With the rise of Android and Linux app support on Chrome OS, the possibilities for a high-end Chromebook have never been greater. Combined with the new tablet form factor, Chrome OS is becoming quite the all-in-one operating system. Let’s take a look at the best Chromebooks on the market today.
BEST CHROMEBOOKS – FEBRUARY 2019
Still the top dog, for now
Since its debut in 2017, the Google Pixelbook has been the pinnacle of what Chrome OS can be. In the intervening year, other OEMs have begun to catch up with Google’s Pixelbook near-perfection, but it still holds the top spot in our chart. The Google Pixelbook carries the tradition of Google’s previous two models of Chromebook Pixel, being the first premium Chrome OS devices, and perfects the formula.
For the near future, the Pixelbook has some exclusive features like the Google Assistant (which won’t be an exclusive much longer). These exclusives aren’t what make the Pixelbook great though.
Why it’s the best Chromebook you can buy today:
The Google Pixelbook is the best Chromebook for the same reason the Pixel phones are the best Androids, in our opinions, and why Apple products are typically of such high quality. One company both wrote the software and designed the hardware, making them perfectly matched to each other.
The finely crafted attention to detail and pleasant touch-and-feel of the Pixelbook make me go out of my way to use it whenever possible. I’ve honestly never owned a more pleasant computer in my life.
Where to buy the Google Pixelbook:
With models ranging from the base model with an i5, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of eMMC storage for $999 (seen on sale as low as $699) to the top-tier packing an i7, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of NVMe SSD storage at $1649, having the best comes at a steep cost.
If the i7 model interests you though, note that as of writing, it’s on sale for just under $1100 on Amazon.
Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630
The best high-performance Chromebook
With the addition of Android and Linux apps support to Chrome OS, the possibilities for a high-performance Chromebook have greatly increased. From that perspective, the best Chromebook for the job is the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630, which packs an Intel i5-8250U processor.
Backing up that processor, the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 offers 8GB of RAM, up to 128GB of eMMC storage, and a microSD card slot. To say that this is a monster Chromebook is an understatement.
One unique selling point of the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 is that, after some delays at launch, it’s now available with a 15-inch 4K (3840 x 2160) display, the first on any Chromebook, beating even the Pixel Slate’s 3000×2000 resolution.
Unfortunately, to achieve the 4K display Lenovo sacrificed the battery life that Chrome OS is known for. In my personal hands-on time with the 4K Yoga Chromebook, it averaged a little over 5 hours on a charge. If you’re never far from a power supply, the 4K model is certainly viable, but you miss out on the portability aspect of it being laptop.
By contrast though, Chrome OS really shines in 4K, and it’s genuinely difficult to use other Chromebooks once you’ve used one as nice as the Yoga.
Why it’s the best Chromebook you can buy today:
If you’re wondering how an i5 can offer higher performance than the i7 in Google’s Pixelbook and Pixel Slate, the answer lies with the i7 processors used in those devices being part of Intel’s Y-series. Those Y-series processors are typically for ultrabooks which are designed to be low-power and not need cooling fans.
By contrast, the i5-8250U inside the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 is a proper laptop-grade processor. The difference is clear in benchmark tests, where the Yoga Chromebook’s i5 scores over double what the Pixel Slate’s i7-8500Y can manage.
Simply put, the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 is the dynamic capability of Chrome OS combined with the full power of a “traditional” laptop. If you’re looking to do intense developer work from a Chromebook, this is certainly the one to buy, but may be overkill for most others.
Where to buy the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630:
While the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 is available from a small handful of retailers, there’s been some issues reported related to the backlit keyboard. Supposedly, models sold by Best Buy (with a $20 lower retail price) do not offer backlit keys, while the models sold directly by Lenovo do. Be sure to keep that in consideration, should you decide to purchase one.
The standard 128GB model with a 1920×1080 touchscreen display retails for $719 while the 4K model rings in at $899. It’s up to you whether having a 4K display on a Chromebook is worth $180 extra, but it’s trendsetting of Lenovo to offer it.
As of April, Amazon.com has the Yoga Chromebook on sale for the fantastic price of $610.
Lenovo Chromebook C330
Best Chromebook under $300
Despite the recent launches of premium, high-end Chrome OS devices, many still appreciate Chromebooks for their affordability. The best consumer Chrome OS device you’ll find for a great price is definitely the Lenovo Chromebook C330.
