Acer Chromebook 11 CB311-8H Review: A Refined Favorite

Acer improved on a familiar model with longer battery life and dual USB Type-C ports.

When it comes to Chromebooks, Acer knows what it’s doing as it’s been serving up Chromebooks since 2011 and is not only one of the oldest Chromebooks brands, but it currently sells more Chromebook models than any other brand to date. Suffice to say that Acer is a dedicated partner for the Chromebook platform and that’s not changing anytime soon, especially considering its recent unveiling from earlier in the year of the first Chromebook tablet, the Chromebook Tab 10. While Acer has had its fair share of Chromebooks over the years, it’s consistently provided users with one model in particular - the Chromebook 11. Over the years, Acer has updated this model with new features and slightly different designs. With the latest version Acer has improved on a familiar model with longer battery life and dual USB Type-C ports, though it also comes in a new eye-catching color that will surely grab the attention of anyone seeking something a little bit different from the norm of black and gray. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at how the newest Acer Chromebook 11 stacks up.

Specs

This is Acer’s latest version of the Chromebook 11 so it comes with some up to date specs, though some of them will obviously be the same as previous models and other Chromebooks in general. For example, the Chromebook 11 still comes with an 11.6-inch screen like before. This hasn’t changed as it’s still the 11 model. It’s also still and HD display which, for some might be a downside but it’ll certainly help with the battery life, something which we’ll get into a bit later. As all Chromebooks tend to be updated around the same time with the latest software as well, you’ll find the same version of Chrome OS here as generally any other Chromebook that Google is still updating, which should be most of them if they were launched in the last few years at least.

You’ll find an HDR webcam in the top bezel of the display which has a wide field of view, and inside the battery holds a 3,490mAh capacity which Acer boasts will last up to ten hours. Something to keep in mind is that this will all depend on how you use it. Like many Chromebooks this one is powered by a processor from Intel, specifically the Intel Celeron N3350 Dual-Core CPU which Intel Burst technology. There’s 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM, so the memory is on par with other Chromebooks in this price range, which is $270. For graphics the Chromebook 11 is working with Intel HD Integrated graphics 520, so you won’t be playing any graphically demanding games on this laptop, but then again there aren’t too many for this platform anyway, save for some on the Play Store, though most of those will require touchscreen support which this model does not have. You get 32GB of storage here, and the laptop supports expandable storage with microSD cards up to 128GB if you need more than what’s already available. For ports, you have two USB Type-C ports, two USB 3.0 ports, one 3.5mm audio port for headphones, and the power port where you plug in the AC adapter to charge up the battery. The Chromebook 11 weighs just over 2 pounds, 2.43 pounds to be exact, and it comes indigo blue. Lastly, the Chromebook 11 comes with Android app support and Google Play support, so you can install Android apps, though it’s worth keeping in mind that without the touch display using them won’t feel as native as they would on other Chromebooks that do offer the touchscreen.

Hardware

As usual, Acer has a pretty Chromebook here. It has a solid build and while it isn’t the most premium in terms of materials, meaning it’s made completely of plastic and has no metal, Acer still does a pretty decent job at making the new Chromebook 11 look nice. The use of Indigo Blue for the color is one thing, but Acer also gave the top of the Chromebook lid an almost woven pattern, which meshes really well with the Indigo Blue color as it gives off a metallic look, so while it isn’t metal it does look like metal.

The ports are spread out nicely between both sides which might seem like a small thing but it’s nice to see Acer taking these tiny details into consideration. This isn’t something Acer is pioneering by any means as most laptops spread the ports out between opposite sides to make things even, and frankly there’s generally just not enough room for all of them on one side anyway, but there have been laptops out there which limit most of the ports to one side or to one side and the back, making for a somewhat awkward placement. This might be a bit of a subjective observation but it’s still nice to see. Speakers for the Chromebook can be found on the bottom along with the rubber feet that help the laptop stay in place when using it. Acer designed this Chromebook with a pretty strong hinge so while you can lift the lid to a certain degree with one hand, you will still need both hands to open it up in a non-awkward way, meaning you aren’t trying to hold the bottom down with your thumb while trying to lift the lid with a different finger on the same hand, which isn’t really viable if your hands are smaller. Overall, the hardware design and build are nice and though not ultra-premium, it’s still great especially for the price.

Display

As mentioned earlier this is an 11.6-inch screen so it’s the same size as every other Chromebook 11, and it’s just large enough to use for really any work you may need to get done. The smaller size also makes it very portable and easy to stick in a bag to take with you if you need to get some work done either away from the office or away from home, or if you use this for school and are needing to fit it into your book bag.

