Are chromebooks any good

Are chromebooks any good DEFAULT

Buyer's guide: What is a Chromebook, what can and can't it do?

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The need for a traditional computer is no longer dire. Phones and tablets are often more than sufficient for casual users. Even those who require more than a mobile device have alternatives to expensive Windows and macOS laptops. Chrome OS computers will provide bigger screens and a proper keyboard, while also keeping the experience portable and light. But what is a Chromebook exactly, and how does it differ from a traditional PC?

What is a Chromebook?

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

You may be used to choosing between Apple’s macOS and Windows when shopping for a new computer, but Chromebooks have offered a third option since What is a Chromebook, though? These computers don’t run Windows or MacOS operating systems. Instead, they run on Linux-based Chrome OS.

What is Chrome OS? In the most basic sense, it’s an operating system based on the Chrome browser you probably already know and love. That means anything you can do in Chrome for Windows or Mac, you can do in Chrome OS.

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Are you still confused? Basically, Chrome OS is awesome unless you are using them for certain types of tasks. Here are some very specific situations where they aren’t the best option:

  • Chromebooks aren’t great for gaming. Sure, Chromebooks have Android app support, so mobile gaming is an option. There are also browser games. But if you’re looking to play high profile PC games, you should look elsewhere. Unless you can live with cloud gaming from services like Stadia and GeForce Now. Those cloud gaming services require a very good internet connection, though.
  • These computers aren’t always a great option for creative professionals. That is unless you’re a writer, in which case they work wonderfully. Google Drive is baked in, and there are even ways to get Microsoft Office and Skype working. Unfortunately, most Chromebooks aren’t really powerful enough for 3D editing. Even if you pay big bucks for one of the powerful machines, most of the popular creative software isn’t available for Chrome OS. Photographers could live off the Lightroom Android app and other mobile editing options, and there are some ways to edit video, but most options require significant sacrifices, and/or pretty fast internet.
  • Chromebooks aren’t powerhouses… though there are exceptions. Many of these laptops are under $, with options as low as sub-$ cropping up. That means a Chromebook typically can’t handle browser tabs and other intensive tasks. Of course, more powerful options exist. If you really want Chrome OS and the power to run Linux apps, Android apps, and more, you could go for something like the Google Pixelbook, Pixelbook Go, or the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook.

So, should I buy a Chrome OS computer?

If most of your PC activity is stuff like browsing Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, and other online tasks — get a Chromebook! You’ll find it is up to the job and a lot cheaper than Windows, Mac, and Linux options. Additionally, if most of your favorite apps and games are available from the Google Play Store, you’ll find that modern Chromebooks rock.

Those with higher-end needs will need to really pay up to get a superior Chromebook. Those can cost over $1, At that price point, there are many other options to consider, many of which sport a full desktop OS. Check out the link below for some great options.

Alternatives:These are the best laptops you can buy right now

What are my buying options?

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Still want a Chromebook? Just like Windows PCs, Chromebooks come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and form factors. There are larger-screened devices and some that are barely inches in display size.

Here are a few extra buyer guides that will help you find the right laptop for your needs. Also, be sure to check out our guide for the best Chromebook covers and cases.

Other resources

Now you know what a Chromebook is, what it can and can’t do, and what buying options are out there. Once you buy your first Chrome OS device, you’ll likely have plenty of questions. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here are some resources to make life easier:

FeaturesChromebooks, Google, Google Chrome OS


Should I buy a Chromebook?

Should I buy a Chromebook? Many have asked this question, wondering if these devices are just the affordable yet capable portable they’ve long been looking for.

That’s because while Chromebooks have been around for some time now, their pioneers hitting the shelves back in , they haven’t quite hit mainstream success until recent years. That means that there’s still a lot of laptop users out there who don't know anything about them besides their existence.

So, what exactly is a Chromebook? In essence, Chromebooks are laptops that run on this lightweight operating system called ChromeOS, which is a lot less demanding than Windows 10 or the latest macOS and mostly relies on the Chrome browser – and therefore, internet connectivity – to perform tasks. 

Not that this operating system’s reliance on the Chrome browser renders any Chromebook useless without the internet, however. It has expanded its capabilities over time to support apps so you can tackle productivity-related and creative tasks, as well as play games and consume media, while offline.

Chromebooks may be more powerful now than before, but they are still intended to help you with lightweight tasks like word processing, browsing the internet, streaming videos, and playing mobile games – perhaps even some light photo editing every now and then. 

So, to answer your “should I buy a Chromebook?” question, it ultimately depends on what you need from your portable. Chromebooks are excellent traditional laptop replacements if you don’t require sheer power and if your daily computing needs don't include using processor-hungry apps or specific software unavailable in the Chrome OS. 

Not all Chromebooks are created equal

Much like traditional laptops, not all Chromebooks boast the same features, capabilities, and price tags. Some are more powerful than others, a handful are more feature rich than the rest, and a small number even come with a premium price tag. 

These days, there are Chromebooks that will set you back $1,/£1,/AU$1,, even though they still won’t be able to run software from outside the Google Play and Google Chrome Stores. They just have higher specs and more premium builds. Some Google Chromebooks, like the Google Pixelbook, will set you back even more. Still, most Chromebooks are either cheap, making them excellent for students, or at least reasonably-priced at the very least.

Feature-wise, there areChromebooks that come loaded with them like touchscreen, a 2-in-1 form factor, and the ability to expand your storage. Meanwhile, some lower-end ones come with only the most basic features.

Software for Chromebooks

The key difference between Chromebooks and other laptops is the operating system. These laptops come with Google Chrome OS installed instead of the traditional Windows or macOS. 

ChromeOS is rather like a mobile phone operating system and can only run apps from the Chrome Web Store or the Google Play Store. That’s on top of heavily utilizing the Chrome browser for most tasks. 

Although that sounds a tad restrictive, you’ll be happy to know that there are thousands of apps to choose from and all the basics are covered. For text documents, spreadsheets and presentations you have Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. For movies and TV, apps like Google Play Movies, Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video are on hand. There are even apps for quick photo editing including Adobe Photoshop Express.

However, Chromebooks work best when connected to the internet. Chrome OS will update silently in the background when you’re online, and your documents sync to your Google account so you can access them anywhere. But, thanks to these apps, you can now use Chromebooks while offline.

Of course, if you require specialist software for your everyday tasks, then a Chromebook might be a little underpowered for you. Photographers or designers who rely on the full version of Photoshop should still go for a MacBook or Windows laptop and serious gamers should still stick with a gaming laptop.

Chromebook hardware

There are two types of Chromebook: traditional laptops and two-in-one devices that effortlessly turn into tablet-like computers. Many Chromebooks have touchscreens, but those that don’t won’t work as well with apps downloaded from the Google Play Store, since those apps are designed chiefly for mobile devices.

Chrome OS can run on less powerful hardware than Windows 10 or macOS, which means Chromebooks are often more affordable than other laptops. For example, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook is a great Chromebook that comes in at under $/£/AU$ – ideal for a student budget.

Just remember that often, the cheaper the Chromebook is, the less storage space it’ll have – typically 32GB or 64GB. If you’re using Google Docs, Sheets and Slides for your work, this won’t be an issue as all your documents will be saved to the cloud rather than your device. It’s also not a problem if you’re streaming video and TV shows.

However, if you plan on keeping large files on your device like photos and videos, you’ll need to add an SD card. Luckily, most Chromebooks have a slot for one. And, if you’re looking for one that doesn’t have an SD card slot, you can always invest in an external HDD or a portable SSD.

