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Best Chromebook 2022

Lenovo Chromebook C340, Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5, ASUS Chromebook Flip C214 and Acer Chromebook Spin 713
Lenovo Chromebook C340, Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5, ASUS Chromebook Flip C214 and Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (Image credit: Android Central)

The best Chromebook can provide a top-notch computing experience today and for years to come. They're perfect for students, grandparents, and anyone looking for a trouble-free laptop with long battery life. We've reviewed and rated the absolute best Chromebooks so that you can find the best value at any budget. Our buyer's guide will help you find the perfect Chrome OS laptop or tablet if you're switching from a Windows or Mac or if you're buying your first laptop entirely.

What are the best Chromebooks you can buy today?

The beauty of the Chromebook market is that there are so many options to choose from. For example, there are numerous dependable choices if you want something specifically for portability and battery life. Similarly, if you don't plan to move it from a desk and would prefer a big, beautiful display and plenty of CPU power to back it up, there are lots of options for you, too.

Our top pick is the Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook, which hits all of the right markets for a laptop, including build quality, performance, battery life, and longevity — all for a very fair price. The only problems with the Flex 5 were surprisingly mediocre battery life — and that the screen is only a 250-nit, 1080p touchscreen.

Those who want to immerse themselves completely in the Google ecosystem will want to check out the Pixelbook Go. From the specs point of view, it's very outdated, but what you get in return is one of the best Chromebooks that you'll ever use. The hardware is fantastic, and doesn't disappoint despite not being updated in a few years.

If you want a Chromebook screen that looks fabulous and has the power and prestige to match, grab the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, which will run you a little more money but comes with a brighter 2K screen in a 3:2 aspect ratio. Powered by an 11th Gen Intel processors, the Spin 713 is powerful enough for gaming and running virtualization software like Parallels. Of course, not everyone will need it, but this is the one to beat if you do.

The best Chromebooks for you

Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5i

(Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)
Best Overall

Specifications

Display size: 13.3-inch 1080p IPS touchscreen
CPU: Intel Pentium 7505 / 11th Gen Intel Core i3
RAM: 4-8GB
Storage: 64-256GB
Battery life: 10 hours
Ports: 2x USB-C, 1x USB-A, microSD, audio combo jack
Weight: 3 lbs
Colors: Abyss Blue
Other features: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, 720p camera, 45W charger
Auto Update Expiration date (AUE): June 2029

Reasons to buy

+
USI Stylus compatibility
+
Loud upward-facing speakers
+
Backlit keyboard
+
8GB configurations easy to find

Reasons to avoid

-
Fewer sales
-
Battery life is average

The best Chromebook you can buy isn't necessarily the most powerful or the most expensive. Instead, it combines many features into a compact body that will appeal to almost all Chromebook users, from novices to experts, students to professionals. So if your next laptop is here to work hard (and play harder), check out our favorite Chromebook on the market today, the Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook. Barely bigger than an 11.6-inch Chromebook, the Flex 5 has the best blend of performance, portability, and price.

The bezels around the Flex 5i's 1080p screen are just enough for you to grip when flipping between laptop, stand, and tablet modes. The 13.3-inch touchscreen offers easy split-screening as you spread out your work. You can comfortably type on its backlit keyboard for hours at a time — it's what I'm using to write this right now — and sitting on either side of the keyboard are speakers that will get nice and loud as you jazz up your workday with some tunes.

This version comes with Intel's 11th Generation i3 processor with 8GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, an upgrade from the 2020 Flex 5's 4GB RAM configurations that is welcome as more and more of us are working from home. Like most of the newer Chromebooks on this list, the Flex 5i comes with two USB 3.1 Type-C ports and a single legacy USB-A port, as well as a microSD slot for expandable storage and a headphone jack. You get Wi-Fi 6 for faster, more reliable connectivity — and Bluetooth 5.0, so your headset won't drop out as often — and the 45W charging brick in the box tops off the up to 10-hour battery in just 90 minutes.

Chrome OS was built to run well on modest hardware, so things are smooth and stable on the Flex 5i's hardware. The move to 8GB of RAM on the standard Intel Core i3 model is long overdue. Pentium models are offered at some retailers, but it's less than a $100 upgrade for the i3 and 8GB of RAM and worth every penny to do so.

