It’s thin and light, and the battery lasts a whopping 12 hours. Every configuration has enough RAM, and speed-wise, it can keep up with a MacBook Air.
The HD resolution display is nice, but at this price point, we expect a higher resolution screen. It’s limited to USB-C ports, so if you have any traditional USB accessories, you’ll need to buy an adapter.
Cutting-edge technology includes efficient Intel Core M3 processor, HD graphics, built-in digital pen, and 360° rotating touchscreen.
Higher price than other options. Reports of touchscreen being be overly sensitive.
The Intel Celeron 4000 processor and 4GB memory make this a snappy little Chromebook that can be used for smooth video chatting and streaming. The 14-inch FHD touchscreen looks great and has a narrow bezel. Great battery.
The shaky WiFi connection can be frustrating.
Super slim at 16 millimeters. Long battery like up to 13 hours. You can use this versatile Chromebook as a notebook, tent, and stand. Designed for durability.
The 14-inch screen may be a little small for some users. Only 8GB built-in memory.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Since they were first introduced in 2011, Chromebooks have slowly been redefining what laptops are — instead of being computers with local software and storage that cost an arm and a leg, Chromebooks run all of their applications a web-browser based operating system, Chrome OS, and they’re a lot more affordable than typical PCs or Macs. They’re designed for users who do most of their computing work online, and Google handles care-and-feeding tasks like security updates so users never have to bother.
Most Chromebooks are budget models — modest laptops that only cost a few hundred dollars — but there are plenty of them that are built to compete with high-end traditional laptops as well. Mid-level Chromebooks are the most popular, because they’re affordable without feeling underpowered. We prefer models with 8GB of RAM, so it’s easy to have a ton of tabs open, but models with 4GB of RAM are fine for most students and entry-level users.
The Chromebook market is pretty crowded, and it can be a challenge to differentiate the so-so models from the ones worth buying. Here’s everything you need to know to pick the right Chromebook for your needs.
First things first: What is a Chromebook and how is it different? Most laptops run on Windows, and those made by Apple run on MacOS, but Chromebooks run on Chrome OS.
Chrome OS is just another operating system, but if you're used to Windows or MacOS, the look and feel will be different. Rather than programs, Chrome OS has apps, and it runs mostly online, with most of your documents stored online, in the cloud.
Let's take a look at the good and the bad things about Chromebooks.
Since Chromebooks rely on cloud storage, you can access your files from other computers and devices, as long as you have an internet connection.
Chrome OS is based on Google’s Chrome internet browser, so it’s super easy to learn and get used to.
Chromebooks are incredibly secure. Google provides frequent updates, and if a Chromebook is ever lost or stolen, you can remotely logout so your content can’t be accessed by anyone else (and getting setup on a new Chromebook is as easy as signing in to your Google account).
Due to their lightweight operating system and SSD hard drives, Chromebooks take as little as eight seconds from being switched on to being ready to use.
Although some apps can be used offline, you need to be connected to the internet to get the most from your Chromebook. It's not ideal if you like to use your laptop on the go in places with no Wi-Fi.
You can't use your existing software – such as Photoshop or Microsoft Office – on a Chromebook, although you will find alternatives.
You'll probably end up paying for cloud storage. Google gives all Chromebook owners a free 100GB of Google Drive storage, but only for two years. After that you're downgraded to the usual 15GB free storage, unless you're willing to pay for an upgrade.
You can't use the full Microsoft Office suite on a Chromebook, but you can access an online version of Office. However, Google has its own Office-like suite, which many users find just as good – and it's free.
You’ll find a few important features to weigh when choosing the best Chromebook screen for your needs.
Screen Size: Chromebooks are generally designed to be small and portable for maximum convenience. As such, the most common Chromebook screen sizes fall between 10 and 15.6 inches. You likely won't find any 17-inch behemoths just yet.
Resolution: Lower-end Chromebooks tend to have 1366 x 768 pixel displays, but if you're willing to spend a little more, you'll find plenty of models with a full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. At the top of the range, you’ll find options that offer crystal clear 2,560 x 1,700 resolution.
Touchscreen: If using a mouse gets you down, look for a Chromebook with touchscreen capability. You'll pay more than you would for an equivalent model without a touchscreen, but many people are more than happy to pay that premium for speed and convenience.
The CPU, in other words, the central processing unit or processor, is the "brain" of a computer, and helps determine how quickly and smoothly your Chromebook operates. The faster the CPU runs (measured in GHz), the more processes it can run at any given time.
Chromebooks have Intel processors or Advanced RISC Machine (ARM) processors. ARM processors are energy efficient, powerful, and more optimized for Android apps, but Intel processors generally perform slightly better and allow you to access closed-source software like Steam and all of its games. Plus, Chromebooks with Intel CPUs allow you to more seamlessly install a Linux distribution operating system for more functionality.
Random access memory (RAM) is another factor that influences how quickly your computer runs. It’s essentially active memory for running programs.
Most Chromebooks come with 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB of RAM, however there are high-end models with 16GB of RAM.
If you're going to multitask frequently, we definitely recommend opting for a faster 4GB or 8GB model. 16GB versions are very capable, but unless you’re installing additional operating systems or playing demanding games, that amount of RAM is overkill for a Chromebook.
Historically, Chromebooks have included little internal storage compared to other computers.
