The best Chromebooks prove that Chrome OS is a viable alternative to pricier Windows 11 and macOS 12 Monterey laptops and Chromebooks even pop up from time to time in our list of best laptops thanks to their increasing power and affordability.
Their affordability and functionality mean they’re perfect for students who need something connected, portable, and functional enough for video conferencing, web research, and homework assignments without much extra frills that can bog down pricier Windows laptops and MacBooks.
But just because they’re often the best student laptops out there doesn’t mean that they also don’t make some of the best business laptops, especially for professionals who just need a lightweight, portable device to write up a report on the road or take a video call in an airport.
Even better, these already super affordable devices also see some of the best Black Friday deals year after year, not to mention huge savings on Cyber Monday, so there’s never been a better time to jump on board the bandwagon with one of the best Chromebooks this holiday season.
Our Top Picks for Best Chromebook 2021
Which are the best Chromebooks?
(Image credit: Google)
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Google makes the best Chromebook in the world, given that it has built the operating system itself from the ground up so it knows better than anyone what kind of platform Chrome OS needs.
Google’s original Pixelbook used to take the top spot on our list, but the company’s latest release, the Pixelbook Go, is even better. This Chromebook proves that the best Chromebooks can hold their own against mainstream laptops running Windows and macOS while looking stylish and having a much more accessible price.
One of its key features is its fantastic battery life, which outlasts many competing traditional laptops handily, so you can go a full day at work or school without being shackled to a wall outlet. Even better, you can close the lid, leave the Pixelbook Go on a desk for days, and come back to find it still has plenty of battery left to pick up right where you left off. Few if any Windows laptops or MacBooks can say the same.
Its incredible keyboard is also a dream to type on, so we’ve even taken to using the Pixelbook Go over beefier Windows laptops when we have the chance, it’s that good. If you’re going to be typing a lot for work or school, you are going to love this Chromebook.
Read the full review: Google Pixelbook Go
(Image credit: Lenovo)
Is it a Chromebook or is it a tablet? Well, luckily, you won’t have to decide with the brilliant Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook. True to its name, this Chromebook delivers two form factors in one, while utilizing the versatility of the Chrome OS and setting you back much less than many of the top Windows tablets out there, making it the best Chromebook-tablet detachable hybrid on the market.
Of course, like all the best Chromebooks, its battery packs an incredibly long life of almost 22 hours – so you could pull an all-nighter, work through the day and mid-afternoon, and you’ll still pass out before it runs out of juice.
For this price, sacrifices have to be made, naturally – the keyboard is tiny, the trackpad isn’t as reliable, and the charger and headphones share one port. However, if budget is your top priority, those are definitely not deal-breakers.
Read the full review: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook
(Image credit: Lenovo)
The Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook shot straight into our best Chromebooks list when it was released thanks to its being one of the most powerful Chromebooks you’re going to find anywhere. While all that extra horsepower means you’re going to pay more than you would for a typical Chromebook, especially if you want some of the best features that come with the high-end models, it’s well worth it if you’re looking for something future-proofed.
Based on the Chromebook reviews we’ve done, we can tell you that this one is going to last you for years to come. Better still, as a 2-in-1 device, it’s got the flexibility that many other Chromebooks lack, and the screen on this thing is stunning.
Best of all, it comes packing the new AMD 3000C-series processors – starting with an Athlon 3150C and scaling all the way up to a Ryzen 7 3700C – and this means you’ll get more processing power out of this Chromebook than many of it’s competitors. For students especially, this is one of the best Chromebooks money can buy right now.
Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook
(Image credit: HP)
The best Chromebooks balance a bargain price and efficient use of Chrome OS – and the HP Chromebook 14 strikes that balance perfectly.
While it’s similar to the Acer Chromebook 15 in a lot of ways, this 14-inch Chromebook is a tad more compact and looks slightly better. Complemented by a bright blue finish and a screen made to astound, the HP Chromebook 14 offers excellent value based on the many Chromebook reviews we’ve done.
Even if the battery life and performance are definitely average for a Chromebook – the HP Chromebook 14 is easily one of the best Chromebooks you’re going to find if you’re looking to get the best value from a laptop on a tighter budget.
