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Best Overall: Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA at Amazon
"A 12.5-inch touchscreen machine that’s close to perfect."
Best for Portability: Acer Chromebook R11 at Amazon
"This Chromebook is ultra-portable, ready to slip into a backpack or messenger bag."
Best for Business: Lenovo Chromebook C330 at Amazon
"The 11-inch touchscreen is a perfect display for day-to-day work and any of your multimedia needs."
Best Splurge: Google Pixelbook Go at Amazon
"The lofty price is backed by some cutting edge features and technology."
Runner-Up, Best 2-in-1: HP Chromebook x360 14 G1 at Amazon
"This sleek silver Chromebook is 16mm thin with a dashing aluminum cover and keyboard deck."
Best for School: Dell Chromebook 11 3181 at Amazon
"Includes a spill-resistant keyboard, rubberized edges and drop protection."
Best Budget: Samsung Chromebook 3 at Amazon
"Supported by 11 hours of battery life."
Best for Professionals: Acer Chromebook 15 at Amazon
"The perfect device for streaming video or browsing the web."
Best 2-in-1: Samsung Chromebook Plus at Amazon
"Offers the same gorgeous 12.3-inch 2400 x 1600 WLED touchscreen, including the (stylus) pen."
Best Battery: Acer Chromebook 14 at Amazon
"Complemented by a class-leading 12 hours of battery life."
The best Chromebooks are devices that pack the keyboard and screen of a regular laptop, but run Google's slimmed down Chrome OS rather than full Windows or Mac. Their main advantage comes form their lower price and long battery life, making them geared toward light tasks like web browsing, working on Google docs, and streaming Netflix. They're particularly popular among schools, students, and travelers, but increasingly there are premium Chromebooks too that match the price and performance of higher-end ultrabooks. Our reviewers have tested a mix of devices, ranging from the budget end to the premium.
Converts to multiple forms
Strong battery life
Crisp, colorful touchscreen
Slightly dim screen
Exterior attacts dirt and smudges
Widely regarded as one of the best Chromebooks ever made, the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA is a 12.5-inch touchscreen machine that’s close to perfect. Sporting a 360-degree hinge and 12.5-inch Full-HD touchscreen, the C302CA is functional right out of the box for both laptop and tablet mode. Our reviewer liked the ability for it to transform into different types, going from a laptop to a tablet. He found it particularly useful for watching videos.
The slick aluminum body is both attractive and sturdy, while the Intel Core m3 hardware with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage gives it plenty of horsepower. Like all Chromebook hardware, the C302CA starts up in seconds and lasts all day long, thanks to a real-world battery life of around 10 hours with average use.
Add in Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac and a bright HD display and it’s easy to see why this Chromebook is an across-the-board winner. It weighs 2.65 pounds.
"Compared to rival laptops like the MacBook Air or Microsoft Surface Laptop 2, you’ll save a huge amount of money while still being able to complete a wide array of tasks." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester
Crisp, colorful display
Lackluster battery life
The minimalist design of the Acer Chromebook R11 may not be for everyone, but interested buyers should know that inside the R11 is an extremely capable computer. With an Intel quad-core N3160 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage, this Chromebook is a highly capable workhorse. It also has an SD card slot for expanded storage, which is perfect for accommodating all the apps you download from Google Play. The whole thing is just 0.8 inches thing and weighs 2.8 pounds, and with a smaller, 11.6-inch screen, this Chromebook is ultra-portable, ready to slip into a backpack or messenger bag.
The R11 is also extremely versatile, with a 2-in-1 design that gives it both laptop and tablet functionality. Our reviewer particularly liked using the display (with a sharp 1266 x 768 resolution) can fold back a full 360 degrees, so users have the option to fold the keyboard back and simply use the multi-touch screen like a tablet. It can also be propped up in "presentation mode," which is perfect for displaying photos or playing video from any of Google Play's many streaming app options.
The exterior of the R11 has a textured finish with a somewhat "grippy" feel, making it that much easier to carry. And with up to nine hours of battery life, you can leave the house in the morning and come home with battery to spare.
"The screen looks really nice in both laptop and tablet mode when used indoors in all kinds of light levels." — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester
Handles simple tasks well
Compact and lightweight
If you're looking for a 2-in-1 Chromebook, you have to consider the Lenovo C330. This Chromebook offers several high-end features without breaking the bank. The 11-inch touchscreen is a perfect display for day-to-day work and any of your multimedia needs. Our tester found the screen to be a little small, but this had the benefit of making pixel density higher to text and graphics were crisp.
