The ASUS Chromebook Flip is the best Chromebook for a student.

Best overall

ASUS Chromebook Flip (C100)

Chromebook Flip

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If you are a student in the market for a Chromebook or if you're buying for someone who is, the ASUS Chromebook Flip is our top pick. While not the most powerful available, it still has plenty enough where it counts so it can do everything a student or graduate needs in the perfect form factor for someone on the go.

The bottom line: Small and portable, the Chromebook Flip is great for a busy student. Its excellent app support means you'll be able to use it to get things done and be able to play games or watch video during the downtime.

Why the ASUS Chromebook Flip is the best

The 10.1-inch ASUS Chromebook Flip convertible — the screen folds back to provide a tablet experience — has a 1280x800 touch screen, great battery life, and can run apps from the Chrome Web Store and Google Play. Whether it's Google Docs, Wikipedia or Facebook, the Chromebook Flip will serve you or the student in your life well. The best part is that you'll find one under $300.

The MediaTek processor and 2 or 4GB of RAM (we recommend the 4GB version) can surf the web, watch full-screen videos, and play some of your favorite Android games from Google Play. Of course, Google Docs and Microsoft's Office apps for Chrome or Android also run very well so the schoolwork can get done, too. The small size and long battery life mean you'll be able to take it with you from class to class or to a coffee shop for lunch or quiet time.

The budget-friendly and super-portable Chromebook Flip just ticks all the boxes for anyone in school.

Best big screen

Acer Chromebook R13

Acer Chromebook R13

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The Acer Chromebook R13 was announced in September 2016 as the new mid-range offering from the company. The R13 represents the future of Chromebooks, carrying on from the ASUS Chromebook Flip. It has a 1080p IPS touch screen for interaction with Android apps, can fold back into various modes for an all-touch experience, and charges using the new USB-C standard rather than an older connector.

Beyond that, the Chromebook R13 offers a lot for its higher-than-average price. It has a solid metal build and nice-looking screen, with a solid (but quite standard) keyboard and trackpad. It isn't particularly light, but much of that is because of its large battery. The only real concern here is performance and configuration options, as you're getting a MediaTek ARM processor and can only choose to get 16, 32 or 64GB of storage — there's no choice to get a higher-end processor or more RAM.

Bottom line: If you're happy with the base configuration and don't need something that's hyper-portable, this is going to be a great choice for a student who want's something a little larger than the ASUS Chromebook Flip.

Best high end

HP Chromebook 13 G1

HP Chromebook 13 G1

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The HP Chromebook 13 G1 is nominally designed for the enterprise, so it's a step above most Chromebooks when it comes to quality and performance. No matter what model you get you're going to be using a full-metal laptop that comes in under three pounds, a crazy 3200x1800 touch screen, a backlit keyboard, and it charges up over USB-C (there's an additional USB-C port as well).

But here's the thing: you don't have to settle for the base model at $499. If you want more, you can have more — you can configure the Chromebook 13 G1 with up to 16GB of RAM and a top-end Intel Core m7 processor if you really need more performance.

The downside? Price. The base model at $499 is pretty good, but it's easy to configure this laptop and spend over $1,000. That's a lot of money to spend on a Chromebook, even when it's as nice as the HP is. When using Chrome OS as shipped on the HP Chromebook G1, the minor performance gains make it hard to justify the cost. But for a student who is also a tinkerer or Computer Science major, this is the Chromebook to buy if you're going to install an alternative operating system like Ubuntu.

Bottom line: If you have the money to spend, you're getting a great Chromebook with some of the best specs of any laptop. If you need that kind of power — or just want something that's incredibly well built — the HP Chromebook 13 G1 is the one to get.

Conclusion

A Chromebook is a great — and familiar — experience for anybody in school. The ASUS Chromebook Flip seems like it was specially built for a busy student, but there are also great options with a bigger screen or the ultimate high-end experience. We think these three are your top picks for 2016.

Best overall

ASUS Chromebook Flip (C100)

Chromebook Flip

See at Amazon

If you are a student in the market for a Chromebook or if you're buying for someone who is, the ASUS Chromebook Flip is our top pick. While not the most powerful available, it still has plenty enough where it counts so it can do everything a student or graduate needs in the perfect form factor for someone on the go.

The bottom line: Small and portable, the Chromebook Flip is great for a busy student. Its excellent app support means you'll be able to use it to get things done and be able to play games or watch video during the downtime.