In May of 2011 the Chromebook line was first announced, launching to a mixed reception. Many felt a computer “limited to the web” would ultimately struggle to find a following. Despite this the Chromebook market has exploded in recent years, especially in the education sector.

While Chromebooks are still considered a niche part of the PC industry, a growing number of people are looking for an affordable, virus-free computing experience. That Chrome OS only has a number of true offline apps simply doesn’t matter to this type of web-centric user. In the past couple of years, the usefulness of Chromebooks has also expanded. Many now can run Android apps from the Google Play Store.

In the early days, there were only a limited number of Chromebooks to choose from, now there are dozens of models, including some that can flip or even detach their display. There’s even a recent Chromebook that’s in a tablet form factor. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a few models we feel are the very best Chromebooks on offer right now.


Best overall: Acer Chromebook Spin 13

The Acer Chromebook Spin 13 is the current best option for someone who wants a  leader for the person who wants a Chromebook that doesn’t cut any corners. It has a 13.5-inch, 2,256 x 1,504 IPS touchscreen display with a 3:2 aspect ratio. The notebook’s screen has a 360-degree hinge, which means you can flip it over and use it, just like a large tablet. Indeed, the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 comes with its own stylus, which docks in the base of the Chromebook. It also uses EMR active pen technology from well-known stylus company Wacom, so it will work on the Chromebook’s touchscreen like a true digital pen.

You can buy the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 with an Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 64GB of built-in storage for $ 749.99.  You can also get the same notebook with an Intel Core i5 CPU, 16GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage for $949.99. Both versions come with a Corning Gorilla Glass trackpad, two USB-C ports, a single USB 3.0 port, and a microSD card slot. The computers feature an aluminum chassis that keeps the machines lightweight, at 3.5 pounds, and sturdy as well. Our battery tests indicated that users might be able to get up to 10 hours on a single charge with moderate use.

 

Pros

  • High-end hardware features
  • Display flips 360 degrees
  • Comes with its own built-in stylus

Cons

  • Very expensive compared to most Chromebooks

Specs

  • 13.5-inch LCD display with 2,256 x 1,504 resolution
  • 8/16 GB RAM
  • 64/128 GB internal storage
  • Eighth Generation Intel Core i3/i5 processor
  • Connectivity: 2 x USB Type-C ports, 1 x USB port, Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2
  • 45Wh battery, rated for about 10-hour use
  • Dimensions: 12.2″ x 9.7″ x 0.7″, 3.5 lbs

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Honorable mentions
  • Google Pixelbook – Google’s first-party Chromebook is starting to show some age, but it’s still a powerful Chrome OS device that can do nearly everything you want from a high-end notebook
  • HP Chromebook 13 – This Chromebook has a higher display resolution (3200×1800), but you will have to pay $517 to get your hands on it.

Best performance: Samsung Chromebook Plus V2

Best Chromebooks - Samsung Chromebook Plus V2

Over a year after Samsung launched its first Chromebook Plus laptop, the company is back with the second generation version of the Chrome OS device. The biggest change between the first Chromebook Plus and the V2 model is that Samsung has chosen to use a faster Intel Celeron 3965Y processor in the new version, along with Intel integrated graphics. The first Chromebook Plus had an ARM-based chip. The 2.93-pound Chromebook Plus V2 also has 4GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage, along with a microSD card slot for adding up to 400GB of additional storage.

The new Chromebook has a 12.2-inch screen with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, which is actually smaller than the 12.3-inch 2,400 x 1,600 resolution display found on the first Chromebook Plus. The V2 model is still a convertible laptop, allowing owners to flip its screen 360 degrees so it can be used as a touchscreen tablet in addition to a laptop. It comes with its own stylus, along with a 1MP front camera and a 13MP camera that’s placed on the keyboard. When the keyboard is flipped, it can serve as its rear camera. The Samsung Chromebook Plus V2’s other features include a 39Wh battery, two USB Type-C ports, a USB 3.0 port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 is now on sale at Amazon for the price of $499.99. You can also get the same notebook with LTE wireless support for $599.99.

