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Acer drops Intel for Qualcomm

Following the Spin 7 announcement last month, Acer’s Chromebook Spin 513 will also run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips instead of Intel chips. BRYAN TURNER unpacks the benefits from the switch.

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More Qualcomm chips have been selected for Acer laptops and have made one thing clear: improve your processor manufacture process or get left behind. Gone are the days of a 9-hour battery life being good enough from the usual underpowered Intel’s equivalent chips. Acer’s new Chromebook Spin 513 houses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c chip, which enables a 14-hour battery life, along with improved performance. 

This comes a mere month after Acer announced the Spin 7, which runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx chips, providing up to 29 hours of use on battery. The deal is also sealed by Qualcomm’s expertise in 5G connectivity, which is included with the new Spin 7. 

The Snapdragon 7c platform inside the Chromebook Spin 513 holds an 8nm octa-core Qualcomm Kryo 468 CPU, which provides enhanced multitasking and responsiveness. In addition, the integrated Qualcomm Adreno 618 graphics performance lets users smoothly play games and stream video.  

By contrast, if Acer were to select an Intel equivalent, they would likely go for Intel’s 10nm process on the latest Elkhart Lake Atom processors. While the difference between 8nm and 10nm may seem immaterial, in processor terms, it could translate into a big difference in battery life and performance.  

For those unfamiliar with the term “manufacture process”, it means how many transistors can fit onto a processor and is one of the very few terms in tech where less means more. The smaller the manufacture process, the more transistors can fit onto a processor – translating to stronger performance and lower power usage. Acer may very well have made the switch to Qualcomm because Intel does not have a similar battery-efficient, high-performance equivalent. 

The new Chromebook also comes with optional 4G LTE, again speaking to all the goodies Qualcomm can fit in by using a smaller manufacture process than its competitors. This ensures that users will still be able to access the web, their personal cloud, connected apps, and extensions to stay focused on work and school without a Wi-Fi connection. 

A slim design allows users to fit the computer in a backpack or laptop bag with other items, while remaining durable with an aluminium top cover. The laptop weighs less than 1.2kg and measures in at 15.55 mm, with dimensions barely larger than a sheet of paper. The Chromebook also has an optional backlit keyboard. 

The screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass and has narrow bezels allow for a 78% screen-to-body ratio. A pair of 360-degree hinges empower users with four usage modes: clamshell mode for traditional keyboard input, tablet, display and tent modes for presenting, or when space-constrained. Additionally, its two built-in microphones allow for better reception, providing better clarity of sound when video conferencing or talking to friends on a conference call. 

To sweeten the deal, it comes with strong Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ac Wi-Fi with 2×2 MIMO technology) and two USB Type-C ports that support USB 3.2 Gen 1 (up to 5 Gbps), DisplayPort over USB-C, and USB charging. It also includes a USB 3.2 Type-A port for legacy devices. 

The Chromebook Spin 513 comes with up to 8 GB LPDDR4X SDRAM and up to 128 GB of storage. 

It will be available in North America in February 2021 starting at USD 400; and in EMEA in January 2021, starting at EUR 429 (approx. ZAR 8300 at time of writing). 

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