You used to have to explain what a Chromebook is because the idea that there could be a laptop that just ran a browser and maybe a few Android apps seemed weird. That’s not the case anymore. Most people get that Chromebooks can cover much more of their computing needs than before. A good Chromebook is more useful than a mediocre Windows laptop.
In fact, the message that people actually want good Chromebooks — instead of just cheap ones — has gotten through to manufacturers. As long as you’re willing to spend around $500 or $600, you can get something great. That’s more than we used to recommend people spend on Chromebooks, but that extra money goes a long way toward getting something you’ll be happy with.
For the first time, the quality of laptops in this range has been consistent. There are so many similarities between the offerings from HP, Asus, Acer, and Dell 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. We have a pick for our favorite and a runner-up, but the majority of laptops on this list would be good buys if you can find them at a discount. Those discounts appear fairly regularly, too (with the exception of Google’s Pixelbook, which remains maddeningly expensive).
What you want in a good Chromebook are the same things you 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 there’s still one that rises above the rest.
The best Chromebook right now: Asus Chromebook Flip C434
Asus has a strong history of making good Chromebooks, but the C434 is something special. It’s nearly unique among this class of laptops in offering a big 14-inch screen in a laptop body that’s much closer in size to a 13-inch model. It pulls off that trick by minimizing the bezels around the screen, which is the same thing the best Windows laptops have been doing lately.
Asus nailed the basics, too. The keyboard is great to type on, though it does have the annoying problem of being hard to see in dim lighting because the backlight is the same color as the keycaps. The trackpad is accurate, and I appreciate that there’s not only a USB-A port but that the two USB-C ports are on opposite sides of the laptop so you can plug in on the side you prefer.
There’s even a microSD card slot for expanded storage — and you might need it, as it only comes with 64GB. The processor isn’t the most powerful one you can get in a Chromebook in this price range, but it should be enough for most tasks, especially if you follow our recommendation to get the model with 8GB of RAM. Unless it’s wildly more expensive, it’s totally worth it: as of this writing, the extra RAM only costs an extra $30 on Amazon, which is as close to a no-brainer as you can get.
Our review of Asus Chromebook Flip (C434TA)
- Tiny bezels
- Good performance
- Great hinge
- Good price
- Keyboard is hard to see in dim light
- So-so speakers
In a market where the main differences between Chromebooks in this price range boil down to their screens and maybe an included stylus, Asus sets itself apart by making a laptop that just feels better-made. It has a 360-degree hinge, but when you open it up in laptop mode, it subtly drops the screen down, minimizing the appearance of the bezel even further.
A potentially cheaper, more powerful option: HP Chromebook x360 14
If you’re looking to get more power and you don’t mind getting a slightly larger laptop, the HP Chromebook x360 14 is a great choice. Instead of the Asus’ 8th Gen Core m3 Y-series processor, you’ll get a Core i3 U-series processor, which is slightly more powerful. 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 that 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.
Our review of HP Chromebook X360 (14-da0011dx)
- B&O speakers
- Nice trackpad
- Fine performance
- Big-ish bezels
- Display doesn’t get very bright
- Higher price when not on sale
The thing that puts the HP Chromebook x360 14 above the rest is it appears to often be heavily discounted from its original price. We regularly see it sell for well under $500.
Quality on Chromebooks can, unfortunately, vary widely once you get below $400 or so. It’s possible to find something pretty good if you’re willing to forgo features like a touchscreen or a backlit keyboard, but you should try them out in person before buying if at all possible. That’s because, by and large, the money savings come from cutting corners on the build quality and processor.
But if you’re willing to spend more than that, you can generally get something fast and reliable if our main picks are unavailable or don’t suit your needs.
Our review of Google Pixelbook
- Beautiful, well-designed hardware
- Great performance with Chrome apps
- Thin and light
- Battery life is only average
- Tablet lacks features like split screen
- High price
Our review of HP Chromebook x2
- Good hinge with detachable screen
- Decent performance
- microSD storage expansion
- Only 32GB of storage and 4GB of RAM
- Chrome OS not optimized for tablets yet
- Sometimes top-heavy
Our review of Dell Inspiron 14 Chromebook 2-in-1 (7486)
- Included stylus
- Good port selection
- Sturdy construction
- On the bigger side
- Large bezels
- Trackpad and keyboard feel off
Our review of Samsung Chromebook Plus v2
- Small and portable
- Included stylus
- Decent performance
- Keyboard not backlit
- Average build quality
- Average screen
Our review of Acer Chromebook Spin 13 (CP713)
- Big, beautiful screen with 4:3 aspect ratio
- Built-in stylus
- Good port selection
- Oversized compared to competition
- Fans spin up a lot
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Content retrieved from: https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/25/16202438/best-chromebook-acer-samsung-chromeos-android.