The Lenovo Flex 5i is still new, so sales are few and far between right now, but if you're looking to save a few dollars, keep an eye on its predecessor (and the previous holder of Best Chromebook), the Lenovo Flex 5. It has a 10th Gen i3 and a long, long support life ahead of it, so if you find it below $330, last year's Flex 5 will serve you well on a budget.

Bottom line: With a powerful 11th Gen Intel Core i3 chip, a beautiful 13-inch 1080p touchscreen, backlit keyboard, and remarkably reasonable price, the Flex 5i is a great Chromebook for just about everyone. Despite a slim and lightweight build, the Flex 5i has a 360-degree hinge for easy conversion to tent or tablet mode, along with upward-firing stereo speakers and support for both USI Stylus and Wi-Fi 6 for power-users.

Google Pixelbook Go

(Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)
Best premium

Specifications

Display size: 13.3-inch 1080p touchscreen / 13.3-inch 4K touchscreen
CPU: Intel 8th Gen Core m3 / i5 / i7
RAM: 8-16GB
Storage: 64-256GB
Battery life: 12 hours
Ports: 2x U SB-C, audio combo jack
Weight: 2.3-2.4 lbs
Colors: Just Black or Not Pink
Other features: 1080p camera, 45W charger, Titan security chip
Auto Update Expiration date (AUE): June 2026

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight, compact design
+
Incredible keyboard and trackpad
+
Best-in-class battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited port options
-
Pricey
-
Limited hinge range

While the 3:2 form factor of the original Pixelbook certainly had its fans, I'm pleased as punch that the Go uses a far more sensible 16:9 aspect ratio, which is better for split-screening and better for in-flight movies. The Pixelbook Go can't fold back into tablet mode like the Pixelbook — and most other Chromebooks on the market — but that also means it didn't need huge bezels with grips around the screen, allowing it to squeeze down into a slim footprint. This laptop, despite a spacious 13.3-inch display, only weighs 2.3 pounds.

Another great feature of the Go is a more functional design that's still luxurious. The Go has rounded edges and a wavy ridged bottom, increasing grip and stability. The Pixelbook Go has two colors — Not Pink and Just Black — quiet keys that are among the best we've ever typed on, and a lightweight magnesium body similar to that used by the Microsoft Surface line.

If you live for having the latest features, the Pixelbook Go is for you because, as Google's branded Chromebook, this shiny baby gets all the new toys before anyone else does, especially once you hop onto the Beta or Dev channels. You'll also want to invest in some USB-C hubs, as the Pixelbook Go only has three ports: a USB-C port on either side of the laptop and a headphone jack.

While Google charges a premium for this Pixelbook compared to our other top picks, the Pixelbook Go is one of our favorite traditional laptop designs. Every aspect of the design has been considered, from the quiet-close magnetic latch to the high-quality 1080p camera, so important in our current environment.

Thankfully, if you're willing to spend a bit more, Google offers premium Pixelbook Go options that go up to a Core i7 with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage — though we recommend sticking with the Core i5 version that has a generous 8GB of RAM and 128GB storage.

Bottom line: Google's Chromebook, the Pixelbook Go, is a traditional clamshell laptop with one of the best keyboards and trackpads we've ever used. It also has excellent integration with Google Assistant and may get new Chrome OS features before other Chromebooks. The magnesium body is light and strong, and even the entry-level model comes with 8GB of RAM for plenty of tab-hopping.

Acer Chromebook Spin (2021)

(Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)
Best for gaming & performance

Specifications

Display size: 13.5-inch 2256x1504px 3:2 touchscreen
CPU: Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7
RAM: 8-16GB
Storage: 64-256GB
Battery life: 10 hours
Ports: 1x USB-A, 2x USB-C, HDMI, microSD, audio combo jack
Weight: 3 lbs
Colors: Silver
Other features: 400 nits brightness, USI stylus compatible, backlit keyboard, 720p webcam, 45W charger
Auto Update Expiration date (AUE): June 2029

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful futureproof specs
+
Bright 3:2 screen for productivity
+
HDMI port built-in

Reasons to avoid

-
Speakers aren't great
-
No stylus included

The first Acer Chromebook Spin 713 ruled the premium Chromebook segment in 2020 and most of 2021 with a stellar screen, powerful processor, and plentiful ports for a surprisingly reasonable price. Guaranteed Chrome OS updated until June 2028; I didn't think we'd see it replaced for a little while. But instead, Acer upgraded it last summer with the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (3W), upgrading the USB-C ports to Thunderbolt 4 and the 10th Gen Intel Core to 11th Gen Intel Evo Core processors.

