What is the best Chromebook to buy?
Looking for the best Chromebook possible? Then we’ve got your back, including budget-friendly picks for students and flashy systems that may appeal to those willing to spend a little extra.
If you’re not entirely sure what a Chromebook is, they’re basically laptops running on Chrome OS instead of Windows. Chrome OS is designed specifically for those who only need a laptop to browse websites, play video and run Google-approved applications. As a result, they are generally a lot more cheaper than Windows-powered laptops.
They do have significant drawbacks though, as the locked-down operating system prevents users downloading software outside of Google’s app store. The likes of Netflix and Spotify are all fine, but you may encounter some issues if you want to download something a little obscure for university research etc. These laptops are also poor options for gaming, unable to play the likes of Fortnite and Minecraft. That said, the likes of Nvidia GeForce Now do allow for cloud-based gaming streaming on Chromebooks if you’ve a decent enough internet connection.
We’ve included a quickfire summary of our top recommended Chromebooks below. And if you crave additional information, we’ve also provided more in-depth analysis further on below with links directing you to the full-length reviews.
- Best all-round Chromebook: Google PixelBook Go
- Best value Chromebook: Lenovo Chromebook Duet
- Best budget Chromebook: Acer Chromebook 315
- Best tough Chromebook: Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1
- Best performance Chromebook: Asus Chromebook Flip C436
1. Google Pixelbook Go
The best all-round Chromebook you can buy
- Fantastic keyboard
- Attractive, understated look
- Impressive battery life
- Android apps on Chrome can be useful (even if buggy)
- Can get far too expensive if you upgrade the specs
- No fingerprint scanner/facial unlock
- Have to get the top model if you want a 4K screen
It shouldn’t really be surprising that Google – the same company responsible for Chrome OS – is responsible for the best Chromebook we’ve ever tested. The Google PixelBook Go excels in most areas, with an ultra-portable weight, excellent keyboard and outstanding battery life.
Google also offers a range of configurations, including a 4K model when you spend over a grand. We’d recommend not going for those high-tier models, as the inflated price seems to defeat the purpose of a Chromebook. If you’re not bothered about saving money, we’d always recommend Windows over Chrome OS.
But at the £629 starting price, the Google Pixelbook Go hits the sweet spot between performance and price, making it a great alternative to more expensive laptops such as the Dell XPS 13 and Surface Laptop 3 for those who only need a machine for web browsing, video streaming and word processing.
2. Lenovo Chromebook Duet
The best value Chromebook
- Very affordable price
- Bundled keyboard offers versatility
- Superb screen for video content
- Excellent battery life
- Lack of headphone jack
- Poor speaker quality
- Keyboard is uncomfortably small
While most Chromebooks on this list mimic the classic laptop clamshell design, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is more of a ChromeOS-powered tablet that can be turned into a makeshift laptop with the bundled keyboard. If you ask us, that just makes the Duet even more versatile than the rest of the devices here, and with an astonishingly affordable £299.99 price, it also arguably offers the best value of the bunch.
Those who need to hammer away at the keyboard frequently may prefer a laptop with a proper keyboard like the PixelBook Go, but anyone who just wants a device for browsing the web and watching videos will likely fall in love with the Duet. The bundled keyboard also helps out for emails, jotting down notes and easier web navigation.
The biggest competitors for the Duet are the iPad and Surface Go 2, but they cost significantly more while also demand an extra fee for the keyboard accessory. This means the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is an absolute bargain, whether you’re a school student or a causal browser.
3. Acer Chromebook 315
Best budget Chromebook
- Incredibly affordable price
- Big screen for a Chromebook
- Smooth performance for web browsing and video streaming
- Great selection of ports
- Poor battery life
- Unimpressive keyboard
- Heavy build
The Acer Chromebook 315 isn’t a flashy device, but since it costs just £269.99 it’s still comfortably one of our top recommend laptops. With a huge 15.6-inch Full HD touchscreen, and a surprisingly decent display quality, this is a great option for Netflix binges. It also proves useful for web browsing, fitting more content on screen than your typical 13-inch portable.
Performance never faulted during testing, no matter how many browser tabs were left open, while a generous offering of ports meant you’ll unlikely need an adaptor when plugging in cables. This means the 315 is a superb laptop option for students, even if the keyboard isn’t quite as good as it could be.
There are unfortunately are few issues here, including a meagre battery life at around 5 and half hours and a rather hefty design at 1.8kg. But when you realise this is half the price of most of the other devices on this list, it’s very easy to forgive its shortcomings.
4. Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1
A hardy Chromebook ideal for young students
- Virtually indestructible
- 360 degree hinge design
- OK battery life
- Screen is small and low res
- Keyboard could be better
While children need laptops for education these days, it’s understandably daunting to give them an expensive machine only for them to destroy by throwing it on the floor. The Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 is built to withstand such scrapes, with rubber edges and a splash-resistant keyboard providing that added protection.
Acer has also made sure to keep this laptop light enough for children to carry around, hitting the scales at a reasonable 1.41kg despite the extra padding. If you’re not bothered about the hardy build though, then this isn’t the device for you, as Acer has made significant sacrifices to the performance and screen quality.
For small. clumsy children who need a laptop powerful enough for web browsing and basic work, then the Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 is a decent option.
5. Asus Chromebook Flip C436
The most powerful Chromebook you can buy
- Light magnesium alloy shell
- Vivid display colour
- More capable than most Chromebooks
- App support issues question the extra power’s worth
- Some keyboard flex
- Overly sensitive touchpad
Ignore the price, and the Asus Chromebook Flip C436 is quite possibly the very best Chromebook you can buy. It has a powerful processor, gorgeous 14-inch Full HD display and a lightweight metal design that’s dead easy to fling in a bag. But when the whole purpose of a Chrome OS laptop is offering better value than a Windows system, it’s tough to accept the Flip C436’s eye-watering £999.99 price.
Since you can buy a top-notch Windows laptop for the exact same price, you’ll really need to love Chrome OS to justify the Flip C436’s high price. But with Chrome OS suffering multiple restrictions, such as being unable to download obscure software and run games beyond the Google Play Store, it’s difficult to see why you wouldn’t opt for Microsoft’s operating system instead.
That all said, the Asus Chromebook Flip C436 is still a fantastic laptop, and if you’re confident you will only need a system capable of basic web browsing and video streaming, then it could prove a great device for university students and office workers.