Chromebooks are an affordable and intuitive way to browse the internet, check your emails, and perform other essential productivity tasks. The best Chromebooks offer reliable performance and come in a light and highly portable form factor that makes them one of the best options out there for commuters, travelers, and students.
There are plenty of great Chromebooks out there from some of the biggest names in computing. Our list below includes the best of the best to help you pick out the best Chromebook for your unique needs.
1. Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (8GB RAM – 128Gb SSD)
The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is a mid-range Chromebook designed for commuters, home users, and everyone in between. It’s packaged in a sleek aluminum body, has an HD touchscreen, and a 360° convertible hinge that allows you to jump between tablet and laptop modes effortlessly. It packs in features generally only seen on more ‘premium’ Chromebooks yet is attainably priced for just about everyone.
Why we like it: The Spin 713 has everything we look for in a Chromebook. It’s got a sleek and lightweight body, highly capable Intel i5 processor and enough RAM to handle multiple tabs without breaking a sweat. Even better, it uses SSD internal storage rather than the cheaper and less reliable eMMC. We were surprised at how much we liked the 3:2 screen aspect ratio as well. For a laptop that’s designed to run Android apps, it made it a lot easier to use them without converting to tablet mode.
Flaws: There were a few compromises made in the Spin 713’s design. To start with it lacks a built-in stylus, a curious choice for a semi-premium Chromebook. It’s also a big heavier than most Chromebooks of this size. We aren’t talking pounds but on something designed for portability ounces matter.
2. Samsung Chromebook 3 (2GB RAM – 16GB eMMC)
The Samsung Chromebook 3 is the latest in a line of entry-level Chromebooks from one of the world’s most well-known computer and electronics companies. It combines rock-solid reliability with a price that’s hard to believe. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a basic Chromebook that won’t fall apart on you.
Why we like it: It’s as basic as can be, but in a really good way. The Chromebook 3 could be used as a default photo for ‘Chromebook’ just by looks alone. It’s got an 11.6” screen, minimal memory and storage, and is generally cheaper feeling than many competitors. Where it shines is in value for your money. It’s by no means the best Chromebook money can buy, but if you want something that’s reliable and gets the job done, there’s no better bargain.
Flaws: It has low memory, a tiny amount of storage, and a fairly cheap-feeling plastic body. The speakers can charitably be described as ‘weak,’ and it starts to slow down fast once you open lots of tabs. If you’re looking for a ‘performance’ Chromebook, you need to be ready to spend a lot more.
3. Samsung Galaxy Chromebook (8GB RAM – 256GB SSD)
The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook is an attempt by the famed South Korean giant to do for the Chromebook market what the Ultrabook did for the laptop one. It’s slim, it’s beautiful, and it’s packed to the brim with all the high-performance features anyone could want from a Chromebook.
Why we like it: Basically everything. It has a gorgeous 4K OLED, 8GB of RAM, and enough SSD storage for anything you could need on a Chromebook. The body of the Galaxy Chromebook is stunning. It looks more like a unibody Ultrabook than any Chromebook we’ve seen and is exceptionally light despite its 13.3” display. When you add in the included S-pen and 360° hinge, you wind up with a Chromebook that really can do everything.
Flaws: Price is one, as there isn’t a massive market for Chromebooks pushing $1,000, but the battery life is the real shocker. In our testing, it struggled to crack six hours on a charge with regular use. That’s well below what anyone would expect from a device with its price tag and seriously reduces its usefulness as a lightweight travel computer.
4. Acer Chromebook Spin 311 (4GB RAM- 32GB eMMC)
The Acer Chromebook Spin 311 is an entry-level Chromebook with a lot to offer. It lacks performance features but is generally well-made, reliable, and has enough under the hood to get the job done. It’s about as small as a Chromebook can get and still be functionally useful, but many users will find that to be a benefit rather than a flaw.
Why we like it: The Spin 311 is everything a Chromebook should be: Compact, lightweight, easy to use in both tablet and laptop mode, and a reasonable 8+ hour battery life that charges via USB-C. It’s unassuming looks, and reliable performance make it an excellent choice for anyone looking for light to moderate browsing tasks in a package that’s as portable as possible.
Flaws: Many users will find it to be too small. The screen is just 11.6” and has large bezels and a dim maximum brightness. The keyboard is also quite cramped, especially if you’re used to working on a desktop keyboard or larger laptop.
5. Pixel Chromebook Go (8GB/16GB RAM – 64GB/128GB/256GB SSD)
The Pixel Chromebook Go was developed by Google to showcase everything the Chromium operating system can do. It does a pretty good job of it, too, with an HD-quality display and all the performance features you could look for from a Chromebook. However, there are some definite drawbacks to this design that we’ll delve into more deeply below.
Why we like it: Like many Pixel-branded products, Google swung for the fences with the Chromebook Go. It’s got a jaw-dropping 12-hour battery life and included the cosmetic and performance features we’d expect from Google’s flagship Chromebook. It’s available with up to 16GB of RAM and an internal SSD storage of 256GB. That’s a ton of power and storage for any Chromebook and allows it to run at lightning-fast speeds even with heavy use.