There are also some premium Chromebooks with more storage, like the Google Pixelbook, if you have the budget for it. Just bear in mind that for that same price, you could get a Windows 10 laptop with equally good specifications.

Finally, there are limitations to the peripherals you can connect to a Chromebook. You can connect a printer, keyboard, mouse or even monitor as long as that accessory doesn’t require its own driver or software to work. Luckily, most peripherals these days are plug and play, and only really utilize their accompanying software for customizations.

Cat is the fitness and wellbeing editor at TechRadar. She's a trained run leader, and enjoys nothing more than lacing up and hitting the pavement. If you have a story about fitness trackers, treadmills, running shoes, e-bikes, or any other fitness tech, drop her a line!

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Why a Chromebook?

What is a Chromebook?

A Chromebook is a laptop that runs Chrome OS, an operating system that uses the Chrome web browser as its primary interface. Chromebooks are ideal for students and kids, but you should also consider one if you spend most of your computer time in a web browser, if you’re on a tight budget, or if you already have a decent desktop PC. A good Chromebook can do almost anything a regular laptop can do—as long as that task is possible in a web browser or in Android apps. And Chromebooks are cheap: A $ Chromebook is faster, lighter, and sleeker, and blessed with better battery life, than a $ Windows laptop. Chromebooks are also secure and easy to maintain.

But Chromebooks can’t run Photoshop, Windows-specific games, or many of the programs you might be used to having on your Mac or Windows computer. They don’t have much local storage, and they work best with a full-time internet connection—though there are offline options for Gmail, Google Drive, and other apps. If you use web-based email, if you can get by with Microsoft’s Office , Google’s office web apps, and Android app alternatives, and if you stream your music and movies over the internet, a Chromebook should do just about everything you need it to.

Most Chromebooks have 32 GB or 64 GB of onboard storage, but Google also provides GB of free online Google One storage for one year. (Once your year is up, you’ll need to pay to keep that cloud storage. Right now, GB costs $2 per month or $20 per year.) Most Chromebooks also include USB ports and a microSD card slot that you can use to expand the storage.

  • The Best Laptop Under $

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Why you should trust us

Senior staff writer Kimber Streams has tested most of the Chromebooks released since , when they began researching and testing Chromebooks for Wirecutter. They’ve tested and reviewed hundreds of laptops, including Chromebooks, cheap Windows laptops, gaming laptops, and fancy ultrabooks.

How we picked

A Chromebook doesn’t need to be exceptionally powerful or look fancy. But if slow performance, poor battery life, a horrendous screen, or a bad keyboard or trackpad gets in the way of your using the internet, the Chromebook has failed at its only job. Here’s what we looked for:

Performance: A decent processor and enough memory (RAM) together make the difference between a Chromebook that feels quick and responsive and one that suffers from slow load times and frustratingly laggy inputs.

Good-enough performance, for a Chromebook, requires 4 GB of RAM and at least a 10th- or 11th-generation Intel or series AMD Ryzen processor.1 People who work with lots of tabs, run multiple Android apps, or use Linux apps on their Chromebook should spend more for 8 GB of RAM and at least an Intel Core i3 processor. Some low-end processors are fast enough to get by in a budget Chromebook—we’ve found in our testing that processors with at least 4 threads can handle running Zoom video calls and other tasks simultaneously.

Avoid most Chromebooks that run on Intel's N-series Celeron or Pentium processors, on ARM-based processors from companies like MediaTek or Qualcomm, or on AMD's Athlon A4 and A6 processors; in our testing over the years, we’ve come away frustrated by their laggy, inconsistent performance. Also avoid any Chromebooks with less than 4 GB of memory, regardless of the processor they use.

Price: As of mid, Chromebooks that meet our performance requirements typically cost at least $, and you can get a great one for less than $ Options with better performance tend to cost at least $

Keyboard and trackpad: A keyboard and trackpad should be good enough not to get in the way of your work. A backlit keyboard is a nice luxury, and most Chromebooks priced over $ have them.

Battery life: A Chromebook should last for a full eight-hour day of classes or work so you don’t have to hunt for an outlet or be stuck with a dead laptop.

Size and weight: The lighter and more compact a laptop is, the easier it is to lug on a plane, to a coffee shop, or to class. And for Chromebooks with degree convertible hinges, being lighter makes them easier to hold in tablet mode—less than 3 pounds is ideal.

Screen: We recommend a × resolution for a to inch screen—any higher isn’t worth the trade-off in battery life, and any lower looks noticeably worse. A × resolution is acceptable on a smaller screen in a cheaper Chromebook.

Ports: We appreciate when a Chromebook includes both USB-C ports and traditional USB-A ports to connect older peripherals.

Touchscreen and degree hinge: A touchscreen and a degree hinge are nice perks since Chromebooks also run Android apps, and an included stylus is a bonus. Since those features add cost, we don’t require them for all of our picks.

Support: Google guarantees eight years of software updates—including new features and security fixes—for every new Chromebook released after 2 We don’t recommend any Chromebooks with a support date that expires before You can check how long each Chromebook model has guaranteed support on Google’s support site or check on your Chromebook itself by following these steps. (This support is separate from a hardware warranty provided by the laptop’s manufacturer.)

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How we tested

We lived with each Chromebook for at least a full day of work to get a feel for the keyboard, trackpad, screen, and speakers, as well as for each laptop’s real-world performance. We checked Gmail and Google Calendar, ran Slack, streamed music, worked in large Google Drive spreadsheets and text documents, chatted on Zoom, and paid attention to input lag while typing in Google Docs. We also watched streaming video on Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube.

To quantify how fast a Chromebook felt to use, we gathered results from the JetStream 2 benchmarking tool to measure performance, combining those results with what we saw in our real-world testing. This step also highlighted the performance gap separating models with Intel and AMD’s typical laptop processors from those with low-budget Intel or AMD chips, as well as ARM-powered Chromebooks.

To test the battery life of each Chromebook, we used a customized version of the Chromium battery test designed to emulate normal browsing behavior. The first 60% of the test involves loading a new website every minute, scrolling down and back up the page. The next 20% of the test loads a Gmail tab with audio streaming in a background tab. For the next 10%, the Chromium test loads various Google Docs items; the final 10% of the test plays a full-screen YouTube video. We ran the test until each Chromebook died.

Our pick: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 (13″)

The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is fully displayed, sitting on a purple table.

Recommended configuration

Processor:Intel Core iUScreen:inch × touch
Memory:4 GBWeight: pounds
Storage:64 GB SSDTested battery life:10 hours

The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 (13″) is an exceptional Chromebook—it’s fast, it has an excellent keyboard and trackpad, it’s compact and light, and its p touchscreen is bright and vivid. And somehow, it’s still comparatively inexpensive. The battery life is just long enough to last through a day of work or classes, but it can be a tight squeeze, and it’s the one area in which our other picks do better. Lenovo also has a slightly cheaper model with a Celeron U processor and half the local storage, but most people are better off spending a little more for the performance and storage bump.

The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is fully displayed, sitting open on a purple table.

The Flex 5’s backlit keys offer deeper travel than those of many laptops and feel comfortable to type on, and the keyboard overall is one of the best we’ve seen on a Chromebook in years. Many Chromebook keyboards are merely serviceable, and others feel stubborn, mushy, and unpleasant to type on. The Flex 5’s trackpad, like most Chromebook trackpads nowadays, is accurate and reliable.

The Flex 5 is much lighter and more compact than most Chromebooks in this price range. In fact, at around 3 pounds and by by inches, it’s closer in weight and size to our upgrade pick, though the Flex 5 is a bit thicker.