We were particularly impressed with how slim and light this Chromebook is, and it means the HP Chromebook 14 is a great device for anyone who wants a long-lasting laptop that they can comfortably carry around with them. If you want a laptop to work on while lounging on a sofa, this is a great choice as well.
Also, unlike some other Chromebooks, the HP Chromebook 14 comes with plenty of ports, including HDMI-out, USB 3.0 and a microSD card slot, making this a brilliantly versatile Chromebook for the price.
Read the full review: HP Chromebook 14
(Image credit: Asus)
The Asus Chromebook Flip is one of the best Chromebooks for shoppers on a budget who don’t want to compromise too much on specs and style.
With an Intel Core processor and a full-HD display, the Asus Chromebook Flip is a powerful 2-in-1 that keeps up with your general computing needs while offering the versatility of its fantastic tablet mode – a tricky balancing act that many other Chromebook makers fail to pull off.
Even though this is an older Chromebook that’s been out for a while now, it still impresses with brilliant performance and an excellent build quality that’s thin and light, and puts many more expensive laptops to shame. If you’re on a budget, this is definitely one of the best Chromebooks out there and well worth a good, long look.
Read the full review: Asus Chromebook Flip
Easily one of the best Chromebooks we’ve ever gotten our hands on, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 takes everything great about the versatile Spin form factor, like its 3:2 display ratio, and combines it with some seriously powerful hardware like the Intel Core i5-1135G7, which honestly blows just about every other Chromebook out of the water when it comes to performance.
That said, the design is pretty basic for such a potentially beautiful device, which is a shame, as is the lack of an included stylus at all when other Acer Spin 2-in-1s actually have a garaged stylus as a major selling point. Still, it’s hard to beat the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 if you’re looking for the best 2-in-1 Chromebook on the market right now.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook Spin 713
(Image credit: Acer)
Versatility is a key feature of the best Chromebooks, so the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 definitely makes the list on that account. This all-rounder has all the makings of a great Chromebook, from its good battery life to its robust build and solid usability.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 311 takes its versatility even further with an abundance of ports, especially when considering its size, its convertible 2-in-1 design, a high level of portability, and an excellent touch display. Its keyboard and touchpad are also not just reliable, but they’re also satisfying to use, which is a pretty rare thing for a Chromebook at this price point.
Its size also means that it’s really easy take with you, making it one of the best Chromebooks for taking with you on a trip. However, that small size may mean some people find it uncomfortable to use for long periods of time, especially if you’re more used to larger laptops.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook Spin 311
(Image credit: Asus)
Premium Chromebooks occupy their own space in the laptop market, bridging that gap between powerful traditional laptops and super lightweight Chromebooks.
And, the Asus Chromebook Flip C436F is perhaps one of the very few examples of these out there, with its combination of superb power, terrific feature set, premium build and a price tag that’s cheaper than its rivals.
During our time with the Asus Chromebook Flip C436F, we were really impressed with its gorgeous design, with a magnesium alloy body, stunning 1080p screen, and wonderful keyboard. This could easily rival premium laptops like the Dell XPS 13 or MacBook, and it even comes with features like Wi-Fi 6 support and a fingerprint sensor.
If you’re looking for a lightweight OS machine that touts more power than the rest of the clan, this is one of the best Chromebooks on offer.
Read the full review: Asus Chromebook Flip C436F
(Image credit: Acer)
With a solid build quality that rivals a MacBook, it’s easy to excuse the Acer Chromebook 15’s aversion to 2-in-1 form factors. Still, given that the best Chromebooks rolling out this year are fully convertible, thanks to the wide adoption of Android app support, the Acer Chromebook 15 had to prove itself with more than great style.
Beyond its aptitude for laying flat using a 180-degree hinge, this beautiful 15-inch Chromebook also makes a great impression with its battery life, lasting nearly 17 hours in our battery test.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 15
(Image credit: Acer)
The best Chromebook for professionals currently available might just be the Acer Chromebook 714 whose premium and seriously solid chassis is just the ticket for the business-oriented bunch.
