Hunting the best Chromebooks isn’t exactly easy. They’ve mostly got remarkably similar names (a rare Pixelbook here and there shakes things up), and few have truly stand-out features. And that’s kind of the point at times: Chromebooks offer a minimalist alternative that has struck a chord. This is why we test them, to tell the difference between the excellent and rubbish Chromebooks, which often have similar prices.
Chromebooks are a favorite for students and ideal for anyone who is always online. Many provide amazing battery life, and most run Android apps thanks to Chrome OS support for the Google Play Store. Oh, and if you’re unfamiliar with Chrome OS, it takes no time to get used to, being an extremely lightweight alternative to Windows 10 and macOS.
Don’t think Chromebooks are just for kids, though: the new Intel Evo brand for high performing laptops won’t just bring reliable performance to Windows 10, as it’s also going to be used to improve Chromebooks with the Project Athena brand as well. AMD’s also announced new Ryzen-based Chromebook processors, which (given its track record) should be hyper-competitive with new Intel chips.
A favorite for students and teachers, Chromebooks are much more simple to use than their PC and Mac counterparts. That’s mostly because they revolve around the Chrome browser. Everything you do on a Chromebook, unless you’re emulating Android apps or one of the experts running Linux on a Chromebook, will happen in a Chrome window.
Additionally, Chromebooks do all the heavy lifting for you when it comes to system updates. ChromeOS downloads and installs updates in the background, and never interrupts you to install them (sorry, Windows 10), or bugs you to download a new version (sorry, macOS). And the updates happen quietly, when you restart your Chromebook.
All that being said, the best Chromebooks are great laptops. Many are convertibles, with touch screens that are ideal for Android apps (which are not as good when used with a mouse and keyboard alone). And while Chromebooks are mostly seen as devices for students, the category now includes multiple elegant models that are viable replacements for business laptops.
What are the best Chromebooks?
The Asus Chromebook Flip C434 is the best Chromebook overall for multiple reasons. For starters, it fits three major Chromebook standards: long battery life (nearly 10 hours), a rotating, convertible screen, and affordability when compared to PCs. Yes, it’s a little more expensive than other Chromebooks on this list, but how often do you find aluminum 2-in-1 PCs with long battery life and a great screen, at under $600? Other highlights include a colorful 14-inch full HD display and a premium metallic chassis.
Those on a budget should check out the Samsung Chromebook 4. It offers a premium metal lid, snappy performance from its Celeron processor and long battery life for under $250. And at 2.6 pounds, the Chromebook 4 is quite portable.the Dell Inspiron 11 Chromebook is the best option for kids and younger students. It offers decent performance, over 9 hours of battery life and a 2-in-1 design, plus an HDMI port for plugging the Chromebook into a TV.
We’re also keeping an eye on the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, a $999 system that promises better specs than the new MacBook Air along with a 4K OLED display.
The best Chromebooks you can buy today
The Asus Chromebook Flip 434 is one of the best Chromebooks because it looks nothing like a Chromebook. This sleek 2-in-1 aluminum laptop sheds all the preconceptions about how Chromebooks are meant for kids who need bumper-cases. It’s got all the hallmarks of a great Chromebook, too, with nearly 10 hours of battery life, Android app support and a solid keyboard for typing all the Google Docs you can manage.
Its sharp 1080p display produces 93% of the sRGB gamut, which results in a very colorful picture. Your tunes and conference calls will sound great, as its bottom-firing speakers produce enough sound to fill a large room. It’s the kind of Chromebook that even a PC snob won’t turn their nose up at, with dual USB-C ports and enough performance for multitasking.
The best Chromebook for those on a budget, the Samsung Chromebook 4 really impresses with its battery life. This laptop lasted for more than 10.5 hours of web browsing on a single charge. The Chromebook 4’s aluminum top makes it look like a much more expensive computer — though it has a plastic base. This Chromebook’s performance is another highlight, enabling much faster multitasking than I expect at this price.
The Chromebook 4 is also lighter and thinner than competing 11.6-inch Chromebooks, though we wish its display supported touch input and that its screen could rotate. Its screen is acceptable for plowing through work, but don’t expect to see colors pop or a lot of detail when watching movies or bingeing on YouTube. The speakers are okay, but you may want to supply your own headphones.
Sometimes, it’s amazing how much you can get for $300 or less. The Lenovo Chromebook Duet, for example, is a 2-in-1 Chromebook that offers something Microsoft’s Surfaces and Apple’s iPads won’t: it’s keyboard is included by default. Not only do you get that value, but the Chromebook Duet’s tablet display is excellent in its own right, with a surprising amount of color output and a crisp 1920 x 1200-pixel resolution.
