Published: Tuesday, 10 August 2021 18:14
Experience the best of what Google's Chrome OS has to offer with one of these laptops or two-in-ones. Joshua Goldman Aug. 9, 2021 9:30 a.m. PT
- Best small Chromebook under $300 Lenovo Chromebook Duet Jump to details $300 at Lenovo
- Best Chromebook under $400 Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 Jump to details $365 at Amazon
- Best Chromebook under $500 HP Chromebook x360 14c Jump to details $460 at Walmart
- Best Chromebook 2-in-1 for multitaskers Acer Chromebook Spin 713 Jump to details $699 at Best Buy
- Best Chromebook for gaming Asus Chromebook Flip CM5 Jump to details $500 at Newegg
- Best Chromebook by Google Google Pixelbook Go Jump to details $649 at Best Buy
- Best premium Chromebook ultraportable 2-in-1 Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 Jump to details $549 at Best Buy
- Best Chromebook with a large display Acer Chromebook 715 Jump to details $525 at Walmart
Looking for a new computer? Rather than a traditional laptop, what about a good Chromebook? These machines are a solid choice if you live your life on the web and don't need to install Windows or Mac software. You see, Chromebooks run on Google's web browser-based Chrome operating system, offering a comparatively minimalistic experience compared to MacOS and Windows laptops (Here's all you can and can't do compared with a traditional laptop if you're not sure one is right for you). Further, while it may seem like they popped up out of nowhere in the past couple of years, they just celebrated their 10th birthday.
Chromebooks have a lot going for them. They're generally more affordable than MacBooks, Windows PCs and iPads. And, as the Chrome OS has evolved to include use of Android apps from the Google Play Store and Linux software, you'll also now find premium models with faster processors, more memory and speedier storage. They're more expensive than the Chromebooks on the cheaper side of the spectrum, but they're also lighter, slimmer and typically have better battery life. Some even have a touch screen.
In fact, Chromebooks are a better fit for a lot more people than a Mac or Windows laptop, and a great Chromebook is my go-to recommendation for a basic computing experience.
Read more: Laptop vs. Chromebook: What's the difference, which works better for you
Below, you'll find the best Chromebooks we've reviewed. Each Chromebook laptop spotlighted on this list is independently chosen by CNET's editors and each Chromebook review does a deep dive in to that particular device. I will note, however, that if there's a particular set of specs you're looking for, whether that be more than one USB port, an HDMI port, a particular screen sizes or even just a headphone jack, I encourage you to do a deep dive in your choice -- those features are not guaranteed on all Chromebooks. This list is updated regularly.
Best small Chromebook under $300
Lenovo Chromebook DuetJoshua Goldman/CNET
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a 10-inch tablet with a detachable keyboard and touchpad. This Lenovo Chromebook's small size might be a little limiting as a primary device, though you can connect to an external display via its USB-C port. It is, however, a great pick if you're looking for an affordable Chromebook for pure mobility or as a secondary device that can be used in tablet mode.
Read our Lenovo Chromebook Duet review.
$300 at Lenovo
Best Chromebook under $400
Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5Josh Goldman/CNET
This Lenovo 13-inch Chromebook two-in-one is a better bet than the Duet if you need a laptop for all-day use. It has a full HD display as well as excellent performance and battery life for the money, thanks to an Intel Core i3-10110U processor, 4GB of memory and a 64GB solid-state drive. The Lenovo Flex is not a great choice for outdoor use, since the display is pretty dim.
Read our Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 review.
$365 at Amazon
Best Chromebook under $500
HP Chromebook x360 14cJosh Goldman/CNET
If you'd rather have a wider screen instead of a taller one like the Spin 713's, this HP Chromebook is the way to go. It's roughly 0.75 inches wider than a premium 13.3-inch model, but that extra width makes it easier to work in two side-by-side windows. The two-in-one design means you can use it as a tablet (though it's a bit heavy to use handheld). You can also tent it, connect an external keyboard and mouse and use it as a small all-in-one computer.
The Core i3 processor and 8GB of memory kept this HP Chromebook running smoothly even with a couple dozen tabs open and streaming video in the background. And this Chromebook laptop has a long battery life to boot, lasting 10 hours, 40 minutes in CNET's tests.$460 at Walmart
Best Chromebook 2-in-1 for multitaskers
Acer Chromebook Spin 713Josh Goldman/CNET
Tired of trying to work on documents or spreadsheets on a small widescreen display? The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 uses one of Acer's bright VertiView displays, a 13.5-inch 2,256x1,504-pixel touchscreen with a 3:2 aspect ratio. As the name implies, it gives you more vertical room to work, but it still has the width of a typical 13.3-inch laptop with a 16:9 ratio. Between that and its battery life, which lasted nearly 13 hours in our tests, you'll be able to get more work done in a day -- and it's still thin and light enough for an everyday carry.
The latest version of this Chromebook is the first to receive Intel's Evo verification, which means you'll be getting the best possible mobile experience with this model. It's also the first with Thunderbolt 4 support, which lets you connect to multiple external displays as well as providing fast data speeds and networking.
Read our Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review.
$699 at Best Buy
Best Chromebook for gaming
Asus Chromebook Flip CM5Josh Goldman/CNET
Chromebooks are typically not associated with gaming. However, with cloud gaming services such as Stadia, GeForce Now and Xbox Game Pass able to run on Chromebooks alongside Android mobile games and Linux games, you have a lot of options now -- and the CM5 is ready for them.
The configuration we tested will first be available from Costco sometime in August for $600. A $500 configuration of the CM5 is available at the link below, but it drops to a slightly slower Ryzen 3 processor, 4GB of memory and 64GB of slower eMMC flash memory for storage. That configuration would still be fine for general use, but spending the extra $100, if you can, gets you a much better Chromebook.
Read our Asus Chromebook Flip CM5 review.
$500 at Newegg
Best Chromebook by Google
Google Pixelbook GoJuan Garzon/CNET
Just as Google's Pixel phones offer the best pure Android experience, the Google Pixelbook Go is built to deliver the best of Chrome OS. The premium Chromebook starts at $649, but fully loaded with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, 256GB of storage and a 4K display, the price hits a pricey $1,399. That's a lot, and more than what's needed for most people. Still, the Pixelbook Go is an excellent little Chromebook, especially for those who really want to explore all that Chrome can do including Linux and Android app selections.
Read our Pixelbook Go review.
$649 at Best Buy
Best premium Chromebook ultraportable 2-in-1
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2Josh Goldman/CNET
It's unusual for the second generation of a device to have fewer features than the original and still be an improvement, but that's the case for the Galaxy Chromebook 2. Samsung dialed back on some of the features and components of the original, making this sequel more affordable than the first-gen model. It also has much better battery life. And Samsung did it all without losing all of its predecessor's premium appeal.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 review.
$549 at Best Buy
Best Chromebook with a large display
Acer Chromebook 715Josh Goldman/CNET
The Acer Chromebook 715 started life as a premium model targeted at a growing market for Chrome OS devices. Along with its smaller sibling, the Acer Chromebook 714, the 715 has a premium all-aluminum chassis built to survive drops from up to 48 inches and downward force up to 132 pounds. This model has been discontinued, but you can still find the more affordable version of the premium 715 that dials back the specs and extras but keeps the premium build quality, making it a fantastic choice for a home office or student.$525 at Walmart CNET Now
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