The early generations of Chromebooks were lacking compared to Windows laptops in terms of design and performance.But, modern Chromebooks have made advancements on these fronts, with certain models offering great performance at a more affordable price. After much research and personal testing, we believe the Google Pixelbook Go to be the best Chromebook for most people.
The best Chromebooks have evolved quite a bit in recent years. Today, they offer performance and build quality that’s almost on par with Windows and MacBook laptops. We’ve used a number of different Chromebooks over the years and conducted plenty of research to find the best ones. Whether you’re in need of a cheap laptop for casual browsing or need a daily work machine, there are several great options worth considering in this list depending on your budget.
Lost on what exactly to look out for when buying a Chromebook? We have some detailed advice for you right here, beneath all of our picks.
Here are the best Chromebooks you can buyBest Chromebook overall: Google Pixelbook GoBest value Chromebook: Samsung Chromebook 4+ (15-inch)Best 2-in-1 Chromebook: Asus Chromebook FlipBest 11-inch Chromebook: Lenovo 100eBest 13-inch Chromebook: HP Chromebook 14The best Chromebooks for school workChromebooks we look forward to testing Updated on 1/22/21 by Lisa Eadicicco: Added new pick for the best 2-in-1 Chromebook since the Pixelbook has seemingly been discontinued. Updated our pick for the best 15-inch Chromebook, since the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook is unavailable, as well as our choices for the best Chromebooks for school work. Added a new Chromebook announced in January 2021 that we look forward to testing.
The best Chromebook overall
The Google Pixelbook Go is the best Chromebook pick overall for how it brings high-end, premium sensibilities to a much more affordable price point. With all-day battery life and an amazing keyboard, it’s the one to beat.
Pros: Excellent display, incredible keyboard, lightweight and slim, long battery life
Cons: Fanless CPU, pricey upgrades, no biometric login, small-capacity storage
Google’s latest Chromebook to date, the Pixelbook Go, is also the one we’d recommend to most people who want the quintessential Chromebook experience.
With its approachable starting price, the Pixelbook Go offers up a surprisingly premium mobile computing experience that comparable laptops don’t even bother to. For instance, the Pixelbook Go features a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel (1080p) touchscreen with an embedded 1080p webcam as well as 8GB of memory (RAM). Some of these features, aren’t even seen on the new entry-level Dell XPS 13, which comes with a non-touch display and 720p webcam.
Where the Pixelbook Go falls is storage, with just 64GB of space to start, relying heavily on the fact that Chromebooks utilize cloud storage via Google Drive (online connectivity required). Still, it’s more storage than most Chromebooks offer at this price point. Also, with a rated battery life of 12 hours, it’s one of the longest-lasting Chromebooks around.
We love the Pixelbook Go for its incredibly quiet and comfortable typing experience as well as how it brings high-end sensibilities to a more approachable price. At its starting price (our recommended configuration), this is the absolute best Chromebook for the price. However, if you’re considering the most expensive configuration — with an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 4K Ultra HD display — we’d suggest looking for a flagship Windows or MacBook laptop instead.
The best value Chromebook
Samsung’s 15-inch Chromebook 4+ packs the most value into a budget laptop that we’ve ever seen, with many modern niceties for so much less than most laptops with similar features.
Pros: Decent display, long battery life, lots of ports
Cons: Small local storage, low amount of RAM
For those looking to squeeze the absolute most value possible from a Chromebook purchase, it’s difficult to beat the 15-inch Samsung Chromebook 4+. You’re getting an incredible amount of laptop for its asking price — no question.
What you get is a sleek, subtle platinum-colored frame housing a 15.6-inch, 1080p display, with power from an Intel Celeron CPU backed by 4GB of RAM and a 32GB SSD. That’s supported by two USB-C ports, one USB 3.0 port, and a microSD card reader — along with Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Bluetooth 4.0 — for connectivity.
All of this comes within a device that can last for up to 10 hours and 30 minutes on a single charge, and can search the web for you and answer questions with just your voice using Google Assistant. Save for biometric login and more local storage, there’s nothing else that this budget laptop leaves off the table.
