What is one to do when a company releases an iterative, dare I say, iPhone-like, “upgrade” to its best Chromebook? That’s exactly what we’ve seen with the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (2023), as the company provides a “tick-tock” upgrade schedule. But before I get too into the weeds, let’s take a deeper look at what the Spin 714 (2023) has to offer and whether it really is the best overall Chromebook.
Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (2023): Price and availability
Acer announced the Chromebook Spin 714 in April 2023 during the company’s Next@Acer event. It was released the following month and is available from Best Buy with the Intel Core i5-1335U, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. This configuration retails for $699.99; however, it’s been regularly on sale for almost $150 off.
Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (2023): What you’ll like
Save for a few exceptions, if there’s one thing that you can expect from Acer, it’s that the company won’t do too much in the way of changing the design of its Chromebooks. That sentiment rings true across many of Acer’s Chromebooks, including the Chromebook Spin 714 (2023). The only major design change that Acer made compared to last year’s model is that you no longer have the stowable USI stylus, but more on that later.
To be honest, I was surprised that Acer even released an updated version of the Spin 714, given that last year’s iteration was already so great. You likely won’t notice much of a performance difference comparing the 12th Gen Core i5-1235U to the 13th Gen Core i5-1335U. However, where the decision to include the updated processor makes more sense is in battery life, as Intel improved the efficiency this time around.
Besides that, practically everything else about the Spin 714 (2023) is the same, down to the convertible design, Thunderbolt 4 ports, and excellent typing experience. Speaking of the keyboard, I can’t help but rave about how nice it feels to type on this keyboard. I know it’s something I point out every year, but that’s just because it’s so darn good. The only two devices that I would put above the Spin 714 are the MacBook Pro and HP’s Dragonfly Pro Chromebook.
Even when paired with a 49-inch QHD ultrawide display and having a bunch of browser tabs open, the only thing that slows this down is trying to play Steam games. That’s something I’ve largely given up on, save for some lighter titles, at least until we get a Chromebook with a dedicated graphics card.
When the Chromebook Plus announcement was made, I was a bit concerned that devices released previously would be left out. Thankfully, that’s not the case, as I have been able to use all of the new features on the Spin 714, even though it doesn’t say “Chromebook Plus” on the lid.
I also have to admit that I was surprised to see how well using the web version of Photoshop has worked. Granted, a lot of this is being handled by the cloud and Adobe’s servers, but I’ve been longing for Photoshop to come to ChromeOS in some capacity. While I still wish it offered feature parity with its desktop counterparts, the web version mostly gets the job done.
I’m really not trying to sound like a broken record here, but it’s hard not to when the Chromebook Spin 714 (2023) effectively offers the same overall experience as its predecessor. Again, the only major difference here is that battery life is slightly better, but it’s only by a slim margin and probably not something that you’ll actually notice.
Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (2023): What you won’t like
While I applaud Acer for not trying to do too much to buck the trend of releasing incredibly well-rounded Chromebooks, that’s not to say that I don’t have my complaints. First, I’m disappointed to see that the stowable USI stylus was removed. Not because I don’t already have plenty of my own, but because it just made sense to include one.
It removes the need to worry about remembering to throw one in your bag or get up from the couch to grab it from another room. And it’s not like Acer did anything drastic to the case that would warrant doing so, but I suppose the decision just came down to cost-cutting.
My second biggest annoyance is the lack of a fingerprint scanner. I’m aware that this isn’t something that is included with competing devices, but to me, it’s a necessity — especially considering that the Spin 714 is already one of the best Chromebooks based on price and performance alone.
I also understand that things like Phone Hub exist and the fact that you can’t actually use the scanner to do anything other than unlock your Chromebook. However, I’m expecting that to change in the future, and since the Spin 714 will be supported for the next ten years, it almost feels like Acer is ignoring it just because.
The last issue that I have with the Spin 714 isn’t limited to Acer; instead, it affects pretty much every Chromebook out there. One of the new Chromebook Plus features is the ability to work offline, saving your work and files directly to your Chromebook. This is an excellent and long overdue feature to come to ChromeOS, but there’s a glaring problem.
What if you have more storage in Drive than what’s available on your Chromebook? Not everyone is like me and pays for 2TB of Google One, but what about those who have 200GB (or more) of Drive storage? You’ll effectively be making it so you can’t download anything else to your Chromebook, and there’s a chance that includes being able to install new apps.
My point is that we’ve moved past the point when only one configuration was acceptable. Even though it’s possible to upgrade the storage to a larger NVMe drive, the entire process isn’t as seamless as you might hope. Let alone the fact that it’s just not something that someone is going to consider unless they have the tools (and patience) to make the swap.
Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (2023): The competition
Since the Chromebook Spin 714 (2023) was released, we’ve seen quite a few new Chromebooks hit the scene. However, in terms of a direct competitor, I would still recommend checking out HP’s Dragonfly Pro Chromebook. These are very similar yet very different Chromebooks, with the Acer offering a convertible design at a lower price point. Meanwhile, the Dragonfly Pro is arguably the closest that we’ll get to seeing another Pixelbook.
From there, we’re dropping down in price a bit, as Acer’s own Chromebook 516 GE is an absolute beast of a machine. Despite being powered by a 12th Gen Intel Core i5, the 516 GE packs a mean punch with its 16-inch QHD display, complete with a 120Hz refresh rate. While it retails for just $50 less than the Spin 714, it’s regularly on sale for at least $200 off, bringing it close to the $400 mark.
Arguably the most obvious competitor to the Spin 714 (2023) is Lenovo’s latest Flex 5i Chromebook Plus. It’s powered by the Intel Core i3-1315U and is limited to 128GB of storage, but it sports a 14-inch, 2K display, and a convertible design. Plus, the trackpad is actually quite a bit larger than you might expect, something else that we hope Acer considers changing in the future.
Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (2023): Should you buy it?
You should buy this if:
- You want the best Chromebook under $900.
- You’re looking for an excellent Chromebook Plus experience.
- You need a Chromebook that is versatile but doesn’t compromise on durability.
- You want a Chromebook that lasts for more than a full work day.
You shouldn’t buy this if:
- You need a stowable stylus.
- You want a Chromebook with a 16:10 aspect ratio.
- You need a Chromebook with a larger trackpad.
I know there are better Chromebooks out there, and I know that the Chromebook Spin 714 (2023) lacks a certain “excitement,” but that’s kind of the point. This is Acer’s bread and butter, and the Spin 714 checks almost all of the boxes. It’s performant, convertible, has a touch screen, includes Thunderbolt 4, and gets all of the Chromebook Plus features.
There are gripes and things to wish for, but Acer once again hit the nail on the head. I can’t even make any arguments about the price because we’ve seen it go on sale much more frequently. Honestly, I’m grasping at straws here but coming up empty. What more could you really ask for from a sub-$600 Chromebook that offers this level of performance?
Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (2023)
If you want the best Chromebook without spending more than $700, then the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (2023) should be your first choice. It’s almost the complete package, and offers the same level of experience that we’ve come to expect.