Update:Not only is Chrome OS getting access to Android apps later this year, but Chromebooks are actually selling better than the Mac. Read on to find out more.
Chromebooks are wallet-friendly laptops that are both quirky and smart, low-impact and capable.
Running Google’s Chrome OS operating system rather than, say, Windows 10, they’re aimed at what computing has been all about since the late ’90s, the internet and your web browser. Soon, however, with the introduction of Android apps to Chrome OS, you’ll reap the benefits of two different platforms in one device.
Mostly with low-power processors and low-end HD screens starting at 1,366 x 768 pixel count, most of these notebooks are designed to last. Almost every Chromebook claims between 7 and 9 hours of battery life and ends up within a few hours of that estimation, based on our testing. If you’re not sure of what you should look for when buying a Chromebook, we’ve developed a handy cheat sheet for you.
Why do Chromebooks look better than Windows laptops now?
Prices do start to rise above the “affordable” range, as is the case with the MacBook-rivaling, $999 Chromebook Pixel 2 (£670, AU$1,320), especially in the classroom, where Chromebooks are gaining significant influence.
In fact, IDC reported in May 2016 that, for the first time ever, Chromebook sales were outpacing Apple’s Mac line, likely due to their price and versatility. Despite their growth, there should always be a Chromebook within your budget.
Then, it all comes down to size and price, with Chromebooks available as little as 11.6 inches and as wide as 15 inches. (There are even 2-in-1 Chromebooks available.) Always up-to-date, here are our top-ranking Chromebook reviews.
1. Toshiba Chromebook 2
Full HD on a Chromebook just got better
CPU: 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-5015U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 | Storage: 16GB eMMC | Connectivity: Intel Dual-Band Wireless-AC 7260; Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HD webcam | Weight: 2.97 pounds | Dimensions: 12.6 x 8.4 x 0.76 inches (W x D x H)
Gorgeous 1080p screen
Intel Core i3 power
A bit pricey
For a steeper $429 (about £299, AU$612), the newest Toshiba Chromebook 2 is a gorgeous laptop that – clearly, seeing the price – has few flaws. It comes with more memory and a 1080p display, lining it up with rival, (pseudo-) premium models on the market, like the Dell Chromebook 13 and Chromebook Pixel.
However, note: the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is now officially in budget Windows 10 laptop territory. Unless you’re buying this machine solely for the Google ecosystem, you may be overpaying. That said, the Intel Core i3 chip behind that 1080p screen is an obvious bonus.
Read the full review: Toshiba Chromebook 2
2. Dell Chromebook 11 (2015)
Dell’s updated Chromebook is a star in almost every regard
CPU: 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Celeron Bay Trail-M N2840 | Graphics: Intel HD for Intel Celeron processors | RAM: 4GB RAM (DDR3L, 1,600Mhz) | Screen: 11.6-inch HD, 1366 x 768 touchscreen |Storage: 16GB SSD | Optical drive: none | Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0; 802.11ac (B/G/N), dual-band Wi-Fi | Camera: 720p webcam | Weight: 2.91 pounds Dimensions: 12.6 x 8.4 x 0.76 inches
180-degree barrel hinge
Touchscreen not standard
Don’t let the subtle looks of the $249 (£170, AU$320) Dell Chromebook 11 trick you. Dell stuffed in features that are typically reserved for more premium business notebooks into its Chromebook 11, an effort to create a durable device for schools.
In the Chromebook 11, you’ll find a 180-degree reinforced hinge, rugged design, sealed keyboard and trackpad, and a punchy typing experience inside a portable package. In addition to using the Chromebook for school work, students will appreciate the loud stereo speakers for videos.
There’s a new version of this Chromebook available, too. We’ve jotted down our first impressions here.
Read the full review: Dell Chromebook 11 (2015)
3. Asus Chromebook Flip
A flipping premium Chromebook for almost nothing
CPU: 1.8GHz Rockchip 3288-C (quad-core, 1MB cache) | Graphics: ARM Mali T624 | RAM: 2GB LPDDR3 SDRAM | Screen: 10.1-inch, WXGA (1,280 x 800) IPS multi-touch display | Storage: 16GB eMMC | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 | Camera: 720p HD webcam | Weight: 1.96 pounds | Dimensions: 10.6 x 7.2 x 0.60 inches (W x D x H)
Fully metal construction
Excessive battery life
Large screen bezels
The Asus Chromebook Flip isn’t perfect, but it’s an impressive little piece of kit. At just $249 (about £160, AU$337), it’s so affordable that you might want to pick one up just to have a Chromebook on hand – even if you already own a MacBook or Windows laptop.