Smaller hands may find the Chromebook Duet’s keyboard a little on the tight side, but at this price, any keyboard is a surprise and a steal. Making things even better, the Chromebook Duet features ChromeOS tablet optimizations that are long overdue to take advantage of all of its screen space. On top of all of that? It lasted for 12 hours and 47 minutes, nearly 13 hours.
Read our full Lenovo Chromebook Duet review.
A top-seller, with fantastic battery life, the Acer Chromebook R 11 is one of the best Chromebooks for the money. It gives you the standards — convertible hinge, touch screen and Android app emulation — and then adds a surprisingly colorful screen, with a 73.2% sRGB spectrum rating that beats many budget laptops. Make sure you’re buying the 4GB of RAM model, as it packs surprisingly good performance for this price.
Acer also sells a non-rotatable version of the R11, for $199, which might be right for those who don’t use Android apps, and can get away with just the Chrome browser. The R 11’s comfortable keyboard is another selling point for jamming on documents and emails. Just don’t expect it to look that sharp when you’re making any video conference calls, as this laptop’s webcam is not great.
After Google hit a home run with the super premium Pixelbook, the company returned with one of the best Chromebooks ever, the Pixelbook Go. More affordably priced (but still on the high-end of this list) this Chromebook is a case-study in why it can be worth it to spend more and invest in your next laptop.
Not only is this Chromebook elegant, with a slim chassis and grippy ribbed underside, but it’s got a great screen that’s brighter (368 nits) and more colorful (108% sRGB rating) than most screens. Plus, the Pixelbook Go has a great, clicky keyboard that enables comfortable typing. On top of that, it lasted nearly 11.5 hours on a single charge. The only real knocks against the Pixelbook Go are its lack of a USB-A port and how it’s not a convertible. That being said, those who can afford the Pixelbook Go will love it.
Read our full Google Pixelbook Go review.
It might not have the battery life you expect from a Chromebook, but that can be excused when you take a look at how the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook breaks so many of the other typical rules of what a Chromebook should be. Its Fiesta Red chassis goes beyond eye-catching and hits drool inducing before you can say “wow that’s a Chromebook?” It even comes with Samsung’s S-Pen stylus, which is best used in tablet mode.
Its Core i5 CPU is so fast I watched four 1080p YouTube videos on it, without any stutter, just to see if I could. Oh, and it’s crazy thin and light, competing on size and weight with the MacBook Air and the Dell XPS 13. Its best feature, though, is its gorgeous 4K AMOLED display that makes colors pop and offers bright hues. It’s so great that it reminds us that Netflix needs to add Chrome support for 4K video.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Chromebook review.
If performance is your priority — and you want to have all the tabs open, and save a ton of files locally — then the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 is the best Chromebook for your power-user needs. Its Intel Core i5-8250 processor provides great speed, and its 8GB of RAM will enable you to keep all the tabs you need open, without having to worry about your system getting bogged down.
Also, this laptop sports an aluminum chassis that’s really refined, and its big 15.6-inch screen will be great for binge-watching YouTube, Netflix and everything else you could need. The Yoga Chromebook C630 also provides a great port assortment, with 2 USB-C ports and 1 legacy USB-A port. That means you’re less reliant on port-expanding hubs that are a nuisance to remember to carry around. If only it didn’t cost so much.
How to choose the best Chromebook for you
Finding the best Chromebook these days begins with a simple question: do you need a touchscreen? An increasing number of Chromebooks offer 2-in-1 designs with a touchscreen, allowing you to use Android apps from the Google Play store. However, those systems tend to be on the pricier side. If you want just a basic laptop on the cheap, a Chromebook without a touchscreen is the way to go.
As for screen size, an 11-inch display is good for younger kids, but a 13-inch display is better for older students and business users on the move. If you want a Chromebook as a primary home laptop, we would opt for a 14-inch or 15-inch display..
Then, think about performance. Are you buying this for a kid who’s got modest needs? A Pentium or Celeron processor should be enough. A Core M or Core i5 CPU is better for those who want more performance. Most budget Chromebooks start with 4GB of RAM, but we would get 8GB or more if you plan to work with a lot of tabs open. Because Chromebooks rely on the cloud, local storage isn’t that important, which is why 32GB tends to be standard. You’ll find 64GG to 128GB on more premium models.