A Chromebook is neither Windows or Mac; it runs Google’s Chrome OS. The operating system is built around Google’s cloud apps and is optimized for Gmail and Google Drive, making it a good choice if you need a basic machine for work and you already have a Google account. They’re often small and affordable — a good choice for children or anyone who just needs a simple computer.
The Chromebook’s reputation for having poor computing power may be a turnoff for some, but there are powerful new Chromebooks by HP and Samsung that have better performance at the same low price tag. But which of these new options has the most value? How do you know which Chromebook is best for you? Before you buy, you should consider the following factors.
One major advantage of any Chromebook is the low cost. They range anywhere from $100 to $1,000, but most hover around $300. These lightweight systems easily contend with notebooks that cost twice as much.
When buying your Chromebook, you’ll notice that the more affordable options mostly utilize Celeron or N4000 processors. These low-end processors are slow and unsuited for much other than basic functionality. So if you want the best performance at the best price, look for midrange laptops with Intel processors and Intel UHD GPUs.
The HP Chromebook x360 is powered by an Intel Core i3 processor. Its ultra-crisp, full HD display doubles as a touch screen, making this Chromebook a versatile option for a variety of situations, from classrooms to boardrooms. The Chrome OS makes navigation simple, and there’s a built-in fingerprint scanner on the touchpad so you don’t always have to input your password.
The 8 GB of RAM makes it easier for you to open multiple windows without a lag in performance, and the 64 GB hard disk size is impressive for the price.
The Intel UHD card isn’t suitable for graphics-intensive games, but it works perfectly for basic photo editing and casual gaming. The x360, like all Chromebooks, comes with access to the Google Play store, meaning you’ll have access to all of your favorite apps and mobile games.
You can find it in the HP store.
The 360-degree flip and fold design and touch screen offer extreme utility and ease of use. It’s got a lot of power for a Chromebook, and at 2.1 GHz speed, you’ll be breezing through your work. It also comes with a USB port, two USB-C ports and a headphone jack.
It’s no gaming laptop, but it can handle a lot, and the backlit OLED screen ensures the colors really pop and edges feel crisp. For what you’re paying, this is the best performance you can get.
This laptop might not be compatible with software such as Photoshop. The Chrome OS is useful in its simplicity but not always versatile. The 64 GB of storage is good, but you’ll still probably need to invest in external storage.
The Galaxy Chromebook 4 is a steal at $240. But you don’t have to worry about the quality: It’s powered by an HD Intel Celeron processor with turbo boost, 6 GB of RAM and up to 64 GB of memory. Those are outstanding specs for a Chromebook under $300. It comes in silver-gray and has a 720p display. It’s extremely sturdy, compact and will fit into most bags for convenient transport. Smart Amp audio technology prevents your speakers from distorting at high volumes, allowing you to play music nearly twice as loud as other laptops.
You can find it on Amazon.
The specs of this laptop are beyond impressive for something so affordable. You’ll be able to tackle most projects with this device and even do basic video or photo editing. It’s suitable for watching movies in the backseat or taking notes during a meeting. It also comes with responsive, backlit keys that make typing feel more natural and responsive. The large keys are clicky and respond fast when pressed. It also has a lightning-fast boot-up time. Turn it on and you’ll be working in as little as six seconds.
Some people have reported having problems with the screen since it’s not that high resolution, but it gets the job done for the price. This system also tends to get hot quickly. Make sure you clean it out now and then to help the fan run smoothly.
If you want a powerful computer you can use for work and playing games, HP’s x360 is the notebook for you. It’s a good quality laptop that will last you for years and perform reliably. If you need an inexpensive computer but still want a wide range of functionality, choose the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 4, whose performance is almost as good as the x360’s.
HP enjoys an advantage over Samsung in terms of better components. Samsung doesn’t skimp on quality, but HP machines work faster and perform better.
Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Sam Bramlett writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.