In May of 2011 the Chromebook line was first announced, immediately finding itself a target of mixed reception. Many felt a computer that was “limited to the web” would ultimately struggle to find a following, and yet despite this the Chromebook market has exploded in recent years.

While the Chromebook market might still be a very niche one, there a growing number of people that are looking for an affordable, virus-free computing experience that serves as their gateway to the web. The fact that Chrome OS only has a number of true offline apps simply doesn’t matter to this type of web-centric user.

chromebook-pixel-6Check out: Wondering which Chromebook to buy? Google can help you pick4

In the early days, there were only a limited number of Chromebooks to choose from, but in 2016 there are dozens of models to pick from. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up just five models that we feel represent the very best of the Chromebook universe. Keep in mind a few new models were recently announced but haven’t been released, so this list could be changing in the next month or so.

See also:

Acer Chromebook 15

bts-2015-acer-chromebook-15

Alongside Samsung, Acer was one of the first manufacturers to jump into the Chromebook fray. Since then, they’ve released numerous models with different screen sizes, processing packages, and more. Our favorite from the company is currently the Acer Chromebook 15.

The Chromebook 15 is far from the most powerful Chromebook around, but it packs plenty of juice for the price. Starting at $230 and tapping out around $300, this Acer laptop offers an Intel Celeron processor, a large 15.6-inch screen with a resolution of 1366 x 768, RAM up to 4GB, and storage up to 32GB. The base package includes 2GB RAM and 16 storage.

Specs

  • 15.6-inch Active Matrix TFT Color LCD display with 1366 x 768 resolution
  • Intel Celeron Dual-Core 3205U 1.5 GHz Processor
  • 2 to 4GB of RAM
  • 16 to 32GB of on-board storage, with SD card slot for expansion
  • Extras: Webcam, 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, HDMI
  • 3220 mAh battery, rated for about 9 hours use
  • 15.08 x 9.65 x 0.95/0.97 inches, 4.85 pounds

Read more

Buy the Acer Chromebook 15 on Amazon

Dell Chromebook 13

dell-chromebook-13

One thing you’ll find in common for most Chromebooks is that they tend to make plenty of concessions in order to keep pricing down: Celeron or ARM processor, plastic bodies, and other little things that make it clear that you’re using a ‘budget friendly’ device. For those that want something a bit more upscale without going to Chromebook Pixel extremes, the Dell Chromebook 13 could certainly be worth a look.

Ranging from $430 to $650, the DELL Chromebook 15 is certainly pricier than the many “$300 or below” Chromebooks out there, but for that extra money you get a 13.3-inch Full HD display and a more premium looking metallic chassis. The processing package ranges from an Intel Celeron up to a Intel Core i3-5005U, with 4 to 8GB RAM, and 16 to 32GB storage.

Specs

  • 13-inch Non-Touch LCD display with 1080p resolution
  • Intel Celeron 3205U or Intel i3-5005U
  • 4 to 8GB of RAM
  • 16 to 32GB of on-board storage, with SD card slot for expansion
  • Extras: Webcam, 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, HDMI
  • 67Whr 6 Cell Battery
  • 18 x 3 x 11 inches, 5.2 pounds

Read more

Buy DELL Chromebook 15 on Amazon

Toshiba Chromebook 2

chromebook-2-toshiba

The Toshiba Chromebook 2 is one of the better selling Chromebooks, and for good reason – you get a decent-sized display, fairly sold specs, a relatively light design, and a price tag that starts at $330.

The base model includes a Celeron processor, though for $459 you can opt for a more powerful model with an Intel Core i3 instead. Other specs include a 13.3-inch Full HD display, 4GB RAM, and 16GB storage. While there’s cheaper Chromebooks out there, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is great for those who don’t mind a no-frills design but are looking for slightly better hardware.

Specs

  • 13-inch LCD display with 1080p resolution
  • Intel Celeron 3215U or Intel i3-5015U
  • 4 RAM
  • 16GB of on-board storage, with SD card slot for expansion
  • Extras: Webcam, 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, HDMI
  • 67Whr 6 Cell Battery
  • 8.4 x 12.6 x 0.76 inches, 2.9 pounds

Read more

Buy Toshiba Chromebook 2 on Amazon

Lenovo 100S Chromebook

chromebook-lenovo-100s

While Chromebooks have always been pretty affordable when compared to their “regular PC” brethren, the Lenovo 100S Chromebook takes this a step forward by hitting sub-$200 pricing.

