Acer Adds Intel Core i3 To Chromebook C720, But Is Price Markup Too High?

We know that many manufacturers are refreshing their chromebooks soon as Intel is pushing its Bay Trail-M SoC and Intel Core i3 (Haswell) chips, and you can count Acer among those companies. Acer announced that it will have two new SKUs in its chromebook stable, both of which will run on Intel Core i3-4005U (1.7GHz) chips.

It’s intriguing that a new spate of chromebooks are getting actual Core series chips--Acer won’t be the only one--but it begs a couple of questions. One is whether or not chromebooks need that horsepower to begin with (we’ve been pleased with chromebook performance from Celeron chips), but the other concerns price.

Acer C720 chromebook

Currently, you can get an Acer C720 chromebook for just $200 with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. For an ultra lightweight laptop that lets you do 95% of what you need to get done (or consumer) compared to a Windows machine, that’s an extraordinary value.

The new Acer C720 SKUs will cost $349.00 (C720-3871, 2GB RAM, 32GB storage) and $379.99 (C720-3404, 4GB RAM, 32GB storage). That’s an enormous markup from the basic model, and what exactly are you getting for it?

The entire paradigm of Chrome OS devices is that the operating system is incredibly lean, allowing for strong performance without needing a powerful processor, and while Core i3s aren’t exactly beastly, clearly they cost more.

(Some of the price increase is coming from the storage side of things, too, but judging from other Acer chromebook SKUs, that bump may only account for around $30.)

It’s not that better chips won’t impact performance; the question is how much they’ll impact performance, and if that’s even necessary. Acer and other companies may find that rapid sales of chromebooks have been driven in part by low prices, and if the costs shoot up too high, people won’t be as interested.