The Flex 5 Chromebook, shown in tablet mode.

In our productivity and media testing, the inch × touchscreen display looked good. Light colors in spreadsheets appeared distinct and weren’t washed out on the Flex 5’s screen. The reviewer for Android Police experienced significant light bleed at the edges of the screen on their review unit, but we didn’t have the same problem; blacks looked dark in movies and TV shows in our testing. (If you do encounter this problem, we recommend returning or exchanging your Chromebook.) The Flex 5 has a degree hinge, but it’s too bulky to hold comfortably in tablet mode, even though it’s smaller and lighter than most Chromebooks.

The side ports of the Chromebook Flex 5.

On the right side, the Flex 5 has a power button, a volume rocker, and a USB-C port, plus a lock slot. Photo: Michael Murtaugh

The left side ports on the Chromebook Flex 5.

On the left, you’ll find another USB-C port, a USB-A port, a headphone jack, and a microSD slot. Photo: Michael Murtaugh

The Flex 5 has a mix of new and old USB ports, so it should accommodate most of the accessories and cables you already have. That mix includes two USB-C Gen 1 ports, one USB-A Gen 1 port, an audio jack, and a microSD slot for additional storage. The Flex 5’s webcam is about as good as most laptop webcams, and the Flex 5 has a handy hardware privacy shutter that you can slide across the webcam when you’re not using it to ensure no one can see you. The Flex 5 also supports the latest Wi-Fi standard, Wi-Fi 6 (ax). It comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty and GB of Google One storage for one year, and it has update support through June

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Chromebook modelTested battery life
Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 (13″)
Acer Chromebook Spin (CPH-R4HQ)
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 (i3 model)
Asus Chromebook Flip C
Acer Chromebook Spin (CPW)
Google Pixelbook Go

Our battery life test mimics ordinary browsing behavior by scrolling through websites, Gmail, audio streaming, Google Docs, and YouTube videos. We run the test until each Chromebook dies.

In our web-browsing battery test, the Flex 5 lasted 10 hours, about two to three hours short of most Chromebooks we tested in and That’s still enough battery for the Flex 5 to last through a full day of work or classes, but that’s pushing it, especially if you crank up the screen brightness. We’d prefer a couple more hours of battery life, but the Flex 5 excels in so many other ways that it’s worth this small trade-off.

The lid can be a little tricky; I found myself frequently needing two hands to open the Flex 5. We wish it had a lip, as on some of Lenovo’s Yoga models, to provide a bit of purchase and make the laptop easier to open. Otherwise, the Flex 5 offers excellent build quality.

The charger that came with our review unit emitted an annoying coil whine when it was plugged in and charging the Flex 5. The problem is not a dealbreaker, and we haven’t seen enough reviews out there yet to know if this is a widespread issue or just a case of our getting a lemon, but it is irritating.

Upgrade pick: Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

The best upgrade Chromebook, the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2, shown in red.

Recommended configuration

Processor:Intel Core iUScreen:inch × touch
Memory:8 GBWeight: pounds
Storage: GB eMMCTested battery life:11 hours

As someone who tests laptops for a living, I’d get the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 with the Core i3 processor, and if you’re willing to pay more for a smaller, lighter, and faster Chromebook with longer battery life, you should too. Most people don’t need to spend more over the Flex 5, but if you frequently have dozens of tabs open, run multiple Android apps, or use Linux, the extra memory is worth paying extra for. Unlike our other picks, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 lacks USB-A ports for connecting older peripherals; you’ll need a dongle or dock to attach those. (We don’t recommend the Celeron model, it’s too slow for its price.)

The shallow keyboard of the Galaxy Chromebook 2.

The Galaxy Chromebook 2’s backlit keyboard is shallow, but it’s still satisfying to type on. And while some laptop keyboards emit a clacking noise as you type, the Galaxy Chromebook 2’s keyboard is quiet, which makes it ideal for a shared workspace. The trackpad is smooth and accurate, and though it’s a bit smaller than the Flex 5’s trackpad, we didn’t run into any issues with its size.

In our mid battery life tests, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 had solid battery life—the Core i3 model we recommend lasted 11 hours 8 minutes in our tests. We expect it will last a full day of work or school without needing to be plugged in. The Galaxy Chromebook 2 is just a bit smaller all around than the Flex 5, and it weighs just pounds. It’s not quite the lightest and most compact Chromebook we’ve tested—that honor goes to our previous upgrade pick, the Google Pixelbook Go. But the Galaxy Chromebook 2 is light enough to use comfortably in tablet mode, unlike any of our other picks.

The Galaxy Chromebook 1, shown in tablet mode, open to its home screen.

The inch display looks crisp and vibrant, and because it gets a bit brighter than the Flex 5’s screen on the highest settings, it’s better suited for working outdoors in sunlight. The Galaxy Chromebook 2’s touchscreen offers the same × resolution as on most of our picks, plus it has a degree hinge for tent and tablet modes, unlike the Pixelbook Go, which only works as a regular ol’ clamshell laptop.

The USB-C port on the side of the Galaxy Chromebook 2.

The Galaxy Chromebook 2 doesn’t have any USB-A ports. The right side has one USB-C port. Photo: Michael Murtaugh

The USB-C port, headphone jack, and microSD card slot on the side of the Galaxy Chromebook 2.

The left side has another USB-C port, a headphone jack, and a microSD slot. Photo: Michael Murtaugh

The Galaxy Chromebook 2 has two USB-C ports that carry data at 5 Gbps, power, and display, as well as one mm audio jack and a microSD slot. It doesn’t have any USB-A ports for connecting older peripherals; if you want to do that, you need to attach a dongle or dock. The Galaxy Chromebook 2’s webcam looks a bit better than the Flex 5’s, but it’s still not as sharp as the Pixelbook Go’s excellent p webcam. Like our top picks, it supports Wi-Fi 6 and it has guaranteed update support through June , a one-year warranty, and GB of Google One storage for one year.

Other good Chromebooks

The Acer Chromebook Spin (CPH-R4HQ) is an all-around solid Chromebook, with a comfortable keyboard, responsive trackpad, and 11 hours of battery life. But it’s larger and heavier than our top picks, it typically costs a bit more, and its processor has lower performance when the laptop is unplugged. It’s still fast enough for typical computer tasks, but we recommend our top picks over this option if they’re available.

Google’s Pixelbook Go was our previous upgrade pick because it’s compact and light, and has top-of-the-line build quality and long battery life. We still love this model—and it has a better webcam than the Galaxy Chromebook 2—but its support runs out in June , two years sooner than Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 and the other premium Chromebooks in this section. At the time of this writing, that’s about five years of security updates, but by the time you read this it’ll be even less. Five years is the minimum lifespan we expect from a laptop, and we can’t recommend a high-end Chromebook with a shorter lifespan unless you feel comfortable installing CloudReady or you’re sure you’ll upgrade sooner.

The Acer Chromebook Spin (CPW) is an excellent Chromebook, with long battery life, a reliable keyboard and trackpad, and a vivid display. Compared with the similarly priced Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 and Pixelbook Go, the Spin has a taller screen, more ports, and a degree hinge. But it’s noticeably heavier and bulkier, and the other premium options have better build quality. If you find the Spin on sale—or you don’t mind the extra weight—the Spin is worth buying.

The Acer Chromebook (CC85K) could be a good option for young kids, if you can find it in stock, thanks to its durable body and spill-resistant keyboard. But it’s a bit slower than our top picks—it can handle remote schoolwork or a video chat, but can’t do both at the same time gracefully. It also suffers from a terrible, low-resolution, non-touch screen, and its keyboard is mediocre.

