All the current Chromebooks on the market, ranked
If you've been shopping for a laptop lately, chances are you've noticed Chromebooks: laptops based on Google's Chrome browser that don't run any local software but instead work entirely with web-based applications.
You've probably also noticed that they're a lot less expensive than traditional laptops -- but that doesn't mean they're cheap! In fact, some Chromebooks are just as fast as their Mac or Windows equivalents, offering savings simply based on their "everything in the cloud" model.
If you're looking for a powerful laptop or one that's fast enough for a specific task, the right Chromebook may be your best, and most affordable, bet.
The trick is telling Chromebooks apart and differentiating the barely usable models from the indispensable ones. So here's a quick guide to Chromebooks: which are decent, which are great, and which ones are downright impressive.
Chromebooks for fun
In the mid-range of Chromebooks, you'll find a lot of models that aren't quite fast enough to be a full-time machine for work or school but plenty fast enough for basic tasks like web browsing, streaming video, or writing.
Chromebooks in this range offer a healthy compromise between price and functionality, and for many users may be the perfect "backup" laptop: If you've got an expensive MacBook or Windows laptop, it may make sense to use a Chromebook for traveling, so things like theft or damage don't impact your primary machine.
Our favorite mid-range Chromebooks
This Acer is one of the best values in Chromebooks, period. It's got the basics -- 4GB of RAM, speedy WiFi performance, Bluetooth, and a webcam -- but it's also got a few features rarely found at this price point, like a 13.3-inch, 1080p touchscreen, a USB-C port, and a battery that can last up to 12 hours. If you're on the hunt for a mid-range 13-inch laptop, this may be your perfect Chromebook.
Better: ASUS Chromebook C523 ($249.99)
If you're looking for a laptop with a 15.6-inch screen, check out this ASUS C523. This Chromebook offers a straightforward value proposition: It has the same look and feel of a 15-inch MacBook Pro, and it's about 90% cheaper. In addition, it's got more ports than your average Chromebook (and more than a MacBook Pro): two USB-C ports, two traditional USB ports, a port for micro SD cards, and a headphone jack. If you're looking for a laptop that can easily handle moderate web tasks and you need the biggest screen available, this is the one to pick up.
Best: Pixelbook Go ($649)
Google invented the Chrome OS operating system, so it's not surprising that they make some of the most powerful Chromebook hardware. But what is surprising is that their entry-level model, the Pixelbook Go, is so powerful. It has a 13.3-inch screen and weighs just over two pounds, but the real killer features are the CPU (an 8th Gen Intel Core Processor) and the build quality -- for example, the backlit keyboard features "Hush Keys" that make typing silent. If you're looking for a mid-range laptop with a processor that can handle some heavy lifting, or if you want a laptop that's comparable to a MacBook Air, the Pixelbook Go is an easy choice.
Honorable mention: ASUS Chromebook Flip C101 ($399)
The upgraded Chromebook Flip is worth checking out with its 64GB drive -- large for a Chromebook. It's got everything we love about the original, but with significantly more storage, which makes it an even better value.
Chromebooks for work or school
If you need a Chromebook for serious use -- that is, if you're looking for a laptop that can act as your primary machine -- you'll need to spend a little more, but you can still find great values.
High-end Chromebooks are typically built with the same processors that you'll find in Windows and Apple laptops, but they're still more affordable and run a lot faster than their equivalents because Chrome OS is a much less demanding operating system.
Our favorite Chromebooks that make no compromises
The Pixel Slate is a Chromebook with a 12.3-inch screen that has the form factor of a tablet paired with the power of a pro laptop. If that description sounds familiar, it's not a coincidence: the Pixel Slate takes aim at the Microsoft Surface and borrows its paper-thin look and feel as well as its flexibility (minus the touchscreen). But, it costs significantly less. If you're looking for a capable laptop that can fit anywhere and will never feel slow, pick up a Pixel Slate.
Better: Acer Chromebook Spin ($643.96)
If you're on the hunt for a more powerful Chromebook with a slightly larger screen, consider the Acer Spin. It's thin and light like many lower-end Chromebooks, but it's got enough power under the hood to compete with the most powerful models: an Intel i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a backlit keyboard. It even has a high-resolution touchscreen, so it's perfect for performance or play. If you're searching for a Chromebook that can keep up with the intense work you do and still serves for casual multimedia tasks, look no further.
Google's Pixelbook is their flagship Chromebook, so it pulls out all the stops: It's impossibly thin, lightning-fast, and every inch of it feels like a luxury device. It's a top performer from all perspectives: it's got technical chops like an i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 360-degree rotating touchscreen. It's also built with high-end hardware, like Gorilla Glass and a backlit keyboard. While the $889 price tag may feel like a lot compared to other Chromebooks, a similar Windows or Mac laptop would easily start around $1,500. This is our favorite Chromebook of all because it requires no concessions and it's just plain fun to use.
Honorable mention: Google Pixelbook i7 ($1,538.99)
It's worth noting that there's an upgraded version of the Pixelbook, which is nearly identical to the Pixelbook i5 but includes an upgraded Intel i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB drive. If you opt for the more powerful model, you'll definitely feel the improvements, but so will your wallet: At over $1,500, it's also the most expensive Chromebook around.
Chromebooks for kids
Most entry-level Chromebooks are less than ideal for adults, but they make great introductory computers for kids.
For example, low-end Chromebooks often include smaller screens, which means they've also got smaller keyboards, which are perfect for smaller hands. Best of all, Chromebooks in this category are the most affordable, so if your child isn't exactly gentle with technology, you don't have to worry about shelling out a ton of money to replace them if they break.
Our favorite Chromebooks for kids
This is an 11-inch laptop that's a lot more capable than its price tag implies. Weighing in at a little over 3 pounds, it covers all of the basics well: 4GB RAM, an HDMI port, and a pair of traditional USB ports. It's also impressively durable, so it can put up with a lot of accidents and tumbles. If you're looking to introduce your kid to technology but you don't want to spend a fortune, this is worth your consideration.
Better: Samsung Chromebook 3 ($197.88)
Samsung's Chromebook 3 offers a step up in terms of laptop specs while still keeping the price tag below $200. It's got a larger 64GB drive on board, 4GB of RAM, and a battery that delivers an impressive 11 hours of usage time. Our favorite part, however, is the spill-proof keyboard, which is perfect for keeping it safe from the occasional mishap. The Chromebook 3 is a solid choice if your child is a little older and you're looking for a laptop that won't break the bank.
This is one of the best values out there for any category because it's fast enough for basic web tasks and weighs only 2 pounds. The 16GB version is only $239 and makes a great homework laptop for kids in junior high or high school. It also looks a lot like a MacBook, so if you're looking for the elegance of an Apple laptop but don't feel like paying Apple's prices, this is a good compromise.
Honorable mention: Lenovo 11.6" Chromebook ($237.74)
Lenovo's Chromebook is another solid performer, bringing the typical 4GB of RAM along with 32GB of storage. The super flexible screen rotates to a variety of positions, so you can stand it up to watch movies or flip it around entirely around to take advantage of the included touchscreen. If you're on the market for an entry-level Chromebook that can also function as a decent tablet, consider this one.
Jamie Vazquez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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