Review: Acer Chromebook C740 review


The Acer Chromebook 11 C740 ($279, £180, AU$379) is designed with the middle school and high school student in mind. This laptop is meant to be transported, dropped, bumped, scraped and shared.

Like its rival, the Dell Chromebook 11, the Acer C740 features a purpose-built design, an easy-to-manage interface and none of the perks you’d expect to see on luxury devices.

Speaking of luxury, if you’re in the market for a Chromebook, but don’t feel like limiting yourself to the bare bones specs available on the aforementioned education-based laptops, you should check out the uber expensive Google Chromebook Pixel (2015), the creme de la creme of Chromebooks.

Packed with a low-end processor, a low resolution screen and very little storage capacity, the Acer C740 is worth skipping – unless you're wowed by its sturdy design. Acer Chromebook C740


The Acer C740 features an 11.6-inch, 1,366 x 768 non-touch HD display that is shadowy, glimmery and dull along the corners. This is the exact opposite of the kind of laptop on which you’d want to watch movies or edit photos and videos. The Dell Chromebook has an equally awful screen, but at least it features touch capabilities.

Acer says the display is designed to limit glare and eye strain, so that your children don’t go blind staring at the C740 for up to 10 hours at a stretch. This might be true.

But, unless your favorite student is solely working on the web or in word processing docs, when they shift to more nuanced images and graphics, they won’t get the detail and realism found on full HD (FHD) laptops, or even better screens – like the 12.85-inch 2,560 x 1,700 IPS touchscreen found on the new Chromebook Pixel.

Acer Chromebook C740

Acer didn’t totally drop the ball when designing the C740. The laptop’s chassis features a reinforced cover that Acer says can withstand up to 130 pounds (60kg) of force, and its corners can withstand up to 1.5-foot (45cm) drops without damage. Although these figures don’t quite represent ruggedization, Acer has prepared the laptop to at least survive your child’s clumsier friends.

All of this strength is encased in a pretty, silver-color matte chassis. I wouldn’t call this device gorgeous, but it’s nice enough to make you feel proud to carry it around. This feeling won’t last unless you take good care of the device, however. The top cover attracts a ton of fingerprints, smudges and scratches.

The top and bottom panels are attached via two metallic hinges that feel as sturdy as the walls of Fort Knox. I don’t envision anyone popping the top panel off of the bottom panel, especially not your typical scrawny high school student. (Unless, of course, they’re serving sloppy joe for lunch again.)

Acer Chromebook C740

The C740’s standard keyboard is perfectly spaced, adequately responsive and comes with an ideally-sized touchpad. The keyboard’s keys are covered in a granite matting that is ideal for quick navigation. The keys are extra clicky, which I enjoy, because you’ll rarely have to backtrack to see if you missed any strokes.

Specifications and value

At just 2.87 pounds (1.3kg) and 11.34 x 8.03 x 0.79 inches (288 x 204 x 20.05mm; W x D x H), the Acer C740 is perfectly in-line with the Dell Chomebook 11. That laptop weighs 2.91-pounds (1.32kg) with a touchscreen and 2.74 pounds (1.24kg) without touch functionality. The Acer is 0.04 inches slimmer than the Dell Chromebook, a difference that shouldn’t really affect your purchase decision.

On the other hand, the luxurious Google Chromebook Pixel is much heavier than either of the education-specific laptops, at 3.3 pounds (1.5kg). However, at just 0.6 inches (15mm) thick, the Pixel is much slimmer, and will fit better into any backpack.

Acer Chromebook C740

Here is the Acer Chromebook 11 C740 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

Spec sheet

  • CPU: 1.5GHz Intel Celeron 3205U (dual-core, 2MB cache)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics with shared memory
  • RAM: 4GB DDR3L SDRAM (1,600 MHz)
  • Screen: 11.6-inch HD (1,366 x 768) TFT LCD ComfyView display with 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Storage: 16GB SSD
  • Ports: HDMI-out, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, SD card reader
  • Connectivity: 802.11ac, dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Camera: 720p webcam
  • Weight: 2.87 pounds
  • Size: 11.34 x 8.03 x 0.79 inches W x D x H

It’s important to note that the Acer C740 comes with 100GB of free Google Drive storage for the first two years after purchase. So, the pitiful 16GB of internal storage is supplemented by a ton of cloud capacity. However, if you’re not keen on storing your data online, then you’ll probably want to look elsewhere entirely.

Acer Chromebook C740

Unfortunately, the Dell and Google Chromebooks don’t exactly shine in terms of capacity. The Chromebook Pixel has a total of 32GB internal storage, while the Dell also features only 16GB.

Acer’s Intel Celeron processor is what really hurts this device in a head-to-head with the top-of-the-line Pixel. Dell’s 2.6GHz, dual-core Intel Celeron Bay Trail-M N2840 chip is a slightly faster processor (in practice) than the 1.5GHz unit inside the Acer C740.

If you or your student needs to be super productive, the Chromebook Pixel comes with a high-end, 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U processor that can turbo boost up to 2.7GHz. That’s almost twice as fast as the Acer C740’s chip.

The Acer C740 has a nice selection of ports, but not as many as the Dell Chromebook, which comes with a second memory card slot, to help make up for the limited amount of built-in storage.

The Chromebook Pixel comes with two standard USB 2.0 ports and two of its newfangled USB C ports, the reversible connector that supports DisplayPort, HDMI, power, USB, and VGA with an external adapter.

