Chromebooks have risen in popularity due to their simplicity and affordable price tag. They’re popular in school settings and for people who don’t need full-fledged computers and are great lightweight secondary devices. What should you look for when buying one?
Just like with Android phones, there’s a laptop out there for everyone. Should your laptop be a Chromebook? That depends on how you use computers. For productivity, a Chromebook can be the perfect device.
If you mainly browse the web, write emails, stream music, and watch movies on your computer, a Chromebook can easily handle those tasks and more. You’ll likely get better battery life at a more affordable price than a Windows PC or Mac as well.
However, those looking at a heavier workload may want to look into what other laptops are on offer, in addition to Chromebooks. Due to the price, Chromebooks typically cannot handle gaming or resource-heavy applications, such as those for 3D modeling.
We’ve compiled a list of Chromebooks that hit a few key categories. Whether you’re a student who needs something portable, a parent looking for something durable, or you just want the best Chromebook money can buy, we’ve got you covered.
- ✓ Great performance
- ✓ Nice touchscreen with included stylus
- ✓ Solid build quality
- ✓ Core i7 option available
- ✗ Expensive for a Chromebook
Many early Chromebooks aimed for the lowest-end hardware that could still adequately run the operating system in an attempt to keep costs down. Those still exist, but now they coexist with higher-end models like the ASUS Chromebook Flip CX3, which combines the hardware specs you’d find in a “proper” laptop with all the convenience of a Chromebook.
We’re focusing on the mid-tier CX3 model, which combines an Intel Core i5-1130G7 chipset with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. That sounds like many Windows laptops you’ll encounter on the market, but the lightweight operating system makes extracting performance from the hardware easier. From simple browsing to heavy-duty web apps, the CX3 can handle them.
The Flip CX3 is built around a 14-inch touchscreen, regardless of your chosen configuration. You can use it as a proper laptop or a touch-only device in tent mode. Pull the included stylus from its built-in garage, and you can even use it in tablet mode.
If you’re looking for more performance, you can opt for the more spec’d out build that uses a Core i7-1160G7 CPU and 16GB of RAM alongside a 512GB SSD. On the other hand, if your use case is light, there is also a significantly more affordable Core i3 model.
Best Chromebook Overall
ASUS Chromebook Flip CX3
The 14-inch ASUS Chromebook Flip CX3 brings the hardware you’d expect in a Windows laptop with the lightweight nature of a Chromebook. It even has an included stylus for the touchscreen.
- ✓ Extremely affordable
- ✓ Big display
- ✓ Durable
- ✗ Doesn’t feel premium
- ✗ Sluggish performance
Most Chromebooks would be considered “budget” compared to MacBooks and Windows laptops. However, some ChromeOS laptops are especially affordable, like the Acer 315.
Let’s start with the big thing—the Acer 315 costs less than $300. That’s affordable for a computer, but you are making some sacrifices. First, the plastic build quality may look nice, but it is certainly not a “premium” feeling. The benefit of plastic is it’s durable, so you don’t have to baby it.
You’re not skimping on display real estate, though. The 15.6-inch display is solid, and the keyboard is spacious. The Intel Celeron processor struggles with Android apps but is fine for web browsing. This is a Chromebook you can be happy with and not mind if it eventually breaks down due to the low price.
Best Budget Chromebook
Acer Chromebook 315 (2022)
You’d be hard pressed to find a better Chromebook in this price range. There are some sacrifices made, but the Acer 315 is perfect for web browsing.
- ✓ Lightweight yet durable
- ✓ Solid battery life
- ✓ Nice keyboard and touchscreen
- ✗ Middle of the road performance
When it comes to Chromebooks for kids, going with our budget pick would be perfectly acceptable. However, if you’d like something a little nicer, the IdeaPad Flex 5i is a good upgrade. It’s cheap, light, has great battery life, and is durable enough to handle a young child.
Kids may not notice a lousy keyboard as much as you might, but the Lenovo 5i has a nice and spacious one. It’s perfect for someone learning how to type. Another bonus is plenty of ports—the Flex 5 has two USB-C ports, one USB-A port, and a MicroSD card slot.