Pros

  • Solid performance for its price point
  • Includes its own stylus

Cons

  • Display on the V2 model is actually smaller than on the V1 version

Specs

  • 12.2-inch LED display with 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, 360 degree rotation
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 32 GB internal storage, expandable via microSD card
  • Intel Celeron 3965Y processor
  • Connectivity: 2 x USB Type-C ports, USB 3.0 port, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 39Wh battery, rated for about 10-hour use
  • Dimensions: 11.3″ x 8.2″ x 0.6″, 2.93 lbs
Honorable mentions
  • Acer Chromebook 15 – This Chromebook has a big 15.6-inch screen for more space to work, and its display can lie down 180 degrees flat on its back
  • Asus Chromebook C302CA – This Chromebook has a big 64GB hard drive, along with 4GB of RAM and it has a 360 degree display hinge as well.

Best battery life: Acer Chromebook R13

Acer Chromebook R13

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. One of their newer offerings is the Chromebook R13, which features a display that can be rotated a full 360-degrees and is a touch screen, and comes with a premium construction that looks great.

Other specifications include a MediaTek MT8173C quad-core ARM processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of built-in storage, and the rotating touch screen is a 13.3-inch display with a Full HD resolution. One of the biggest selling points of this Chromebook is the impressive battery life that you are able to get, which should last you up to 12 hours. The Acer Chromebook R13 is currently priced at just $349.

Pros

  • 12-hour battery life cannot be beat
  • Solid material construction

Cons

  • MediaTek processor isn’t as good as Intel

Specs

  • 13.3-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, touch screen, 360 degree rotation
  • 2.1 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT8173C processor
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 32 GB of on-board storage, with SD card slot for expansion
  • Connectivity: 1 x USB 3.0 port, 1 x USB-C port, 802.11ac 2 x 2 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • 4,670 mAh battery, rated for about 12 hours use
  • Dimensions: 12.8″ x 9″ x 0.6″, 3.3 lbs

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Honorable mention
  • Acer Chromebook 15 – This Chromebook’s battery life is just under that of its R13 model, but can still last nearly 12 hours.

Best 2-in-1: HP Chromebook x2

HP Chromebook X2 - Best Chromebooks
The HP Chromebook X2 may be one of the highest end Chromebooks made outside of Google. Part of the reason is that this product is the first 2-in-1-style Chrome OS product with a detachable keyboard, which lets you use the display as a full stand-alone tablet. This device can also run Android apps, which makes it even more useful.
 
The 12.3-inch Chromebook is powered by an Intel Core m3 processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics 615, backed by 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage (expandable via an SD card slot). The display, meanwhile, is an IPS WLED touchscreen panel with a 2,400 x 1,600 resolution. You can use the included active AES stylus with this display for note taking  sketching and more. It also has 2 Bang & Olufsen-branded dual speakers, two USB-C ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a front-facing 5MP “Wide Vision” Camera, and a 13 MP rear camera. It’s also pretty light, weighing just 1.62 pounds on its own and 3.14 pounds with the dock attached. It’s available now via Best Buy for $599.99.
 
Pros
  • True 2-in-1 design lets you detach display from keyboard to use as a tablet
  • Includes its own stylus
  • Excellent speakers
Cons
  • A bit more expensive than most Chromebooks

Specs

  • 12.3-inch LED display with 2,400 x 1,600 resolution, display detaches from keyboard
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 32 GB internal storage, expandable via microSD card
  • Intel Celeron 3965Y processor
  • Connectivity: 2 USB Type-C ports, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 48Wh battery rated for about 10 hour use
  • Dimensions: 11.5″ x 8.3″ x 0.3″, 1.62 lbs in tablet form, 314 lbs with keyboard
Honorable Mentions 
  • Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 – Its display can flip 360 degrees but still cannot separate from its keyboard
  • Asus Chromebook Flip – Like the Samsung model, this Asus Chromebook can flip its display 360 degrees to serve as a tablet.

