The Acer 516 GE is one of the latest generation of Chromebooks targeted at gamers that want all the power and simplicity of a Chromebook without giving up the games they love to play the most. A cloud streaming service like Nvidia's GeForce Now is necessary, but what Acer accomplished here is nothing short of remarkable.
The idea of a gaming Chromebook sounds ridiculous on the surface. Especially when you consider that gaming Chromebooks don't have discrete graphics, run desktop-class games locally, or support applications made for Windows or macOS.
But, underneath its underwhelming gaming pedigree is something special. At its most basic level, the Acer 516 GE Gaming Chromebook is a brilliantly-designed productivity powerhouse with a brilliant display perfectly designed for game streaming.
Simply put, Acer nailed it. It created a laptop that does what it sets out to do better than just about anything else on the market.
Specs, do they even matter?
When it comes to Chromebooks, system specs are rarely top of mind. Chrome OS, the operating system that Chromebooks run, is optimized to work smoothly on even the least impressive hardware. However, when it comes to a gaming-class product, specs do help.
Let's start with the most impressive part of the laptop: the screen. The 516 GE features a 120Hz 16-inch WQXGA (2560 X 1600) IPS narrow-bezel display with 100% sRGB coverage. The 16:10 aspect ratio is a boon for productivity. The high refresh rate and pixel density are a perfect fit for Nvidia's GeForce Now service. On its new "Ultimate" tier, gameplay is buttery smooth.
One noticeable exception is touch support. Android apps, which run on Chromebooks, are made for a touchscreen. Not having one on this laptop makes it inherently less useful for mobile gaming.
With a Core i5 or i7 processor and 8GB of RAM, it's a capable machine in places it doesn't need to be.
What a great keyboard
The keyboard isn't quite the typists' dream, but it does hit all the right notes one would expect from a premium laptop. The keys aren't too mushy, and they're spaced out enough to keep missed keystrokes to a minimum.
The trackpad is also impressive for one without the usual glass covering it. Instead, it's made with a material based on recycled materials collected from oceans called "ocean glass". To the touch, the Acer's trackpad is every bit as smooth and responsive as the one featured on the MacBook Pro.
Excellent speakers, for a Chromebook
The speakers are pretty solid. Sure, they won't be powering your neighborhood block party, but they sound good enough to provide a decent gaming experience when headphones aren't an option.
The Acer Chromebook 516 GE is a stellar Chromebook. It packs the power and screen of a laptop priced at double the cost.
This value pricing makes sense, though, when you consider how locked down the Chromebook is. You give up the ability to run Windows, have to jump through hoops to run Linux applications, and Android apps lose the advantage of a touch screen.
For most users that just want a great laptop for game streaming, Acer has delivered nothing less. It's an easy recommendation for anyone that doesn't mind the limitations of Chrome OS.