With 360-degree maneuverability, it is designed to be used as either a tablet or a notebook and operates on the dependable and easy-to-use Chrome OS. Other features include multiple USB ports, a built-in camera, and up to 12 hours of battery life per charge.
"Despite its low price point, the C330 provides performance that exceeds Windows machines that cost more than double its MSRP." — Andy Zahn, Product Tester
No tablet mode
Can't replace SSD
With a price tag around $650, the Google Pixelbook Go is one of the higher-end Chromebooks you can buy. The lofty price is backed by some cutting edge features and technology. It's built around an 8th generation Intel processor and you can customize your RAM and SSD storage space with up to 16GB of RAM and up to 256GB of SSD storage. With a solid state drive, your Pixelbook Go will start up in seconds and access documents and other information faster than if it had used a traditional hard disk drive. The whole unit weighs just over two pounds and is just 13mm thick, making it the perfect size to put into a tote bag or backpack for working on-the-go.
The battery gives you up to 12 hours of working time depending on settings and can give you up to two hours of life with just 10 minutes of charging; great for when you need power in a pinch. The 13.3-inch HD screen has touch input capabilities to give you more options for work. The backlit keyboard features quiet keys so you won't disturb others during your commute to work or on a plane during a business trip. If you're worried about keeping your work and personal information safe from unauthorized access, the Pixelbook Go is built with a Titan C security chip and comes with an anti-virus software suite pre-loaded to protect you from malicious software and unwanted users.
Premium build quality
Long battery life
Missing some functionality of WIndows devices
If style is one of your priorities, look no further than the HP Chromebook x360 14 G1. This sleek silver Chromebook is 16mm thin with a dashing aluminum cover and keyboard deck, a diamond-cut touchpad, and a narrow-bezel touchscreen display. Complete with notebook, stand, tent, and tablet modes depending on your momentary preference, the 360-degree hinge makes this Chromebook versatile.
Additional features include a powerful 8th-generation Intel processor, 13 hours of battery life, and 64GB of storage. Our tester found the battery life particularly helpful, giving him enough juice to handle a full work day and some time browsing or streaming in the evening.
"The X360 is extraordinarily thin and light, making it an eminently portable device." — Andy Zahn, Product Tester
Chromebooks have long been applauded as an ideal computer for education and the Dell Chromebook 11 3181 personifies that very reasoning. The kid-proof design includes a spill-resistant keyboard, rubberized edges and drop protection. Beyond its durability, it's powered by a Celeron N3060 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 32GB eMMC drive. The 2-in-1 design allows it to fold back completely flat to work as both tablet and laptop. In testing, the IPS touchscreen stood out against lower-quality competitors that use TN panels.
All of this durability and functionality is helped by nearly 11 hours of battery life, more than enough to last for an entire school day. Weighing only 2.91 pounds, the Dell is equally compact enough to comfortably fit into a backpack and tote around school.
"The touchscreen is responsive, the viewing angles are great in both portrait and landscape mode, and it folds into tablet mode very easily." — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester
While Chromebooks tend to be more budget-friendly overall, few can match the value and performance of the Samsung Chromebook 3. With an 11.6-inch anti-reflective HD display, 4GB of RAM, 16GB of eMMC memory and a spill-resistant keyboard, this Chromebook offers quite a punch without breaking the piggy bank. Supported by 11 hours of battery life, it’s easy to see why the Chromebook 3 is so popular. For its price tag, the machine’s plastic build quality is surprisingly well put together and feels durable enough to stick in a bag and carry it with you all day, thanks to its 2.5-pound weight. An SD card adapter offers easy upgrading for more storage.
When most people think of Chromebooks, they tend to think of something considerably smaller than a typical laptop. This model is out to dispel that notion. Acer’s largest Chromebook, the Chromebook 15 has a 15.6-inch full HD IPS touchscreen display (as big, or bigger, than many more expensive laptop models) and an Intel Pentium N4200 Quad-Core processor with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. This model is built to be a work companion or a main computer, as well as the perfect device for streaming video or browsing the web.
Use Google Play to access and download thousands of different Android apps, including popular program suites like Microsoft Office that are perfect for the professional crowd. Do you often work remotely, or just need a quality Wi-Fi connection in your day-to-day job? The Chromebook 15's 802.11ac Wi-Fi helps this laptop operate at up to three times faster than competitive models. And if you forget your charger at home, it isn't the end of the world: The 3,220mAh battery helps the Chromebook 15 power through a workday with up to nine hours of battery life on a single charge. It also comes with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 input.
There’s no shortage of 2-in-1 Chromebook options, but few offer the value and performance of the Samsung Chromebook Plus. The less expensive sibling of the Chromebook Pro, the Plus offers the same gorgeous 12.3-inch 2400 x 1600 WLED touchscreen, including the (stylus) pen.
