Sometimes, things just line up the right way when you weren’t expecting them to. That’s basically the story with the Acer Chrombook 516 GE, a Chromebook that is built for cloud gaming, marketed as such, and does a great job at that task. But in building a Chromebook suited for gaming, Acer went and created something far more attractive: a Chromebook that’s good at just about everything you could want.
On the surface, you may look at photos, videos, and spec sheets on this Chromebook and think things like that’s too big of a Chromebook for me or I’m not really that into gaming, but I’d tell you to stick around for this one. While not the perfect Chromebook all around – there will never be one – this Chromebook gets so much right and is such an absolute delight to use that even if you’ve not been into bigger Chromebooks before or you don’t consider yourself a gamer (I know I don’t), this device still has a whole lot to offer.
Acer Chromebook 516 GE Specs and Features
Let’s get the spec stuff out of the way right up front. We’re looking at a 16-inch Chromebook with a 12th-gen Intel Core i5-1240P, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of NVMe storage. So, it’s crazy fast. You’re also getting a 120Hz 2560×1600 16:10 QHD screen that hits 350 nits on paper and even a bit higher by our testing. You get some of the best upward-firing speakers available in a Chromebook, a fantastic RGB backlit keyboard, a large, smooth Ocean Glass trackpad, and all the connectivity you need.
There’s a USB Type C on both sides, a single USB Type A (all USB 3.2), full-sized HDMI port, headphone/mic jack, Kensington lock and a 2.5Gb Ethernet port. Wireless connection is solid, too, with the inclusion of Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. Basically, if you need to connect to it, this Chromebooks has you covered.
Finally, all of this is encased in a mostly-aluminum chassis that is rigid and yet lighter than you would expect. Even with the slim bezels around the 16-inch screen, this is a big Chromebook, but it only weighs in at 3.75 lbs. While that’s heavier than smaller 13 and 14-inch devices, it isn’t by much. 4-5 pound Chromebooks tend to turn me off, so when I picked this one up for the first time, I was very surprised with how light it felt compared to its size. Tossing this in the bag to take home each night hasn’t been an issue at all.
Things I love about this Chromebook
And that backpack travel has been consistent for me not only because I’m reviewing this device, but because I’m using it a ton outside of work hours. It’s a gaming device, after all, and I’ve been leaning into that pretty heavily. While Microsoft’s XBOX Cloud Gaming and Amazon’s Luna have been just OK to use for now, GeForce NOW has been spectacular.
We made a whole video about this experience already, but playing competitive, fast games like Fortnite and Apex Legends has been fantastic on this Chromebook. Part of that equation is NVIDIA’s move to allow QHD 120Hz streaming via the Chrome browser and the other part is the Acer 516 GE’s ability to fully take advantage of it.
The colors and brightness of this screen make everything look fantastic and the 120Hz refresh rate takes it all to the next level with insanely smooth animations and great response times. The speakers are full and loud as well, giving me the option to play in an immersive way even without headphones when I need to, and the keyboard’s anti-ghosting abilities mean that it doesn’t just feel responsive, it also won’t miss keystrokes when I’m pushing a bunch of stuff all at once.
But here’s the thing: all of those traits that make it great for playing games also make it a stellar work Chromebook, too. That screen is large and pin-sharp, so even away from my desk setup I feel extremely productive and able to stretch out a bit. The high refresh rate makes ChromeOS look so silky smooth and lets me enjoy the same frame rates I get from my office monitor while on the go and I’m loving that!
The speakers that are so great for gaming also do a fantastic job in video calls or when consuming some content on YouTube. And the keyboard that is tuned for quick and multi-touch input captures my keystrokes with ease all the time and has made for a well-rounded writing companion as well. It doesn’t take long to see how all the gaming-focused improvements also translate to the workday as well, and it has made for a device that I’ve enjoyed far more than I anticipated.
And while the internals on this thing aren’t exactly necessary for cloud gaming, they are more than welcome. This combo of high-end processor, enough RAM and storage and this 120Hz screen make for a Chromebook experience that is second to none. Everything is lightning fast and responsive, even when pushing both the internal and my external QHD 120Hz screens. It’s no surprise that I’ve not had any issues from a performance standpoint, and this processor and GPU should fare quite well when Steam games show up in the next few months, too.
Finally, with all that power, all those pixels, and the speedy frame rates, I was expecting pretty terrible battery life. While no multi-day champ, this Chromebook held up well, getting me through a full day of work with around 7-8 hours of screen-on use. It would be interesting if Google would add a refresh rate adjustment for the internal display like we get with external screens so users could save some battery if they needed it, but overall I’m satisfied with this battery life and can confidently get these numbers even with the brightness pushed to about 65% – 70%.
Nothing is perfect
I’ve enjoyed this device so much that it is easy to look past the few flaws it has, but we still have to talk about them. For one, I’d love to see one more USB type A port. As a gaming-focused device, I want a mouse plugged in many times. I usually have a Logitech dongle in the single USB A port and have to remove it for the times when I need to attach a storage device. Not a huge deal, but there’s definitely room for one more port, here.
Another gripe is the lack of touch input on the screen. While not entirely necessary, I really like having it even on non-convertible devices. I’ve become so accustomed to reaching up and touching the screen for so many things on so many Chromebooks at this point that the lack of it has been a bit of a bummer. The excellent trackpad experience has helped mitigate this, but I’d love to see a touchscreen option available.
And while we’re talking inputs, the backlighting on the keyboard is a bit too dim for my liking. This is the first RGB keyboard I’ve used on a Chromebook and in most lighting conditions, I can’t really see it. ChromeOS has the ability to turn the lighting to a simple, single color when you don’t want to be too flashy along with the ability to turn the brightness up and down pretty easily, so I’d really like to be able to pop those colors a bit more when I’m in the mood. As it stands, it looks nice in dim rooms, but I don’t really think about it much elsewhere.
Finally, I’d really like to see a fingerprint scanner on this Chromebook. Once we get over $600, I think that should be a standard option. It unfortunately is not and I’m fine with using a PIN, but having biometric authentication is a relatively cheap addition to a Chromebook at this point, and I wish this one had it.
Price and AUE
That’s a short list of gripes, though, and to be fair, they are all shortcomings that I can pretty comfortably live with when they accompany a device that has been this great to use. Seriously, I don’t want to send this thing back. I know I can cloud game on other Chromebooks and I can get solid performance from other places, but there’s not been a device that puts all of that together in one place quite like this one for me. I’ll be holding onto it as long as Acer will let me for certain.
And the good news is all of this comes in at just $649. As I’ve hopefully conveyed, this isn’t just another Chromebook and to see it arrive at this sort of price point is a bit crazy. I’m sure there will be sales on it down the road a bit, but I don’t need to see it reduced one bit to recommend it right now. With regular OS updates until 2030, this Chromebook is 100% worth the asking price and then some. If you’re looking for a larger screen Chromebook to get things done on while having some unique bells and whistles that make content consumption and gaming a lot more fun, too, then this could be the Chromebook for you.