This is because your documents, photos, media, and other files are stored in the cloud rather than on your computer (although you can opt to store a limited amount of data on your hard drive).
Most have between 16GB and 64GB of internal storage, which should be sufficient for the majority of users and can be expanded by using a microSD card. That said, there are top-flight models available with laptop-rivaling levels of storage. For example, the Google Pixelbook offers up to 512GB of internal storage.
Chromebooks produce significantly less heat than laptops and desktops due to their solid-state hard drives and power-efficient processors. That’s why many, but not all, Chromebooks offer fanless designs that are quieter, less prone to breaking, and more energy efficient than their more powerful cousins. Some Chromebooks, such as the Yoga C630 and Acer Spin 13, do include cooling fans though.
A file “stored in the cloud" is actually saved in a datacenter, rather than on your computer. You can access it anytime, as long as you're connected to the internet.
If your Chromebook runs on an Intel processor, the Intel Core CPU is superior to the Intel Celeron, but it does come with a higher price tag.
Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your Chromebook:
Make sure your Google account is as secure as possible — enable two-factor authentication (2FA) by logging in to your account from any browser and setting it up in your security settings. Two-factor authentication will ask you to verify using your phone that it’s you, so if your password ever becomes compromised, your data will still be safe.
Take some time to consider whether or not you want a Chromebook with a
touchscreen. Touchscreen tablets (also known as “2-in-1s”) are great if you use a lot of apps that benefit from touch controls, but you can save a lot of money by getting a model without a touchscreen.
Google provides support and updates for each model of Chromebook for a
limited amount of time — usually at least 2 years, but often longer. Before you buy a specific Chromebook, do a quick search to see how much longer Google will support it to make sure you’ll continue to get updates for at least a year or two.
Once you’ve picked out your Chromebook, don’t forget to pick up the gear you’ll need to keep it safe and get the most out of it.
Laptop backpack - Tzowla Water-Resistant Laptop Backpack
If you plan on taking your Chromebook with you anywhere, you’ll need a bag to keep it in. We like Tzowla’s Water-Resistant Laptop Backpack because it’s got the features of backpacks that cost twice as much. It’s got extra pockets on the inside, including a hidden pocket; it’s got straps for attaching to rolling luggage; and it’s even got a lock for the main compartment that requires a passcode to open. If you need to buy a budget backpack but you don’t want to skimp on features, this is the backpack to get.
Screen cleaner - Screen Mom Screen Cleaner Kit
Keeping your Chromebook’s screen clean is essential for seeing everything clearly — especially if yours features a touchscreen. Keep a screen cleaning kit around and make sure you’re wiping away dust at least every few days. We recommend the Screen Mom Screen Cleaner Kit because it’s got everything you need, and the cleaner spray is safe for all types of screens (even your TV).
USB-C hub - Anker 5-in-1 USB-C Adapter
If your chromebook has a USB-C port and not many others, getting a USB-C hub that adds additional ports is a must. One of our favorite hubs is the Anker 5-in-1 USB-C Adapter because it allows you to add a gigabit ethernet port, an HDMI port, and three additional USB 3.0 devices. Anker’s hub has the right features, but more importantly, the brand also has the right reputation — there are hundreds of similar models available, but many are flimsy and made by no-name manufacturers. Anker has made a name for itself as a designer of reliable tech.
You'll need to install drivers or add-ons in order to use some apps offline, and you will normally need to do so when you're connected to the internet, so plan ahead.
One of the great things about Chromebooks is their reasonable price. While you can find pricier models out there, an average user can find a great Chromebook at a bargain price, compared to other laptops.
A very basic Chromebook with a smaller screen size, usually 11 inches, and 2GB of RAM should cost just $100 to $150.
Spend a little more, about $150 to $250, and you can find Chromebooks with larger screens, better resolution, 4GB of RAM, and faster CPUs.
While you can find some very basic models for slightly less, most touchscreen Chromebooks start around $250 and can cost over $500 for high-end models with lots of extra features.
Mid-range Chromebooks cost roughly $250 to $500. They should have good HD screens, decent CPUs, and at least 4GB or RAM. You can also find fanless and touchscreen models in this price range, if desired.
High-end Chromebooks cost anywhere between $500 and $1,500. Chromebooks in this price range have internals that compete with traditional Windows and Mac laptops—and they’re most appropriate for power users. If you’re looking for a Chromebook with a ton of RAM and a high-resolution screen, this is the price range to stick to.
Q. Can I use my Chromebook when I'm offline?
A. You can use your Chromebook while you're offline, but you won't be able to enjoy its full functionality. In addition to accessing locally stored files (for instance, play movies or edit photos you have stored on your hard drive), you can use Google Drive in offline mode to create documents or spreadsheets, read saved articles in Pocket, and play various games.
Q. Are Chromebooks suitable for gaming?
A. Unfortunately, Chromebooks aren't a good choice for gaming. While you can download game apps, these are generally basic games of the sort you could play on a smartphone, rather than sophisticated video games. Because you can't run and install programs on a Chromebook, you can't install your favorite video games.
Q. Can Chromebooks get viruses?
A. The unique selling point of Chromebooks is that they almost exclusively run online and you can't download or run any executable programs (only apps), which means they can't get viruses. You can, however, download a bad Chrome extension, but once you remove the extension, everything will go back to normal. Every once in a while, you may find a third-party Chrome OS extension that causes problems, but removing the extension will resolve any issues.
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