It’s not especially stylish, sadly, but that decent performance and strong battery life make up for its lack of fashion sense. And, aren’t those all the more important if you’re meeting with clients, tackling paperwork and balancing the books all day?
In fact, the quad-core processor is good enough for light content creation tasks, making it a boon for those starting out in the content creation industry as well.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 714
How to choose the best Chromebook
What is a Chromebook?
But, what is a Chromebook exactly, and how is it different from other notebooks? A Chromebook is a device that runs the more lightweight Chrome OS. This Linux-based operating system relies heavily on Google’s Chrome browser and connectivity to the Internet for most of its tasks, which means that it requires less power and storage space when performing those tasks.
It isn’t as robust or comprehensive as Windows 10/11 or macOS. However, it’s just as capable of seeing its users through their daily multi-tasking needs, no matter if it’s to do productivity work all day while streaming shows and movies, getting through a bunch of school assignments, or even some photo editing and gaming.
More recently, it’s even expanded to run Android and Linux apps without internet connectivity, which means that its users are no longer limited to the Chrome browser. Finally, the lightweight nature of the operating system also lets the best Chromebooks beat out traditional laptops in some key areas, like portability and battery life.
Which is the best Chromebook?
When it comes to choosing the best Chromebook, price is most people’s first consideration. That’s because a lot of these laptop alternatives end up in the hands of more casual users who don’t need a whole lot from their PC. In such a case, a cheaper yet still capable option is the better value – one of the best cheap Chromebooks, perhaps.
Of course, if you have more demanding needs, there are pricier options as well, and they will come with higher-end specs like more RAM, better processors like Intel Core CPUs, and perhaps more storage space. So, if you want to save more files, do some light photo editing, or play some games, you’ll want to splurge a little for better specs.
It’s not just the reasonable price tag that most Chromebooks have that make them top contenders, especially as laptops for kids and as student notebooks. You have to consider its design. Most boast impressively long battery lives while some are built to withstand abuse better than others – any gear you put into a kid’s hands needs to be able to absorb some bumps, after all. Others come with that 2-in-1 form factor and touchscreen capability that makes them so versatile.
Just like with the laptops, size is a crucial factor as well. You might want a larger display for more screen real estate or you might want something smaller for easier portability. Since most of these portables fall somewhere between 10 to 15 inches in terms of screen size, they’re all going to be easier to lug around than the competition.
Which is better, a Chromebook or a laptop?
Knowing which is better, a Chromebook or a laptop with a more traditional OS like Windows of macOS, really comes down to your needs and how you intend to use your laptop.
If you do almost all of your work online using web apps like Google Docs, SalesForce, GeForce Now, or other similar products, then a Chromebook is just as good at handling that kind of work as a more traditional laptop, since all of the actual application processing takes place in the cloud, which then displays the contents in a browser.
If you have a fast enough internet connection, you’re not going to tell the difference between a Chromebook and a fully-featured Windows laptop or a MacBook.
If you plan on using locally installed apps like Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, or Steam, then you’re going to find Chromebooks simply can’t do that. The Android apps available through the Google Play marketplace are great, but they aren’t as fully featured as similar desktop software. In most cases, Chrome OS simply can’t run most of the installable software you’d find on a Windows laptop or a MacBook, so a Chromebook would be a bad choice for anyone hoping to use major flagship software offline.
How we test Chromebooks
Testing Chromebooks isn’t too different from testing laptops and gaming laptops, though perhaps the paces are a little less intensive or game-heavy.
Since Chromebooks rely heavily on the Chrome browser, we push that browsing prowess to its limits, opening 20 or more browser tabs on different types of websites, from productivity ones like Google docs to streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu. For good measure, we try to play media on those streaming services simultaneously. Because Chromebooks are now much more capable of running apps, we also open and use several apps at the same time.
Because a Chromebook is only as good as its peripherals, we take a look at its display, keyboard, availability of ports, and how good its overall design is. We also test its webcam and touchscreen capabilities, if they’re on hand.
We then take everything we’ve learned about the Chromebook and compare it to its price – whether or not it’s performance and features are worth that price tag, and whether or not it offers the best value to customers.
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