QLED screen brightly and vividly displays colors. Powered by Intel Core i3 processor. Offers 128 GB of hard drive storage. Battery lasts up to 13 hours. Improved speakers provide better audio. WiFi 6-compatible. Touchscreen can be used with a stylus pen.
Offers only USB-C ports.
Convertible design flips between tablet and laptop modes. HD touchscreen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. Two USB-C ports for expansion and power plus two USB 3.1 ports for legacy connections. Ten-hour battery life. Intel Celeron processor with built-in Intel UHD graphics. Weighs 2.6 pounds.
The 11.5-inch screen may be a little small for some uses, and the 64GB storage is not a lot for media.
Powered by Intel Core i3 processor with integrated UHD graphics. Has 8 GB of memory and 128 GB of SSD storage. Full HD 13.3-inch touchscreen can be used in tablet, stand, tent, and display modes. Comes with 2 USB-C ports plus USB-A port and microSD reader.
Lacks an HDMI port. Battery life may not be up to promised 10 hours.
Extremely lightweight to promote portability while maintaining durability thanks to the plastic build. Can easily perform everyday tasks, including streaming movies. Good battery life. Has 32GB and 64GB storage options to hold multiple Android apps.
Large bezel on screen.
The 14-inch FHD screen looks great in the right conditions. We like the performance of the MediaTek processor that runs ChromeOS without noticeable lag or difficulty. This Lenovo's solid, durable build feels like it can stand up to daily commutes and use.
The keyboard had a crackly feel. The webcam is unspectacular.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
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 through a web-browser-based operating system, Chrome OS. What’s more, they are a lot more affordable than typical PCs or Macs.
Chromebooks are designed for people who do most of their computing work online. To make things even more convenient, Google handles care-and-feeding tasks like security updates so users never have to bother with them.
Most Chromebooks are budget models — modest laptops that only cost a few hundred dollars. However, there are plenty of premium Chromebooks that are built to compete with high-end traditional laptops as well. Mid-level Chromebooks are the most popular consumer choice because they are affordable without feeling underpowered.
Since many major technology manufacturers like Dell and Samsung produce great Chromebooks, the market is pretty crowded. Thus, it can be a challenge to differentiate the so-so models from the ones worth buying. Here is everything you need to know, including information about our top picks on the Chromebook market.
Let’s talk about the basics first. What is a Chromebook? How do these machines differ from other laptops? And what would make you choose one over the other?
First, let’s talk about operating systems, or OS. Right now, most laptops run on Windows 10, and those made by Apple run on MacOS. Chromebooks run on the Chrome OS.
Chrome OS is just another OS. You might have a bit of an adjustment if you are used to using a Windows laptop or Mac: the look and feel of the Chromebook will be different. Rather than programs, Chrome OS utilizes downloadable apps from the Google Play store. It runs mostly online, and most of your documents are stored online, in the cloud.
Let's take a look at the pros and cons of working with a Chromebook.
There are a few important aspects of the screen to consider when choosing the best Chromebook screen for your needs. These include size, resolution, and whether the screen is a touchscreen.
Screen Size: Chromebooks are generally designed to be small and portable for maximum convenience on the go. As such, the most common Chromebook screens 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. If you are willing to spend a little more, you will also find plenty of models with a full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. At the top of the range, you will find options that offer a crystal clear 2,560 x 1,700 resolution.
Touchscreen: If using a mouse, wireless or otherwise, is not your preferred method of computer operation, look for a Chromebook with touchscreen capability. You can expect to 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, convenience, and an overall nicer build quality.
The CPU is the central processing unit, or the processor, of a computer. In other words, it is the "brain" of a computer. In a Chromebook, the CPU affects how quickly and smoothly the machine operates. The faster the CPU runs (measured in GHz), the more processes a Chromebook 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. Intel processors generally perform slightly better than that, and they allow you to access closed-source software like Steam and all of its games.
Random access memory (RAM) is another factor that influences how quickly your computer runs. It is essentially active memory for running programs.
Most Chromebooks come with 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB of RAM. However, models with 16GB of RAM are also available.