For just $175, the 100S Chromebook gives you an Intel Celeron N2840 processor with 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, an 11.6-inch display with a resolution of 1366 x 768, and a battery rated for about 11 hours of life. While these specs won’t wow anyone, there are good enough to provide a fairly decent Chrome experience, though folks who are big into multiple-tab browsing might find it to be a bit underpowered for this kind of use case.

Still, for such a low price, the Lenovo 100S Chromebook brings a lot to the table, and combined with a weight of just 2.2-pounds, it could prove to be the perfect traveling companion for those that want a no-frills machine for browsing and basic work.

Specs

  • 11.6-inch display with a resolution of 1366 x 768
  • Intel Celeron N2840
  • 2 RAM
  • 16GB of on-board storage, with SD card slot for expansion
  • Extras: Webcam, 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, HDMI
  • Battery life of up to 11 hours
  • 11.81″ x 8.23″ x 0.78″, 2.6-pounds

Read more

Buy Lenovo 100S Chromebook on Amazon

ASUS Chromebook Flip

Asus Chromebook Flip

Lastly we have the Asus Chromebook Flip, a unique device aimed at those looking for something that’s one part laptop, one part tablet. The Flip isn’t exactly the most impressive device on this list, and the only one without an Intel processor, actually. But power isn’t the point here.

With a unique hinged design and a much smaller screen size of 10.1-inches, the Chromebook Flip is the perfect device for those looking for a multimedia machine that also can double as a Chromebook for basic productivity and for those situations where having a keyboard makes sense over a touchscreen.

The Flip isn’t perfect, with a weaker Rockchip processor onboard and an OS that isn’t necessarily built with touch in mind, but for less than $250 – it’s a unique twist to the Chromebook formula. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but it might be perfect for you.

Specs

  • 10.1-inch LCD screen with 1280 x 800 resolutio
  • Rockchip 1.8 GHz Processor
  • 2 to 4GB RAM
  • 16GB on-board storage with SD card slot for expansion
  • Extras: Webcam, 2 USB 3.0
  • 31 Wh battery rated for about 9 hours use
  • 7.2 x 10.4 x 0.6 inches, 1.96 lb

Read more

Buy Asus Chromebook Flip on Amazon

Elephant in the room: Chromebook Pixel

pixel-2015-1

Okay, we couldn’t end this post without addressing the elephant in the room. Technically speaking, the Chromebook Pixel  (2nd gen) is the very best Chromebook out there, but it’s probably overkill for most users and so unless you’re a power user — you’re probably better off going for one of the other five devices we showcased above. That said, even if you are a poweruser, arguably you’d be better off spending a few hundred more for a Windows (or Mac?) machine that could handle gaming, traditional apps, and the like.

With all that aside, the Chromebook Pixel is a beautiful device, and it also happens to be a powerhouse. The base model, which sets you back $1000, is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor with 8GB RAM and 32GB storage, though there’s options to upgrade to an i7, up to 16GB RAM, and 64GB storage. The device also has a high-resolution 12.86-inch touchscreen display, 12 hour battery life, 2 USB-C connectors, 2 USB 3.0 connectors, and a premium metallic design that no other Chromebook can match — though Dell comes the closest.

At the end of the day, the Chromebook Pixel is a niche offering in an already niche product category, but that doesn’t mean it in’t cool or sexy as hell. If you have your heart set on Chrome OS but want to be able to open up countless dozens of tabs and multi-task like a boss, the Pixel could be right up your alley.

Specs

  • 12.8-inch LCD touchscreen with 2560 x 1700 resolution and 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Intel Core i5 or i7 processor
  • 8 to 16GB RAM
  • 32 or 64GB storage
  • Extras: 720P HD Wide Angle camera with Blue Glass, 2 USB 3.0, 2 USB C, HDMI, Bluetooth 4.0, 4K video output
  • Battery rated for up to 12 hours use
  • 11.7 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches, 3.3 lbs

Read more

Buy Chromebook on Google Store

Upcoming: Acer Chromebook 14

acer-chromebook-14

 

Throughout this best list you’ll notice that most of the options are very affordable, but also relatively plain when it comes to design. The biggest exception in both regards is the Chromebook Pixel, but at its price tag — it’s not worth it for a lot of people. That’s why we are pretty excited about the upcoming Acer Chromebook 14.

