Acer C720 vs. Samsung Series 3 XE303 Chromebook

Comparison of the two most affordable Chromebooks available

Acer C720 Laptop

Isaias Coimbra / Flickr

Chromebooks and smaller laptops have become very popular but there are very limited in the number of products to choose from. In fact, the primary three are the Acer C720, HP Chromebook 11, and Samsung Series 3. All three of these have a similar 11-inch screen size and pricing of under $300. The two most popular of these are the Acer and Samsung because of their pricing and are much more similar in features. With its higher price tag and fewer ports, the HP is often overlooked and therefore not part of this comparison.


Since both the Acer and the Samsung Chromebooks both use an 11-inch display, their dimensions are fairly close in size. The Samsung model is slightly thinner at .69-inches compared to the Acer .8-inches and has the advantage of weighing about a quarter pound less. This makes the Samsung model a bit more portable than the Acer. Both systems are made primarily of plastic on the exterior with a metal internal frame and look like traditional laptops with their grayish colors and black keyboards and bezels. In terms of the fit and finish, the Samsung also comes out slightly ahead but only by a small margin.


Acer based their C720 around the Intel Celeron 2955U dual-core processor which is a laptop processor similar to the Haswell based ones you find in low-cost Windows laptops. Samsung, on the other hand, decided to use a dual-core ARM-based processor that one would find in a mid-range mobile phone or tablet. The two are very different but when it comes right down to it, the Acer has the advantage even with its lower clock speeds. The system boots into Chrome OS a bit faster and Chrome apps also come up quicker. Both are quite acceptable when you consider they are often limited by their network speeds but the Acer just feels smoother.


Sadly the displays on both models are not much to write about. They both use a similar 11.6-inch diagonal display and feature a 1366x768 resolution. The only advantage is that the Samsung display offers a bit more brightness than the Acer model. Acer, on the other hand, has slightly wider viewing angles. Both will be difficult to use outdoors and still don't have very strong color or contrast levels. In fact, if you are concerned about the display, then the HP Chromebook 11 offers a far superior screen even if it has many other drawbacks.

Battery Life

With similar dimensions, both the Acer and Samsung Chromebooks use a similar size battery pack. One would assume that the ARM-based processor of the Samsung should offer better battery life since it is designed for low power consumption mobile devices but it appears that other components may be putting a more heavy draw on that battery pack. In digital video playback tests, the Acer offers six and a half hours of running time compared to the five and a half hours of the Samsung. So, if you need to use a Chromebook for long stretches without power, the Acer is the better choice.

Keyboard and Trackpad

Both Acer and Samsung use very similar keyboard designs and layouts for the Chromebooks. They use an isolated style design that spans almost the entire width of the Chromebook. Spacing is good but the small size of the system means that those with large hands may have problems on either. It really comes down to the feel and accuracy of them. For this, Samsung has a very slight edge but it is completely a personal preference as people will find the functionality of both the keyboard and trackpad nearly identical.


In terms of the peripheral ports available to both the Acer and Samsung Chromebooks, they offer the same number and type of ports. Each has one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, an HDMI and a 3-in-1 card reader. This means that they are functionally the same when it comes to peripheral devices. The difference is how they are laid out on the system. Samsung puts all but the card reader on the right-hand side. Acer offers the USB 2.0 and card reader on the right while the left has the HDMI and USB 3.0 port. This makes the Acer layout a bit more practical as it puts fewer cables in the way on the right-hand side if you intend to use an external mouse.


Based on all the factors discussed so far, the Acer comes out ahead thanks to its better performance and battery life. So many of the other features are just so similar that these two areas have a greater impact for users than the portability of the Samsung. This is also the reason that the Acer C720 made it on the list of the best Chromebooks, but the Samsung did not.