The Lenovo Chromebook C330 is a convertible equipped with a MediaTek MT8173c processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB/64GB of storage space, further expandable via an SD card slot. It also comes with a simple 11.6-inch 1366×768 touchscreen display. While the C330 does not have the most impressive specs on this list, it’s well-rounded for its price bracket, with nothing too underpowered.
Why it’s the best Chromebook you can buy today:
By using an ARM-based chip instead of an Intel one, Lenovo was able to keep prices low without compromising on performance for Android apps and the web. With its combination of performance and affordability, the Lenovo Chromebook C330 is an easy recommendation for students, children, or really anyone looking to get their feet wet with Chrome OS.
Where to buy the Lenovo Chromebook C330:
Though the Lenovo Chromebook C330 normally retails for $299, at time of writing, Amazon.com is selling for a slick $250.
OTHER EXCELLENT CHROMEBOOKS
Google Pixel Slate
Despite being the hottest new Chrome OS device from Google, the Pixel Slate has some interesting flaws that currently hold it back from our top spots. If you can overlook these flaws, (or work around them using something like the Brydge keyboard) the Google Pixel Slate is an incredible piece of machinery, worthy of considering for its perfect portability and hardware worthy of the “Google Pixel” name.
The Google Pixel Slate comes in a variety of models, starting at $599 and $699 for ones sporting an Intel Celeron processor. To be frank, these are not the models you want. For the same price, you can get almost any other device on this list and have a much better experience.
The next models up, packing a Core m3 are worth considering, but I personally would recommend the Pixel Slate equipped with a Core i5 processor ($999) as the best bang for your buck of the Pixel Slate models. The top model, with an Intel Core i7 and a whopping 16GB of RAM sounds awesome in theory, but, for most people, isn’t worth $600 extra.
HP Chromebook X2
I’ve intentionally placed the HP Chromebook X2 next to the Google Pixel Slate, because they’re extremely similar products, but approached from different angles. Where the Pixel Slate is a tablet with keyboard options (sold separately) to become a “laptop”, the HP Chromebook X2 is a laptop that can detach from its keyboard (included, plus a stylus) to become a “tablet.” Additionally, the HP Chromebook X2 is the more “lap-able” of the two detachables.
For the time being, I believe that the HP Chromebook X2’s design makes more sense for most people. Beyond that, it offers more performance at a better value than the Pixel Slate. At $499, or $100 less than the lowest Pixel Slate model, you get a 2400×1600 display comparable to the Pixelbook, an Intel Core m3-7Y30 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage space expandable via SD card.
If you’re sure you’re in the market for a detachable Chrome OS device, the HP Chromebook X2 is the better bang for your buck.
Acer Chromebook Spin 13
Spec for spec, the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 has models nearly identical to the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 at the top of our list, minus the availability of 4K. Intel i5-8250U processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of eMMC storage, the works. This means it can absolutely tear through anything you throw at it, better than almost any Chromebook on the market.
There’s three key differences, though, that you may prefer about the Acer Spin 13. The first, of course, is that Acer has managed to pack everything into an even more portable 13-inch form factor. Second, despite the smaller form, the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 comes with a conveniently stored stylus for the touch screen.
Thirdly, as of this month, you can pick a model up with a whopping 16GB of RAM. While the overwhelming majority of today’s Chrome OS users may never need that, I’m certain that extra memory will be of great use to at least one Android developer or Linux power user.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 13 is available with prices ranging from $699 for a lesser model with an i3-8130U processor and 4GB of RAM to $999 for the i5 model with 16GB of RAM.
Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14
If you’ve owned a Dell computer before, you know that, if nothing else, they’re consistent and can take a bit of a beating, and the Inspiron Chromebook 14 is no different. Packing an i3-8130U processor (which still beats Pixel Slate’s i7 in benchmarks), 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of eMMC storage, the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 is definitely solid, both spec-wise and in durability.
Where the Inspiron falls off is in the looks category, as it really doesn’t look like anything special, or something one would be proud to carry around. All the same, if you’re a businessperson or just feel the need for a more rugged device that doesn’t compromise on performance, this is the Chrome OS device for you.
The well-balanced Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 can be yours for $599.