Computing

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook vs. Google Pixelbook: Here’s what $1,000 gets you

We compare two premium Chrome OS devices. Which is best?

If you’re looking for a high-end Chromebook in 2020, there’s no shortage of devices to choose from. You can pick Google’s own Pixelbook, the newer Pixelbook Go, or one from another manufacturer like Samsung or HP.

But never, until now, has there been a true competitor to the Pixelbook. More recently, though, the company announced the new Galaxy Chromebook, priced at $1,000 to match the Pixelbook’s price. And, with its beautiful 4K OLED screen, this new Chrome OS 2-in-1 has more than what it takes to go up against Google’s own Pixelbook.

But can it possibly take down the Pixelbook, the premium Chromebook that started it all?

Design

Though these two laptops are both premium, they couldn’t look more different. Samsung’s new Galaxy Chromebook is much slimmer, lighter, and sports smaller bezels than the Google Pixelbook. It also comes in a striking new “Fiesta Red” color, though there also will be a “Mercury Gray” option too. The Pixelbook still uses the dual-tone silver and white on the back. It’s an iconic look, for sure.

In terms of exact numbers, Samsung claims that the new Galaxy Chromebook is the thinnest Chromebook ever made. It comes in at just 0.39 inches thick, which is just a bit thinner than the 0.40 inches on the Pixelbook. It’s also extremely light, coming in at 2.2 pounds, versus the 2.4 pounds on the Pixelbook. Both devices are made out of aluminum, and are built with durability in mind. You won’t find creaks or flexible panels in either.

Both Pixelbook and Galaxy Chromebook are also both 2-in-1s, so you can flip them around and use in 4 different modes — stand, tent, laptop, or tablet. Samsung’s device, however, comes with a pop-out stylus built right into the device along the side near the headphone jack. Google’s Pixelbook also has pen compatibility, but there is nowhere to store the pen, and you need to buy it separately for a $99 purchase. The Samsung stylus is much smaller, and could be uncomfortable to use for long periods of time.

google pixelbook review lifestyle matt

The displays also present a significant departure between these two Chromebooks, with the newer Galaxy Chromebook taking a significant step ahead. The Google Pixelbook sports a 12.3-inch Quad HD 2,400 x 1,600 LCD touch screen display. That’s good for 235 Pixels per inch and 400 nits of brightness. The display is also flanked by some thick black bezels. They felt big when they launched in 2017, but today, they’re downright distracting.

The new Samsung Galaxy Chromebook meanwhile, sports a much larger 13.3 inch 4K AMOLED touch screen display, which is a first for a Chromebook. Its resolution comes in at 2,840 x 2,160. This means for some great levels of contrast, deeper details in images, as well as crisper images on the screen. The brightness, though, remains the same at 400 nits. Combined with the super-thin bezels of just 3.9 mm, the Galaxy Chromebook is just more immersive.

Unlike the Pixelbook, which uses a 3:2 aspect ratio, the Galaxy Chromebook uses a more standard 16:9 aspect ratio.

Performance

Performance isn’t often the first concern with Chromebooks, but these are both expensive laptops, so it should be mentioned. Yet again, this is yet another area where the Galaxy Chromebook wins out over the Pixelbook.

Under the hood of the Pixelbook are options for a 7th-gen Intel Core i5 or i7 Y-series processors. These processors are indeed good for web browsing and typical Chromebook tasks, but they are now over three years old. Storage, meanwhile, ranges from either a 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB NVMe SSD. That’s bundled with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM.

The new Galaxy Chromebook one-ups that, and goes for Intel’s latest 10th-gen Comet Lake U-series processors. This is a first for a Chromebook, as these processors are typically found in premium Windows laptops. You’ll also find options for up to 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD.  This should make it the most powerful Chromebook you can buy. Both devices are completely fanless, so you can expect them to remain cool and quiet at all times.

Portability

Now, there’s the portability aspect. While we’ve already considered the weight and the screen, there’s also the need to talk about battery life and ports. As the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook is a newer device, it also looks to beat out the Pixelbook in this area, too.

With the Pixelbook, the port selection includes two USB-C ports for charging, 4K display output, and quick data transfer. There’s also a 3.5 mm headphone jack. The Samsung Galaxy Book also has two USB-C ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack, but throws in a Micro SD card reader for extra measure, allowing you to expand storage if needed. It’s also worth noting that the Galaxy Chromebook sports support for Wi-Fi 6. It’s definitely the better connected of the two machines.

Elsewhere in portability, there are cameras and security measures. The Galaxy Chromebook sports a fingerprint scanner in the power button. There’s also an 8-megapixel camera in the keyboard deck, allowing you to take photos in tablet mode. A 1MP camera is also found on the top bezel. As for the Pixelbook, there’s no fingerprint scanner, but there is a 720P camera on board in the top bezel.

Finally, there is battery life. On the Pixelbook, we got to around four hours and twenty minutes when we put the 41 watt-hours through our most demanding test. And, when we used it for a few hours, the battery didn’t drain more than 30 percent, lasting us through a day of work.

The Galaxy Chromebook, meanwhile,  looks to be about the same. We’ll need to test it more, but Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook sports a larger 49.2 watt-hour battery. Samsung claims it can last up to 8 hours, but it’s likely that it could be less due to the 4K screen, which is known to pull more power.

Consider the Galaxy Chromebook

Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook won’t be out until the first quarter of 2020, but it’s better than the current Pixelbook in almost every way. The device is not only stunning-looking and has slimmer bezels, but it sports newer Intel processors under the hood and a better screen.

We’ll need to test it more, but for now, it looks like it’ll end up being the better buy for $1,000 when it launches.

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