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The best Chromebooks for students in 2020

To achieve their highest potential, students need technology that meets their every need — especially if they can’t go to a classroom. As more and more tasks demand their time, some of the best Chromebooks have risen to the challenge.

Being both lightweight an able to run advanced programs makes them a solid choice as a laptop for college students. The Asus Chromebook Flip C214 rises above the competition for its overall success in all our tests. Check out the other highlights of this great Chromebook for students and others.

The best Chromebooks for students at a glance:

Best Chromebook for students: Asus Chromebook Flip C214ASUS Chromebook Flip C214

Why you should buy this: Offering military-grade durability, long battery life, and an integrated stylus, it’s the best Chromebook option for students.

Who it’s for: Students who want an exceptional rugged notebook that offers all-day battery life with stylus input, all for an exceptional price.

Why we picked the Asus Chromebook Flip C214:

Asus built the Chromebook Flip C214 as a student-focused laptop from the ground up. Positioned as an option for educational institutions, the C214 features everything that makes a Chromebook great for students, including a battery that can last up to 12 hours on a single charge. The convenient 2-in-1 laptop design means that students can utilize it as a laptop or a tablet, using a stylus while in either mode to take notes or sketch out ideas.

The Asus Chromebook is also built to military-grade specifications, so you won’t need to worry about throwing it in your bag. It has been drop-tested from up to 1.2 meters while powered on, and the unit can endure up to 30 kilograms of force without being damaged. The laptop has other durability features, too, including a rubberized bumper, a spill-resistant keyboard, and an anti-scratch, easy-to-grip rubberized finish.

The entire system is backed up by an Intel Celeron Dual-Core processor with either 4GB or 8GB of onboard memory, which is enough to browse the web, manage word processing, and get work done. The 11.6-inch display is HD+ with a 768p resolution; it won’t be the ultimate movie machine, but the resolution is more than enough to get homework finished on time.

Runner-up Chromebook for students: Google Pixelbook Go

Google Pixelbook Go keyboard
Riley Young / Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: Despite being on the pricer side, the Pixelbook Go is the best Chromebook you can buy, making it great for both students and everyday users.

Who’s it for: Anyone who wants the best Chromebook on the market, including students who demand the best performance.

Why we picked the Google Pixelbook Go:

Hands down, the Google Pixelbook Go is the best Chromebook you can purchase at this time, but it comes in at a much heftier price tag than our top pick. Featuring a 13-inch full HD display, the screen offers plenty of room for students to manage multiple windows side-by-side, such as when researching and writing up an essay. Computing power won’t be lacking, either, thanks to the inclusion of an Intel Core m3 processor on the base model, moving up to an Intel Core i7 processor when maxed out. The latter option even bumps up the display from full HD to 4K ultra-high definition (UHD) – great for when you want to kick back and relax with some Netflix binging after a long day of classes.

Features that we believe will stand out for students include the 12-hour battery life thanks to a 47 Wh battery and the ability to fast charge up to two hours in only 20 minutes. If you’re working in a dark lecture hall, the Chromebook Go’s comfortable backlit keyboard will enable you to continue taking notes without worry. The magnesium finish also keeps the Pixelbook light yet sturdy, protecting it as you move from class to class.

Read our Google Pixelbook Go review

Best budget Chromebook for students: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet

Why you should buy this: Lenovo has created a 2-in-1 experience that is both functional and affordable. Plus, it includes all the accessories with it.

Who’s it for: Students who need an affordable Chromebook for school that can also be used as a tablet for leisure time.

Why we picked the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet:

Even with more premium Chromebooks now on the market, there are still a few great budget laptop options out there. While many are mediocre, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet meets the criteria. It’s a 2-in-1 Chromebook, complete with a detachable keyboard. However, unlike the Duet’s nearest competition — the entry-level iPad and Microsoft Surface Go — the Duet includes its detachable keyboard in the box.

Users also get a 1080p display in a 10.1-inch package. That makes it great for watching videos. The Duet is also surprisingly sturdy and well built for its price point. The biggest drawbacks for the Duet are its cramped keyboard and so-so performance. However, for a student who is looking for a do-it-all device on the cheap, it is hard to beat the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet.

Read Our Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Review

Best multimedia Chromebook for students: Lenovo Yoga C630

Lenovo Yoga C630 review
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: Lenovo’s Yoga C630 offers a large 15.6-inch touchscreen display that outshines other Chromebooks, providing lots of screen space to get work done.

