 pounds. Additional features include 802.11ac WiFi with a 2x2 MIMO antenna, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, built-in speakers and mic, and 720p HD webcam.

A fourth version, with a 1366x768 display, 4GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage will be marketed to educational institutions and commercial buyers at a cost of $329.99.

Contrary to a rumor that was floating around last week, there is no touchscreen Chromebook 13 model -- although considering Acer’s product lineup, it’s not unreasonable to assume that one may be coming at some point in the future.

Chromebook makers seem to be paying more attention to the inexpensive machines as sales are trending upward, and largely because there doesn’t appear to be much wiggle room on internal chromebook specs, companies are having to find ways to differentiate themselves in an increasingly crowded market.

A key way to do so is with the processor; Intel has been successful getting its chips into plenty of models--and we’ll be seeing Bay Trail-M processors in some new chromebooks, including the already-released ASUS C200 and C300 models--but Nvidia is now pushing in as well.

We’ll spare you the rehash, but you can get intimately acquainted with the Tegra K1, comprised of the 4-Plus-1 quad-core ARM 15 CPU and Nvidia Kepler-based GPU, here. Suffice it to say that it will be interesting to compare Intel-based chromebooks with models running Nvidia’s chip.

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In any case, Acer’s new spate of chromebooks is thus intriguing, but theres suddenly competition on price from Windows-based notebooks -- even from within Acer. The company’s $249.99 Acer Aspire (E21-511-C59V) beats out the least expensive Chromebook 13 on price, for example, and there are more like it coming from multiple PC makers soon.

However, for its part Acer told us it’s unconcerned that lower-priced Windows notebooks could disrupt its chromebook business, which the company says comprises some 46.7 percent of the total chromebook market. Acer’s reasoning, though, offers some telling insight into how it and possibly other companies view chromebooks in general -- as merely complementary devices, an addendum to the full Windows PC experience. (Which is a stance we would not necessarily argue with.)

Even so, one has to wonder that when average consumers are wandering the aisles of a Best Buy or cruising Amazon looking for an inexpensive computer, will they stick with what they know and buy a cheap Windows notebook or take the plunge on a more expensive chromebook? The latter may become a tough sell.

Follow Seth Colaner @SethColaner. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

Discuss
  • 3 Hide
    burnley14 , August 11, 2014 5:41 AM
    If I'm understanding this correctly, the upgrade for a 1080p screen is only $20 more than the base ($279 vs $299)? Who in their right mind would go for the lower resolution?
  • 3 Hide
    OcelotRex , August 11, 2014 6:15 AM
    With the K1 inside I am wondering if there's a chance one could dual boot android and get shield tablet-like capabilities...
  • -1 Hide
    BleedingEdgeTek , August 11, 2014 6:28 AM
    You can buy an ASUS 15" laptop for cheaper than this that runs full Windows 8.. I still fail to see what the deal is with Chromebooks.
  • Add your comment Display all 10 comments.
  • 2 Hide
    anonymous_user , August 11, 2014 8:11 AM
    Quote:
    You can buy an ASUS 15" laptop for cheaper than this that runs full Windows 8.. I still fail to see what the deal is with Chromebooks.

    But will it have a Full HD display and be able to boot as fast as a Chromebook?
  • 2 Hide
    dotaloc , August 11, 2014 10:04 AM
    Quote:
    You can buy an ASUS 15" laptop for cheaper than this that runs full Windows 8.. I still fail to see what the deal is with Chromebooks.

    I believe "less upkeep" and "easy enterprise administration" are two big selling-points, here. They aren't for everyone, of course. In education, they look good as student devices.
  • 1 Hide
    OcelotRex , August 11, 2014 10:35 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    You can buy an ASUS 15" laptop for cheaper than this that runs full Windows 8.. I still fail to see what the deal is with Chromebooks.

    But will it have a Full HD display and be able to boot as fast as a Chromebook?