The best 2-in-1 Chromebook
With a premium design, long battery life, decent performance, and plenty of ports, the Asus Chromebook Flip excels in all the right places.
Pros: High-quality design, long battery life, solid performance for the price
Cons: Most affordable models only have 64GB of storage
Chromebooks have grown a lot over the years, particularly when it comes to build quality. While early Chromebooks had plastic designs that made them feel like budget laptops, some newer models are just as premium as full-fledged Windows notebooks.
The Asus Chromebook Flip C434 is one such example. It comes with an aluminum design with slim bezels that enable it to cram a 14-inch display into the size of a 13-inch laptop, resulting in an 87% screen to body ratio. You also have the option of purchasing the Asus Chromebook Flip C434 with an 8th-generation Intel Core i5, Core i3, or Core m3 processor.
Although those processors are a bit old, they’re still more than enough for casual computing tasks like browsing the web, watching Netflix, word processing, and managing spreadsheets. We’d recommend the $600 configuration running on an Intel Core m3 with 8GB of RAM since it offers the right balance of affordability and performance for most use cases.
The 14-inch display has a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution and a 360-degree hinge that allows it to function in tablet, tent, or laptop mode. There are also plenty of ports — in fact, Asus’ 2-in-1 Chromebook has more connections than certain laptops. The notebook comes with two USB-C ports, one USB-A port, a microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Reviewers at Wired and Tom’s Guide also gave it high marks for its long battery life, which is said to last for about 10 hours.
All told, the Asus Chromebook Flip is a well-built laptop with enough flexibility and power for casual computing. Unfortunately, the more affordable configuration we recommend only comes with 64GB of storage, which is less space than most smartphones offer but still more than you’ll find on cheaper Chromebooks. That means you should only opt for this model if you don’t need much local storage and keep most of your photos and documents in the cloud.
Otherwise, the more powerful model with 128GB of storage and an Intel Core i3 chip will run you $800. That’s fine for those who are certain that they want a Chromebook, but it’s also not much cheaper than a Windows laptop at that point.
The best 11-inch Chromebook
Lenovo’s 100e Chromebook is the laptop we’d recommend to anyone with a restrictive budget, bringing a bit of quality to the web computing basics that the lowest price possible today offers.
Pros: Excellent price, long battery life, spill and drop resistant
Cons: Low power, tiny storage
Some folks out there still want the smallest laptop possible in spite of developments making 13 and even 15-inch laptops incredibly thin and light. For them, the best Chromebook we’ve found is the Lenovo 100e Chromebook.
This diminutive machine (for a computer, at least) is designed for nothing more than the basics of web-based computing: checking email, getting school work done, watching Netflix at 720p, and more. Because this is aimed for education primarily, the keyboard comes in a spill-proof design, and the frame can resist drops from as high as 29.5 inches — roughly the height of a student’s desk.
Inside, you’re getting a MediaTek CPU backed by just 4GB of RAM and 32 of storage . These are the absolute minimum requirements in terms of Chromebook hardware, hence the laptop’s next-to-nothing price at most retailers online. Don’t expect glorious computing experience here, though it does have up to 10 hours of battery life and a USB-C charger.
But, it is absolutely amazing for a kid’s first laptop or even an older adult just getting into technology. And, the Lenovo 100e Chromebook is one of those laptops that’s easy to recommend to almost anyone with a restrictive budget.
The best 13-inch Chromebook
The HP Chromebook 14 is an excellent buy for those looking for that traditional laptop experience without spending a ton of cash. With lots of basic features but also versatility, we think it’s a winner.
Pros: Excellent price, lots of ports, long battery life
Cons: 1080p costs extra, tiny local storage
For those seeking a little more screen size and power from their Chromebook than a mere 11-inch device can offer, we suggest considering the HP Chromebook 14. This has many of the same features as your average 11-inch Chromebook, but with more space and a 14-inch, 720p screen crammed into a 13-inch-sized laptop.
The HP Chromebook 14 is both drop and spill resistant to a minor extent, and comes packing an Intel Celeron CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 16GB SSD for storage. Again, this device is assuming that you’ll be using cloud storage via Google Drive to supplement your local space. The included microSD card slot can help expand that local storage as well.
