Acer Chromebook CB3-111-C8UB Review

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December 26, 2014
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If you’re bored of Windows perhaps it’s a Chrome-powered system you might be looking for. Acer CB3-111-C8UB is such a laptop running on Google Chrome, offering 2GB RAM and Celeron-level performance for basic computing. The price is also very, very cheap. Almost too cheap to be true. So a question arises: Can you get a decent laptop with a couple hundred bucks? Let’s find that out…

The essentials

Just to make sure you know, Acer Chromebook CB3-111-C8UB doesn’t run on Windows. It features a Google Chrome OS which is perfectly fine for most uses, including text editing, video calls and web browsing. It’s not really a gamer-friendly operating system, but of course attempts to make it attractive for players have been made. I’ll tell more about gaming later, let’s see about the hardware now.

The processor in this Acer is Intel Celeron N2830, a very common sight in budget notebooks. It’s a dual-core system-on-a-chip with clock speed up to 2.4GHz with turbo. For non-gaming, lightweight stuff Chromebook is intended for, the Celeron processor is perfectly sufficient.

There’s just 2GB RAM available on this Acer. That might be problematic for a multitasker. However, Chrome OS should handle low memory wisely, so chances are having, say, many tabs open simultaneously should work fine on it. I’ve heard that upgrading the RAM is also possible on these cheap Chromebooks, but it requires some tinkering.

As you probably guessed, there’s no huge hard drive inside. Instead, the Acer houses a 16GB eMMC drive. It’s basically a MultiMediaCard embedded on the mainboard. It’s a level below a true SSD, which would cost more and thus make this laptop pricier. An eMMC is good compromise between HDD and SDD, with emphasis on speed rather than size. If you want more storage, you can extended it with a memory card or external hard drive.

Display and graphics

Acer Chromebook CB3-111-C8UB has a small 11.6″ screen. The 1366×768 resolution works fine for such a compact display. Albeit Chromebook getting better at touchscreen support, this display is not a touch one, though.

The graphics engine of this Acer is Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail). It’s a slow chip for sure, and together with Chromebook’s poor support for games it’s safe to say this laptop is bad choice for players. Unless you want to install Linux and an emulator, your choice of games is limited to simple browser-based titles – which anyway work great on this laptop.

Connections

Acer Chromebook CB3-111-C8UB has the bare minimum connectivity for a modern notebook. Available ports are USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and a HDMI output. As you see, that’s not much for your peripherals, which is explainable by the affordable laptop price and a small physical size.

Internet access is dual-band WiFi only. No Ethernet port is installed which happens to be true for most Chromebooks. Bluetooth is however supported.

No optical drive is present in this Acer. If you want to work with DVDs you must use an external drive. Also keep in mind the reduced disc support of Chromebooks: currently, you can’t burn any discs on it and can read data discs only. So no movie or audio CDs and DVDs work on a Chromebook.

If the above makes you sad, you can still use the laptop’s memory card reader to transfer files between an SD card and the computer.

Video meetings are possible on Skype-like programs, such as Google Hangouts. The Acer features a webcam supporting 1280 x 720 resolution.

Other things to consider

Chromebooks are usually known as good pick for on-the-go people. Well, this one weighs 2.7 pounds and comes with 7-8 hours battery life. That is definitely good news for, say, a traveler but nothing exceptional when you compare to other Chrome-powered laptops.

Thanks to the small notebook size, the keyboard takes a lot of space on the lower part. There’s no room for a dedicated 10-key numpad, which results to the keyboard and trackpad being nicely centered. I personally like this setup but your preferences may be different.

If you’re not happy with the 16GB local storage and ways to expand it introduced above (memory card, USB hard drive), you still have one option left: 100GB cloud storage from Google Drive for 2 years.

Summing it up

Acer Chromebook CB3-111-C8UB is a laptop ready to serve you with mundane tasks of home users and students alike. The Chrome OS will take some time to get used to, but once you get it you might be happy you did. It’s less cluttered, starts up faster and is generally simpler to use than a “full operating system” like Windows. Also portability of this laptop is great: battery lasts for hours and the computer is breeze to carry at two and half pounds weight.

There are of course downsides to this all. Performance of the Chrome OS and the laptop’s hardware can only take you so far, with severely limited options for gaming and specialized, professional software. Those power users and gamers might think twice before getting a simple Chromebook for their advanced programs.

But if you just want an everyday computer and you’re looking for a change, why not to give Chrome laptop a go? It’s more affordable than most Windows notebooks and has received positive feedback from users who bought it.


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