Chromebooks Could One Day Stand Up to Traditional Laptops

More power, more mainstream

Key Takeaways

  • Acer’s new 17-inch Chromebook could be a sign that Chromebooks are going to offer bigger and more powerful hardware in the future.
  • Combined with continued improvements of Chrome-OS, larger Chromebooks could help bridge the gap between Chrome-OS devices and more traditional laptops.
  • Experts say a Chromebook revolution could be on the way.
Acer 317 17-inch Chromebook

Acer

Acer’s new 17-inch Chromebook could be one of the kicks forward Chrome-based laptops need to become more mainstream.

Chromebooks may already be a go-to device for businesses and education due to their portability, easy access to the cloud, and overall affordability, but when it comes to fulfilling the need for more powerful and dedicated home computing systems, the current lineup isn’t up to the tasks. However, we finally could start to see a change with the release of bigger, more powerful Chromebooks like the Acer Chromebook 317.

"Chromebooks have been on the receiving end of laptop jokes for a while now. The launching of bigger, more powerful versions can only mean one thing—that the Chromebook revolution has come of age," Alina Clark, a tech and software expert, told Lifewire in an email interview. 

Rising Above

Throwing a 17-inch display on a Chromebook might not seem like that big of a deal alone, but when you look at the bigger picture, the tell-tale signs of a "Chromebook revolution," as Clark called it, start to seem more and more likely. 

"The advantages of Chromebooks far outweigh their disadvantages. From a user’s perspective, the only strike on Chromebook systems is the power loss," Clark noted.

Chromebooks being less powerful than other laptops isn’t an unknown factor, but it’s something that has been changing rather rapidly as of late. Chromebooks from companies like Samsung and even Google, itself, have been pushing for better performance, and the fact they don’t have to rely so heavily on expensive hardware helps keep costs down while allowing for smoother performance. 

Additionally, there are reports that MediaTek—a semiconductor company responsible for the CPUs in many Chromebooks and mobile devices—and Nvidia have been looking to bring more powerful graphics cards like the RTX 30 series to Chromebooks. If accomplished, that would help push the performance of these devices to new levels, which fundamentally could change public perception when comparing them to more high-end laptops.

Breaking Away

There are, of course, other reasons to be excited about Acer’s new Chromebook. Unlike most Chromebooks, the device also ships with a full numeric keypad, something we see left out on most traditional laptops, including many MacBook models. Seeing it on a Chromebook is exciting.

This is just one example of how larger Chromebooks allow for additional improvements, including more space for internal upgrades. With more internal space, we could end up with Chromebooks that provide enough space for those more powerful processors and GPUs that companies like MediaTek and Nvidia hope to incorporate.

"The advantages of Chromebooks far outweigh their disadvantages. From a user’s perspective, the only strike on Chromebook systems is the power loss."

Of course, there’s also the software side of things. Chrome-OS is extremely light, and because most of it runs in the cloud, it doesn’t require much of your processor’s power to make things run smoothly.

"Today’s computer user is also looking for simple, lighter operating systems. Chromebooks offer just that," Clark said. 

Even my older Chromebook, which is roughly five years old, still boots up quickly, allowing me to jump right into what I’m doing. Imagine if we increased the capability of those machines even more. It could lead to more powerful laptops with longer life spans, forgoing the need to replace them due to slow performance and age.

Person using Acer's new 17-inch Chromebook

Acer

Google has steadily been updating Chrome-OS to offer new features and capabilities, like adding official support for Linux and more. There’s still a long way to go before Chromebooks can stand up to other laptops out there, but if Google can continue to expand the options that Chrome-OS has to offer—including support for more traditional apps that users need—Clark says we could see a world where Chromebooks compete more consistently with Windows and Mac laptops.

"Even though Windows and Mac platforms have the upper hand when it comes to software ecosystems, I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see Chromebooks being neck to neck with the two in the near future," she said.

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