Best tablet model: Google Pixel Slate

Google surprised people earlier this year when it revealed its next Chrome OS device. It was not a successor to the Pixelbook, but rather a large tablet, the Pixel Slate. It’s only the second such tablet to use Chrome OS, but it’s still a high-end device. You get a 12.3-inch QHD LCD display, with a 3,000 x 2,000 resolution, with 8MP cameras on the front and the back. One USB Type-C port is located near the bottom and the power button also doubles as the tablet’s fingerprint scanner. The battery should last up to 10 hours on a single charge.
 
The Pixel Slate will have a custom version of Chrome OS, with the desktop version of the Chrome browser, rather than the mobile version. It also has a desktop-like look. Google is also offering a keyboard attachment and a stylus designed to work on the Pixel Slate, so you’ll be able to get some work done on the tablet. Unfortunately they accessories are optional and come separate, with the keyboard attachment being sold for $199 and the pen for $99.
 
The Google Pixel Slate is available for pre-order now and should start shipping any day. The cheapest version, with an Intel Celeron processor, 32GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, costs $599. There’s one with an Intel Core M3 chip, 64GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, for $799. The tablet is also sold with an Intel Core i5 chip, 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM for $999. Finally, you can get the tablet with a fast Intel Core i7 processor, 256GB of storage and 16GB of RAM for the very high price of $1599.

Pros

  • True tablet Chrome OS
  • Lighter and more portable than normal Chromebooks
  • Chrome browser is the desktop version

Cons

  • Chrome OS still not 100 percent optimized for tablet use
  • Keyboard is an optional extra

Specs

  • 12.3-inch LCD display with 3,000 x 2,000 resolution
  • 4/8/16 GB RAM
  • 32/64/128/256 GB internal storage
  • Intel Celeron, M3, i5 and i7 Core chip
  • Connectivity: 1 USB Type-C port.
  • 48Wh battery rated for about 10 hour use
  • Dimensions: 7.0mm x 290.85mm x 202.04mm, 1.6 lbs
Honorable mentions
  • Acer Chromebook Tab 10This is the only other tablet available with Chrome OS at the moment; it has a smaller 9.7-inch display.

Best for students: Dell Chromebook 5190

Dell Chromebook 5190

If you want a Chromebook laptop that can take a bit more abuse, the recently launched Dell Chromebook 5190 may be for you. While this product was made specifically for the education market, its also a solid high-end Chromebook on its own that can also run Android apps. Dell says the Chromebook 5190 is rugged enough to survive a fall from up to a height of four feet.
 
Inside the 2.82 pound Dell Chromebook 5190, at least in this configuration, is a dual-core Intel Celeron N3350 processor, although you can get it with a faster quad core Celeron if you want to spend a few more bucks. It has an 11.6-inch 1,366 x 768 resolution touchscreen display, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. It also has a two USB 3.1 ports, a USB Type-C ports, and a battery that should last up to 10 hours. 
 
You can snap up the Dell Chromebook 5190 on Amazon right now for $347.70.
 
Pros
  • Very rugged for school use
  • Solid performance for its price tag
Cons
  • Small 11.6-inch screen has low resolution

Specs

  • 11.6-inch LED display with 1,366 x 768 resolution
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 32 GB internal storage, expandable via microSD card
  • Intel Celeron N3350 processor
  • Connectivity: 1 USB Type-C port, 2 USB 5.1 portsm, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Battery rated for about 10 hour use
  • Dimensions: 12″ x 8.2″ x 0.8″, 2.8 lbs
Honorable mentions
  • HP Chromebook 11 G6 EE – This Chromebook also has lots of rugged features, and is priced right at $282.
  • Acer Chromebook 11 – While not quite as rugged as the Dell or HP modes, this Acer Chromebook has an even cheaper price for students at only $194.

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 for best Chromebooks on the market right now? Have another you feel deserves a place among the best? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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