They all run the same software, but there are big differences between these Chromebook models
We've done our best to keep up with Chromebook coverage here at Android Central for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that we use these machines every single day. We spend time with every Chromebook model we can get our hands on, putting in full reviews whenever possible.
With the rapid pace of releases pumping out new Chromebooks on a regular basis it's hard to say what's "the best," but every so often we need to put our collective feet down and make a list — these are the best Chromebooks available.
Note: This article is updated regularly with new information. The latest update was made in May 2016.
The best: Dell Chromebook 13
We can just come right out and say it — Dell has made the best non-Pixel Chromebook to date with the new Chromebook 13. This 13.3-inch Chromebook has a great metal build coated in durable soft touch material, along with a great backlit keyboard and a big glass-covered trackpad. The display is a 1920x1080 IPS panel that looks great in the non-touch matte version, but there are also models with a Gorilla Glass-covered touchscreen of the same resolution.
At its lowest configuration — starting at $429 — you'll be getting a new Intel Celeron processor that's plenty capable when paired with 4GB of RAM, but if you have a specific reason for higher specs Dell will oblige and sell you one of a few different higher configurations. You can add a touch screen, up to 8GB of RAM and a Core i3 processor, all of which together add $200 more to the MSRP — but it could be worth it if you're looking for something higher end that doesn't say "Pixel" on it.
The Chromebook 13 offers fantastic battery life, is built super well and really checks all of the boxes aside from being a bit heavy at 3.23 pounds. If you're okay spending a little extra money to get something better than your standard cheap plastic Chromebook, this is the model to get — just make sure you choose the right configuration that works for your needs and budget.
Honorable mention: Acer Chromebook 14
Just a slight step down from Dell in terms of performance, features and build quality, you'll find the Acer Chromebook 14.
Announced in April 2016, the Acer Chromebook 14 comes in checking a lot of boxes for those who want a laptop form factor but also lots of power and quality hardware. First off the laptop has an aluminum build, which you don't always expect in a Chromebook, and it also has a 1080p display, Intel N3060 processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and up to 12 hours of battery life. An extra bonus is that both of its USB ports are the faster USB 3.0 spec, which is great.
That all comes together for just a $299 price, which is phenomenal for everything that's packed inside even if it isn't the highest-end machine out there. For that price that's notably lower than the Dell Chromebook 13, you're getting a screen that isn't quite as bright, a lower quality trackpad, no backlighting on the keyboard and a build that isn't quite as solid as the Dell.
But still, at this price, you're getting a great alternative that still has a big screen and offers a really solid overall experience.
On a budget: ASUS Chromebook C201 and Chromebook Flip (C100)
Both of ASUS' latest Chromebooks hit good price points, ranging from about $175 to $275 depending on the retailer. The cheaper of the two is the Chromebook C201, which is an 11.6-inch all-metal built laptop with a standard set of ports, a new Rockchip ARM processor (meaning it's fanless) and a solid IPS display.
You can pick up a model with 4GB of RAM, which we recommend, for just $190 and get a great device that's built better than you'd expect for the price. If you're really tight on cash you can save about $25 and go with the lower model with just 2GB of RAM, but we recommend you put off buying a few coffees the next week and just bump to the higher model.
Stepping up the scale about $75 on each model is the Chromebook Flip (aka the C100), which is built much the same as the C201 but has a touch screen that's an inch smaller at 10.1-inches in total and is convertible into a pseudo-tablet with the screen flipping back completely.
It has the same metal build and internals as the C201, which are plenty usable, and while there are compromises made in order to make this Chromebook convertible it's a good option if you need a small machine with great battery life and want to be able to touch the screen directly.
The Chromebook Flip is also one of the first models slated to pick up Android app compatibility through the Google Play Store, which could tip the scales a bit for folks looking to be ready for the new feature addition.
Money's no object: Google Chromebook Pixel (2015)
If you're looking for the best possible Chromebook experience, and don't care how much it'll cost you, look no further than the new Chromebook Pixel. The 2015 refresh of the Pixel built on that same lustworthy design and all-out set of features from the 2013 model, with a metal build, amazing screen, 16GB of RAM and all of the creature comforts. You'll also be getting cutting-edge USB-C ports for charging and peripherals, which really is the way of the future.
A year after its announcement this is still the absolute top of the line, and it isn't missing a single feature you'd want. But since Google stopped selling the almost-reasonable $999 model in favor of just the $1299 top-spec version, it's almost impossible to recommend the Pixel to anyone that isn't an absolute Chrome OS super fan with money to burn.
It's hard to go wrong with any of these picks
With these options, there's something to satisfy most any need that you may have when it comes to picking out a Chromebook. Whether you're buying for yourself, as a gift, or giving guidance to someone else for their own purchase, be sure to start here before making a buying decision. We'll be keeping up with this "best Chromebooks" list as new models come out, so you'll always be able to turn to it for the latest information.