Aside from the budget price tag, the Flip is one of the best-built Chromebooks to blaze the trail onward for more convertibles. Touchscreen functionality feels slightly more logical, with a screen that actually rotates for once.
All the while, the Flip meets all the core tenants of an ideal Chrome OS device, including stellar battery life. If you’ve been ho hum on Chromebooks before, this is definitely one to … flip out about. (Sorry.)
Read the full review: Asus Chromebook Flip
4. HP Chromebook 14
A well balanced Chromebook
CPU: 1.83GHz Intel Celeron N2940 processor | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 2GB | Screen: 14-inch, 1,366 x 768 BrightView LED-backlit | Storage: 16GB eMMC| Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2×2); Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HP TrueVision HD webcam with integrated digital microphone| Weight: 3.74 pounds (1.69kg) | Dimensions: 13.54 x 9.45 x 0.7 inches (344mm x 240mm x 18mm) (W x D x H)
Excellent keyboard, trackpad
Speedy and responsive
Crisp, vivid screen
Slower than some rivals
Average battery life
With a rock-bottom starting price, this is an excellent value for those seeking a basic web browsing machine. It’s cheaper than the Toshiba Chromebook 2 while offering a bigger screen.
And, while Acer’s Chromebook 15 serves up equal components behind a larger screen for the same amount of scratch, HPs’ 14-incher is a bit more compact and better looking to boot, if coffee shop appeal is crucial.
For a modest investment, you’ll get a responsive, friendly-looking notebook that’s actually fun to use despite some minor shortcomings.
Read the full review: HP Chromebook 14
5. Acer Chromebook 15 C910
The colossus of Chromebooks
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200 dual-core processor | Graphics: Intel HD 5500 Graphics with shared memory | RAM: 4 GB, DDR3L SDRAM | Screen: 15.6-inch full HD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 32GB SSD | Optical drive: none | Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi | Camera: 720p HD webcam |Weight: 4.85 pounds Dimensions: 1.0 x 15.1 x 10.1 inches (H x W x D)
Fast processing speed
Long battery life
If you’re mulling over the $279 (about £195, AU$389) Acer Chromebook 15 C910 for your next notebook, then you’d better have big ideas. Compared to most other Chromebooks, the C910 has more screen real estate, more processing power and unsurprisingly costs more as a result.
The C910 took this series of laptops to two new places, as the first with a 15.6-inch screen and the first to introduce the fifth-generation Broadwell CPUs to Chromebooks.
Specifically geared toward students and teachers – thanks to its durable frame and gorgeous visuals – the C910 is fine for any consumer who doesn’t mind lugging around a few extra pounds and inches.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 15 C910
6. Google Chromebook Pixel 2015
The end all, be all of Chromebooks.
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.7GHz with turbo boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB DDR3 | Screen: 12.85-inch 2,560 x 1,700 IPS touchscreen display | Storage: 32GB SSD | Optical drive: none | Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260; Bluetooth 4.0 LE | Camera: 720p HD wide angle camera with blue glass | Weight: 3.3 pounds Dimensions: 11.7 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches (W x D x H)
Inter Core i5 or i7 processor
Long, long battery life
3:2 screen hurts multitasking
Outfitted with a Core i5 processor, USB 3.1 (and USB-C) ports, a beyond-HD display, and more RAM than it will ever need, the Chromebook Pixel sets a high bar for Chrome OS machines.
Hardware and performance aside, the Pixel is one of the few Chromebooks that seems like it has itself completely figured out. The build quality of this machine is superb; the design has been engineered down to a science. A vibrant screen – plus the tactile keyboard and trackpad – helps to round out the Pixel as one pretty, premium package.
That said, this one’s quite an investment. At this price, you could buy several Chromebooks or a far more powerful Windows laptop. So, before you buy, we suggest you consider all the much more affordable (or better) options out there before plunking down so much money into the best Chrome machine.