Who’s it for: Students who need extra screen space to multitask, as well as those who want to kick back after a long day of classes with a Netflix binging session.

Why we picked the Lenovo Yoga C630:

Lenovo offers a Chromebook aimed squarely at the hearts of students seeking large-screen displays and those planning on binging a few shows after class lets out. Featuring the most massive screen out of all of the Chromebooks on our list, the 15.6-inch full HD display allows for students to multitask with ease, opening more windows than a smaller screen might allow. Need to work on an essay in Google Docs, pull research from the web, or reference a notes app? No need to worry, thanks to the Yoga C630. Best of all, despite the large display, the C630 still pulls in an impressive 10 hours of battery life.

Under the hood, the Yoga C630 features an Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, making it one of the more capable Chromebooks on our list. Of course, due to the large screen size, the unit is on the heftier side, weighing in at 4.2 pounds – while it’s not an extreme weight, it is something to consider if you will be touting it around from class to class daily. We were also thrilled to see that the C630 offers the latest AC Wi-Fi standard, ensuring you obtain the fastest wireless signal possible.

Best tablet Chromebook for students: Google Pixel Slate

Google Pixel Slate Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: The Google Pixel Slate offers the best Chrome OS experience in tablet form while offering useful accessories, including a keyboard and stylus.

Who’s it for: Students who prefer tablets or those who will be primarily performing work with a stylus, such as art or engineering majors.

Why we picked the Google Pixel Slate:

Google’s Pixel Slate offers the best Chrome OS tablet experience at the moment and is an excellent option for students who want to utilize a stylus. Majors that immediately come to mind include art students who might need to sketch and draw, as well as engineering students who need to jot down mathematical formulas. We know that the Google Pixel Slate isn’t technically a Chromebook; it’s more of a “Chrometablet.” Still, if you are considering picking up a Chrome OS device for school, it is worth taking a look at if you think you would benefit from the tablet form.

Of course, you aren’t always stuck in tablet mode, as Google offers the Pixel Slate Keyboard, which turns the tablet into a regular Chromebook with a snap. Whether in tablet or laptop mode, you can enjoy the tablet’s integrated Intel Core m3 processor with 8GB of RAM, which you can upgrade to an Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB of RAM in high-end models. Not only is the unit powerful for any tasks you might want to throw at it, but it also features an outstanding 12-hour battery life for life on the move.

Just know that the tablet is one of the more expensive options on our list, and throwing in the keyboard and stylus will increase the purchase price even further.

Read our Google Pixel Slate review

How we test

At Digital Trends, we spend time to carefully research and review notebook computers across a variety of platforms, including Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS. Our compilation of the best Chromebooks for students was assembled after careful research to ensure that each product we recommended met the daily requirements of those who would be utilizing them. Essential aspects such as battery life, overall performance, portability, and functionality were taken into account to help you select the best option.

For the Chromebooks that have entered our testing facility, we ensure that their internal components, including CPU, GPU, and hard disk drive, are benchmarked and meet expected performance levels. We spend time with tested machines so that we know what it is like to utilize them from day to day, just as you would use them. All of our work results in thorough testing that can craft buyer’s guides you can trust to deliver the best available recommendations.

Should you purchase a Chromebook?

In a world of Windows vs. MacOS vs. Chrome OS, Chromebooks are seemingly the third option. Are they good enough for you to buy? Some students will find themselves in love with their Chromebooks, while others will quickly make enemies. So, what makes a Chromebook the perfect choice for you? The answer comes down to how you use your current computer and the applications you rely on to get work done.

While MacOS and Windows are full-featured operating systems, Chromebooks feature Chrome OS, a platform based on the Chrome web browser. One great way to test whether or not you’re able to perform your daily work on a Chromebook is to see if you can do your work within a web browser. If you find yourself relying on applications such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, or iTunes, then a Chromebook might not be the best choice for you – at least not as your primary machine.

It is worth noting that modern Chromebooks can now run Android applications, so that may increase what you can accomplish with your computer. Not all Android apps are fully optimized for the screen size or the mouse and keyboard interface of Chrome OS, but in a pinch, they might be able to help you accomplish what you need to do. Otherwise, you can also check out some of the extensions available in the Chrome store that can expand upon the abilities of your new computer.

If you are still unsure of whether a Chromebook is the right choice, purchase it from a trusted website or retailer that offers a return policy. During the return period, you can test out all of the functions you would typically need to perform your typical routine. If worst comes to worst, you can then return the Chromebook if it fails to meet your expectations.

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