Despite looking very familiar in terms of design (Mac-esque, right?), this metal-clad Chromebook is easily one of the nicest looking Chromebooks on the market. There are two variants of the Chromebook 14 heading our way with the entry model offering a  14-inch display with a 1366 x 768 resolution, 2 or 4GB RAM, 16 or 32GB storage, and reportedly gets 14 hours of battery life. As for the higher-end version, you’ll find a 1080p 14-inch screen, 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, and gets around 12 hours battery life. Both are powered by dual-core Intel Celeron N3060 Brawell chips, have dual USB 3.1 ports, Bluetooth, 801.11ac Wi-Fi, stereo speakers, a 720p webcam, and an HDMI port.

The more premium of the two versions is already up for pre-order at a very affordable price of just $299.99.

Specs

  • 14-inch LCD display with 720p or 1080p resolution
  • dual-core Intel Celeron N3060
  • 2 or 4GB RAM
  • 16 or 32GB storage
  • Extras: 720P webcam, 2 USB 3.1 ports, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 801.11ac, HDMIport
  • Battery rated for up to 12 – 14 hours use

Read more

Get it on Amazon

That’s that! While there are many more models out there, these are the Chromebooks we felt deserved a little extra highlight. Agree with our picks? Have another you feel deserves a place among the best? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

  • ASYOUTHIA

    The best Chrome book IMO would be the Pixel C

    • D C

      Too bad it doesn’t run ChromeOS so therefore isn’t a Chromebook. It could have been a good one if they had kept it a Chromebook like they had originally planned.

      • ASYOUTHIA

        Bahahaa I thought it did, probably because its not a laptop? Shows you how interested in ChromeOS I am

  • D C

    Only reason to ever get the Chrome Pixel is so that you can install a Linux distro on it and get a top of the line Linuxbook else you’re just wasting money.

  • The Acer Chromebook 15 is also available with a 1080p IPS display which looks much better than the 768p TN one.

    • Hi, well yeah, and I definitily would go for acer chromebook :)

  • Lévesque Jean-François

    I prefer my 2 pounds Asus c201 Chromebook 😉

  • Dave Ghidiu

    I’ve had six Chromebooks, and the best one BY FAR is the Dell 13. Super snappy and it’s my production machine. It also has a sweet backlit keyboard.

    • Elphonse Elric

      Picked one up a couple of weeks ago when Dell was selling refurbed models at their outlet for 225. I love this thing, keyboard travel, backlit keys, very snappy loading multiple tabs, glass touchpad, great screen, it’s everything my old school Samsung Chromebook wasn’t. Which isn’t to say the Samsung is terrible, since it isn’t, the Dell just feels polished.

    • Karly Johnston

      Six Chromebooks in less than 4 years, just buy a laptop.

      • Dave Ghidiu

        I’ve had six Chromebooks because I like buying the latest model, not because they don’t last. In fact, the first one I had still works great (I’ve sold the rest of them on eBay for a few bucks less than I bought them for). I grew up on PCs, but between updates, security issues, bloatware, etc., I’ve pivoted to Chromebooks (and a MacBook Air for heavy lifts). Couldn’t be happier.

    • WildBorego

      Buy a desktop then, geez!!

  • Charlotte

    Vello

  • Howie Eastin

    If someone you could let me know, but what is so great about a chromebook that would stop someone from buying an actual computer? I still don’t get it. Because when I price them against actual computers, there are some that are priced just as expensive as a computer. So why buy one?

    • balcobomber25

      For anyone who only does the basics: web browsing, videos, music and word processing, Chromebooks are excellent devices. They boot up incredibly fast, update themselves and are very user friendly. I have both a Chromebook and a Macbook Pro that runs Ubuntu. Most days I reach for the Chromebook first.

    • onstrike112

      I’m a power user and a gamer, but when I’m only using a Web browser or what can be accomplished from within one, I have no need to boot up a Windows based system. Most days I grab my Chromebook, and only when I want to game or something intensive do I boot up my desktop. That isn’t as often as you might think. Just try using Chrome on your pc and nothing else for all day tomorrow and tell me how limited you feel. I typically don’t feel limited at all.

