Acer hasn’t been pacing the floor slowly in the realm of ChromeOS. The Taiwanese tech giant has the privilege of creating some of the best Chromebooks out there, and it appears it’s only gearing up for more. The Acer Chromebook 516 GE has been marketed as a gaming Chromebook with top-of-the-line specifications, but does it also come in handy for other use cases?
That’s what we’ve geared up to find out in our in-depth Acer Chromebook 516 GE review as we take this promising device for a spin and unravel its functional capacity. Stick around to find out what significant strengths is the 516 GE packing and in what areas this 16-inch elephant falters.
Let’s get started with the tech spec sheet of the Chromebook with no further ado.
- An enlightening read: Chromebook Review in 2022 – Is it better than a laptop?
Acer Chromebook 516 GE specifications
Here are the technical specs of the Acer Chromebook 516 GE’s base model.
- CPU: 12th generation Intel Core i5-1240P
- Display: 16″ LCD IPS ComfyView Quad HD (2560 x 1600), 350 nits
- Refresh rate: 120 Hz
- Graphics: Intel Iris XE graphics
- Hard drive size: 256 GB PCIe NVMe SSD
- RAM: 8 GB LPDDR4X
- Ports: x2 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C Ports, x1 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A Port, 3.5 mm headphone jack, HDMI, 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet port
- Battery: 3-cell, Li-ion battery, 7-9 hours runtime
- Charging speed: 90% in 90 minutes
- Weight: 3.75 lbs
- Price: $649.99
In-depth Acer Chromebook 516 GE review
Acer has always been an impressive manufacturer to turn to for purchasing high-quality Chromebooks. Unlike Lenovo, which is commonly targeting the budget bracket with its range of excellent affordable Chromebooks, Acer is trying to put innovation at the forefront of the ChromeOS space. Look at the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, and you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Now, however, the world-renowned developer has gone ahead to mark its attempt at delivering the world’s first proper gaming Chromebook. At long last, we have a Chromebook that doesn’t come with the “gaming” label in the manner of a gimmick but truly puts this element at the height of its working mechanism.
However, we’ve yet to gauge whether or not the Acer Chromebook 516 GE, where the GE stands for Gaming Edition, genuinely lives up to its name. So, beginning the review with the device’s design, let’s closely assess whether the 516 GE deserves its sub $650 price point.
First, the Acer Chromebook 516 GE highly impresses from a looks perspective. It comes in a two-tone color scheme, namely Titanium Gray, that strikes a sharp contrast and gives off the vibe that this is nothing short of a gaming Chromebook. However, the latter is just the beginning of the whole picture that’s about to be painted here.
Build quality and weight
The aluminum build of the device caters to robust durability, not to mention a negligible amount of flex in the chassis that screams premium quality on that note. In addition — and this comes as a pleasant surprise — the Chromebook 516 GE does not weigh nearly as much as its counterparts, especially with its screen size.
This 16-inch monster is relatively lightweight and weighs just about 3.75 pounds, even with the minimal bezels surrounding the device’s screen. But, again, the device’s build speaks for itself, and Acer has left no stone unturned in ensuring that the 516 GE exhibits unfound luxury wherever it goes.
Picking up and feeling the device for the first time, it’s genuinely surprising how Acer has made a device with so much real estate this light and easy to carry. The 516 GE fits inside backpacks smoothly, so it’s another plus point, especially for those who are constantly on the fly.
Moving on to the display of the Acer Chromebook 516 GE, we’re now venturing into spaces where the manufacturer has genuinely started to put the G in Gaming. On paper, the specs tell us that the 516 GE features a 16-inch LCD IPS ComfyView Quad HD (2560 x 1600 display, but looking at the whole thing in reality, it’s safe to say that ChromeOS has come a long way.
The colors on the screen feel rich and punchy and don’t take long to bring forth that wow factor for the person using the Chromebook. In addition, the 16-inch display size is undoubtedly bigger than most Chromebooks sport these days, so if you love watching Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, you might be in for the perfect treat.
On top of that, we’ve got this Chromebook’s surreal 120 Hz refresh rate, and it’s something that no other device in the ChromeOS space can talk about now. This particular refresh rate compliments the performance of the Chromebook and makes the entire user experience feel amazingly responsive.
Additionally, the 350-nit brightness capacity of the 516 GE makes the Chromebook fit for outdoor use. As for the whole outlook of the display, the small-scale bezels attribute the machine to a nano-edge user experience.
The animations, too, feel super smooth, and the fact that Nvidia GeForce Now supports 120 Hz Quad HD streaming on the Chrome browser makes the affair seem even more delightful for gamers across the board.
There are certainly no grips regarding the display of the 516 GE, as Acer has brought out one of the most visually gorgeous looking Chromebooks to date, right alongside the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, for gaming exclusively and a ton of other use cases. However, there is one particular thing that has managed to raise some eyebrows.
The 516 GE does not have a touch-enabled display. In a realm where Android games and Google Play Store apps have populated ChromeOS with their convenience and reliability, a lack of a touchscreen can often be a concerning issue.
That said, it all depends on your preferences at the end of the day. Quite frankly, with everything else that the 516 GE comes with, we can easily live without a touchscreen on the device as far as the display department of the Chromebook is concerned. The pros easily outweigh the cons in this case.
Next up, we have the Acer Chromebook 516 GE keyboard to cast a lens on, and this is yet another instance where the Taiwan-based manufacturer has outclassed its competition. Behold an RGB-lighting-enabled Chromebook that feels utterly snappy and more responsive than any of the former Chromebooks with the best keyboards.
