Unboxing Acer’s new cloud gaming-focused Chromebook 516 GE

This week, Google took the cover of a new Chromebook initiative that brings together the three major game streaming services (RIP Stadia), ChromeOS, and some new hardware to deliver what they believe is the best overall way to experience game streaming. While streaming your favorite titles from GeForce NOW is certainly possible on almost every Chromebook out there, Google wants to differentiate these devices by offering things like high-refresh screens, awesome speakers, RGB keyboards, and high-end internals to enhance your game. experience is top notch.

The first gaming-focused Chromebooks

The first of these new Chromebooks to get our hands on is the Acer Chromebook 516 GE, and it brings all the things you want together in a gaming-focused Chromebook, while also being a solid device for everyday tasks. Google has said that these devices are optimized for cloud gaming and that they have worked closely with GeForce NOW, XBOX Cloud Gaming and Amazon Luna to ensure the hardware stack is ready for game streaming out of the box.

That all needs to be tested and that will take a few weeks. However, from just a little bit of time with this new Chromebook 516 GE from Acer, I feel like Google is onto something here. The combination of a solid connection via Ethernet or Wi-Fi 6E, a fantastic keyboard, great speakers and a large, bright 120Hz QHD 16:10 display makes for an extremely immersive gaming experience. But it doesn’t just sound good on paper: it also performs well.

Again, I haven’t had much time to play, but in a handful of matches in both Fortnite and Apex Legends, the experience is so immersive that I forgot I was playing a game on a server miles and miles away. With GeForce NOW, these new Chromebooks get 120Hz as an option and they take full advantage of it. With ray tracing, high-end graphics and this 120Hz frame rate, games look absolutely amazing and perform just as well. I won’t say there weren’t any hiccups, but they were so few and far between that I never had a single problem when I actually engaged in a high-intensity moment.

We’ll make a separate video on gaming performance after we spend more time on it, but I’ve been impressed with the game streaming aspect of these new Chromebooks so far. But what about this device as a regular, everyday Chromebook? After all, this thing still has to be a laptop that can do normal laptop stuff. There’s good news, too, because this new Chromebook from Acer has been pretty good at that so far, too.

Acer Chrombook 516 GE Key specs:

  • 12th Gen Intel Core i501240P
  • Iris Xe GPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB NVMe SSD
  • Wi-Fi 6E
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • 16-inch 120Hz IPS non-touch screen
  • 2560×1600 at 350 nits and 100% SRGB
  • Upward-facing DTS speakers
  • RGB backlit keyboard
  • Oceanglass Trackpad
  • 1080p webcam
  • 2x USB Type-C (3.2)
  • 1x USB type A (3.2)
  • HDMI 2.1 port
  • Ethernet port
  • Headphone/Microphone Jack
  • 3.75 pounds

A great Chromebook even without gaming

It would be easy for companies to build Chromebooks that are good at streaming games but bad at everything else. Fortunately, that’s not the case with the Acer 516 GE. Instead, I love it so far. The 16-inch screen is vibrant, silky smooth and has great viewing angles. The upward-firing speakers are loud, full and offer wide stereo separation, and the RBG keyboard is a joy to type on and looks cool to boot. The trackpad is huge, smooth and has a fantastic click mechanism and the aluminum lid and base make everything feel solid and reassuring.

Even the 1080p webcam is solid, rendering footage really good for a Chromebook that’s not really geared towards meetings and work-related stuff. On the inside, we’ve got an insanely fast 12th-gen Core i5-1240P with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of NVMe storage, and I probably don’t need to tell you how fast this thing feels. With ports for HDMI, Ethernet, USB-C and USB-A, the 516 GE is well connected and ready for almost anything.

My only niggle is the lack of touch to the screen, and it’ll be fun to see how that affects everyday use as I’ll be making this my primary Chromebook for a while. With all the benefits on offer I doubt it will be such a big deal but time will tell.

Overall, I love the look, feel, and power that the Acer Chromebook 516 GE offers so far. Assuming the cloud gaming experience (and Steam gaming down the road) is solid, I’m confident that the actual working part of this device will perform on all fronts. As long as the size and weight aren’t too bad in the bag, this will be a very interesting Chromebook to review. With a starting price of $649 and general availability already in place at places like Best Buy, I think Acer has a real winner in store going into the fourth quarter. But for now it’s review time.

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