Though this display is HD it’s got a matte look to it which made it harder to see things with even the slightest bit of light or glare on the display. This proved to make the Chromebook a little bit harder to use at times, but it was something that could be rectified by turning the brightness all the way up. The problem with that is that you’re likely going to be draining the battery quicker, so this is something you’ll want to be prepared for. Other than that the display is great and there were no major complaints. Now, this isn’t a touchscreen model Chromebook, so using Android apps on this device is doable but it’ll be a bit different as you’ll be limited to using the touchpad to move around the cursor and click on stuff. Though this isn’t a touchscreen model Chromebook Acer is going to be releasing a touch version of this Chromebook 11 later in the year, so it is coming and will be an option for those that want it as Acer will be offering multiple variations.

Software

This is running an official build of Chrome OS version 66.0.3359.181, or just Chrome OS version 66 for short, so it’s on up to date software, and it comes with Google Play and Android app support so you can use the Chrome OS-specific apps or Android apps, whatever fits best into your daily routines. Since this is Chrome OS 66 it has the updated app drawer which slides up from the bottom of the page along with Material Design style elements throughout the system. If you end up installing quite a few apps finding things will be relatively easy thanks to the inclusion of the search bar at the very top of the app drawer, though this doesn’t just search the apps you have installed. It also lets you search the system and the web, so you can really find anything you’re looking for pretty quick and without hassle or even having to open up Chrome and go to Google. Even with entry-level hardware on this laptop, Chrome OS felt smooth and everything ran just fine when attempting to use it, even Android games like Final Fantasy IX, which allowed me to use the WASD keys for movement. As a PC gamer, this felt natural to me and quite honestly felt better than if I had to use the touchscreen. What’s interesting here is that the software allowed for this, which certainly wasn’t expected. Since this is Chrome OS and Chrome OS is basically the same on every Chromebook, you aren’t going to find much of a difference in the software here, save for the Google Play support as this isn’t on EVERY Chromebook yet, and there will be some that never get it. Other than that this is Chrome OS like you may already know, and that’s a good thing as if you’ve used a Chromebook before and recently, then you won’t feel out of place with this new Chromebook 11 model.

Battery Life & Performance

Briefly, it was mentioned earlier that the Chromebook can deliver up to ten hours of battery life thanks to Acer’s improvements on the battery inside of the laptop. This is likely to be an accurate account of how much battery life you’ll get on a day to day basis but it’s also important to keep in mind that this will definitely vary based on how you use the laptop. For me, the battery life was closer to seven or eight hours than ten, but a large part of this is due to having the brightness all the way up and using the device more heavily which included playing games like Final Fantasy IX and such, which taxes the resources more than other programs. Having other things running in the background contributes to the depletion of battery life throughout the day too, such as Play Music while working, so if you tend to stream music while you work off a laptop then you may notice some battery drain here too as we did. All that said, for many people, this is easily going to be a Chromebook that can be used during the day without having to use the charger at all, though it’s still always a good idea that you bring it with you just in case.

As for the performance of the Chromebook, there were no issues here. Perhaps this is down to the way that it was used, but whatever the reason every app and all functions ran without any problems and there were no issues with stuttering or lag or anything like that. We were able to use things like streaming music without putting too much strain on the processor and RAM, and even more demanding games like Final Fantasy IX worked just fine during our play sessions. It’s not exactly what you would consider a workhorse Chromebook, but it certainly felt like one as it performed admirably and never once decreased in performance. This doesn’t mean the experience will be the same for everyone, and if you plan to use a Chromebook for more intensive tasks and multitasking with multiple apps at the same time, then you may want to look at a Chromebook with more RAM and a faster processor. If you’re just on the hunt for something that performs well for most everyday tasks and some work or school-related activities, this should be more than sufficient.

The Good

Lightweight

Compact and easily portable

Great design with a nice blue color

Two USB Type-C Ports

3.5mm audio port

Up to ten hours of battery life

Google Play Support

Wide field of view on the HDR webcam

Great touchpad

The Bad

No touchscreen on this model, though there will be a version that has one

Same processor as on the Chromebook Spin 11 that was launched last year

Speakers can sound a bit muffled since they’re on the bottom.

Wrap-Up

As always, Acer is driving home that it is the company to look out for with Chromebooks. The firm offers a wide range of different options and instead of changing things up too much, it has kept the important details the same, such as the model name so that people are familiar with the product. Keeping the moniker alive and just pushing out a new version of the Chromebook 11 means that people who have used older versions and loved them can feel confident that they’ll probably love the new model too, should they be looking to upgrade.

Should you buy the Acer Chromebook 11 CB311-8H?

If you’re either looking for a new Chromebook because you are upgrading from an older Acer Chromebook 11, or looking for a first-time Chrome OS laptop and you don’t necessarily want the top-end premium Chromebook with high-end specs and a price tag to match, then this is a fantastic little option for your portable computing needs. There are many positives about this laptop and really only a thing or two that could have been improved, making this likely a go-to for many consumers out there.

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About the Author
2015/07/13-1.jpg

Justin Diaz

Head Editor
Lover of food, craft beer, movies, travel, and all things tech. Video games have always been a passion of his due to their ability to tell incredible stories, and home automation tech is the next big interest, in large part because of the Philips Hue integration with Razer Chroma. Current Device: Google Pixel.
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