We've reviewed just about every version of the C720 since it came out last fall. That includes the original C720 with Haswell, as well as the C720P which has a touch screen display. Now we're looking at the more powerful C720. Which has an Intel Core i3 processor inside. Now most of the other Chromebooks have had Celeron processors, which are made for netbooks, while this is the first Chromebook we've used with a full on desktop style processor. It definitely brings plenty of power to the game. Which we'll be talking about in this review.
Editor's Note: We've been using the Acer C720 for about 2-3 weeks now, and our thoughts in this review will reflect on that time.
If you've used any of Acer's recent Chromebooks, this C720 will make you feel right at home. It looks and acts, and even feels the same as the C710, and the C720 series. All the ports are in the same spot as well. Which means power, HDMI, USB, and 3.5mm headphone jack are all on the left side with the kensington lock, USB 2.0, and SD card slot on the right side. The only real difference here is the processor, well we also have 4GB of RAM, which some models of the C720 doesn't have. We also know that this same Chromebook can be configured to only have 2GB of RAM (which is all that is sold in the UK, I'm told). This includes the same 1366x768 resolution display, which is adequate, but not exactly what we'd prefer. After using a retina Macbook Pro fro the past 4-5 months, I'm really missing the extra pixels.
It's amazing. The performance is truly amazing. I've gone on record before saying that Chromebooks aren't for me because they can't handle everything I do in Chrome. For instance, I bought the first ARM-powered Samsung Chromebook, and had all kinds of performance issues, most notably was the lack of RAM. I also had this issue with the original C720, which had just 2GB of RAM. But pair an Intel Core i3 along with 4GB of RAM and it has me rethinking my stance on Chromebooks for my work flow.
I've actually been using this Chromebook (along with the Lenovo N20P) for the past few weeks as my main computer. And it's worked out well. Obviously I had to find some alternatives for apps I use on my Macbook Pro - like Adobe Lightroom. But those are easy fixes, as there are already so many apps and extensions available for Chrome OS. What I'm trying to say is that if you love the idea of Chromebooks, but wanted something a bit more powerful, well it's here.
I have to say it's not quite as good as what I got on the Acer C720 and C720p, or even the Lenovo N20p Chromebook, but it is still plenty for most people. Without watching much local or streaming video, I was easily able to get 7+ hours of battery life out of this thing. Which I still think is plenty. Of course we'll want more, but that's more than what most PC's can give you these days. Especially with Chrome being used.
There's no need for us to go into much detail here, as Chrome OS doesn't really change from Chromebook to Chromebook. So we'll mostly just talk about how great it runs on an i3 processor. It flies. To put it plain and simple. Most of you probably know from other Chromebooks, that they already power on super fast, but this one has about a second or two decrease in start up time. Which most people wouldn't notice. But where you will notice it is when you are using a ton of tabs and/or windows. But that's more for RAM, as with 2GB of RAM, once you have a certain amount of tabs open, it'll refresh those other tabs when you go to them. Which drove me crazy. The i3 definitely makes a difference, but it isn't a huge difference.
To put it simply, the Acer C720 with an i3 inside is a beast. It may even be too much power for a Chromebook these days. I think I would have rather seen Acer add in a 1080p display along with it. But just giving it an i3 doesn't really make me want this over the regular C720. Especially the fact that the original C720 can be configured with 4GB of RAM. As I've always said, if you want a Chromebook, please get one with at least 4GB of RAM. You'll thank me later. As Chrome is a resource hog, even on Chrome OS.