The Acer Chromebook Spin (RTA-C7KT) and Chromebook Spin (RT-C59J) are both very similar to the , but with faster processors that will feel better for school work and video calls. Both have durable bodies, spill-resistant keyboards, and small, low-resolution displays. At their current prices of $ and $, respectively, we wouldn’t recommend them over our top picks. But they’re both good options if you can find one at or below $, or if you value that spill-resistant keyboard above faster performance and a larger, better-quality screen.

What to look forward to

In June, Lenovo announced two new Chromebook models, the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook and the IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook. Both models start at $ and we plan to test them against our top picks as soon as possible.

Acer also announced an updated version of the Acer Chromebook Spin that we plan to test soon, and a new Chromebook that will be available in October.

The competition

The HP Chromebook x 14c (canr) was previously a runner-up pick because of its great keyboard and trackpad, fast performance, and vivid inch touchscreen, but it’s been discontinued. We also recommended the more powerful and more expensive 14c-cadx if you could snag it during a great sale, but it’s difficult to find in stock.

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 with a Celeron U is too slow for its $ full price, or even its $ sale price. Our top picks have better performance for a similar price, and our budget pick with the same processor costs around $

The Acer Chromebook Spin ’s ARM-based processor struggled to run a Zoom call and work on a spreadsheet at the same time. Its screen also had a blue cast and looked washed out.

The Asus Chromebook Flip CTA is a great Chromebook with one extremely frustrating flaw: The lid is held shut by surprisingly aggressive magnets. Even with two hands, I found it a struggle to open the lid every single time, and when I asked others to use the laptop, I overheard some choice words from them (I used plenty of my own each time I tried to pry it apart). The reviewer for Chrome Unboxed encountered the same issue, calling this Chromebook “by far the most difficult laptop I’ve ever tried to open”; we also tried a floor model at Best Buy, and it had the same problem. Its support runs out in June , so we don’t recommend it over newer models with years more support.

The Asus Chromebook Flip C was a former pick because of its solid performance, reliable trackpad and backlit keyboard, excellent battery life, and spacious inch screen with tiny borders. But we no longer recommend the C because we’ve seen a higher-than-typical number of owner reports of hardware issues, including reports of unresponsive touchscreens, displays that won't turn on, defective keyboards and trackpads, and Bluetooth problems. We’ve also encountered display glitches on our own review unit. Its support also runs out in June

Upgrade options

Lenovo’s ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook (13″) is a great Chromebook, but costs around $ for a fast-enough processor and is heavier and bulkier than our similarly-priced upgrade pick. (We don’t recommend the model with an AMD Athlon processor, it’s too slow.)

The HP Pro c Chromebook costs about as much as the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 with similar specs, but it’s heavier, it had shorter battery life, and its white-backlit silver keys are difficult to read.

The Asus Chromebook Flip C is a good Chromebook, but it’s way too expensive. Our upgrade pick is cheaper, lighter, thinner, and blessed with longer battery life and a better keyboard.

The Dell Latitude Chromebook Enterprise is not a Chromebook for most people. This business-focused Chromebook has a powerful Core iU processor, 8 GB of RAM, and GB of storage, as well as a ton of ports. But it’s bulky, it weighs pounds, and it typically costs around $

Budget options

At around $, the Acer Chromebook Spin is too expensive for a Chromebook that has a inch, × resolution display and weighs pounds.

Several different versions of the HP Chromebook x 14b are available from various retailers. All of these models are similar to the x 14—a now-discontinued model that we previously recommended—but Chrome Unboxed notes that they “sport lesser processors, not-so-premium displays and more budget-y build quality.” We couldn’t find any models with p screens and fast-enough processors.

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is an inexpensive Chrome OS tablet that comes with a keyboard and kickstand cover. But I found the cramped keyboard impossible to adjust to—even as someone who adjusts to weird keyboards for a living—and the processor a bit slow for everyday work. The Duet also lacks a headphone jack. Most people should spend a little more for the Flex 5, unless you just really want a Chrome OS tablet.

The Rockchip RK processor in the Asus Chromebook Flip C is too slow for everyday use, and the C is too small to comfortably type on.

What we didn’t consider

So far, Chromebooks with Intel’s N-series Pentium or Celeron processors feel too slow even in light use—we experienced delays with just a handful of tabs open. For the same reason, we don’t recommend any ARM-based processors like those from MediaTek, Qualcomm, Samsung, Nvidia, or Rockchip for the same reason. And we don’t consider any model with less than 4 GB of RAM.


  1. Nathan Ingraham, Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook review: The best budget-friendly Chromebook, Engadget, June 25,

  2. Kimberly Gedeon, Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook review, LaptopMag, June 19,

  3. Robby Payne, Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook Review: the new measuring stick, Chrome Unboxed, June 9,

  4. Corbin Davenport, Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 review: So close to the perfect inch Chromebook, Android Police, June 7,

  5. Power testing, Git repositories on Chromium

  6. Auto Update policy, Google Chrome Enterprise Help (Google Support)

  7. Chromebook security, Chromebook Help (Google Support)

  8. Use your Chromebook offline, Chromebook Help (Google Support)

About your guide

Kimber Streams

Kimber Streams is a senior staff writer and has been covering laptops, gaming gear, keyboards, storage, and more for Wirecutter since In that time they’ve tested hundreds of laptops and thousands of peripherals, and built way too many mechanical keyboards for their personal collection.

Further reading

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What is a Chromebook and should you buy one?

Whenever visiting family and friends, I expect one question to come up: "What is a Chromebook?" It's a query I'm getting a lot more now that Chromebooks have invaded the mainstream, giving people capable budget options at well below $ So, what is a Chromebook? Instead of a Windows 10 (and soon Windows 11) or macOS laptop, Chromebooks run Google's Chrome OS. 

Originally seen as a platform built around Google's cloud apps (Chrome, Gmail, etc), Chrome OS has done well in the education market. Over time, however, the appeal for Chromebooks has widened, and the best Chromebooks are some of the best laptops overall today. In fact, the demand for Chromebooks spiked during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and Google outpunched its rival Apple by selling more laptops with Chrome OS than MacBooks in (according to the IDC via Geekwire).

If you're considering buying one for your kid, our Chromebook drop test gives us a sense of which Chrome OS laptop is the most durable. Students should also check out our Windows 10 vs. macOS vs. Chrome OS guide when the back-to-school season comes around. 

Below is a comprehensive guide for anyone who is considering buying a Chromebook. We've put our collective knowledge together to look at pricing, features, and comparisons with other laptops, including MacBooks and top Windows 10 laptops, to see if a Chromebook is best for you.

How much do Chromebooks cost?

For the longest time, there was a pretty narrow price range for Chromebooks, and it was on the more affordable end of the spectrum. That is still largely the case; You can pick up the affordable and lightweight Samsung Chromebook 4 — which has an inch HD display, an Intel Celeron NN CPU and 4GB of RAM — for only $ For a bit more than that, Lenovo offers the excellent $ Chromebook Duet.

Other models ask you to go into the mid-range price bracket, such as Google's Pixelbook Go ($), the business-friendly Lenovo Yoga C13 Yoga, or the $ Samsung Chromebook Pro, a stylus-equipped inch notebook with a x pixel display, an Intel Core M3 processor and 4GB of RAM. Now the premium Chromebook market is growing, with laptops like the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook ($) and its successor, the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2, leading the charge. 

You'll probably wind up paying more for a Windows 10 notebook, as the average selling price for a PC is $, according to NPD. There are more affordable options, as we've detailed here, but the PC laptop market has a much higher cap than the Chromebook market.