    Or need an updated Windows license when 9 comes out? How about a 13 hour battery life...?
  • 0 Hide
    somebodyspecial , August 12, 2014 12:21 AM
    Quote:
    You can buy an ASUS 15" laptop for cheaper than this that runs full Windows 8.. I still fail to see what the deal is with Chromebooks.


    Resolution will be lower and you won't be playing any future games on it. K1 can already handle unreal engine 4, so many games will be made that this thing can handle (scaled down a bit no doubt, but I just mean the engine runs fine, thus so will many games that are coming). If you can pop on a dual boot of android it will become even more useful. I'm sure google will be working on getting gamepads and games on these too, and khronos is fully pushing webgl now too. How long before these things support AEP etc? That may come on the next revs at xmas etc with Denver versions (remember the chip is pin compatible, so everyone can just swap K1 32 for K1 64bit easily), but you get the point. Google is moving big time on ARM gaming and so is NV/Khronos etc. Valve is next no doubt, surely they want some of the ARM gaming sales pie with 90% of revenue at Google's store, 80%+ at Apple, and 60%+ at amazon all coming from games. It's a no brainer to port SteamOS to ARM to get these sales (NV or Valve or both will get this done soon).

    http://anandtech.com/show/8296/the-nvidia-shield-tablet-review/5
    Don't forget how badly K1 already beats surface pro (the first) in gpu by 50% in 3dmark unlimited ($730 still) and 3x+ faster than Baytrail in T100 in this. Also note in Trex offscreen it's 4.2x faster as Asus T100 (baytrail z3740). OUCH. 68fps to 16! I'll take a K1 to go please...
    http://anandtech.com/show/8296/the-nvidia-shield-tablet-review/4
    Pretty decent job of smoking the Quad core Atom (baytrail Z3740 again) in cpu too (asus transformer T100). Battery life on that baytrail device is 11hrs on 1366x768 too and it's only a 10.1in screen. I'll take the 11hrs on K1 here with that $20 upgrade instead please. You still see no advantages? Intel broadwell won't be competition for these at xmas, they'll be in far more expensive devices like surface pro 3 etc. Baytrail is already being smoked and costing Intel 1.1B per quarter now to compete. Clearly these aren't for everyone but they definitely have a market with Chromebooks already stealing 21% of ALL NOTEBOOK sales. Now that you've upped gaming perf massively I certainly wouldn't expect them to lose any of that 21% ground.

    Another point, they don't need additional virus protection/security stuff (yet?). Protection is all built in and also great google stuff integration. These are pretty much done, you don't need any other stuff added to use them. I also don't think your windows machine will go for 11hrs with perf anywhere near these chips. I'm not sure if they plan on androidL replacing chromeOS at some point (which goes back to needing something, though there are free ones, avast etc), but for now they're pretty much boot out of the box and use them as is. Very low maintenance for new users to any computer, like developing nations, older folks etc, where for many this would be their first PC like device.

  • 1 Hide
    boytitan2 , August 12, 2014 3:33 AM
    If anyone figures out how to install android on this thing it is going to be a instant buy for me.
  • -1 Hide
    somebodyspecial , August 12, 2014 11:29 PM
    Quote:
    If anyone figures out how to install android on this thing it is going to be a instant buy for me.


    Agreed, but my brain keeps saying, "dude, 20nm from everyone likely in Q1, put the wallet back...NOW!".

    There are a couple of devices I'd like to buy right now, but I just can't get around the 20nm huge jump. K1's nice and I hope they sell a ton to allow even more R&D and better gaming on android, but I really want to see everyone's 20nm versions. Worst case Q2, and I need a 20nm vid card and broadwell cpu upgrade first anyway before I start buying, for lack of a better word for my uses "TOYS"...LOL. I could see picking up one of these for my mom or dad though as a xmas gift, but I'll wait for a larger screen (they're old ya know). They get tired of sitting at a computer desk (that old age problem) and could use a 15-17 in bed or on the couch etc.
  • 0 Hide
    captainhurt , September 15, 2014 8:03 PM
    just ordered one sunday (9-14).
    they sold out on best buy within a day.
    looking forward to replacing this windows 8 laptop and craigslisting it.
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