best chromebooks

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. Indeed, all of the new models can now run Android apps from the Google Play Store, and some can even run Linux apps.

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 small but growing number of Chromebooks that are sold as tablets. Let’s take a look at the best Chromebooks you can buy, in several different categories.


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, 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 machine 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: Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630

 

If you want to get a Chromebook that has a faster processor than almost anything on the market at the moment, the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C360 should be your best bet. Lenovo is selling this high-end Chromebook with either an 8th-gen Intel Core i3-8130U processor (running at (2.20GHz) or an Intel Core i5-8250U chip inside (with a 1.60GHz clock speed).

Both models come with a 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen display with a 360-degree hinge so you can use it as a large ChromeOS tablet. Both also have 8GB of RAM. The model with the Core i3 chip has 64GB of storage, while the faster Core i5 model boosts that storage up to 128GB. The battery life is not the best, but also not the worst at up to 10 hours on a single charge. You can get the i3 model for $599.99 from Lenovo, while the i5 model is priced normally at $719.99 That means you are getting a Chromebook that is not only fast, but has a resonable price as well.

Pros

  • Solid performance for a reasonable price point
  • Lots of storage for the Core i5 model

Cons

  • Battery life could be better

Specs

  • 15.6-inch LED display with 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, 360 degree rotation
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 64/128 GB internal storage, expandable via microSD card
  • Intel Core i3 or Core i5 processor
  • Connectivity: 2 x USB-C ports, USB 3.0 port, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 56 Whr battery, rated for about 10-hour use
  • Dimensions: 14.2 x 9.8 x 0.7″, 4.2 pounds
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
  • HP Chromebook x360 G1 – This Chromebook can be bought with a faster Core i7 chip, but its also much more expensive.

Best battery life: Acer Chromebook Spin 15

 

Would you like to get a Chromebook that not only performs well but will last up to 13 hours on a single charge? Then consider getting the Acer Chromebook 15. It has a 4670mAh battery that should last up to 13 hours on a single charge. The rest of the specs on this Chromebook are excellent as well. It has a big 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 resolution touchscreen, and the screen can also swivel 360 degrees to serve as a very large tablet. Inside it has an Intel Pentium N4200 quad-core processor running at 1.10 GHz, along with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage.

The 4.63 pound Chromebook Spin 15 also has plenty of ports to connect accessories. It has two standard USB ports and two USB-C ports, which could be used to charge up other devices as well. There’s also a webcam, and two upward facing speakers for an improved audio experience. You can get it on Amazon for $449.99

Pros

  • 13-hour battery life cannot be beat
  • Large 2-in-1 360-degree display

Cons

  • It’s not the lightest Chromebook on the planet
  • Intel processor is on the slower side

Specs

  • 15.6-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, touch screen, 360-degree rotation
  • 1.10 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT8173C processor
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 64 GB of on-board storage, with SD card slot for expansion
  • Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.0 port, 2 x USB-C port, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
  • 4,670 mAh battery, rated for about 13 hours use
  • Dimensions: 10.31 x 15.2 x 0.79 in, 4.63 lbs
Honorable mentions
  • Acer Chromebook R13 – This Chromebook will last up to 12 hours, but it has a MediaTek processor instead of an Intel chip.
  • 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 x360 14 G1

HP Chromebook x360 14 G1 fron side at CES 2019

The HP Chromebook x360 14 G1 may be one of the highest end, and highest priced, Chromebooks, made outside of Google. It has a large 14-inch touchscreen display with a 360-degree rotating hinge, which turns it into a large tablet when not in notebook model. You can get this Chromebook with either an Intel Core i5-8350U processor with 8GB RAM and 64GB of storage, or you can get it with an Intel Core i7-8650U chip, with a whopping 16GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. That means this 2-in-1 is extremely powerful.

It also has 2 Bang & Olufsen-branded dual speakers and a 720p webcam with a dual-microphone array. It’s even pretty light at 3.7 pounds. However, it’s extremely expensive. You can get the HP Chromebook x360 14 G1 for the starting price of $1,397.

Pros

  • 2-in-1 design with its 360-degree display
  • Powerful processors
  • Fairly light for such high-end hardware.

Cons

  • Much more expensive than most Chromebooks

Specs

  • 14-inch LED display with 1,920 x 1,080 resolution
  • 8/16 GB RAM
  • 64 GB internal storage, expandable via microSD card
  • Intel Core i5 or 17 processor
  • Connectivity: 2 USB Type-C ports, 1 USB 3.0 port, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 60Wh battery rated for about 10 hour use
  • Dimensions: 12.81 x 8.93 x 0.63 in, 3.7 pounds
Honorable Mentions 

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, the 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: Lenovo 500e Chromebook

 

If you want a Chromebook laptop that is made for students, while still offering some nice features, the Lenovo 500e Chromebook is for you. It has a 11.6-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1,366 x 768, but it still manages to get a 360-degree hinge so students can use it as a large tablet as well. Inside the 2.97 pound Chromebook, you get an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. It should last up to 10 hours on a single charge.

All of those features are great for students, but can it take the heat from being used all day by kids. Yes, it can. The Lenovo 500e Chromebook has a MIL-STD-810G rating for durability, and it can keep working even if it falls from nearly 2 1/2 feet. It can also take spills of up to 1.39 cups on its keyboard. Speaking of which, the buttons on the keyboard are designed to be mechanically anchored so they cannot be removed. It’s available now for $319.

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 N3450U processor
  • Connectivity: 1 USB Type-C port, 2 USB 5.1 ports, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Battery rated for about 10 hour use
  • Dimensions: 11.41 x 8.03 x 0.8 inches, 2.97 lbs
Honorable mentions

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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