But is a Chromebook right for you? Our Chromebook buying guide has the answers to these and other questions.

Chromebooks run Chrome OS, Google's operating system, so they heavily feature Google's suite of applications (Chrome, Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc) and need a working Internet connection to get the most out of them. Although you can log in to Chrome OS as a guest, we recommend you sign in to the system with a Google account to have the best experience.

Chromebook apps: Can I use Android apps?

These machines were primarily optimized for Google apps, such as Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive, however, every modern Chromebook now has access to the Play Store. This deep integration can be either positive or negative, depending on how you use a PC. Chromebooks will be easy to set up if you already use those apps. And if you need help using incognito windows, we have a guide for that too.

Android apps are available on all new Chromebooks. This gives Chromebooks access to more games, productivity options and other apps to make these machines more versatile, though the apps seemingly run via an emulator with mixed results. Also, not all apps are optimized for a larger screen (they were built for mobile-first), so you might encounter some scaling issues. Check out our guide to the best Chromebook games for specific gaming app recommendations.

It may be best to stick with the Office Android apps or Office Online if you're bringing a lot of files over to your Chromebook. There are often formatting issues when importing third-party documents into Drive. Fortunately, Google Drive allows you to save documents to Microsoft formats, so you'll still be able to share files with non-Chromebook users through Microsoft Word or other programs.

On the other hand, there are a handful of photo editors available for Chrome OS, including Pixlr (free) and Photopea, which look a lot like Photoshop but without the advanced tools. But those with existing files are out of luck — there is no Chromebook app that can edit Adobe's .PSD files.

If you're familiar with Linux's applications, you've got some options. Chromebooks will support Linux programs right out of the box, satisfying demand from some of the more tech-savvy Chromebook owners.  The Pixelbook was the first that will get this option, and others followed.

How are Chromebooks for offline use?

Chromebooks are designed to rely heavily on the Internet, which means that many apps simply won't work if you're out of Wi-Fi range. There are more than offline Chrome apps that can work without Internet connectivity, including Gmail, Pocket and Google Drive, and tons of the Android apps will also work offline.

Chromebook games

The Chrome Web Store offers casual titles such as Bejeweled and Cut the Rope, but you won't have the same selection as you would on a Windows machine or a Mac. Fortunately, Chromebooks with Android support get more modern titles such as Fallout Shelter, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes and Minecraft, so be sure to check out our best Chromebook games roundup for some of the top titles out there.

Chromebooks generally have limited graphics processing power, so you'll want to stick to less demanding titles. However, Google's Stadia platform can stream AAA games like Assassin's Creed and Doom to any device with a Chrome browser, which makes Chromebooks much more formidable gaming machines.

Chromebook special features

Google Assistant landed on the Chrome OS platform in the Pixelbook. While you can activate it with the Pixelbook Pen, that $99 accessory isn't necessary when you have the dedicated Assistant key in that laptop's keyboard. While the launcher is currently integrated with Google Now, giving you info cards for the current weather and local news stories, we could see it switching to Google Feed.

Google redesigned the on-screen keyboard for touch-screen use, making it easier to use on 2-in-1s like the Asus Chromebook Flip C With a minimalist design, the on-screen keyboard recognizes your scribbles and gives you choices of text to input. When we tested that feature, it was always accurate in recognizing our writing. 

Google debuted a new webpage dedicated to new Chrome OS feature announcements, entitled "What's new with your Chromebook."

Chromebook battery life

Chromebooks typically offer exceptional battery life, but not every model. Of the Chromebooks we've reviewed in the past year, we've seen an average of 9 hours and 15 minutes of endurance on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi.

On the top end, you'll notice standouts like the Acer Chromebook R 13's runtime of Google's own Pixelbook, disappointingly, offers a relatively short 7 hours and 43 minutes of juice. Then again, the Pixelbook Go, an arguably better value than the more premium Pixelbook, lasted an excellent 11 hours and 29 minutes.

We recommend shooting for at least 9 hours of juice, which half of the Chromebooks we've reviewed offer. While some affordable Windows 10 notebooks offer amazing battery life, the ultraportable notebook average is a shorter 8 hours and 56 minutes.

Are Chromebooks durable?

Similar to business notebooks made to survive drops and other minor disasters, Chromebooks are built to withstand falls, scrapes and similar punishment. 

We put the durability of top Chromebooks to the test by dropping 11 different models from heights of feet and 4 feet then scoring them on a scale of 0 to 10 based on how much damage was sustained. You can read our full report here. 

Separately, the Acer Chromebook 14 proved durable, surviving unscratched and fully functional after our Dropbot test bench dropped it from a height of 48 inches onto a plywood plank. 

The Latitude Chromebook Enterprise and the Acer Chromebook 14 for Work are MIL-STDG certified, meaning they're capable of passing durability testing that U.S. Military equipment must pass. 

Durable Chromebooks aren't just for adults. The kid-friendly Acer Chromebook 11 N7 CT survived a full glass of water getting spilled onto its keyboard, as well as the inch high drops from our Dropbot It may have gotten scuffed along the way, but it's a good option for clumsier users.

Chromebooks for business

Laptops with Chrome Enterprise offer tools that IT administrators need to manage laptops in and out of the office. 

The Dell Latitude 2-in-1 Chromebook Enterprise, HP Pro C Chrome Enterprise and Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga are among the first true business Chromebooks with a full suite of security features, including a  Trusted Platform Module (TPM), a security chip that helps keep malicious attackers away from your passwords.

What size screen does my Chromebook need?

Most Chromebooks fall between 11 and 13 inches. That means you won't have trouble choosing a smaller model, such as the inch Acer Chromebook 11 N7 , the inch Asus Chromebook Flip CCA and the inch ThinkPad 13 Chromebook.

These models often weigh less than 3 pounds, making them the most portable, and great options for kids. However, the screen size and keyboards may seem cramped for adults.

Those looking for more real estate for web surfing, getting work done, watching movies and playing games can pick up the inch Acer Chromebook 14 or the inch Acer Chromebook 15, a few examples of the growing batch of Chromebooks with big screens. Lenovo took it a step further with the Yoga Chromebook C, a inch laptop with a 4K display. 

While the demand for larger Chromebooks is increasing, don't look for a inch Chromebook; they simply don't exist yet. 

The Acer Chromebook and are inch and inch aluminum notebooks with fingerprint readers. The Chromebook also sports a number pad. 

What specs do I need?

Because Chromebooks are meant primarily for online use, the specs aren't as important as they are for Windows laptops, but you'll still want to know how much power and storage you're getting for your money. Here's a quick guide.


When it comes to RAM, Chromebooks come with either 2GB or 4GB. While models with 4GB are more expensive, we've found that difference to be worth it for multi-tasking.

MORE: How Much RAM Do You Really Need?

Both the HP Chromebook 14 (4GB RAM) and the Lenovo S Chromebook (2GB RAM) featured the same Celeron N processors, but the HP notebook handled more than a dozen open tabs without a problem while the Lenovo stuttered with 10 open Chrome tabs and Spotify playing. Our tests of the Windows version of the Lenovo Ideapad S ($) show that similarly spec'd PCs can handle a larger stack of tabs.

If you have a larger budget, we recommend upgrading to a Chromebook with 8GB of RAM or even 16GB. The memory upgrade will ensure your system never slows down. 


The processor in your Chrome OS machine helps determine how smoothly your Chromebook performs, especially when you have multiple tabs open and you're streaming video or playing games.

