The 8 Best Chromebooks

Updated December 09, 2017 by Chase Brush

8 Best Chromebooks
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 39 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. When you need an economical device for Web browsing, video watching, word processing and more, you're in Chromebook territory. With 360 degree screen rotation and lightweight, ergonomic designs, these ever-evolving models offer greater performance and versatility than a tablet and a bit less than a full-scale laptop, though it's a pretty close call in some cases. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best chromebook on Amazon.

8. Dell 11

Nothing about the Dell 11 is going to knock you off your feet, but if you need a basic budget machine that can help manage daily tasks and requires virtually no maintenance, it's worth considering. Like all Chromebooks, it comes stocked with all your favorite Google apps.
  • very durably designed
  • no touchscreen option
  • appearance is pretty boring
Brand Dell
Model D44PV
Weight 4.7 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Asus Flip C213SA-YS02

With a rugged exterior and all-day battery life, the Asus Flip C213SA-YS02 makes a great option for active students who need a little extra protection for their devices. A water-resistant keyboard and an anti-scratch screen help it withstand all manner of drops and spills.
  • sturdy zinc alloy hinge
  • two usb-c ports
  • keyboard is not backlit
Brand Asus
Model C213SA-YS02
Weight 4.5 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Lenovo IdeaPad N42-20

Anyone who's ever used a ThinkBook or IdeaPad knows the company behind them takes quality standards seriously. The Lenovo IdeaPad N42-20 is no different, featuring design specs that make it feel almost like a full-blown laptop, minus the comparatively weak 14-inch display.
  • great responsive keyboard
  • plenty of ports
  • only 16 gb of storage
Brand Lenovo
Model 4541540
Weight 4.5 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Acer R11

What the Acer R11 lacks in stylish good looks and performance it makes up for in its impressive versatility. Throw it in a backpack and use it to type notes in class or a meeting, or flip the touchscreen display all the way around and play games on it while at home.
  • compact and highly portable design
  • has an hdmi port
  • plastic construction feels cheap
Brand Acer
Model CB5-132T-C1LK
Weight 4.3 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

4. Samsung Plus

The Samsung Plus is the kind of Chromebook that goes nearly toe-to-toe with your standard laptop. It has a sleek metal body, a relatively fast ARM processor, and a high-resolution touchscreen. True, its price tag is a little higher than some competitors, but not by much.
  • great for sketching and note taking
  • thin and lightweight construction
  • screen has odd aspect ratio
Brand Samsung
Model XE513C24-K01US
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

3. Google PixelBook

It'll cost you a mint, but if you want to experience Chrome OS the way its developers intended, you really have no choice but to pick up the Google PixelBook. It's hands-down the highest-performing model out there, featuring a 7th generation i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM.
  • includes pixelbook pen
  • google assistant built-in
  • premium build quality
Brand Google
Model GA00122-US
Weight 5.1 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Acer 14

If you're looking for a low-cost alternative to Windows or Mac, you can't go wrong with the Acer 14. It offers most of the features you'd want out of a bare-bones laptop, including an ample HD display and a full-size keyboard, at a price that won't break the bank.
  • best for watching videos
  • long 12 hour battery life
  • stylish brushed aluminum body
Brand Acer
Model NX.GC2AA.007
Weight 6.5 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Asus Flip C302

If the main advantages of a Chromebook over other laptops are their ease of use and portability, the Asus Flip C302 embodies the genre. This 2-in-1 device can be used in tablet or regular mode, starts up in seconds, lasts all day, and weighs just 2.65 pounds.
  • whopping 64 gb of storage
  • intel core m3 processor
  • winner of laptop mag choice award
Brand Asus
Model C302CA-DHM4
Weight 4.1 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

The Invention Of The Chromebook

The Chrome OS was designed by Google in 2009 and released to the retail market in 2011. It is based on the Linux kernal, which is a streamlined OS that many programmers prefer over Windows. Like the Linux OS it is based on, the Chrome OS is also streamlined and can perform a number of tasks quicker than Windows or Mac operating systems. Chromebooks use the Google Chrome web browser as their main user interface and support mostly web applications with a few native programs such as an integrated media player and file manager. Chromebooks are thin clients, which means the majority of the applications and user data is stored in cloud servers.

