We’ve reviewed hundreds of laptops, testing for important qualities like performance, battery life, and display quality. Each of these Chromebooks excel in these areas, but the PixelBook Go is something special. It has fantastic performance, even for a Chromebook, and though a little expensive, easily competes with Windows and MacOS alternatives. It’s portable, powerful, and probably exactly what you’re looking for in a Chromebook.
The best Chromebooks at a glance:
- The best Chromebook: Google Pixelbook Go
- The best 15-inch Chromebook: Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630
- The best budget Chromebook: Acer Chromebook Spin 15
- The best 2-in-1 Chromebook: HP Chromebook x2
- The best premium Chromebook: Google Pixelbook
Why should you buy this: It’s the best Chromebook you can buy.
Who it’s for: Students, people who need to work on the go or travel with a laptop.
Why we picked the Google Pixelbook Go:
Chromebooks are known for being ultra-cheap alternatives to Windows and Mac. But the Pixelbook Go doesn’t feel like a cheap imitation. A Windows laptop that cost around the same won’t feature anything like the build quality, portability, and performance the Pixelbook Go can offer. The efficiency of Chrome OS has a lot to do with that, but it’s also credit to Google’s hardware team. The Pixlebook Go is the complete package, elevating the strengths of its platform.
With unmatched battery life, a beautiful 13-inch screen, and fantastic battery life, the Pixelbook Go is a go-to for college students, as well as the ultimate travel companion for those who need to take their work on the go.
Read our full Google Pixelbook Go review
Why should you buy this: If you want a 15-inch Chromebook that doesn’t ask you to compromise on build quality or performance.
Who it’s for: Anyone who needs a full 15 inches of screen real estate.
Why we picked the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630:
In our review, we said the Yoga Chromebook C630 maintains “the perfect middle ground between premium and affordable,” and we meant it. Starting at $700, this Chrome OS powerhouse packs in a fast 8th-generation quad-core Intel Core i5-8250 — that’s a lot of power for Chrome OS. And it shows in our benchmarks, where the Yoga Chromebook C630 took over our top spot as the fastest Chrome OS machine we’ve tested yet.
But that’s not all this 15-inch Chromebook brings to the table. It also offers a truly premium design and build, sporting a chassis that’s devoid of any creaking or flexing, at an attractive price point. It challenges some of our favorite premium Windows 10 notebooks for build quality, and that’s saying something given the price point. And it’s relatively svelte for a 15-inch notebook, coming in at a reasonable 0.70 inches thick and 4.2 pounds in weight.
The 1080p display on our review unit didn’t stand out, but it’s competent — and even better, Lenovo offers a 4K option for $100 extra. The keyboard and touchpad are very good, and the touch display is as precise and responsive as expected and lets you navigate Chrome OS with just a finger.
Read our full Lenovo Chromebook C630 review
Why should you buy this: If you need an affordable Chromebook with a large display — including one that flips around.
Who it’s for: Anyone who needs a full 15 inches of screen real estate on a budget.
Why we picked the Acer Chromebook Spin 15:
The Acer Chromebook Spin 15 is one of the only Chromebooks with a 15-inch display, and it’s the only 2-in-1 in this form factor — making it a bit of a rarity. With a size and form factor closer to a 15-inch premium laptop than a budget-oriented netbook, the Acer Chromebook Spin 15 delivers the same screen real estate as its much higher-priced competitors. That display also flips around, and while you won’t want to use it as a tablet in the crook of your arm — it’s too massive for that — you’ll enjoy media mode for bingeing Netflix in bed.
Rather than feeling cramped when you have two windows side-by-side on one of the more svelte Chromebook offerings, the Acer Chromebook Spin 15 is just big enough to allow you all the room you need to multitask. On top of that, the 2-in-1 features a dual-core Intel Pentium N4200 and 4GB of RAM, which features increased multi-core performance and plenty of memory to power multitasking without feeling any serious system lag.
The size of this laptop also gives you room to stretch out. Smaller Chromebooks are more portable, but they also can feel cramped, particularly if you’re a large person with similarly large hands. It even has a decent keyboard and touchpad, and it can run for an age thanks to the sizable battery. That makes some of the problems — such as the slight audio distortion, the lack of dedicated video outputs, and the outdated design — a little bit easier to overlook. If size and power are what you are looking for in your budget Chromebook, Acer’s Chromebook Spin 15 is your best bet.
Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 15 review
Why should you buy this: You want a Chromebook prepared for the future of Chrome OS.
