When Chromebooks initially appeared, it took some time for people to comprehend a device that, through cloud-based storage and services, can do almost everything a regular laptop can. Millions of students and professionals’ lives now revolve around Chromebooks. Google and a few partners, including Acer, have now chosen to test the viability of developing Chromebooks specifically for game using the same reliance on cloud-based services.
This is made possible by services like Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass and Nvidia’s GeForce Now, which offload the labor-intensive tasks to a distant server. By offering affordable hardware and top-notch connectivity (Wi-Fi 6E, 2.5G Ethernet) for contacting such servers, Acer’s Chromebook 516 GE aspires to be the ideal device for those cloud services.
At the price range, I thought it was one of the better ways to get into cloud gaming, but I still encountered some issues that other cloud gaming providers haven’t fully resolved. Continue reading to find out whether those glitches are a deal-breaker for you or whether you’ve discovered one of the least expensive methods to enjoy high-end gaming.
Acer Chromebook 516 GE review: Design
The 14″ x 9.8″ x 0.8″ Acer Chromebook 516 GE sports an all-gray matte finish and is constructed of an aluminium chassis with very little, if any, flex. The display is encircled by thin bezels. One of the two clear indicators that this is a gaming laptop is a splash of burnt/oxidized blue on the smooth hinge action. Even while playing animated video games in bed while perched up on your knees, the slightly top-heavy lid manages to stay at pretty much any angle.
If you choose to lie more supine, the cover may still swing back a full 180 degrees. The two slightly rubbery feet that span almost the whole width of the device appeal to me in particular. They aid in heat dissipation by preventing the exhaust vents from being too close to your desk or your lap. They also act as strong finger grips to prevent this large laptop from slipping while in your hands, which is an added bonus.
Although the Acer is undoubtedly on the larger end of the Chromebook size scale, its 3.1 pounds (1.7 kg) weight is evenly distributed across the chassis. It’s remarkably portable considering that it’s a Chromebook on the larger end of the spectrum.
Acer Chromebook 516 GE review: Display
The Acer Chromebook 516 GE was clearly designed to complement a gaming powerhouse rather than to function as one. Because of this, we believe that if you tried playing local (non-cloud) game, you would be very disappointed. Using its own servers and powerful graphics cards, like NVIDIA’s RTX 2080, the GeForce NOW cloud service powers the game and broadcasts the visuals to the receiving computer.
This GPU outperforms the Chromebook’s own Iris Xe GPU by about 1,200%. (User Benchmark). The Iris Xe’s performance capabilities aren’t even truly competing in the same league as NVIDIA GPUs in terms of playing performance. This gaming Chromebook essentially turns into a regular Chromebook without the server-grade graphics and other computational elements that you get with GeForce NOW.
Acer Chromebook 516 GE review: Keyboard and touchpad
Although this review unit’s keyboard isn’t mechanical, it has enough rebound, reaction time, and feedback to allow you to crank out essays or your next book in between intense gaming sessions. I used it to type the majority of this review. Although I would have liked a little less sponginess and perhaps more audible keypresses, overall it wasn’t too awful for a first attempt.
The brightness of the RGB backlighting, or rather, the lack thereof, was one area that disappointed, especially for a device with gaming ambitions. You won’t have much trouble seeing it during the day, but it’s fine at night.
Google has now included the option to change the illumination’s colour to match the wallpaper or a few other colour options in addition to the standard ChromeOS backlight brightness settings. Customizable gaming keys are another enhancement I’d like to see, especially given how much surface area is wasted on the Acer Chromebook 516 GE. A broader function (customizable) row would, at the very least, be more appropriate for a gaming laptop.
The OceanGlass moisture-resistant trackpad has very little drag and is sufficiently responsive. Speaking of resistance, it appears that all contact surfaces, including the keys, have been given an anti-microbial treatment to slow the spread of bacteria that might cause stains or odours.