We find Intel Celeron chips in many Chromebooks, and they often provide acceptable speed. The $ Acer Chromebook 11 N7 CT (Celeron N, 4GB RAM) for example, could run 8 concurrent Chrome tabs, but stuttered after we opened another.

You can get a Windows 10 laptop with similar specs and price, such as the Dell Inspiron 11 ($), but it might not be as capable. That machine has the same processor and memory, but while it lasts more than 13 hours, its performance was less than that of the 11 N7.

If that doesn't sound like enough for you, certain Chromebooks pack Intel Core CPUs for even more speed. The biggest downside to these Core M Chromebooks, such as the Asus Chromebook Flip CCA ($) and Samsung Chromebook Pro ($) is their heftier price. Don't worry about that powerful CPU affecting the battery life, as the Samsung Chromebook Pro (Core M3) provided more power and longer longevity () than its weaker Chromebook Plus (ARM MediaTek; ) sibling.

If you want a Chromebook with enough speed to run your favorite Android apps, consider laptops with Intel 10th Gen or 11th Gen Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs, such as the Pixelbook Go. And don't count out AMD, which recently announced new Ryzen and Athlon C-series CPUs made specifically for Chromebooks. 

If you want a Chromebook without an Intel Chip, there's always 's Acer Chromebook 13, the only Chrome OS machine with an Nvidia chip (the Tegra K1). While it offers excellent graphics performance, it doesn't offer a touch screen.

Storage Size

Since Chrome OS is so lightweight, Chromebooks often don't need much storage. Most pack just 32GB of onboard storage, and that's likely all you'll need at this stage. Once Android support lands on the platform, users will find ways to make use of the SD card reader in notebooks such as the Acer Chromebook 14, where you can expand the storage up to 64GB.

Spring for a 32GB model now if you're buying with Android apps in mind. Similarly-priced Windows laptops often include 32GB by default, but that operating system takes up so much space that you're left with a similar amount of free storage as a 16GB Chromebook.

Google gives you GB of free Google Drive storage with every Chromebook purchase, though that only lasts for two years, after which you'll only have the standard 15GB of free space.


The size of the screen isn't the only thing that matters. While we appreciate the bright, color-accurate panel in the$ Samsung Chromebook 4, its x pixel dimensions mean it's best for writing and reading. But if you want sharper images, video and graphics, spring for one with a full-HD display ( x pixels), such as the $ Acer Chromebook R

Windows 10 has been built for touch screens, but you can get the same functionality in Chrome OS. You just have to know which one to get — and expect to pay about a $ premium. While old at this point, the $ Acer Chromebook R 11 can bend into a tablet, making use of its IPS touch-screen display. The HP Chromebook x2 has a detachable design, meaning you can remove the keyboard like you would on a Microsoft Surface and use the screen as a standalone tablet.

The $ Asus Chromebook Flip C also has a touchscreen and supports Android apps. If the prospect of using What's App, Super Mario Run and other apps on a Chromebook sounds like an option for you, make sure your next Chromebook includes a touchscreen.

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook offers one of the best displays we've seen in a Chromebook, with a 4K AMOLED panel that covers % of the sRGB color gamut and reaches nits of brightness. 

Who are Chromebooks for?

Overall, the best way to tell if someone will enjoy owning a Chromebook is if you know they already spend most of their time in the Chrome browser. Those users will take to the notebook naturally.

If you're buying this Chromebook for someone else, you should take a few moments to consider how they're going to use the device. Chromebooks are especially good for younger students, as they are ease to use and are fairly secure. It's also quite easy to update your Chromebook, and even better, these laptops often do that themselves.

Children who are still learning how to use computers may be more receptive to learning how a new operating system works, and while there's no official Minecraft title for Chrome OS, the Android-based Minecraft: Pocket Edition will become available on certain Chromebooks later this year.

Some elder relatives may have never truly understood Windows enough to use their PC frequently, but others who have learned just enough to make do may become frustrated that they need to relearn where downloads go, or that their favorite app is not available for Chrome.

But if your office will support Chrome OS, you might want to look into getting your company to spring for the Dell Latitude Chromebook, a proper business laptop with great battery life and strong performance. 

Bottom Line

Chromebooks are affordable and offer decent performance, and the introduction of Android apps is increasing their capabilities. Microsoft is fighting back with claims that Windows 10 S mode will give laptops better performance and battery life, but if you're looking for a simple way to get online and you prefer Google's services, you can confidently answer the question "Should I Buy a Chromebook?" with a bold "Yes!"

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.


Chromebooks any good are

The Best Chromebook

The best Chromebooks aren’t just laptops that run a few Google apps anymore. Chromebooks can cover a wide variety of computing needs now, and a good Chrome OS laptop or two-in-one can be more useful than a mediocre Windows or MacOS laptop. That’s why our pick for the best Chromebook of is the Acer Chromebook Spin , which does just about everything right.

The best Chromebooks are known to deliver good value. The message that many people actually want good Chromebooks — rather than just cheap ones — has gotten through to manufacturers. Many are around $ or $, though there are good options in the higher and lower ranges as well. The extra money goes a long way toward getting something you’ll be happy with.

For the first time, the quality of the best Chromebooks in this range has been consistent. There are so many similarities between the offerings from Asus, Lenovo, Google, HP, Dell, and Samsung that a conspiracy-minded person might suggest they’re all sourcing their components from the same factory. That’s great news if you’re comparison shopping; the majority of this list would be good buys if you can find them at a discount. They can even rival some of the best laptops, best budget laptops, and best student laptops on the market.

Our pick for the best Chromebook is the Acer Chromebook Spin , and we’ve selected the Lenovo Chromebook Duet for shoppers on a budget. Other picks for the best Chromebooks of include the Google Pixelbook Go, the Google Pixelbook, the HP Chromebook x, and the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2.

What most buyers want in the best Chromebook are likely the same things they want in any laptop: a good keyboard, solid build quality, long battery life, a nice screen, and enough power to do the things you want. More Chromebooks can meet those qualifications than ever before, but these are the ones that rise above the rest.

Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

1. Acer Chromebook Spin

Best Chromebook of

Acer’s Chromebook Spin is, hands-down, the best Chromebook you can buy. With a gorgeous screen that rivals some more expensive competitors, you’ll have a ton of extra vertical space for your work and multitasking.

The keyboard is excellent with a comfortable, quiet feel, and nice backlighting. There’s even an HDMI port, which you don’t see on a thin Chromebook every day. And (most importantly) the 11th-Gen Intel processors can handle a heavy load of tabs with no problem. The Spin’s speakers aren’t great, and there’s no biometric login, but those are reasonable sacrifices to make for a laptop of this quality at this low of a price.

In a market where the main differences between Chromebooks in this price range boil down to their screens and maybe an included stylus, Acer sets itself apart by making an affordable laptop that’s excellent in almost every way.

Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

2. Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Best Chromebook on a budget

If you’re looking for an affordable device for on-the-go work, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet delivers excellent value for its low price. It’s an ultra-portable inch 2-in-1 device with a detachable keyboard and kickstand cover.

The Duet contains a MediaTek Helio P60T processor, 4GB of RAM, and up to GB of storage, and it performs well if you’re just browsing and don’t plan on using a super heavy load. It also uses a version of Chrome OS that’s made for its convertible form factor, including the first version of Chrome that’s optimized for tablet use. When detached from its keyboard, the Duet supports an Android-esque gesture navigation system that makes switching between apps a breeze. But the most impressive feature is battery life; I got close to hours of fairly heavy use.

