“The HP Chromebook x360 14c has faults but is bolstered by its affordable price.”
- Robust build quality
- Conservative good looks
- Good display
- Excellent touchpad
- Solid productivity performance
- Disappointing battery life
- Keyboard is a bit too light
- Pen isn't included
Chromebooks have essentially caught up with Windows laptops in terms of form factors, and the convertible 2-in-1 is well-represented among Chrome OS machines. As a case in point, HP has its Chromebook x360 14c, which it updated for 2021 with an 11th-gen Intel Core CPU.
It’s still held back by a 16:9 display when the rest of the world moves toward taller 16:10 or 3:2 panels, but it’s otherwise a representative sample. There’s nothing that really stands out except, as we’ll see in a moment, the price.
My review configuration of the HP Chromebook x360 14c, with a Core i3-1125G4 and a 14-inch 16:9 Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display, retails for $690, but it’s on sale as I write this review for a far more palatable $510. At that price, the HP Chromebook x360 14c is an attractive convertible 2-in-1 for anyone who wants a Chrome OS laptop with some flexibility.
The HP Chromebook x360 14c isn’t so cheap that you’d be willing to accept a poor build quality, especially for a Chrome OS machine. It’s good, then, that the laptop is constructed of aluminum and resists bending in the lid and flexing in the keyboard deck and bottom chassis. HP made a solid machine that’s nearly as robust as laptops costing twice as much or more, like the Dell XPS 13 that sets the standard for premium laptops.
Only some give in the lid if you press down from above puts the HP Chromebook x360 14c in a different class. It’s considerably more rigid than the Asus Chromebook Flip C536, another 14-inch Chrome OS convertible 2-in-1 that costs about the same and is likely the HP’s most relevant competitor.
If you want a laptop that will stick out, the HP Chromebook x360 14c isn’t it.
The hinge is a bit tight, requiring two hands to open the lid but holding the display firmly in place in any of its four modes — clamshell, tent, media, or tablet. Strong magnets hold the lid tightly to the bottom chassis, so you need to pry that open first.
Aesthetically, the HP Chromebook x360 14c is a very conservatively designed machine in a dark silver color, with only a chrome HP logo on the lid to break things up. The lines and angles are simple, with rounded corners and edges that make the laptop minimalistic but comfortable to hold.
The Asus Chromebook Flip C536 is a much more striking laptop with its white outer chassis and black keyboard deck, along with its more aggressive angles. Both are attractive laptops, but if you want one that will stick out, then the HP Chromebook x360 14c isn’t it.
The display bezels on the Chromebook x360 14c are thin on the side and reasonably sized up top, and the bottom chin is smaller than on some other budget convertible 2-in-1s. That makes the laptop just a little wider and deeper than average while being 0.71 inches thin and weighing 3.35 pounds, also above average for the modern 14-inch class.
Even so, the HP is smaller than the Asus Chromebook Flip C536, which is thicker at 0.73 inches and weighs 4.3 pounds. The Asus is also more than an inch wider and deeper, making the Chromebook x360 14c seem tiny by comparison. You won’t hate carrying the Chromebook x360 14c around, but it’s not the smallest 14-inch laptop you can buy.
Connectivity is decent, with two USB-C ports and a USB-A port to go with a 3.5mm audio jack and a microSD card reader. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 provide wireless connectivity.
HP equipped the Chromebook x360 14c with an 11th-gen dual-core Core i3-1125G4 CPU, which should be plenty fast for Chrome OS. Add in 8GB of RAM and a fast PCIe 256GB solid-state drive (SSD), and there’s a reason for optimism.
We can only run limited benchmarks in Chrome OS, so most of my performance data is subjective. I did run the Android Geekbench 5 benchmark, and the Chromebook x360 14c underwhelmed with just an 898 in the single-core test and 2,866 in the multi-core test. That’s behind the Asus Chromebooks Spin C536 with the slower Core i3-1115G4 in the single-core test and equivalent in the multi-core test, at 1,209 and 2,849, respectively. The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 with its quad-core Core i5-1135G7 hit 1,237 in the single-core test and 5,114 in the multi-core test. It’s quite a bit faster.
The HP Chromebook x360 14c is fast and efficient no matter how many Chrome tabs I had open.
I also ran the Speedometer 2.0 web benchmark, and the Chromebook x360 14c did well here, hitting 141. The Chromebook Flip C536 was slightly faster at 158. Most laptops, Chrome OS or Windows, score under 100 on this test, and so these are good results.
Subjectively, I found the HP Chromebook x360 14c to be fast and efficient no matter how many Chrome tabs I had open or Android apps running in the background. These might not be the fastest benchmark scores in our database, but the 2-in-1 kept up with everything I threw at it, including running an Android game like Asphalt 9.
That’s a fairly demanding title as far as Chrome OS games go, and the Chromebook x360 14c ran it without any stuttering or choppiness. This is a 2-in-1 that’s fast enough for demanding productivity workflows, at least as far as Chrome OS is concerned.