If you find yourself frequently multitasking on your computer, we definitely recommend opting for a faster model with 4GB or 8GB of RAM. Versions with 16GB of RAM are very capable, but unless you are installing additional operating systems or playing demanding games, that amount of RAM is overkill for a Chromebook.
Historically, Chromebooks have included little internal storage as compared to other computers.
This is because your documents, photos, media, and other files are stored in the cloud rather than on the computer (although you can opt to store a limited amount of data on your drive).
Most of these machines have between 16GB and 64GB of internal storage. This should be sufficient for the majority of users, and it 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 Go offers up to 256GB 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 Asus Chromebook Flip and Acer Chromebook Spin 713, do include cooling fans, though.
Once you have picked out your Chromebook, don’t forget to pick up the gear you will need to keep it safe and get the most out of it.
Laptop backpack: Tzowla Water-Resistant Laptop Backpack
If you plan to take your Chromebook with you anywhere, you will need a bag to keep it in. We like Tzowla’s Water-Resistant Laptop Backpack because it has the features of backpacks that cost twice as much. It has extra pockets on the inside, including a hidden pocket. It has straps for attaching to rolling luggage. It even has a lock for the main compartment that requires a passcode to open. If you need to buy a budget backpack but don’t want to skimp on features, this is a backpack to strongly consider.
Screen cleaner: Screen Mom Screen Cleaner Kit
Keeping your Chromebook screen clean is essential for seeing everything clearly, especially if yours features a touchscreen. Keep a screen cleaning kit on hand, and make sure you’re wiping away dust at least every few days. We recommend the Screen Mom Screen Cleaner Kit because it has everything you need, and the cleaner spray is safe for all types of screens, even TV screens.
USB-C hub: Anker USB C HUB 6-in-1
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 6-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.
Laptop tray: Sofia + Sam Multitasking Laptop Bed Tray
If you ever work or surf the internet from your bed or recliner, you know how helpful it can be to have a sturdy surface on which to operate your laptop. This attractive and affordable bamboo bed desk from Sofai + Sam is large enough to accommodate a 15-inch Chromebook with room for a mouse or an 18-inch laptop without a mouse. We love the little storage drawer for your phone, pens, or tablet of paper, and when you’re not using the desk for work or play, it can pull double-duty as a tray for serving breakfast in bed to someone special.
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 as compared to other laptops on the market.
A basic Chromebook with a smaller screen size (usually 11 inches), a less sturdy form factor, and 2GB of RAM should cost a low price of $100 to $150. Spend a little more, about $150 to $250, and you can find Chromebooks with larger screens, better resolution, 4GB of RAM, faster CPUs, and useful features such as a webcam and touchpad.
Chromebooks in the mid-range cost roughly $250 to $500. They should have an HD display, decent CPUs, and at least 4GB of RAM. You can also find models featuring a fanless design, a backlit keyboard, and a dedicated tablet mode in this price range.
Premium Chromebooks cost anywhere between $500 and $1,500. In this price range, the choices have internals that compete with the best laptops on the market. As such, they are most appropriate for power users. If you are looking for a Chromebook optimized for multitasking, a long battery life, a crystal-clear UHD display, and exceptional build quality, these models are worth investing in.
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your Chromebook:
A. You can use your Chromebook while you are offline, but you won't be able to enjoy its full functionality. However, there are some things you can definitely do. In addition to accessing locally stored files (for instance, playing movies or editing 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.
A. Unfortunately, Chromebooks are not 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.
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). While Chromebooks are safe from traditional viruses that rely on running local software, it’s still important to keep them safe from online threats using built-in security tools like 2FA and security extensions like uBlock Origin.
A. This is a technology that arrived in 2019 and is considered the “next generation” after WiFi 5. It involves faster internet speeds on a network level. For homes and businesses with multiple devices plugging in to the internet each day, it can help improve overall speed and efficiency. Note: in order to enjoy the benefits of this technology, you must have a wireless router that supports WiFi 6.
A. One of the best ways to buy a top-shelf Chromebook for a low price is to browse Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart around the holidays for major sales. You may be surprised at the deep discounts available on Chromebooks during Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the weeks before Christmas. But if you’re buying a Chromebook, as we have mentioned, you may be pleasantly surprised by the low price of many great offerings from the likes of ASUS, Acer, Samsung, HP, Lenovo, and Google.