A Chrome-like OS was first under development by Jeff Nelson, who was a developer at Google, in 2006 and he even received a patent for it in 2008. It took a few years for Google's management to stand behind the idea of a new operating system, which is why it wasn't announced until 2009. The first actual Chromebooks were released in 2011 by Acer and Samsung. The original Chromebooks were all laptop versions, but in 2012 a desktop version known as a Chromebox was released. In 2013, Hewlett Packard and Lenovo entered the market, along with Google who started manufacturing and selling Chromebooks under the own brand name. They were followed in 2014 by LG who created an all-in-one model.

Critics of Chromebooks were skeptical at first, but as the prices of the devices came down and their functionality improved, they have proved to be extremely popular with consumers. To date they have sold millions of units and have even begun to eat into Microsoft's market share.

Chomebooks Versus Laptops

Many people are conflicted about whether to buy a traditional laptop or to go with a Chromebook. One of the immediate benefits anybody searching for one of these two options will notice is that Chromebooks are cheaper, often by hundreds of dollars, than the average Windows 10 laptop, but this price cut does come with some drawbacks. Chromebooks are designed to be used primarily when connected to the Internet. While they do still have some functionality when offline, like using the Gmail app, Google Drive, and Pocket, user will notice their ability to run the majority of the apps significantly hampered.

On the other hand, nearly every Chromebook gets outstanding battery life, in the 9 to 12 hour range, which is something often found only in high end Windows laptops that cost $800 and up.

If you normally use Google apps throughout your day, such as Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Calendar, you will most likely find the deep integration of the native Google apps on a Chromebook a welcome addition. If you use other services like Yahoo Mail, One Drive, or Microsoft Word, you may find adjusting to a Chromebook a problematic experience. Luckily there are new apps coming out everyday designed for Chromebook that help users overcome some of these issues, like the newly released Microsoft Office Online, which is a cloud-based version of their popular software that can be used on the Chrome OS. Chrome also offers its own photo editors, but users who prefer Adobe Photoshop will be out of luck as they cannot run it on a Chromebook.

In addition to all of the native Chrome apps, Chrome OS is beginning to support most Android apps as well, opening up a whole new level of gaming and productivity possibilities.

How To Pick The Right Chromebook

One of the first decisions you should make when looking for a Chromebook is how big, or small, you want it to be. The size of your laptop display can make or break a user experience, so choose carefully. For the most part, Chromebooks come in 3 sizes; 11.6", 13.3", and 15.6". Many adults find that an 11.6" screen is too small for work functionality, so unless the device is being purchased solely for entertainment purposes, most would do well to steer clear of the smallest size. If you want something functional, but also easily portable, 13.3" Chromebooks are a good choice. If you don't plan on taking your Chromebook on the go too often, you may appreciate a 15.6" screen, especially if you will be using it for watching movies or working on multiple programs at the same time. You should also take into account screen resolution. Generally speaking, the higher the resolution the better. When considering size and portability, don't forget to check the weight and thickness as well.

Storage isn't that big of a deal when it comes to Chromebooks as the majority of their data is stored in a cloud server. That being said, if you believe you will want to store some data locally, like pictures and movies for those times Wi-Fi is unavailable, then consider a model with a 32GB hard drive.

As with any laptop or computer, choosing a model with a SSD is preferably over one with an HDD. HDDs are slower, louder, and use more battery power than SSDs. Because the hard drives in all Chromebooks are relatively small, one with an SSD won't cost much more than a model with an HDD. Along with the type of hard drive, you should consider the processor. The newer the processor the better as it will help future-proof your device. Ideally you should buy a model with a 5th or 6th generation Intel processor.



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Last updated on December 09, 2017 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.


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