The pressure-sensitive pen allows for simplified options such as unlocking the display or more complex work (read: sketching or doodling full designs) on its best-in-class display. Powered by a 2GHz Hexacore OP1 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 32GB eMMC drive, the 360-degree profile offers three use cases (tent mode, laptop and tablet modes). It weighs 2.38 pounds, is just 0.5 inches thin and has eight hours of battery life.
If it’s battery life you’re after, Acer’s Chromebook 14 adds a slim package that’s complemented by a class-leading 12 hours of battery life. Powered by a 1.6GHz Intel N3160 quad-core processor, 4GB RAM and 32GB of drive space, the Chromebook 14 features a 14-inch HD ISP display (1920 x 1080) that's great for binge-watching videos. The 100 percent aluminum build feels both durable and lightweight enough at 3.42 pounds. The MIMO 2x2 802.11ac connectivity boosts Wi-Fi speeds nearly three times faster than previous generations.
Put simply, the best Chromebook you can buy is the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA. It's a convertible device that switches between laptop and tablet mode, and it can be propped up at different viewing angles to stream shows. The sleek metal build and high-quality 1080p IPS display only add to the luster of its affordable price. Also worthy of mention, the Acer Chromebook R11 has a cheaper build, but it's also a 2-in-1 with an IPS display, and it comes at a lower price.
Jeremy Laukkonen has written about tech for major trade publications for years and written for Lifewire since 2019. As a tech generalist, he's covered products across all categories, including phones, laptops, desktops, and Chromebooks. He personally owns a Asus Vivobook Flip 14 and an HP Spectre x360 15t. He reviewed several of the Chromebooks on this list, but particularly liked the design, display, and battery life of the Acer Chromebook R11
Andrew Hayward has written about tech since 2006 for a variety of publications. He's reviewed a number of gadgets, includig wearables, games, smart home devices, laptops, and Chromebooks. He liked the Asus Chromebook C320CA for its stylish design, the high-resolution 1080p display, and solid performance.
Andy Zahn has written for Lifewire since 2019 and covered a wide range of products including laptops and Chromebooks. As an avid outdoorsman, he was a fan of the extra portability offered by the Lenovo Chromebook C330 and HP Chromebook x360.
Ajay Kumar is Tech Editor at Lifewire and has spent seven years reviewing all manner of products, including tablets, laptops, and Chromebooks. He personally owns and enjoys using an Asus Chromebook C302CA to write his novel and watch a bit of Netflix.
Taylor Clemons has three years of experience writing about consumer technology and video games for outlets like TechRadar and GameSkinny. She has also worked in e-commerce, product management, and digital marketing, allowing her to break down technical terms into easy to understand language.
Chromebooks have come a long way since the first models hit the shelves in 2011. While these early models certainly had their shortcomings, the pioneering Chromebooks were game-changers in the established laptop industry, offering consumers a quality machine with ample cloud storage at competitive prices. Over the ensuing years since this initial rollout, Chromebooks have evolved exponentially and are now much more than a basic option for web browsing and minimal word processing tasks.
Today, with more people working remotely, Chromebooks are an increasingly choice option for business professionals working from the home office or coffee shop. These more than capable laptop computers aren’t all work and no play by any means. Many of the latest Chromebook iterations on the shelves also serve as versatile multimedia platforms, easily transitioning from a standard clamshell laptop to a lightweight tablet in no time. This makes 2-in-1 laptops ideal for more casual offerings such as streaming your favorite shows and app play.
Before going all-in on a particular Chromebook, it’s best to understand your exact wants and needs. As an impulse shopper knows, a hasty decision during the shopping process could leave you with a woefully insufficient machine. Personal preferences and computational needs will play a key role in the decision-making process, so know what you need first and foremost. For example, busy college students on the move who are perpetually stowing their Chromebook in a backpack or satchel may prefer a compact, lightweight model. If this computer is for a child, it may be wise to shop for a durable model with thoughtful design touches such as drop protection and a reinforced exterior.
With these concepts in mind, we’ve boiled down the basics and curated this buying guide to assist you during the shopping process and help you make the right decision when you buy your next Chromebook. Without further ado, let’s take a digital dive into our definitive Chromebook buying guide.
Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed a regular electronic version of the Cambrian explosion within the niche laptop computing market. As consumers have added dedicated ebook readers, tablets and more to their portable electronics quiver, manufacturers have looked to entice consumers by offering various 2-in-1 and even 4-in-1 models. That said, there are numerous nimble and capable multi-purpose Chromebooks on the market today.
