When it comes to great Chromebooks over the past few years, the Acer Chromebook Spin series always comes to mind. Specifically, the 13-inch models have been exceptional. This latest Chromebook Spin 513 keeps nearly everything great about the previous 13-inch Spin models like the Spin 713, but it has a few tricks of its own to add to the mix, making it easily one the most compelling Chromebooks on the market right now.
Going back a few years, the very first Acer Chromebook Spin 713 was a bit too expensive, but it was Acer’s first real attempt at a more-premium Chromebook. That device introduced Acer’s now-famous 13.5-inch 3:2 QHD screen in the ChromeOS space and with each following release, they’ve only improved on the formula with each passing year. Two more iterations have come and gone of the Chromebook Spin 713 and with each evolution, it’s been a better device.
This year, Acer looks to be moving in a slightly different direction, putting the more-premium touches on their recently-announced Spin 714 and leaving the legacy look and feel of the Spin 713 for the device we’re talking about today: the Chromebook Spin 513. Don’t let that 5 in the model number fool you, though, because this Chromebook feels every bit as good as the Spin 713 many users have known and loved. And while that’s already awesome, there are some key differences that make me like this latest Spin a bit better than its predecessors.
A thinner, lighter body
Let’s start with the outer portions. If you’ve ever handled a Spin 713, you know what to expect, here. This thing is Acer through-and-through, but in all the right ways. The lid and base are both aluminum, firm, and have a really great shade of dark gray to them. The combo of the color and chamfered edge of the lid make things look slick and the thin, light form factor makes for an overall modern and attractive laptop. This thing is only 16mm thick and only 2.8 pounds, so portability is high even with the large display we’ll discuss down the page a bit. Even with all that thinness and lightness, Acer still managed to put a single-finger lid lift in here, too, even though that’s a super-tricky task on a convertible with those 360-degree hinges. It’s a nice touch, and overall, this Chromebook is well made and you feel it immediately.
Adding to the svelte nature of the Spin 513 is the fact that we have no fan ports on the outside of the chassis. There are speaker ports along the bottom and a pretty-standard port array on the sides, but without fan grills on the back and bottom of this Chromebook, things just feel extra tight and cohesive.
Those ports I mentioned include a USB Type C on both sides and a single USB Type A on the left edge. All three are USB 3.2 and there is also a microSD card slot and headphone/mic jack included. While not the most robust port selection ever, it is a nice array for a thin, light, and highly-portable Chromebook.
Tons of features on the inside, too
Once we crack that lid open, there’s a lot to like. Notably, the screen is the same brilliant class of display we’ve seen on the other Spin 713 models in the past. It is 13.5-inches, 2256×1504 resolution and plenty bright at 360 nits. Colors are punchy with 100% SRGB coverage, viewing angles are great, and as I’ve said every time Acer uses this type of panel, I absolutely love this layout in a Chromebook. It is sharp, vivid, bright and with the 3:2 aspect ratio, the screen feels huge while staying highly portable.
As an addition, Acer included USI pen support on this one, and it is really well executed. Perhaps that is due to this same screen being used in a few previous Chromebooks over the years, but taking notes with Cursive on this device is fantastic. While I wish there was a stowed pen included, all the USI pens we tried worked quite well and as long as you have one around, you’ll be good to go.
Below that stellar screen is probably the only mediocre part of this Chromebook: the keyboard. It is backlit and it’s…fine. But Acer has better keyframes on other devices, and this one is a firm ‘meh’ in my book. While it isn’t a deal-breaker in any way, this is clearly one of the places Acer shaved off a few dollars and where this Chromebook does feel a bit more comfortable with a 500-series title as opposed to a 700-series one.
Under that keyboard is a solid, large, glass trackpad that is as good as they get. The click is perfect, the surface is smooth, and all the gestures you want to do come off with ease. The only real detractor here is the fact that the chassis surrounding the keyboard and trackpad is plastic, though it isn’t cheap feeling. It literally feels like the exact same material Acer has used on the Spin 713 for the past few years, and combined with the aluminum base and lid, there’s no issues with rigidity, so I’m generally OK with it.
Camera and speakers
More than ever, we now have to think about how these devices handle video calls. While we love seeing better cameras in Chromebooks, the truth is most video chats happen at 720p, so the better trick is to have a camera that is good at handling difficult lighting. While the 720p webcam on the Spin 513 looks grainy thanks to the low resolution, the combination of Acer’s Temporal Noise Reduction and a blue glass lens do seem to make a difference, here. With most low-end Chromebook webcams, blown-out images are the norm, but the Spin 513 did a much better job than most with tough lighting conditions.
The microphones work well – most Chromebooks are superb at this these days – but the speakers are less than ideal. They are bottom-firing and a bit thin. They’ll get you through a call just fine, but you won’t want to listen to music or catch up on the latest episode of your favorite show without getting some headphones out.
The star of the show is under the hood
Finally, we come to the real star of the show in the Spin 513: the MediaTek Kompanio 1380 under the hood. This is a first of its kind and by far the most powerful ARM processor to ever be put in a Chromebook. And let me tell you: it shows. With benchmark scores that rival that of 10th-gen Intel Core i3 (35,500 on Octane and 87 on Speedometer 2.0), this ARM chip is quite fast. Using it on a daily basis, I never had to consider the fact that I was using a non-cooled, non-Intel processor. It flew through everything I could throw at it, and played Android games very, very well.
The benefits of ARM are more than performance, though, and with this chip inside, the Chromebook Spin 513 easily hits the advertised 10 hours of use. That’s enough to power you through any day of work and then some – even with that higher-resolution display. Though these aren’t wild numbers, it’s impressive that you can get this performance with this display with no fans in such a thin/light form factor. That’s all thanks to ARM architecture, and I love what Acer and MediaTek are doing with it these days.
Along with that SoC we have 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal eMMC storage and solid connectivity with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2. The combination has made for unquestionably the most robust performance we’ve ever seen in an ARM-based Chromebook by a long shot, and I love to see it. I was even able to push two additional QHD screens alongside the built-in display, so productivity isn’t an issue, either.
So when you combine all this into a single package for an MSRP of $614.99 and regular updates until June 2029, you quickly see why I feel this is one of the more-compelling Chromebooks available right now. You get great mobility out of the thin/light chassis and high productivity with the large screen and power under the hood. With the ability to last all day on a charge, convert into tablet and stand modes, and do all of it without making a sound, I can see the Spin 513 fitting into many user workflows over the coming months. I have other Chromebooks to review for the next little bit, but I can assure you the Acer Chromebook Spin 513 is high on my list of devices that will be in my backpack the next time things settle down in my review schedule.