Of course, there are drawbacks. The touchpad and keyboard are quite small, there’s no headphone jack (and only one USB-C port), and the screen is a bit dim. But those are reasonable trade-offs to make for such an affordable price. It makes a great secondary device for schoolwork or on-the-go browsing.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

The Chromebook Duet boasts long battery life and has a aspect ratio display to fit more content on the screen at once. The Duet can be used as a tablet or a laptop. On the downside, it has just one USB-C port and no mm headphone jack.

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

3. HP Chromebook x 14

Powerful Chromebook with a sleek design

If you’re looking to get more power and you don’t mind getting a slightly larger laptop, the HP Chromebook x 14 is a great choice. HP has several configurations that fall under this name, but we suggest the model we tested with 8GB of RAM and 64GB of storage to go along with the i3 processor.

While we picked the Asus because of its elegant design, there isn’t much to complain about on the slightly larger HP. It has the same ports, RAM, and storage. The keyboard is great, and it also sounds slightly better because the speakers are up on the keyboard deck instead of on the bottom.

Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

4. Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3

Best detachable Chromebook

The Chromebook Detachable CM3 is Asus’s attempt to compete with Lenovo’s highly praised Chromebook Duet. Like the Duet, the CM3 is a inch, Chrome OS tablet with a fabric cover, a kickstand, and a keyboard that pops on and off. It’s a bit more expensive than the Duet, but also has a few extra features.

One unique perk is that the kickstand folds multiple ways: You can fold it the long way to stand the tablet up like a laptop, or fold it the short way and stand the tablet up horizontally. We’re not sure how practical this functionality actually is, but it’s there if you have a use case in mind.

The CM3 also comes with a built-in USI stylus, and roomy keys with a surprising amount of travel. But the thing we found most impressive was the battery life: We averaged close to 13 hours of continuous work on the device.

The CM3 won’t be the best Chromebook for everyone: It only has two ports (one USB-C and one audio jack) and its MediaTek processor was a bit sluggish compared to more expensive offerings. But if you’re looking for a convertible Chrome OS device and find that the Duet doesn’t quite suit your needs, you’re likely the CM3’s target audience.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

5. Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

Best midrange Chromebook

Samsung’s first Galaxy Chromebook shot for the moon, with a $1, price tag, an OLED display, a packaged stylus, and a premium build. The Galaxy Chromebook 2 isn’t so much a sequel to that device as it is a pared-down, more affordable alternative. There’s no fingerprint sensor, no stylus, and no OLED — but it’s quite functional, and with a sub-$ starting price it’s a much more reasonable purchase.

The Chromebook 2’s highlight feature is its finish: It comes in a bright “fiesta red” that will certainly stand out wherever you’re using it. (There’s a gray option as well, if you’d prefer something subtle.) It’s also the first Chromebook ever to feature one of Samsung’s QLED panels. QLED isn’t OLED — it’s just a fancier LED — but it still makes for one of the most gorgeous displays I’ve ever seen on a Chromebook.

Nice screens sometimes wreck battery life, but that’s not the case here. I averaged about seven hours and 21 minutes of continuous work on the Chromebook 2, which means you shouldn’t need to plug it in too too often. And while the Core i3 processor isn’t the most powerful chip you can get in a Chromebook, it’s just fine for everyday work use.

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

6. Google Pixelbook Go

Best Google Chromebook

The Google Pixelbook Go is a handsome, no-nonsense inch laptop that weighs just pounds. It has a sturdy magnesium chassis, and a ridged grip on the bottom to keep itself from slipping on slanted surfaces.

Not only is the Pixelbook Go portable and stylish, but it delivers solid performance, and supports fast charging through either of its USB-C ports. Battery life is also impressive. The Go lasted over eight hours in our testing, and it should get you through a full workday with no problem. But its standout feature is the keyboard, which is quiet with good travel and a springy feel. Verge editor Dieter Bohn found it to be his “favorite thing to type on by a long shot.”

The Go is an expensive product, as Chromebooks go, and it doesn’t top our list because the Chromebook Flip C offers similar specs and features for a slightly lower price. But we think plenty of shoppers who value long battery life and lightweight build might prefer to spend a bit more on this device instead.

Google Pixelbook Go

Google Pixelbook Go is a handsome, no-nonsense inch laptop with multiple USB-C ports, great travel, and enough battery life to get you through the workday.

Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

7. Lenovo C13 Yoga Chromebook

Best premium Chromebook

Many modern Chromebooks are oriented towards kids and students, but not this one. The C13 Yoga Chromebook is a sturdy, pricey, convertible Chromebook for grown-ups. It’s part of Lenovo’s renowned ThinkPad business line, and has all kinds of ThinkPad perks including a red Trackpoint, discrete touchpad clickers, a fingerprint sensor, a webcam shutter, and an aluminum design. Put this Chromebook next to any number of Windows ThinkPads, and we might not be able to pick it out.

The C13 is also unique in that it’s the first Chromebook to include AMD’s Ryzen Mobile C-series processors, which are marketed specifically for Chromebooks. The chips run all kinds of programs — even mobile games — quite smoothly. We do wish the battery life was a bit better — we only averaged just over six hours on one charge. We averaged seven and a half hours from our top pick, the Chromebook Spin , and plenty of the devices here break eight hours with no problem

Photography by Monica Chin / The Verge

8. Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook

Best Chromebook for midrange shopepers

The Lenovo Flex 5 looks a lot nicer than its sub-$ price might indicate. It’s built to withstand all kinds of jolts and jostles in a backpack or briefcase, but also has a smooth soft-touch texture that’s pleasant to hold. Add a sleek backlit keyboard, a physical webcam shutter, and front-facing speakers, and you’ve got a chassis with hallmarks of a much more expensive device.

You get some other perks as well. The Flex 5 has one of the better keyboards I’ve ever used on a Chromebook, let alone a Chromebook at a midrange price point. It also has a useful port selection including a microSD reader and a USB-C port on each side, as well as a crisp x touch display.

The one caveat is that the Flex 5 has somewhat disappointing battery life, averaging just over five and a half hours in our testing. If you’ll be using the device while you’re out and about, you’ll want to make sure you bring the 45W charger with you.

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Why Does Chrome OS Still Exist?

Chromebooks are laptops and two-in-ones running on Google'sChrome operating system. The hardware might look like any other laptop, but the minimalistic, web-browser-based Chrome OS is a different experience from the Windows and MacOS laptops you're likely used to. Whether you're considering switching to one from a Windows laptop or MacBook, your kid received one from their school or you're simply Chrome OS curious, here's everything you need to know. 

Read more: Best laptop under $ of

When Chromebooks first arrived in  they were routinely derided -- and rightfully so -- for their limited functionality and reliance on a consistent internet connection. The operating system turns 10 years old this year and today's Chromebooks are far from where they started, but some things haven't changed and you might not be willing to work with the limitations they do have. Also, if you don't feel like reading this and would just rather experience Chrome OS, here's how to temporarily run it on any laptop using an inexpensive USB flash drive you probably already have lying around. 

Now playing:Watch this: Here's why a Chromebook might be all the laptop you need

What can and can't I do with a Chromebook?

When Chrome OS launched it was essentially Google's Chrome web browser. For those used to an operating system like Windows and Mac, it made the average Chromebook seem like little more than a laptop that runs a web browser and that's all. 

Even if the Chrome OS never matured beyond that, the fact is quite a lot can be done entirely on the web these days. Take stock of everything you do on a daily basis and you may find there's nothing you can't accomplish with Chrome at its most basic level. 