Acer Chromebook 516 GE review: Performance
With a QHD panel with a 16:10 aspect ratio, 100 sRGB colour reproduction, strong maximum brightness, and a 120Hz refresh rate, the display is surprisingly excellent for a Chromebook. All of this simply means that games will run smoothly and look good onscreen, which is essential for more intense gaming sessions with high-quality PC games that are fast-paced.
The Acer Chromebook 516 GE operates a streaming service like Nvidia GeForce NOW fairly effectively. A good stress test for the Chromebook would be games like Dying Light 2 and Dirt 5, which frequently have a lot of adversaries or items on screen.
We hardly ever saw framerate problems while utilising the basic streaming package, which has a severe time limit and no extras like a more potent graphics card. The images were also fairly decent. The 516 GE performs best at the RTX 3080 tier, which is the top tier available for the GeForce NOW service. You might not even remember you’re playing on a Chromebook because of how amazing the graphics cards and framerate are. Naturally, the quality of your internet connection will determine how well this works, so getting a high-speed connection is also recommended.
Acer Chromebook 516 GE review: Connectivity
There is more room for ports because the Chromebook 516 GE isn’t quite as thin as some lightweight laptops. Another significant asset in this situation is connectivity. A wired connection can be made via the 2.5Gbps Ethernet port and USB-C port on the left. Additionally, there is a 3.5mm audio port for speakers or a headset.
A 2.5G Ethernet connector is very helpful for cloud gaming because a hardwired connection can provide a more steady gaming experience than less reliable Wi-Fi, which might cause drop-outs. A single USB 3.2 port, an HDMI port, a second USB-C port that enables 10Gbps transfer speeds, and a Kensington lock notch for physical protection are all located on the right side of the Acer. Should you want to play your games on a much larger screen, there is also compatibility for external screens and TVs owing to the HDMI connector and support for DisplayPort over USB-C.
Acer Chromebook 516 GE review: Performance And Battery
The Chromebook’s i5-1240P processor nevertheless delivers extremely acceptable performance despite lacking a dedicated GPU. Running GeekBench 5 results in a single-core performance score of 1,400 and an overall multi-core score of 8,100. That is only somewhat inferior to Apple’s M2-powered MacBook Air’s multi-core score of 8,950. The Chromebook 516 GE offers fantastic value for the money and is more than competent of doing ordinary chores like web browsing and Microsoft Office. The MacBook Air does have faster graphics, but it costs roughly $1200/£1200.
If necessary, its built-in Iris Xe GPU should be able to handle a little photo or video editing. The Chromebook’s performance in the 3DMark Wildlife Extreme test, however, is just 11.7 frames per second, which makes it unsuitable for playing games that are installed directly on the laptop.
The Chromebook is specifically targeted for streaming services like GeForce Now for this reason. This comes pre-installed on the Chromebook and offers a free three-month trial of the most expensive GeForce subscription plan, which features RTX 3080 graphics and up to 120 frames per second. After that, it will cost you £17.99/$19.99 per month, or £8.99/$9.99 per month for the basic subscription with a maximum frame rate of 60 fps. Although there is a free option, the one-hour playing limit and long log-in lines make it unsuitable for serious gaming.
Although Steam and Xbox Games Pass are also available for Chromebooks, they are still in beta and lack GeForce Now’s simple setup and compatibility for games that you may own from several online stores, such as Steam, GoG, and Epic, among others.
Acer Chromebook 516 GE review: Price and availability
Starting at £849/€899/$650, the Acer Chromebook 516 GE is offered in Europe and the US. As a result, it changes quite a little depending on where you are. In the first quarter of 2023, the UK is expected to receive it. Although we’re not completely clear why it’s so much less expensive in America than it is elsewhere, such is modern economics, eh? you can buy this product from acer’s official store.
Later this month, the Acer 516 GE Chromebook games will be available for purchase, with pricing starting at $649.99. I’ll absolutely buy one for myself when it goes on sale. I simply adore this Chromebook’s 16-inch, 120Hz display, keyboard, and general style. I never imagined I’d use a Chromebook so frequently as someone who commutes daily on a Windows laptop, but this Acer changed that.