    • Rick Anderson

      Instant on
      Lightweight
      No viruses
      Fast
      Auto-update
      Multi-user sessions
      Google apps
      Get yourself a Toshiba 2 and you’ll never go back to a Windows device. If there is that one Windows program you have to use, you can always run a remote session back to your old windows machine.

  • nebulaoperator

    @Andrew Grush, Chrome Pixel does not have “SD card sot for expansion “

    • Andrew Grush

      Yah, I used a copy/paste template format for the specs and then edited them correctly from there…. that was totally a mi

  • Mario E Hdez

    Cant speak for everyone surely, but my money is on a decent windows laptop dual booting with cloudready. Best of both worlds. Fast and light chromebook day to day, legacy apps when needed.

    • onstrike112

      They tried that. It was called Splashtop, and now they don’t even make an OS anymore, despite the Splashtop OS being pretty darn good.

      • Mario E Hdez

        That’s a bummer. Hopefully with all the ground covered in schools by cloud ready they have a higher chance of sticking around.

        • onstrike112

          Hopefully. I like my Chromebook.

  • Ercadm

    I’ve always been a big fan of the Chromebooks. My first was the Samsung original which is still going strong. That’s the best part about Chromebooks–the o/s is always improving so it gets faster. My next was the Acer 720p as I loved the idea of a touchscreen and the speed was noticeably faster than the Samsung. About 2 years later with the announcement of the Pixel 2015 I splurged big time.. all the way to the i7 unit and I can honestly say it is worth every penny. I also own a MacBook Pro (mid 2009) which is still working but as my main laptop I knew it was time for something new and couldn’t justify that money going to another MacBook. I am not regretting my decision whatsoever!

  • GreaterLesser

    For the price of the chromebook pixels, I would expect at least a fingerprint sensor.

    • onstrike112

      Why? Biometrics are insecure. They can’t be secured.

    • macguy59

      Uh the Dell is only 1/3 the cost of the Pixel

  • retiredinOhio

    I bought my Toshiba Chromebook 2 a few months ago when both my Mac Powerbooks were in the shop. I couldn’t justify buying another Apple. The newer one was returned as a dead brick (supposedly water inside), the much older, repaired, is my everyday computer for word processing. Writing scholarly books is what I do with computers. The chromebook now is for backup, watching Netflix, and so forth. I would use it more but find Microsoft Word awkward on it, while Google Docs won’t do endnotes.

    • episode tuesday

      We have a Toshiba as well. It was meant to be a computer for word processing but has become a great Netflix viewer. Great screen and greatish speakers for the price.

  • Sales AndAds

    Bought a Lenovo 100S a month ago, on sale at $145.

    Blown away with what I can do with it. Between Google Docs and apps, I am building a website, including original graphics, FTP via Codeeanywhere and have yet to go back to my Win 10 laptop. Love the light weight and battery life. It gives an honest 8 hours, and have got 10 out of it if I don’t view many videos.

    I’m sure sincere power users need more, but most never will.

  • Rick Anderson

    Bought a Toshiba 2 a few months back for a business trip as a light weight device. Before leaving I setup and tested chrome remote as a way to remotely use my windows machine if needed. Never did. I was able to do everything I needed in the cloud or run locally. Ran great at the airport, on the plane, at the hotel, at the remote office, and at the restaurant. If I found myself without wifi, I would then tether to my Android phone (thanks T-Mobile). The Toshiba’s 1080p screen is gorgeous. Crystal clear. The 4gb of RAM make it a smooth performer. I always had a dozen chrome tabs open with no hitch between tabs. The battery would last 6-9 hours depending mostly on screen brightness. And the backlit keyboard is just a great touch and actually very helpful in dim light conditions. Once home, my wife and kids got a hold of the Chromebook. The instant on and ready to use is hard to beat. Everyone fights to grab and use it. Light as a tablet, but with keyboard, and super easy to use. Priced at $330, it’s a dream machine quite honestly. I see buying a couple more if these in my future. Instant on, no viruses, beautiful screen, long battery life, does everything the wife and kids need.