Chromebooks are best known for being simple, pared-down devices that browse the web and don't do much else. As a result, aside from the exhorbitantly expensive Chromebook Pixel, most Chromebooks have underpowered processors when compared with more fully featured laptops. Google and Intel promised that would change to some extent earlier this year, and now Acer is launching the first Chromebooks with Intel's more powerful Core i3 processor.
The Acer C720 is now available with a 1.7GHz Core i3 processor and 2GB of RAM for $349.99 or 4GB of RAM for $379.99. Both versions have 32GB of internal storage, twice that of most Chromebooks. That's a slight bump in price over the earlier C720 models, which featured a weaker Intel Celeron processor. Still, it's less than most Windows laptops with Core processors sell for, and given that we've been impressed with the performance of Chromebooks with Celeron processors, these new models appear to be promising. Unfortunately, the new models still have the same, 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display instead of a higher-resolution one. Acer says that the Core i3-powered models should get about 8.5 hours of battery life, which is comparable to what the models with slower processors provide.
The C720p, which features a touchscreen, was recently ranked as our pick for the best Chromebook you can buy, since it hit the right combination of performance, battery life, and price that we look for in Chromebooks. We don't yet know if these new, more powerful models will steal its crown, but we're eager to get our hands on them to find out. The new C720 is available for preorder from Amazon right now, though it is not clear exactly when it will begin shipping to buyers.