For those looking for a Chromebook with tablet potential, some models include 360-degree hinges allowing the Chromebook to put the roof back and go full convertible. There are even Chromebooks with entirely detachable displays to help lighten the load when it’s tablet time. At the upper tier of maneuverability (and also price), the Pixelbook can quickly transition from tablet to laptop to entertainment mode in a snap. Then again this eye-catching model does cost nearly a grand, far more than affordable 2-in-1 options like the Chromebook Flip series.
As for other design specifications, parents, in particular, may want to look for a Chromebook engineered to take a beating and keep on computing. Some models on the market are built with spill-resistant keyboards and rubberized exterior components. Other rugged extras include drop protection and Gorilla Glass casings for added durability. If a Chromebook is going to be in-and-out of a child’s backpack multiple times a day, take a long look at a Chromebook constructed to effectively absorb the inevitable drop. (In all fairness, many of us are guilty of eating lunch at our laptops every now and then, so the spill-resistant keyboard is virtually a must for most at this point.)
Additionally, there is also an aesthetic element involved in the purchasing decision for some shoppers. And while most Chromebooks have largely plastic exterior shells there are more elegant models on the market with MacBook-esque aluminum builds like the Asus Chromebook Flip we recently reviewed. Regardless of your general preference, the overall design and functionality portion of the decision is a great starting point for shoppers, as this will help streamline the rest of the process and save invaluable time.
Whether you’re a busy business professional or a college student going from classroom-to-classroom, in the realm of laptop computing, portability is key. Larger screens will make far better personal home theaters for media viewing, however, these exceptionally bulky builds can be a pain to lug around, even in the most ergonomic backpack. Smaller lightweight 2-in-1 devices may be more appropriate for younger children, especially if these units are also intended for use during the school day. In general, slimmer convertible 2-in-1 Chromebooks make far less cumbersome tablets for casual use around the home. Again, this is a largely preferential detail, but one that is certainly worthy of note nonetheless.
Choosing the right screen is one of the most crucial decisions for anyone shopping for a new laptop. Some Chromebooks on the market today have massive 15-inch displays, perfect for gaming or use around the home as mobile mini-home theaters. Larger full HD screens will offer beautiful high-resolution clarity for stunning media viewing, however, these units aren’t exactly the most portable laptops out there. As a result, many will prefer a smaller screen and there are plenty of travel-friendly 10-inch displays to do the trick.
There are other more technical factors to keep in mind as well. For example, to reduce glare some devices, like the Samsung Chromebook 3, include anti-reflective displays. Smaller Chromebooks often come with rather lackluster resolutions and those looking for a sharper display may prefer to make the leap to a model with 920x1080 resolution. To accommodate multiple viewing angles and for greater clarity in direct sunlight perhaps consider an in-plane switching (IPS) panel. Lastly, Chromebooks with 2-in-1 versatility as touchscreen tablets are very popular, especially among children. Some of these touchscreen models have reinforced Gorilla Glass screens to reduce the risk of scuffs, scratches and all-out shatters.
The evolution of the personal laptop has seen quite a bit of change over the last decade. Manufacturers slowly transitioned from the classic USB-A to slimmer USB-C ports to accommodate increasingly more compact laptops. Can you manage without USB-A ports? Do you absolutely need a microSD slot? Expanded storage ports a la microSD are ideal for convenient plug-and-play maneuverability with downloaded Google Play apps and other media files. Either way, be sure to check the spec sheet before you smash the “Add to Cart” button, as a missing port or two could be a major deal-breaker for some.
Overlooking these specific specs can be a fateful error that will quickly transform your Chromebook into a regular dongle party in no time. Those who want to utilize dual monitors many want a dedicated HDMI port although this isn’t completely necessary with the Chromebook “cast.” This feature allows you to “cast” your full screen or an individual tab to a compatible TV. In general, understand your port needs upfront and then shop with these in mind.
The central processing unit (CPU) known more colloquially as simply the “processor” is essentially the brain of your Chromebook. The necessary sophistication of this brain will squarely depend on how you plan to use the computer on a typical day or even during infrequent bursts (we’re looking at you seasonal binge gamers). For example, more advanced Intel Core processors are better suited for that HD streaming video session. Individuals looking for more of a bare essentials processor will be just fine with a slower CPU. Many people simply need a Chromebook for the basics such as web browsing, some word processing action and the occasional streaming video, however, those looking to utilize the ever-expanding list of compatible apps will need a more powerful processor.