Acer's latest Chromebook Spin 713 is also one of the few Chromebooks that can run Steam Alpha on Chrome OS. This opens the door to being able to play many of your favorite PC games on a Chromebook instead of needing to rely on a Windows PC or gaming console like the ever-elusive PS5

Moving to the latest model of the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, we now have both USB-C ports on the left side with an HDMI and headphone jack, while the right side holds the USB-A and microSD ports and the buttons. I prefer having one USB-C port on both sides to charge the Spin 713 or plug in a docking station, typically with short cords.

The 3:2 aspect ratio on the Acer Chromebook Spin 713's screen is something many professionals swear by on their work machines. Of course, that aspect ratio isn't as fun for watching movies, but it's great for seeing more data on your screen at a time, especially while split-screening, and the 2K resolution gives you a more crisp image. USI stylus support also means you can use better Chromebook styli for sketching and signing on that vibrant screen.

Bottom line: If you need performance and power in your Chromebook, you'll want to look for an Intel Core 10th or 11th Gen Chromebook so that you know it's powerful, fast, and secure. This 13.5-inch 2-in-1 features a 13.5-inch 2K touchscreen with 400 nits of brightness for better visuals and easier working outdoors. It also has more ports than its ultrabook competitors, and frequent sales put it down into mid-range territory for a perfectly premium Chromebook.

Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook

(Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)
Best tablet

Specifications

Display size: 11-inch 2K LCD touchscreen (400 nits)
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 Compute Platform
RAM: 4-8GB
Storage: 64-256GB
Battery life: Up to 12 hours
Ports: 2x USB-C 3.2 Gen 1
Weight: 1.14 lb (tablet only) / 2.09 lbs (with folio case)
Colors: Storm Grey
Other features: USI Stylus compatibility, Included kickstand and detachable keyboard, 10W charger (max charging speed 18W)
Auto Update Expiration date (AUE): June 2029

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent battery life
+
Kickstand and keyboard included
+
Bright 2K OLED screen for comics and videos

Reasons to avoid

-
Stylus sold separately
-
No expandable storage

Ever since the original Chromebook Duet debuted at back in 2020, this has been one of the best choices for those who want Chrome OS on a tablet. Fast forward to CES 2022 and Lenovo introduced a new line of Chrome OS tablets, with the Chromebook Duet 5 leading the way. 

Under the hood, you'll find Qualcomm's Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 chipset, which does wonders to help make the battery last for days. The Duet 5 is rated for up to 15 hours on a single charge, and this Chrome OS tablet doesn't disappoint. But Lenovo took things a step further when it comes to charging, giving the Duet 5 dual USB-C ports along with support for up to 45W charging speeds. Needless to say, these are much-welcomed upgrades compared to the original Duet. 

Continuing with the versatility mindset, Lenovo again includes both a kickstand and a detachable keyboard case with the Duet 5. The kickstand simply attaches to the back using magnets, but the company took a step back when it comes to the keyboard. In our review, we found that the ribbon cable used by Lenovo is a bit too flimsy for our liking, meaning that using this on your lap may result in a frustrating typing experience.

One area where Lenovo didn't really provide much of an upgrade in the storage department. The only "upgrade" really is that you can get 128GB of storage with the base configuration, but there still isnt any option for using a microSD card. But at least with the second USB-C port, you can attach an external hard drive if you want to load up some movies or TV shows. It's not the perfect solution, but it's better than nothing. 

Bottom line: If you want a tablet that offers up the best of Google's services and software without instantly falling behind on software updates the way Android tablets do, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 is the perfect couch companion that can pull double-duty as a light-duty laptop while your kids co-opt the family desktop.