Flaws: It’s not entirely clear if the performance and overall build quality justify its relatively high price. It’s undoubtedly a very capable Chromebook, but not quite enough to compare to the best high-performance Chromebooks its priced in competition with.
6. Lenovo Chromebook Duet (4GB RAM – 64GB/128GB SSD)
A spin on the popular Surface fusion tablet design pioneered by Microsoft, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet offers remarkably capable performance in a lightweight and easy to travel with package. Its design is almost identical to that of the original Surface, with a detachable keyboard/touchpad combo that snaps into place on the base of a 10.1” tablet body. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, as Lenovo executed their design beautifully.
Why we like it: For the price, it’s hard to find a more capable Chromebook at this size. Make no mistake, the Duet is tiny, with a 10.1” tablet-style screen that looks positively puny on a desk surface. Where it shines is in providing you with capable computing in as portable a manner as possible. With 4GB of RAM, up to 128GB of SSD storage, and a 12+ hour battery life it does this exceptionally well.
Flaws: The Duet’s greatest strength is also by far its biggest potential flaw: Its size. Not everyone is down for a ‘laptop’ that’s smaller than many tablets or a keyboard with such closely spaced little keys. The kickstand design also doesn’t allow you to use it in true laptop mode as it needs a flat, stable surface to rest on to work.
7. Asus Chromebook C523 (4GB RAM – 64GB eMMC)
The Asus Chromebook C523 is a mid-range Chromebook with some really attractive premium touches. It offers acceptable performance for its price point but really blows it out of the water on aesthetic styling and overall functional design. It’s especially apparent in the tiny bezel surrounding its 15.6” 1080p HD screen and the partial brushed aluminum case.
Why we like it: If you’re looking for a big screen Chromebook, there are few as well put together as the C523. It’s just over half an inch thick and made using a combination of aluminum and plastic casing. The screen’s back is an aluminum panel while the main body is made from silvery plastic. It’s a good compromise between ‘premium’ looks and affordability. Given its large size, the keyboard is roomy and responsive. It’s no mechanical keyboard to be sure, but you won’t end up with cramped fingers from frequent use.
Flaws: Performance-wise the C523 just can’t compare to higher-end Chromebooks. It’s priced significantly below many of those other models, of course, but it still bears mentioning. Many people will also question the necessity of a 15.6” screen for a Chromebook.
8. HP Chromebook X360 (4GB RAM – 32GB eMMC)
The HP Chromebook X360 is an entry-to-mid range Chromebook designed to work just as well in tablet mode as it does in laptop mode. It has a 3:2 aspect ratio for a taller screen that allows you to scroll, read, and generally perform browsing tasks more effectively. It stumbles a bit in actual screen quality but is overall a pretty good option depending on your needs.
Why we like it: With its attractive styling and 3:2 aspect ratio, it’s one of the better Chromebooks out there for reading documents or use as a drawing tablet. The aluminum keyboard deck provides good feedback while typing and also serves to elevate the overall look of the X360. As its name suggests, it has a 360-degree hinge plus an optional stylus that allows it to be used effectively in tablet mode. It shines as a portable tool for productivity and browsing rather than a heavy-hitter laptop, but it fulfills that roll exceptionally well, especially given its near entry-level price.
Flaws: Its Celeron processor provides adequate performance at best, an effect amplified by the surprisingly low amount of base storage. The screen itself is also something of a letdown. It’s dim and somewhat blurry, even at the 11.6” size.
9. Lenovo Chromebook C340 – 11 (4GB RAM – 64GB SSD)
The Lenovo Chromebook C340-11 is the successor to the company’s popular C330 line of 11.6” Chromebooks. It takes all the features we liked from that device and made subtle tweaks to improve performance and usability. When you add in the respectable 64GB of SSD storage and reasonable processor, you wind up with a useful entry-level Chromebook with a lot going for it.
Why we like it: The 11.6” Chromebook market was looking pretty stale, with little in the way of advancements or improvements, until the C340-11 came along. It showed that this pint-sized segment of the computing market could still be ‘sexy’ with performance and appearance that are perfectly adequate for its intended market and use, especially at its very affordable price point. It’s also got more USB ports, four, than we’re used to seeing in any Chromebook, much less one this size. That allows you to use many more peripherals and makes a much stronger case for its use as a general-purpose device.
Flaws: Not everyone is going to be enamored with the dusky sand pink frame. It also suffers from performance issues as more tabs are opened and has a lower screen resolution than pretty much all the best Chromebooks.
10. Dell Inspiron 14 Chromebook 7486 (4GB RAM – 128GB eMMC)
The Dell Inspiron 14 Chromebook 7486 is an aluminum-body Chromebook with a moderately sized 14” screen. It straddles the gap between Chromebook and laptop in quality, functionality, and design. Some of its key features include an EMS pen for better use in tablet mode and a more powerful processor than some competitors.
Why we like it: It’s basically a Dell laptop, but running Chrome OS. That’s good because Dell has a lot of experience building rock-solid computers, and showed this in spades with this Chromebook. Its aluminum-body gives it a premium look and helps keep a slim design that’s just over half an inch thick. It gives you 4GB of RAM and 128GB of eMMC storage plus the ability to expand storage with a micro-SD card.