The keyboard comes with an anti-ghosting feature as well. Ghosting in keyboards is when a keystroke doesn’t produce an output on the screen and leads to missed inputs. With the 516 GE’s anti-ghosting keyboard, your keystrokes won’t be tart and snappy, but they’ll produce a response almost all the time with zero interruptions.
The RGB backlighting’s brightness can also be adjusted on the 516 GE, but don’t expect much in that regard.
The maximum brightness that the keys can offer isn’t enough to pop up on a sunny day outdoors, so you will have to live with this particular shortcoming. Apart from that, you’ve got a picture-perfect keyboard with the Acer Chromebook 516 GE that feels thoroughly best-in-class.
The success story of this device continues with the trackpad, a sizable OceanGlass trackpad with enough room for spacious usage.
The cursor feels highly perceptive to the smallest of touches, so it’s certainly made with the same level of quality in mind as the rest of this top-tier Chromebook. And because the device’s size is relatively large, the substantial trackpad complements the build of the Acer Chromebook 516 GE as a whole unit.
It would be a stretch to say that the 516 GE features a generous port selection, but we’ll take what we got with the device. The device sports two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C Ports, a single USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A Port, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, an HDMI port, and a 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet port for wired connectivity.
While we would’ve appreciated the presence of another USB-A port, the further addition of the Ethernet port does make up for it to some extent, not to mention the HDMI port that lets you enjoy the device’s usability for use cases other than gaming.
It’s safe to say that the Acer Chromebook 516 GE features high-quality upward-firing speakers. These sound crisp and clear, and the maximum loud they can go is also admirable. Even if you prioritize the use of headphones for gaming, you’ll still appreciate how full and rich the speakers of the 516 GE sound are.
Whether you’re consuming content online through videos or hosting a video call on Google Meet, the speakers exhibit a fair amount of range and help you get by subtly.
What good is a Chromebook, especially one advertised as gaming-ready, if it doesn’t perform up to standard? Whatever the answer, the Acer Chromebook 516 GE cannot be associated with any lackluster performance department, period.
Powered by a 12th generation Intel Core i5 processor along with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB of NVMe storage, the 516 GE dishes out one masterclass of a performance mark, one where it sails through the likes of Apex Legends, PUBG, and Fortnite eloquently without breaking a sweat.
Note that these games are resource-intensive, but that doesn’t mean much to the 516 GE. Steam alpha—an early version of Steam that runs on a niche number of Chromebooks—is also compatible with the device in question, so you can realistically expect more Steam games to be made compatible with the 516 in the near future.
- On a side note, here’s how to install the Steam alpha app on a compatible Chromebook.
Games like Bayonetta, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Dragon’s Dogma, Portal 2, and almost every other 2D game are all tried and tested to be working right on the 516 GE already. Playing high-quality titles on the device is something that’s understood at this point, with more developments approaching fast.
But that’s not just where this terrific machine shines. In its quest to make a near-perfect gaming Chromebook, Acer did not realize it and went ahead to create a Chromebook that does just about everything else.
Whether you’re a video editor who has to work with rigorous, heavy-duty software all day or an IT professional who has to manage a fleet of devices, there’s no obstacle that the Acer Chromebook 516 GE won’t be overcoming day in and day out. Devices like these let you run other operating systems—such as Windows—with minimal trouble.
Since everything feels so fast and snappy, we can’t imagine how the 516 GE wouldn’t become someone’s daily driver, no matter their use case. The performance levels do not budge even when you hook up the Chromebook with an external monitor that packs the same specs as the 516 GE, i.e., a Quad HD, 120 Hz refresh rate display.
And as far as the connectivity part of things is taken into consideration, the 516 GE comes with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2, both of which are the latest standards in their respective domains. Combine that with its port selection, and you won’t ever have to struggle with connecting to this Chromebook.
3. Battery life
With all of these specifications and specks of high quality dispersed all around the Acer Chromebook 516 GE, one would at least expect a shortfall in the battery runtime aspect. Tell you what, that’s also not the case here. The 516 GE can comfortably last you a day with a battery life of about 7-9 hours, depending on the usage.
Given the tech specs and the machine’s hardware, we’re genuinely impressed with this runtime level. Although it won’t be making the cut for the list of Chromebooks with the best battery life, we’ll take what we got with the 516 GE.
The device employs a 3-cell Li-ion battery that charges up to 90% in 80 minutes or so. If you decide to crank the brightness down to about 40% and avoid hefty processor usage, you can make the 516 GE run for about 9-11 hours. Still, we recommend not pressuring yourself and certainly not leaving the Chromebook plugged in all the time.
4. Final thoughts
Every once in a while, the ChromeOS space comes out with a new marvel that steals the show and furthers the advances of this sleek operating system inch by inch.
The Chromebook that has all the attention in the world right now is the Acer Chromebook 516 GE, not just because it comes with powerful, system-defining hardware but also because it marks the beginning of a new flagship line-up of gaming-focused Chromebooks.
With a highly stylized keyboard, roomy trackpad, and a strong build, the device is head-turning, to say the least, from a design perspective. And when things come down to the performance and the display section, the 516 GE takes flight to an even higher altitude, raising the bar for the Chromebooks that will succeed it.
Top-notch performance, a dazzlingly responsive 120 Hz screen, a fair number of ports, and future-proof features such as Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 are all that the 516 GE brags, exhibiting an impression that more and more people are going to look toward Chromebooks for the time to come. Our verdict? Get it when you can for a first-class ChromeOS experience.
- Next up: How Chrome OS is great for gaming.