Performance and features

If you’ve made it this far into a Chromebook review, you probably realize that there are some limitations to the Chrome operating system when compared to Windows and Mac OS. Chromebooks in general are focused on web-based applications that are run within your browser, whereas Windows and Mac-based devices rely heavily on both browser-based and embedded applications.

Packed with a low-end processor, a low resolution screen and very little storage capacity, the Acer C740 is worth skipping – unless you're wowed by its sturdy design. Chromebook

This means you’re more likely to be able to perform a plethora of web- and application-based processes simultaneously on Windows and Mac-based devices. On a Chromebook, however, you’ll rely heavily on processes that run within tabs on your Chrome browser.

This is especially true of the Acer C740. When you’re in Chrome, you can bounce around between tabs and windows with very little delay. But if you try to download programs from the Web store, you’ll quickly realize how little 16GB of storage is, and how much your Chromebook will sputter the closer you get to that mark, as I did when I loaded about 13GB of photos and applications onto the C740.


Here’s how the Acer Chromebook C740 performed in our suite of Chromebook benchmark tests:

  • Octane: 13,700
  • Mozilla Kraken: 2,137
  • Sunspider: 335

When compared to the Pixel 2, the C740 pales in comparison. In the Octane benchmark, which measures a JavaScript engine’s performance on the given hardware, the Pixel 2 receives a score in the 24,000 range among third-party outlets. The C740 scored only a 13,700.

The Pixel 2 outperformed the C740 during the Mozilla Kraken test, which also measures speed by pushing the installed JavaScript engine, by achieving a score in the range of 1,400, compared to the C740’s 2,137 (a lower score is better during the Kraken test).

In our final JavaScript rendering test, Sunspider, the Pixel 2’s 300 range is slightly better than the C740’s 335 (lower is better).

The head-to-head between the Dell Chromebook 11 and the C740 was pretty even. For all three tests (Octane: 11,500, Kraken: 2,600, Sunspider: 340), the Dell Chromebook 11 performed comparably on multiple third-party tests. So, if you’re torn between the Dell and the Acer Chromebook, you should consider the benchmark tests a wash.

Battery life

Unfortunately, battery life is also basically a wash. The Acer C740 was able to last for 9 hours and 35 minutes with video on a loop, and brightness and sound set at 50%. With more real-life activity, such as document composition, email and web browsing, the C740 still lasted just more than nine hours.

The Dell Chromebook was able to last more than eight hours with screen brightness set to around 60% while our editor surfed the web, managed emails, watched a few videos on YouTube, edited documents in Google Docs and Google Sheets, checked the news on Feedly and performed Google search in the Chrome browser.

The Chromebook Pixel lasted 8 hours and 22 minutes with the screen brightness to 50% while our tester tabbed between 20 webpages, listened to Google music and streamed video on Netflix.

So, you’re getting an extra hour of battery life if you choose the C740. This is a clear victory for Acer, but not one that should singlehandedly alter your purchase decision.


The Dell Chromebook comes with a neat feature designed to boost interactivity in the classroom. The Dell “activity light” feature lets students click icons within proprietary education apps in order to trigger a corresponding light that appears on the laptop’s lid to let the instructor know that students are ready to participate. This feature blows any of Acer’s education-based features out of the water.

For example: the Acer Chromebook comes with a Kensington lock slot, so that teachers can lock laptops up in a wireless cart or lab after the school day. The C740 also comes with a web-based management console that allows for remote management of apps and policies across all Chromebooks in the network.

This means administrators can update what appears or what can be accessed on all devices remotely, so no need to waste time in the classroom asking students to update individual systems. But see? Boring.

Acer Premier Care is provided to US-based Acer education and business customers purchasing more than 100 C740 Chromebooks. These customers receive phone service and support if their fleet needs adjusting.


The Acer Chromebook C740 isn’t designed to be the best laptop on the planet. It serves a niche user who is constantly on the move and focused on web-based processes. It is especially designed for the education sector, with a solid build, Kensington lock functionality and web-based multi-user management.

Acer Chromebook C740

We liked

The C740 isn’t the sexiest laptop on the market, but its silver-color matte finish is a pleasure to look at. Because the C740 is so slim, it will fit nicely on any desk space or within most backpacks and laptop bags. Its keyboard is perfectly responsive and ergonomically pleasing.

This laptop’s battery life is incredibly impressive for a Chromebook. And its performance, though not on par with Chromebooks packing Intel Core processors, is comparable to other low-end CPU-based laptops.

We disliked

The HD screen on this Chromebook is boring and unsophisticated. Acer said it designed it this way to limit eye-strain, but really it is just limiting joy.

Although the Chromebook’s processor is capable of competing with other low-end models, if productivity is your main concern, you should look only at Chromebooks with Intel Core CPUs. And if you need internal storage capacity on top of this performance, you may need to leave the Chromebook market totally, as most of these laptops come with a maximum storage capacity of 64GB.

Final verdict

I wanted to love the Acer Chromebook C740. It’s solidly built, with just a bit of style and flash, but its low-end specs are reminiscent of a laptop you would have purchased five years ago. That was par for the course for Chromebooks even just a year ago, but the category has advanced far since then.

Although it may seem unfair to compare the C740 to the Google Chromebook Pixel, which is more than $700 (£450, AU$950) pricier than the Acer model, it’s important for you to see the full spectrum of what the Chromebook line is capable of accomplishing. Yes, the C740 is a Chromebook, as is the Pixel.

However, the C740 and Dell Chromebook 11 are low-end models that are excellent at web-browsing, surviving long periods on a single charge, and won’t break when you drop them. If you need more than these features, you’re going to have to spend a bit more coin.