On top of that, the laptop has two USB-C 3.1 and two USB 3.1 ports, offering plenty of room for expansion in all sorts of ways, including displays. Finally, just like the Lenovo 100e, this Chromebook can last for up to 10 hours on a charge.
If you’re after a more traditional laptop experience but aren’t looking to spend a fortune, then this is the best Chromebook for that job.
The best Chromebooks for schoolwork
The same Chromebook that might do for most people isn’t necessarily going to cut it for schoolwork. Some Chromebooks might be over-the-top for middle school assignments, while the most basic Chromebooks could have a hard time keeping up with the demands of high school and college coursework.
There are some features that students also can largely benefit from that not all Chromebooks have. A compact and lightweight design is one thing, since students will likely be toting their Chromebook around more than just about anyone else. That means durability is also a chief consideration, as is battery life that can make it through a long day away from power plugs.
Touchscreens are all well and good, but when it comes to taking notes on scientific formulas or mathematical equations, jotting down all the special characters or diagrams will be a lot easier and quicker with a stylus. So, active stylus support is definitely a more worthy consideration for a school-bound Chromebook than display resolution.
So, if schoolwork is on the agenda, it’s important to consider what kind of schoolwork this device will need to be ready for. And, since these Chromebooks should last at least a few years, don’t ignore classwork that may be further in the future. We’ve selected a few different Chromebooks that can meet the varying demands students may have, so you can easily find one to do the job:
1. Acer Chromebook Spin 713 — powerful and future-ready
The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 has the can-do attitude. It features a sizable 13.5-inch display with extra vertical space for working on documents, and it’s plenty sharp for easy readability. A modern Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM will handle the multitasking for research papers with ease and won’t struggle to keep up with video calls for class. Plus, the 360-degree hinge design and stylus support make it a strong note-taking companion. All that’s wrapped into a durable chassis built to last.
2. Lenovo Chromebook Duet — portability king
Where power isn’t as much of a priority as portability, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is best. It offers modest specs in a compact design that weighs less than a pound. You can detach the keyboard for maximum portability and easier note-taking in tablet mode or snap the keyboard on for convenient typing.
3. HP Chromebook X360 14 — affordable size
Portability is undeniably important, but sometimes you really need the bigger screen to see what you’re doing or to multi-task. The HP Chromebook x 360 14 offers this without making the rest of the chassis too big, and it does so at a decent price. It even still delivers a 360-degree hinge and stylus support for total flexibility.
4. Dell Chromebook 3100 — rugged and reliable
If having a durable laptop that you can toss in a backpack without concern is a top priority, Dell’s Chromebook 3100 is worth considering. Dell says it’s been tested to survive 5,000 micro-drops and 30-inch drops onto steel, and it also has a spill-resistant keyboard. Trusted Reviews put this to the test after accidentally spilling coffee on the keyboard, dropping it on a hardwood kitchen floor, and putting it in the hands of a four-year-old, finding that it held up. Dell’s Chromebook comes in either 2-in-1 or standard clamshell options, with the convertible starting at $369 and the regular notebook beginning at $249. Both starting options come with an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, and an 11.6-inch 1,366 x 768 display. It’s not a computing powerhouse by any means, but it’s a reliable machine for getting basic work done that should be more than capable of taking a tumble or two.
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Chromebooks we look forward to testing
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2: Samsung’s original Galaxy Chromebook from last year’s CES had an attention-grabbing design that’s uncommon for a Chromebook, but its high price and short battery life limited its appeal. Now, Samsung has addressed those criticisms with the Galaxy Chromebook 2, a revamped version of its Google-powered laptop that comes at a cheaper starting price of $549.99 compared to the previous model’s $999.99 price tag. With a premium design, 13.3-inch QLED touch screen, and hopefully longer battery life, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 seems like it could be a promising option for those on a budget.
