PROS / The Acer Chromebook R 13’s long battery life and 2-in-1 versatility make it a surprisingly capable budget laptop.
CONS / Its overall performance falls behind top competitors.
VERDICT / The Acer Chromebook R 13 rises above the rest with premium build quality, great battery life and a convertible design that doubles as an Android tablet.
As versatile and inexpensive laptops, Chromebooks have plenty to offer for their affordable prices. The Acer Chromebook R 13 goes a step beyond this general usefulness by incorporating a convertible design and support for Android apps, which make it one of the most capable budget laptops on the market and earn it the Top Ten Reviews Silver Award.
Performance & Specs
Acer equips the R 13 with a MediaTek M8173C processor, one of the few CPUs in our review that doesn’t come from Intel. This 2.1GHz processor is paired with 4GB of RAM and offers decent processing power at an affordable price. It’s not the fastest or most powerful Chromebook, but for web browsing and other online tasks, it should be more than sufficient.
In testing, its performance was middling, with a JetStream test score of 46.95 points and an average frame rate of 29 frames per second (fps) in WebGL Aquarium. It isn’t suitable for demanding tasks, but unless you run multiple media streams or rely on specialized apps for photo editing or some similarly intensive task, it doesn’t noticeably affect the overall user experience.
Like most top Chromebooks, the R 13 is outfitted with 32GB of local storage. This is mostly there to temporarily hold downloads and local files, since you will store most of your data in the cloud or save it to an external drive.
The R 13 wowed us in one respect: It turned in a full 11 hours of battery life, which is only minutes behind the leading competitor. That sort of longevity means you can use the Chromebook through an entire day of work or school with power to spare for leisure time off the clock.
It’s impressive in another way, thanks to a convertible 2-in-1 design and support for Android apps. Those two elements combine to make this lightweight laptop an effective Android tablet as well. Measuring just 12.8 x 9 x 0.61 inches and weighing 3.28 pounds, it’s a little big as a tablet but perfectly suited to use as a laptop. Its aluminum chassis looks and feels great, and a single 360-degree hinge runs the length of the notebook’s spine, providing a solid backing for the touchscreen in laptop mode and a comfortable handhold in tablet mode.
The 13.3-inch touchscreen has 1920 x 1080 resolution with an in-plane switching (IPS) display panel that offers vibrant color and wide viewing angles. Though there weren’t many touchscreen Chromebooks in the past, the R 13 is part of the new generation that makes touch interaction as accessible as the mouse and keyboard, with responsive capacitive sensing and intuitive controls.
The laptop has one USB Type-C port and one USB 3.0 port. Most current Chromebook laptops take an either/or approach with this new port style, but the R 13 is one of the few to offer both. This means it works with all of your existing USB-based peripherals and still has the advanced capabilities of the new USB-C standard. For example, it can serve as a power connector or video output via an adapter dongle. In addition, it has a built-in microSD card slot for external storage and an HDMI output so you connect it to a second monitor or TV.
Help & Support
Acer covers the Chromebook R 13 with a one-year warranty, and tech support is available over the phone and through live chat. You can troubleshoot on your own using the company’s online support materials, including online manuals, answers to frequently asked questions, and a community section where you can post questions and browse past answers.
The Acer Chromebook R 13 earns high marks as a versatile Chromebook tablet that supports Android apps and has one of the best battery lives in our review. The 13-inch laptop may not have the best performance compared to other Chromebooks, but it is more than capable and reliable enough for a budget laptop. As one of the few Chromebooks that can do double duty as an Android tablet, it’s one of the most compelling Chrome-based laptops on the market.