The first Chromebook to use a chipset that’s never been used before is here.
That’s the Acer Chromebook R13- powered by MediaTek’s MT8137C Quad-Core ARM Cortex processor. That’s a mouthful of words.
If you’re not familiar with these laptops, or computer processors parts in general, Intel is the most popular brand on the planet.
And they hold up to this statistic very well. The majority of them on the market are all powered by Intel processors. This one is definitely the odd man out.
Last updated: 7/21/17.
The first Chromebook with a MediaTek chip
However, Acer’s newest R-series laptops will be powered by a MediaTek chip, which is the first MediaTek chip to ever make an appearance within a Chromebook. The Acer R13 will be the first Chromebook ever made with MediaTek parts. Isn’t that exciting? Or is it daunting?
After scouring the web for reviews and opinions about MediaTek, they seem to be a decent company. Many smartphones already use MediaTek chips, and making the transition into these devices shouldn’t be too difficult.
A few posts back, when this laptop was first announced, I was pretty skeptical about the unknown chip. Especially that it’s coming from Acer since they always use Intel-based chips in their Chromebooks.
Now, after doing much more research (and letting the thought digest), I have slightly more confidence for MediaTek.
Why is Acer sourcing their chips to another company?
That, I don’t know. Perhaps cost? Efficiency? Performance?
Though, with Intel being pretty much the best chipmaker in the industry, I don’t see how MediaTek can compete other than price. Efficiency would be only if Intel chips offer too much-underutilized power since Chrome OS is pretty lightweight. Performance? Intel chips are efficient and offer unmatched performance, along with Turbo Boost (for specific models) and Intel HD graphics as a graphics co-processor.
We’ll find out how the MediaTek chip performs when it comes out. This can make or break their reputation since they’re relatively unknown in the market, or any market for that matter. Or I’m just oblivious.
The R13 Chromebook is a convertible – design and specs
Now, let’s talk about the Acer R13 Chromebook.
The Acer R13 is a convertible, which means it can convert between a laptop and tablet.
It also has a fully-rotatable display, which means you can spin it on a pivot with a full 360-degree rotation. In tablet mode, it can function just like a tablet with a touch screen display. This will integrate nicely with Android apps when the update is released for this particular model. This should get the update to run the Play Store. If anything, it’s the perfect candidate to test it out.
With a touchscreen and tablet functions, this laptop is just like a phone on a bigger scale. I don’t see why launching apps on this would be an issue (hardware wise).
(Want to check if your Chromebook is going to be getting the Google Play Store update? Check out the list.)
If you still don’t know or you’re confused about exactly what a convertible Chromebook is, here’s a video of the Acer R11 in action- it has the same convertible body as the Acer R13 to give you an idea of what it can do:
And if you’re not familiar with the R13 specs, here’s a brief rundown:
- 13.3’’ Full HD IPS touch display (1920 x 1080 resolution)
- 4GB DDR3 RAM
- 16/32/64GB SSD storage
- 1 x HDMI port
- 2 x USB-C ports
- MediaTek MT8173 Chipset (Quad-Core)
Everything looks good. You get a full HD touch IPS display. You get enough RAM to multitask and play around with. You get plenty of storage capacity options. You get the newest USB-C type adapters. You even get a Quad-Core CPU (which is the double the standard Dual-Cores you typically see on Intel Celeron CPUs).
Acer R13 Chromebook price
Acer hasn’t released any retailers that will officially carry the model, but it’s not something that people will be lining up to buy on launch, so I’d imagine you can buy it anywhere.
However, a few merchants have already listed the R13 for sale, but the pricing isn’t universal. B&H Photo has the R13 for $429 (4GB RAM and 64GB SSD), and PC Connection and Provantage have the R13 for $399 (4GB RAM 32GB SSD). I’m sure other retailers will offer the Acer R13 as well as it gets distributed closer to launch in all variations. These prices are subject to change.
How does the Acer R13 stack up in pricing? It’s about right for a middle-range Chromebook. You get to choose from 3 different types of storage sizes, and you get a decent size touchscreen display that’s convertible, rotatable and full HD. It’s also big enough for movies and media, but not too big to carry. And it’s nice that it offers USB-C ports (which many newer versions now have as well).
Overall, I’m on the fence about this one.
I like the convertible feature for Android apps, and the huge storage it has. The only problem is the MediaTek chip. I’ll have to see how this plays out and how it’s received by buyers. The price is average for a mid-range laptop, so it’ll be hard to resist if it gets the job done.
Update: It looks like the R13 is one of the most popular Chromebooks on the market, even in 2017. It’s an affordable convertible and the MediaTek chip looks like it did alright. Reviews are generally on the favorable side, praising its sleek design and quality touchscreen display.
With its Quad-Core CPU, it’s a pretty powerful laptop and can handle well. The 4GB of RAM also comes in handy for those who like to launch multiple apps simultaneously. And the best part? The price It’s cheap.
The prices have dropped to nearly half of what the original MSRP was. The R13 was regarded as one of the best Chromebooks of 2016. If you’re looking for a convertible and you don’t mind it being slightly dated in hardware, give this one some consideration and put it on your list. It’s definitely worth the price as this very precise moment in time as I type this. It’s almost a steal.
If you’re interested, I wrote a detailed review about the R13 that you can check out.