That said, a Windows laptop or MacBook can run the Chrome browser as well as other software supported by those operating systems. Even if you don't immediately need a particular piece of software, it's nice to have the option. Plus, if you're shopping for a Chromebook for remote learning with Google Classroom, a Mac or Windows PC will work as well.


Along those lines, Chromebooks are not natively compatible with Windows or Mac software. You can use VMware on Chromebooks to run Windows applications and there's support for Linux software, too. Plus, current models can run Android apps and there are also web apps that are available through Google's Chrome Web Store. 

Read more:Best laptops, desktops and tablets for designers and creatives in

One of the big hurdles here for many people is access to Microsoft Office. You can't install the full Office software on a Chromebook, but Microsoft makes both web-based and Android versions available in the Chrome and Google Play stores, respectively. But generally speaking, if you need or want a specific Windows or Mac application -- and there's no suitable web or Android app substitute and you don't want to use VMware -- don't get a Chromebook.

Also, if you need advanced photo- and video-editing capabilities, you'll want a Windows, Mac or Linux laptop. Basic photo and video editing is fine, but Chromebooks typically don't offer the graphics performance you need for demanding tasks or, again, the option to install Windows or Mac software and games. On the other hand, with streaming-game services like Google Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming, Chromebooks can now be used for more than Android and browser-based games. You can also install and play Linux games, though you'll need a higher-end Chromebook to do it. Plus, there are also several Android apps available for photo and video editing, including Adobe options.

Asus Chromebook Flip CM5

What is a good Chromebook?

Several years ago, all Chromebooks were pretty much the same regardless of what company made them. Now, there's a far greater variety of laptops and two-in-ones -- convertibles and tablets -- to take advantage of Chrome OS's current capabilities. You'll still find more sizes and styles when it comes to Windows laptops, especially if you need top processing and graphics performance, but the variety of options is much better than in the past. 

If you're just after a good, basic experience with a Chromebook, the small, lightweight OS has minimal hardware requirements and the same goes for web apps. Having a faster, higher-end processor, more memory and greater storage for files and apps will help keep demanding multitaskers moving along, but otherwise here's what I recommend when I'm asked what basic specs to look for:

  • Intel Celeron or Core i-series, AMD Ryzen or MediaTek processors
  • 4GB of memory or more
  • 64GB of storage
  • Full HD (1,x1,pixel) display

There is flexibility with these recommendations. You can get a 1,xresolution display, for example, but the cheap ones used in low-end Chromebooks look particularly soft next to full-HD models. And you can get by with 32GB of onboard storage as long as there's a microSD card slot to supplement it or you don't plan to download a lot of Android apps. Unlike a regular laptop, a Chromebook relies more on cloud storage for files rather than local storage. It's also worth noting that many times storage and memory are soldered on and can't be upgraded after the fact so you might want to plan ahead. 

Regardless of what Chromebook you buy, before you buy it you should find out the device's Auto Update Expiration date, or AUE. Currently, non-Google hardware is only supported for so long before it stops receiving Chrome OS and browser updates, including those for security. For models released in , the date is roughly 7 to 8 years from the initial release of the device, but that's not always the case. Google maintains a list of AUE dates for all models and you should check it before you buy a Chromebook, new or used. 

Do Chromebooks need an internet connection?

When Chromebooks first launched they basically became paperweights when they were offline -- a real issue if you were in the middle of editing an important document you suddenly couldn't save because your web connection dropped. Things have thankfully gotten better as Google improved offline capabilities and common apps like Netflix, YouTube and Spotify have offline options as well. 

Read:The best VPNs for

For a regular laptop, being offline is a little less of a problem since you're using installed software that saves to internal storage. While neither experience is great offline these days, Chromebooks are not a great choice if you're not willing and able to be online most of the time. On the upside, Google has made it very easy for Android users to turn their phones into instant mobile hotspots and to have Chromebooks and Android devices work better together. 

Are Chromebooks cheap?

Because of the low hardware requirements of Chrome OS, not only can Chromebooks be lighter and smaller than the average laptop, they're generally less expensive, too.

New Windows laptops for $ are few and far between and, frankly, are rarely worth buying. Finding a good $ Chromebook, on the other hand, is pretty easy to do (or at least it was prior to COVID). And while spending more will get you better build quality, more features or faster performance, even these premium Chromebooks typically start between $ and $, but can easily run more than over $1, depending on your needs. 

With Windows laptops, you typically need to spend $ or more to get a thin, lightweight model with decent performance and battery life that will hold its performance for years to come. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

The simplicity of a Chromebook can't be beat. If everything you do can be done in a web browser or with web or Android apps, there's little reason not to go with a Chrome device. Although with Android, Linux, Parallels and VMware support, you can do much more today than when they first arrived in  

Read our Acer Chromebook Spin () review.


Joshua Goldman/CNET

With a broad range of designs, sizes and styles that can be configured with all kinds of components and available with prices going from a couple hundred dollars to thousands, a Windows or Mac laptop offers greater variety in performance and use, especially if you want to easily use software or play games only available on those operating systems. 

Read our Asus ZenBook 13 review.

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Best Chromebook the top Chromebooks for kids, students and more

Because of their affordability and accessibility, the best Chromebooks have become a permanent fixture in the computer world. No matter if it’s to watch a show while waiting to board a flight, to get through a bunch of school assignments, or to handle all your work, you’ll find a Chromebook that’s more than up for the job and at a price that’s much more reasonable than typical laptops.

Just because they’re cheap doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily cheaply made, though. Part of the savings comes from the use of the more lightweight Chrome OS operating system. It may not be as robust or comprehensive as Windows or macOS, but it doesn’t need the same kind of power to function well. In fact, some of the best Chromebooks come equipped with weaker hardware but are still more than capable of offering a computing experience similar to laptops running one of those other operating systems.

Because Chrome OS needs fewer resources to run, premium Chromebooks can really squeeze the most out of top internals like the latest generation of AMD Ryzen and Intel Core processors. Therefore, they can get even better performance thanks to that extra processing power and memory when running local apps like the Google Chrome browser or Android software.

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. Even the best Chromebook money can buy isn't going to be for everyone though, so whether you should buy a Chromebook or go with a Windows laptop or a MacBook is an important question to ask yourself. 

If you've decided that a Chromebook is the right choice for you, though, we've got a lineup of the best Chromebooks for every budget and need, whether you need one for school, work, or just a quick and easy alternative for general computing around the house.

Our Top Picks for Best Chromebook

Which are the best Chromebooks?

1. Google Pixelbook Go

The best Chromebook ever made


CPU: Intel Core m3 - Intel Core i7

Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics

RAM: 8GB - 16GB

Screen: inch Full HD (1, x 1,) or 4K LCD touchscreen

Storage: GB - GB eMMC

Reasons to buy

+Incredible battery life+Amazing ‘Hush’ keyboard

Reasons to avoid

-Iffy pricing at mid- to- high-end-No biometric login

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

2. Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook

The best Chromebook-tablet hybrid


CPU: MediaTek Helio P60T Processor

Graphics: ARM G72 MP3 GHz


Screen: " FHD ( x ) IPS, glossy, touchscreen, nits

Storage: 64 GB eMMC

Reasons to buy

+Lightweight and portable+Long battery life+Very affordable

Reasons to avoid

-Tiny keyboard and finicky trackpad-Charger and headphones share a single port

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 

3. Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook

One of the most powerful 2-in-1 Chromebooks money can buy


CPU: AMD Athlon Gold C - AMD Ryzen 7 C

Graphics: Integrated AMD Radeon

RAM: 4GB - 8GB

Screen: inch FHD (1, x 1,) IPS LED

Storage: 32GB eMMC - GB SSD


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