The Chromebook x360 14c sports a 14-inch Full HD IPS display that’s touch- and pen-enabled. I couldn’t use my colorimeter to test the display, but I’d rate it as a good panel. It’s bright enough for my usual working environments, but at a rated 250 nits, it’s not going to overcome very bright ambient lighting — indeed, you won’t want to use it outside with any sunlight.
The colors were pleasant and not oversaturated, and so I’m guessing they’re pretty accurate. Watching Netflix and viewing photos was just fine. The contrast was acceptable, with black text sticking out on white backgrounds without appearing greyish. My biggest complaint was that the display was in the old-school 16:9 aspect ratio and its Full HD resolution was just on the edge of being sharp enough.
Overall, this is a comfortable display for productivity and media binging. It’s not going to please creative types who crave dynamic colors and deep contrast, but that’s true of most Chromebook displays.
Two upward-firing speakers on each side of the keyboard produce the audio, and they provided clear highs and mids with a touch of bass. That’s the good part.
Not so great was the volume, which was low even when turned all the way up. That’s unfortunate.
There was zero distortion, though, meaning if you’re binging Netflix by yourself then you’re covered, but music will benefit from a set of headphones, and a Bluetooth speaker will come in handy to entertain groups.
HP makes excellent keyboards, as evidenced by the version on its Spectre line. Unfortunately, that keyboard didn’t make it to the Chromebook x360 14c. While the keyboard has plenty of spacing and large keycaps, the switches are too light. There’s plenty of travel and a snappy bottoming action, but too little pressure is required to register a keypress.
I tend to like lighter keyboards, and so this one was just over the edge. If you like a light touch to your keyboards, then you’ll be fine with this one, but too little pressure can be as fatiguing as too much over long typing sessions (like writing this review).
My review unit shipped with a pen for testing, but that’s an extra purchase.
The touchpad, on the other hand, is excellent. It’s larger than usual and has a soft tactile feel that’s great for precise swiping. The buttons have a nice, quiet click that registers nicely without waking up your partner if you’re using the laptop in bed at night. This is one of the better touchpads I’ve used on a Chromebook.
My review unit shipped with a pen for testing, but that’s an extra purchase. It worked well with Chrome OS’s built-in pen tools, allowing me to take notes and highlight with precision. The pen magnetically attaches to the chassis, so it’s easy to carry around, although the magnets aren’t that strong, so you’ll want to keep an eye on it.
Some extra security is provided by a switch on the left-hand side that turns the webcam on and off. There’s also a fingerprint reader to allow logging in without a password, which is nice to have and unusual in machines at this price range.
HP packed 58 watt-hours worth of battery in the Chromebook x360 14c, which should be plenty for a Chrome OS laptop with a 14-inch Full HD display and a low-power CPU. I was expecting great things in terms of battery life.
That’s not what I got. Surprisingly, the Chromebook x360 14c lasted just 7.75 hours in our web browsing test, which is where Chrome OS machines usually perform the best. But then again, maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, given that the Asus Chromebook Flip C536 with the slower Core i3 and a 57 watt-hour battery managed just 6.75 hours. The Asus Chromebook Flip C436, the predecessor to the C536, had a 10th-gen i3 and just 42 watt-hours of battery, and it lasted for 10.5 hours — a much better score.
Even the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 with its 1oth-gen full-power Core i5 CPU made it to 8.5 hours. In our video test that loops a local 1080p movie trailer, the Chromebook x360 14c hit just eight hours, compared to the Chromebook Flip C536 at 10 hours and the C436 at 13 hours. The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 managed 10 hours. Again, the HP lagged behind.
I was disappointed in these results. The Chromebook x360 14c probably won’t last a full day’s work even running the lightweight Chrome OS, which is typically the norm for the platform.
The HP Chromebook x360 14c is an attractive, well-built Chrome OS convertible 2-in-1 that’s a good value at its sale price of $510. At a retail price of $690, it’s a bit less attractive.
It’s fast enough for demanding productivity users, but its battery life will disappoint. The keyboard is a bit loose, but the touchpad is a winner, and pen support is a plus. If you can find it at the sale price, then, by all means, add it to your list.
Are there any alternatives?
The Asus Chromebook Flip C536 is the most natural competitor, providing similar performance and slightly better battery life at the same price. It has a more distinctive look, and so it’s better for someone who wants a laptop that stands out.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is another competitor, being similarly priced but much faster and with better battery life. It also offers a sharper, more productivity-friendly 3:2 display, which is a plus for getting work done.
Finally, Google’s Pixelbook Go should be under consideration if you’re not sold on a 2-in-1. It has better battery life, a better display, and superior audio, all in a smaller package. You’ll spend more, but it’s worth it.
How long will it last?
The Chromebook x360 14c is a reasonably robust 2-in-1 that feels like it will last for years. And its components should keep Chrome OS humming along for quite some time. The typical one-year warranty is more palatable at these kinds of prices.
Should you buy it?
Yes. If you can get it at its sale price, it is a good value and a solid Chrome OS 2-in-1.
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