Acer Chromebook Spin 14: Powered by the latest AMD’s latest mobile processors and offering 10 hours of battery life according to Acer’s claims, the new Acer Chromebook Spin 14 has potential to become one of our top picks for a budget laptop in 2021. It features a 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen and aluminum build that could make it a compelling choice as a general-purpose laptop. It’s launching in March 2021 starting at $479.99.
What to consider when buying a Chromebook
Chromebooks aren’t designed like Windows or Mac machines. Instead of using an operating system (OS) with software that resides on the computer, Chromebooks run on a cloud-based OS called Chrome OS. It’s very simple and easy to use. In place of a productivity suite like Microsoft Office, you get Google’s services like the Chrome web browser, Gmail (email), Docs (documents), Sheets (spreadsheets), Slides (presentation), and Drive (cloud storage); all these applications and others are accessed via cloud.
This means all of your files will save to the cloud in Google Drive, so you never have to worry about losing them or saving a physical copy to your Chromebook’s storage. As you can guess, much of Chrome OS’s core functions work through the Chrome web browser.
Although Chromebooks are cloud-based laptops, they can work offline. There are some Chrome OS apps and programs you can download; Google’s office suite has an offline mode; you can read or save files locally on a local solid state drive (SSD), external hard drive, USB flash drive, or SD card (if the Chromebook has a memory card reader); and even install Android apps from the Google Play store (Chromebooks released in 2017 or newer). But, most of your activity will be online through Google’s apps or the Chrome web browser. If you need specific programs, like Adobe Illustrator, Premiere or Logic Pro X, that are only available for Mac OS or Windows, then a Chromebook isn’t the best buy for you.
Some of the newest Chromebooks are quite high-end, with sharp, vibrant screens, comfortable keyboards, latest ports (USB-C and USB 3.0), and fast processors (CPUs). Couple that with the fact that just about any Chromebook available today supports the majority of Android apps through Google Play, and you have some awfully capable machines. However, not all Android apps perform well on a Chromebook, and we recommend using the web-based option instead, if there is one. For example, streaming Netflix through the web browser is preferable to using the Netflix Android app.
Here are some key hardware specifications to look out for when shopping for Chromebooks:
Displays: If you’re concerned about how the text, images and video will appear on the Chromebook screen that you’ll be looking at while using it, we recommend looking for a 720p (1,280 x 720) resolution at a minimum, with 1080p (1,920 x 1,080) being the gold standard. There are also 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) Chromebooks, but those are exorbitantly expensive whereas you can get a 1080p Chromebook for even $500. If you’re looking for a touchscreen, the majority of those come in 2-in-1 hybrid designs and generally start at around $700 for ones with decent hardware inside.Processors: A benefit to Chrome OS is that it doesn’t require much power to run swiftly and efficiently, so most Chromebooks come with fanless processors either from Intel’s Pentium and Celeron lines or ARM-based chip designs. If you need more power for some reason, makers like Google and HP do sell Chromebooks with Intel Core processors at the highest end.Memory: The memory (RAM) in your Chromebook dictates how many programs or browser tabs you can run simultaneously before the machine has to reload your content when accessed. Most Chromebooks come with just 4GB of RAM, though some higher-end models offer 8GB or as much as 16GB. We’d feel the most comfortable and free to work without limits using 8GB of RAM, but basic users will get away with 4GB easily.Storage: Chromebooks rely heavily on the cloud storage services that Google provides via Drive, so most models come with between 16GB and 64GB of onboard space, which is usually expandable via a microSD card. More premium models in recent years have begun shipping Chromebooks with more storage via faster solid-state drives (SSDs) rather than cheaper flash memory. With Google Drive accessible in the Chrome OS interface as if it were local storage, we would strongly consider a subscription with your Chromebook purchase to save some upfront cost. If you’re that concerned with local storage, grab a microSD card or a thumb drive.Ports: Most every single Chromebook is going to come with at least one standard USB port, likely the 2.0 edition in terms of data transfer speed. However, more modern and premium models have made the move to the sleeker, faster, and more versatile USB-C standard, so keep that in mind if you want the latest and greatest. Finally, don’t expect to see a lot of ports on Chromebooks, being inherently focused on simplicity and portability. Much of what Chromebooks lack in wired connectivity can be made up for with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
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