The IdeaPad Flex 5i is powered by an Intel Core i3 processor and 8GB of RAM. That’s pretty good for handling web browsing and some light Android gaming. In addition, your child can do that on the 13.3-inch 1080p touchscreen display.
For around $300, that’s not a bad package for a Chromebook for a child.
Best Chromebook for Kids
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i
A durable Chromebook with a nice keyboard, lightweight design, touchscreen, and good battery life makes the IdeaPad Flex 5i perfect for kids.
- ✓ Super affordable
- ✓ Lightweight and durable
- ✓ Good battery life
- ✗ Not the greatest performance
All of the Chromebooks in this list would work for students, but the Samsung Chromebook 4 is another solid option. It has a bright screen, good battery life, and it’s super portable. Plus, it only costs around $200, which is great for students buying their own gear.
The Chromebook 4 has an 11.6-inch display and comes in at only 2.6 lbs. It’s made of plastic, which may not feel the greatest, but it adds some durability. This is a laptop you can toss carelessly into a bag and not worry too much about it.
Performance is one area where the Samsung Chromebook 4 can struggle. It has only 4GB of RAM and an Intel Celeron processor. That’ll be plenty for web browsing and basic note-taking, but don’t expect to kill time with heavy Android games between classes.
Best Chromebook for Students
Samsung Chromebook 4
A super affordable, lightweight, and durable Chromebook with enough power to get your through a full day of note-taking.
- ✓ Nice 14-inch touchscreen
- ✓ Wi-FI 6 for fast internet
- ✓ Affordable, regardless of configuration
- ✗ Not as fast as some other Chromebooks
Acer is one of the brands most closely associated with the original Chromebooks, and the company has continued to crank out some great models. The Acer Chromebook Spin 314 continues this trend with a great touchscreen and respectable hardware for the price.
While this isn’t a processing powerhouse, its Intel Pentium Silver N6000 chipset has more than enough heft for typical Chromebook tasks. The model we’re looking at comes with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage. This might seem underpowered for a typical laptop, but for a Chromebook, that’s adequate RAM and plenty of onboard storage.
The highlight of the Spin 314 is the 1920×1080 Acer CineCrystal IPS display. It’s multitouch compatible for easy handheld use, and it also supports a USI stylus, but doesn’t ship with one. If the display isn’t as important to you, there is a 720p model available, but we wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re on a budget.
Somewhat unusually, Acer also makes a version of the Chromebook Spin 314 with 8GB RAM available, which cuts down the storage to 64GB. That said, you can always use a USB drive for extra storage.
Best Touchscreen Chromebook
Acer Chromebook Spin 314
The Acer Chromebook Spin 314 brings the affordability and convenience of a Chromebook, as well as a great 14-inch touchscreen. No stylus is included, but you can easily add your own.
- ✓ Excellent performance
- ✓ Anti-ghosting backlit keyboard
- ✓ Great for game streaming services
- ✓ Multiple storage options available
- ✗ Doesn’t match up to proper gaming laptops
- ✗ Pricier than many Chromebooks
The idea of a gaming Chromebook might sound as unusual as a desktop PC with a built-in touchscreen, but these are quickly becoming popular. With all the power you need for web apps and browsing along with the ability to play a variety of games, the ASUS Cloud Gaming Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip is a great replacement for a typical thin and light laptop.
To set expectations, you won’t be able to install Steam and play typical PC games. Instead, you get support for Android games (as many Chromebooks these days do) as well as a focus on streaming PC games. As long as you’ve got a suitable internet connection, it’s a surprisingly lag-free experience.
Some of this comes down to the hardware: You get an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB NVMe SSD. With dual-band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), you can be sure to have as much bandwidth as possible to stream games with no hitching or lag. You also get a few more gaming-specific features, like an anti-ghosting backlit keyboard.
Regardless of which hardware configuration you choose, you get a 15.6-inch, 1920×1080 touchscreen display with a 144Hz refresh rate for smooth frame rates. While we’re looking at the baseline build, you can choose models with 512GB, 1TB, or even 2TB of storage.
Best 2-in-1 Chromebook
ASUS Cloud Gaming Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip
The ASUS Cloud Gaming Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip expands on the idea of the 2-in-1, offering a classic convertible Chromebook that can also pull double duty as a casual gaming laptop.