Nvidia's Tegra K1 processor has just landed in another system, and this one's pretty cool. Acer's new Chromebook 13 couples the Nvidia system-on-a-chip with a 13" screen and a battery rated for no less than 13 hours of run time. Best of all, the system starts at only $279.99.
For that price, the base Chromebook 13 config gets you a 1366x768 display resolution, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of solid-state storage. Acer offers the same system with a 1920x1080 display for an extra 20 bucks, and it will sell you a model with 4GB of RAM and a 32GB SSD for $379.99. The $299.99 variant is probably the better deal, though, since Chrome OS's multitasking capabilities are limited.
All versions of the machine have the same 0.71" (18-mm) thickness, "full-sized" keyboard, and relatively meaty touchpad. The Chromebook 13 features a couple of USB 3.0 ports alongside an HDMI output and an SD card reader. Also, according to Nvidia, the machine has a more refined industrial design than Acer's previous Chromebooks. It definitely looks pretty slick for a sub-$300 laptop.
Of course, the true star of the show is the Tegra K1 processor—the same quad-core silicon that powers the Shield tablet. Nvidia claims this SoC is more power-efficient than other Chromebook-powering processors on the market, including Intel's Atom-based Celerons and Samsung's Exynos 5800. The Tegra K1 has substantially faster graphics and slightly speedier multitasking than those offerings, too, if Nvidia's own benchmarks are any indication.
The Tegra K1's parsimonious power needs are a big part of the Chromebook 13's lengthy battery life. Nvidia says the 13-hour figure was achieved in Google-mandated test, not a special corner case, and it adds that the average Chromebook in Amazon's top-10 bestsellers list is only rated for 10 hours or so. That puts the Chromebook 13 at quite an advantage.
Oh, and because the Tegra K1 sips power so frugally, the Chromebook 13 is totally fanless. This puppy won't make a peep even under a full load.
According to Nvidia, Acer plans to ship the Chromebook 13 some time this month. When it arrives, the system will be available at Amazon and Best Buy.