The amount of RAM (random access memory) is also a major consideration for anyone in the market for a new Chromebook. Many of the models included on this roundup come with 4GB of RAM which is enough for standard web browsing and streaming, however, those who regularly play more intensive games will consequently require more RAM (typically 12GB minimum) on their devices to optimize performance and minimize frustrating lag times. (Take it from us, don’t “pwn” yourself by either short-changing or overlooking your RAM needs.) Video editing programs will also perform much more swimmingly with more RAM available onboard. Connoisseurs of browsers brimming with bountiful open tabs will also greatly appreciate the enhanced performance of a Chromebook with ample RAM.
One of the more well-known “perks” of choosing a Chromebook is the included 100GB of Google Drive storage. Regardless, many individuals will still prefer to store media and other files locally and this magic gigabyte number will vary for each user. For a regular comparative digital vault, the aforementioned Google Pixelbook touts 128GB of internal flash storage, far more than the average Chromebook on the market. Many of the models included on this list have either 32GB or 64GB of available storage. In general, 64GB of internal storage may be a bit light for some, but this, of course, depends on your digital appetite. It’s important to remember that larger downloads will quickly gobble up this limited space. Those who need to regularly access and store massive media files such as graphic illustrators will also need more room to work with.
How long will the Chromebook last between recharges? That’s an important question for many consumers, as most of us know all-to-well the despair that is needing to painstakingly lug a computer over to the nearest outlet for a little juice. Thankfully, many of the Chromebook models available today offer exceptional battery life, allowing you to easily power through a full workday with enough energy left to wind down with a little streaming in the evening on a single charge.In fact, one of the models we tested touted more than 13 hours of use on a single charge. Again, not everyone will need this kind of stamina some, but some folks will definitely appreciate it. With ample battery life, parents can rest assured their child’s computer will accommodate a full school day even if they forgot to pack the charger.
For those who want to sync all of their wireless gadgets to their laptops, Bluetooth connectivity is imperative. That said, most Chromebooks will work with Bluetooth, however, not all devices on the market do. Again, Chromebooks are heavily reliant on the Internet, so, of course, Internet connectivity is important. Fortunately, many models come with 802.11ac Wi-Fi offering blazing fast speeds compared to some other models with 802.11n.
At one point in time, webcams were a tremendous novelty component for desktop and laptop users. However, in a world where an increasing number of us are working remotely and using different apps to interact with our friends in different cities, webcams are a necessity for many consumers in 2020. Unfortunately, not all Chromebooks come with a webcam. If you are telecommuting to the office or looking to interact face-to-face over the interwebs, a webcam is a must. Make sure to check the specs on these cameras as well. Some cameras can only muster grainy, low-quality video while models with more advanced HD webcams are better suited for professional settings.
On the standard laptop buying guide checklist, the timeless debate over preferential operating systems (OS) is at least nullified from this particular decision. That’s because Chromebooks all run Google’s Chrome OS. As an added bonus, Google will automatically (and rather expeditiously, if we may add) update the OS as these are made available, further simplifying the process. This operating system is a bit more similar to Windows than MacOS, however, if you’re used to traversing the standard Chrome browser, acclimating to Chrome OS is easy enough.
There are numerous Chromebooks manufacturers to choose from, each with its own market niche. While Chromebooks were once marketed as basic budget options, these models are now peppered across the entire pricing spectrum. Regardless, there are still plenty of affordable models to choose from and Samsung offers one of the best econo-models with its Chromebook 3.
Those who simply can’t imagine functioning in a world without their favorite digital assistant should consider the Pixelbook with Google Assistant already built-in. If durability is your main consideration, Dell has assembled one of the beefier builds on the market with its Inspiron Chromebook 11 3181. The not-so-svelte model certainly prioritizes longevity over compact portability, but this model was born for the backpack and can definitely take a direct hit, although the bulk may turn off some shoppers.
In today’s increasingly remote workplace, business professionals and teleworkers are looking for highly portable devices with exceptional performance. In this regard, the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA our pick for the best Chromebook of 2020. As an added bonus, the highly responsive touchscreen is ideal for hands-on projects and even a little leisurely app play. Quality engineering, thoughtful design touches and aesthetic appeal round-out this solid across-the-board Chromebook.
Again, there are currently dozens of quality Chromebooks to choose from and that’s the real kicker when it comes to buying a new Chromebook: everyone will have their own expectations and tastes. As the saying goes, there are simply different keystrokes for different folks. There’s no one-size-fits-all Chromebook on the market although jack-of-all-trades Chromebooks do have a broad appeal for generalists. Nonetheless, specialized professionals and rabid gamers will need to shop with features and performance parameters in mind. As you’re digitally window shopping, remember to give that spec sheet a long, hard look before making that final decision, and when in doubt, resort to your buying guide training. Our advice won’t steer you wrong.