Flaws: It can’t really stand up to similarly priced higher-end Chromebooks. Everything from processor power, RAM, storage type, etc, lags just a little behind other Chromebooks at very comparable price points. The slip-in stylus is a nice touch, but we aren’t convinced it makes up for its components’ generally average performance.
Who should buy a Chromebook?
Chromebooks are great little computers, but they aren’t for everyone. The groups below can see the most value from picking up a Chromebook.
Casual internet users – If you’re the kind of person who needs a computer strictly for browsing the internet, a Chromebook is the perfect option for you. It allows you to use the Chrome browser, including the full suite of Google Drive, Docs, Slides, etc, plus all your favorite websites.
Parents – If you’re a parent and want to get your kids, especially younger kids, a computer, a Chromebook is a great choice. It’s inexpensive so you won’t have to worry too much about damage, yet still offers a full range of browsing features and even comprehensive parental controls through the easy to use Family Link section of your Google Account (1).
Students – For high school or college students, there are few more cost-effective options than a Chromebook. Google offers a full suite of productivity tools, including Docs, Slides, Note, and free online storage with Google Drive.
A Chromebook allows you to complete all your school assignments, do research for classes, and still enjoy social media, streaming services, and everything the internet has to offer.
How we ranked
We used six key metrics to compare the Chromebooks on our list. These were size & weight, RAM, processor power & storage, battery life, ports, and price.
Size and weight – With Chromebooks, less is usually more. These aren’t desktop replacement laptops; they’re streamlined browsing tools optimized for travel, commuting, and other mobile tasks.
Most Chromebooks hover somewhere between an 11.6” and 15.6” screen size. That size allows for a very light and compact computer that you can take anywhere easily.
RAM, processor power, and storage – Even the most potent Chromebooks lag behind full-up laptops in RAM and processor power. Entry-level models might only have 1GB of ram and a 32GB or even 16GB storage drive.
More is better for performance, but will up the price noticeably. Storage is less critical for a Chromebook than other computers given their browser-based design, but you should still consider how much you need. The biggest differentiator here is between eMMC and SSD storage. eMMC is cheaper, but SSDs are faster, more reliable, and generally better in every other respect.
Battery life – Chromebooks are famous for their remarkable battery lives. Some of the best approach 12 hours of battery life on a single charge, while even basic models will give you at least 6-8.
Ports – At a minimum, we looked for Chromebooks with two USB type A or Type C connectors plus a standard headphone jack. Any less than that, and it can be challenging to use necessary peripherals like a mouse.
Traditional vs two-in-one – The cheapest Chromebooks are smaller, less powerful laptops with basic browsing capabilities. As you go up the quality scale, many add touch screens and the ability to convert via a folding hinge system into a tablet.
They’re more expensive, but given the ability of Chromebooks to run Android apps, it can significantly increase their utility.
Price – By their very nature, Chromebooks are on average cheaper than laptops or desktop computers. The most basic models start in the $200 range, with only a few premium models climbing above $1,000.
For pricing, we looked at the value they provided for the money.
Q: Can a Chromebook run Windows?
A: No. By definition, a Chromebook runs on Google’s Chromium OS. It’s a browser focused operating system capable of providing reasonably fast performance on much lower-end components. If you want to run Windows, you need to pick up either a full laptop or a netbook.
Q: How much storage do I need in a Chromebook?
A: Chromebook storage is a tricky subject. Many Chromebooks start with just 32GB of eMMC or SSD storage, well below what most flagship smartphones now offer. It works because Google offers 100GB of storage on its Google One storage platform for 12 months free with any Chromebook purchase (2).
Q: Will Chromebooks run Office?
A: Yes, and no. You cannot install the full Windows versions of Office on a Chromebook, but there are workarounds. You can use the web versions of Office or install the Android versions through the Google Play Store (3).
Q: Are Chromebooks good for gaming?
A: No. You can play browser games or download mobile games from the Play Store, but Chromebooks are uniquely unsuited to playing modern computer games (4). There are some technical workarounds, but they’re beyond the scope of our review.
Q: Can Chromebooks run Steam?
A: Yes, but it’s not for amateurs. Some Chromebooks can run Linux apps if enabled. If you’ve got the technical chops, you can use terminal commands to manually install the Linux Steam app and run games that way. To be honest, though, it isn’t worth it in most cases. A Chromebook doesn’t begin to have the processing power, memory, or graphics capabilities to run all but the most basic indie games, forget AAA titles (5).
Q: Can Chromebooks get a virus?
A: Technically, no, but there are exceptions. Chromebooks are inherently some of the most secure computers on the market. Their browser focused design and default inability to download and run outside programs gives the average user tremendous protection against viruses and other malware. That said, if you do more advanced tasks with your Chromebook, such as installing outside apps through terminal commands, working with Linux, you make yourself more vulnerable (6).
Chromebooks are one of the most affordable and easy to use options for browsing the internet and performing basic productivity tasks on the go. They’re compact, lightweight, and cost substantially less than comparable laptops.
For Hastings #1 Chromebook recommendation, click here.