Read the full review: Google Chromebook Pixel 2
7. Acer Chromebook R11
360-degree flips all day long
CPU: 1.6 GHz Intel Braswell Quad-Core Celeron N3150 Processor | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 4GB DDR3L | Screen: 11.6″ 16:9 HD (1366×768) | Storage: 32GB | Optical drive: none | Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11ac; Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HD Web Camera | Weight: 2.76 lbs | Dimensions: 11.57 x 8.03 x 0.76 inches (WxDxH)
Good battery life
The Acer Chromebook R11’s minimalist design may not be the most alluring, but that shell hides a surprisingly ready laptop that will last all day. Oh, and it can flip 360 degrees into a tablet. No big deal.
Acer’s R11 packs in day-long battery life, punchy performance and a 360-degree hinge with touchscreen into a subdued design for just $289 (about £202, AU$402). That makes flaws, like an iffy trackpad and barely-HD touch display, a little easier to swallow.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook R11
8. Acer Chromebook 13
With incredible battery life, the Chromebook 13 is a winner
CPU: 2.1GHz Nvidia Tegra K1 CD570M-A1 (quad-core) | Graphics: Nvidia Keplar | RAM: 2GB DDR3 (1,333MHz) | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1.920 x 1.080 | Storage: 16GB SSD | Optical drive: None | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p HD webcam | Weight: 3.31 pounds Dimensions: 12.9 x 9 x 0.71 inches (W x D x H)
Strange port locations
Powered by Nvidia’s powerful Tegra K1 chip, this Chromebook packs a lot of punch in a tiny frame. Users will love its 13.3-inch, 1080p resolution screen, as well as its portability. At 3.31 pounds, the Acer Chromebook 13 is a relatively feathery notebook.
This Chromebook does have some minor issues: it doesn’t multitask very well, and the laptop itself only comes in one color. But, for the tiny price of $249 (about £174, AU$347), you’re likely to enjoy the simplicity and productivity as you learn to overcome its limitations.
Read the full review:Acer Chromebook 13
9. Asus Chromebook C300
A long-lasting Chromebook that just won’t quit
CPU: 2.16GHz dual-core Intel Celeron N2830 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 2GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1366 x 768 HD display | Storage: 32GB SSD | Connectivity: Integrated 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HD webcam | Weight: 3.08 pounds | Dimensions: 13.0 x 9.1 x 0.9 inches
Great performance under pressure
Battery life goes on and on
Divisive bright colors
Narrow viewing angles
After years of refinement, we’re finally at the point of seeing bigger, better and bolder Chrome OS devices, like the Asus Chromebook C300. This 13-inch Chromebook comes with a slightly faster processor than the rest of its cloud-based flock – all while ditching the fan simultaneously.
The TN screen unfortunately is a wash (both figuratively and literally in terms of color reproduction), but this Chromebook simply goes on and on with its nigh excessive battery life.
Read the full review: Asus Chromebook C300
10. Lenovo N20p Chromebook
A versatile Chromebook experience for a reasonable price
CPU: 1.83 GHZ Intel Celeron Processor N2930 | Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 2GB PC3-10600 DDR3L 1333 MHz | Screen: 11.6″ HD (1366 x 768) dsplay with 10-point multitouch | Storage: 16GB eMMC storage | Optical drive: none | Connectivity: Bluetooth® 4.0, 802.11 a/c WiFi | Camera: 720p webcam | Weight: 2.86 lbs Dimensions: 11.6″ x 8.34″ x 0.70″
Poor viewing angles
This is one of the “sexier” Chromebooks around, showcasing Lenovo’s lust for style. However, the best feature is the N20p’s 300-degree hinge, bending the N20p’s display backward all the way into stand mode (or “tent” mode), which lends itself rather well to watching films or showing presentations.
The touchscreen controls also work in a snap for, say, watching shows on HBO Go or lurking around Pinterest. Still, there’s some struggle when using it as a tablet, as Chrome isn’t entirely made for touch as an almost exclusively browser-based interface.
It’s not very tuned for work use, but the Lenovo N20p offers great versatility for a leisure notebook. Plus, with two USB ports (one 3.0), an HDMI port and an SD card reader, this Chromebook delivers a fine value.
Read the full review: Lenovo N20p Chromebook
Juan Martinez and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article.