Who it’s for: Students, professionals, and anyone in between.
Why we picked the HP Chromebook x2:
The HP Chromebook x2 is a perfect example of the latest evolution of the Chromebook space. It’s a 12.3-inch tablet that pops magnetically into a keyboard base to act as either a stable clamshell notebook or a standalone slate. It’s very much like the Microsoft Surface Book 2 in this respect, and we like it a lot.
Inside, it sports a powerful, efficient 7th-generation Intel Core M3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of eMMC storage (expandable via microSD card), which is more than enough to run Chrome OS efficiently. The lovely 2,400 x 1,600 (235 PPI) display in the productivity-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio is pen-enabled, giving the Chromebook x2 a ton of uses.
The Chromebook x2’s price falls into the latest midrange of Chromebook pricing, and it’s considerably cheaper than many of its biggest competitors. If you’re looking for a new notebook in the $600 range, though, and don’t need all features of Windows 10, then you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option.
Read our full HP Chromebook x2 review
Why should you buy this: You want comparable hardware to Windows laptops.
Who it’s for: Professionals and those who want serious power in their Chromebook.
Why we picked the Google Pixelbook:
A “premium” Chromebook used to be an oxymoron, but thanks to the Pixelbook that’s no longer true. We’re seeing all sorts of manufacturers follow suit with higher-end machines built more for luxury and performance. The Pixelbook is the best of the bunch so far. It does have a few flaws — like the pricey and chunky pen — but overall it’s an impressive piece of kit, especially if the price isn’t the most important factor for you.
As much as its starting price of $1,000 (regularly on sale for $800 or slightly less) makes it far from a typical Chromebook, the Pixelbook does offer the most powerful hardware of all the recommendations in this guide. The Pixebook’s base version comes with a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD), and you can upgrade that to a Core i7 and 16GB too if you like. The bottom line: If you envision performing some heavy duty tasks on your Chromebook, the Pixelbook is a worthy recommendation.
It might not always feel it’s the best bang for your buck, for someone who wants to go all-in on Google, the Pixelbook is your dream machine. But if the price is still too high, you can always consider the slightly less expensive detachable tablet 2-in-1, the Pixel Slate, featured above.
Read our full Google Pixelbook review
How we test
When laptops enter our labs, they undergo a torturous battery of tests intended to give us a look at how each one will perform in a variety of situations. We want to define their limits, find out what they can do in everyday use and how they perform when they’re pushed.
We test individual components like the display, the CPU, GPU, and hard disk, using specific benchmarks to see how they stack up against competitors. We test for speed, reliability, and most importantly, we just spend a lot of time with each laptop.
You can find out how individual components work on their own by checking out manufacturer specs, but we test notebooks as a whole as well. We don’t just want to find out how fast each component is, we want to see how they complement each other, how they perform as a package. That way, we can give you a fully-rounded recommendation.
Before buying a Chromebook, think about Android apps
Chrome OS isn’t the most robust operating system around, but it gets the job done for Chromebooks by providing the essentials such as web browsing, word processing, and browsing basic file types. But sometimes, you need more than a Chromebook provides. Does that mean you should jump ship or skip over Chromebooks entirely? Not anymore.
Starting in 2017, every new model of Chromebook supports the Google Play store and can run Android apps. You’re no longer limited to the Chrome ecosystem, and you can get just as much functionality out of your Chromebook as you could out of an Android phone or tablet.
Some earlier models also feature Android integration. For a full and continually updated list, you can check here. To find out how to install Android apps on your (compatible) Chromebook, check out the official instructions from Google here.
Is a Chromebook for you?
Chromebooks aren’t for everyone, and some users will be frustrated by their lack of functionality. Others might not even notice that Chrome OS is a bit more limited than traditional operating systems like Windows 10 and MacOS.
It all depends on how you use your current laptop or desktop. If you need to run a lot of specialized applications like Photoshop, Illustrator, or even if you absolutely need the Microsoft Office Suite and can’t settle for Google Docs, a Chromebook probably isn’t for you. On the other hand, it’s great for people who mostly surf the web or stick to other online tasks.
Chromebooks are devices that excel at general-purpose use — think of a Chromebook as a slightly more robust tablet or a big smartphone with a keyboard. If you can’t do it in a web browser or Android app, you probably won’t be able to do it on a Chromebook. That said, if you just need an affordable mobile device to bridge the gap between a desktop and your smartphone, a Chromebook might be for you.
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- What is a Chromebook and should you buy one?
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- The best laptops under $500 for 2020
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