Play Steam Games on Chromebook

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

ASUS Chromebook CX9

Best screen

Specifications

Display size: 14.0-inch 1080p or 4K touchscreen with USI support
CPU: Up to 11th-Gen Intel Core i7
RAM: 8-16GB
Storage: 128-512GB SSD
Battery life: Up to 12 hours
Ports: 1x USB-A, 2x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), HDMI 2.0b, microSD, audio combo jack
Weight: Up to 2.54 lbs
Colors: Star Black
Other features: Backlit keyboard, 720p camera, 45W charger, MIL-STD 810H, Titan C Security Chip
Auto Update Expiration date (AUE): June 2029

Reasons to buy

+
Trackpad doubles as number pad
+
Fingerprint scanner built into palm rest
+
Good backlit keyboard
+
Good battery for a large laptop

Reasons to avoid

-
New with fewer sales
-
4K display comes at a cost

ASUS is one of the most well-known Chromebook manufacturers and has been since day one. What sets the company apart from the competition is focusing on creating a premium hardware experience in as affordable and compact a package as possible. And that's exactly what ASUS has done with the Chromebook CX9. 

This Chromebook features a 14-inch display with a 16:9 aspect ratio and ASUS' patented "NanoEdge" design, offering up to a 94% screen-to-body ratio. This gives you plenty of space to get work done, without being cumbersome to use on the couch or in a coffee shop. But what helps set the CX9 apart from the crowd is its optional configuration with a 4K display. 

ASUS offers the Chromebook CX9 with either a 14-inch FHD or 4K resolution display, both of which are compatible with your favorite stylus. Brightness won't be much of an issue either, as the 4K model can reach up to 500 nits thanks too the LED backlighting.

Under the hood, we're presented with Intel's 11th gen Core i5 or Core i7 chipsets, along with up to 16GB of RAM and 512GB of NVMe storage. With the implementation of the 11th Gen Intel chips, this also allowed ASUS to include TWO Thunderbolt 4 ports, that are capable of being used for display connections or power delivery. Additionally, you'll find an HDMI 2.0 port, 3.5mm combo audio jack, microSD card reader, and a single USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port. 

While the Chromebook CX9 offers more than enough power under the hood, the fun doesn't stop there. ASUS recognized that its users want a powerful and compact Chromebook to handle all of their tasks. And that's why the CX9's trackpad doubles as a numberpad for those times when you need to fill out some excel spreadsheets. This is something that you won't find elsewhere in the vast Chromebook market, helping the CX9 stand out from the crowd.

Bottom line: The ASUS Chromebook CX9 is a powerhouse in every sense of the word. From sporting Intel's 11th Gen chipsets to the optional 4K display panel, the CX9 is the perfect premium Chromebook for gaming, multi-tasking, or just sitting back and enjoying some movies.

HP Chromebook X2 11

(Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)
Best premium tablet

Specifications

Display size: 11-inch 2160x1440px IPS touchscreen
CPU: Snapdragon 7c compute platform
RAM: 4-8GB
Storage: 64-128GB
Battery life: 11 hours
Ports: 2x USB-C, microSD slot
Weight: 1.23lb (tablet) 2.27lb (w/ keyboard and kickstand)
Colors: Night Teal, Shade Gray
Other features: Wi-Fi 5, BT 5.0, fingerprint sensor, USI stylus support
Auto Update Expiration date (AUE): June 2029

Reasons to buy

+
Bright 400-nit touchscreen
+
Magnetic keyboard and kickstand
+
Well-placed fingerprint sensor
+
Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive, especially for the size
-
Limited power

While the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 higher up in this guide is suitable for a great many things, the larger display may not be for everyone. For example, the keyboard didn't magnetize to the screen for a more stable typing experience or better protection of the screen when the keyboard was closed, but HP fixed that mistake — and a few others — with the HP Chromebook x2 11.

Now, if HP Chromebook x2 sounds familiar, the original Chrome OS detachable was on this list for years back when it first launched, but that detachable meant you had to slot the tablet portion into a laptop base. It was cool but also very awkward. Thankfully, the x2 11 is a much more flexible and intuitive Surface-like design, and these days Chrome OS is optimized for tablets (mostly).

HP Chromebook X2 11

(Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Powered by the Snapdragon 7c compute platform — the first generation, not the Gen 2 the new Lenovo Duet 5 has received — and for casual computing weekend binges of Netflix or webcomics or falling down the Reddit hole, the HP Chromebook x2 11 is the perfect weekend tablet or companion device. Once I'm done with work for the day, I pull out mine, unlock it with my fingerprint on the power button, and then play about an hour of Microsoft Solitaire to destress.

The only real problem with the HP Chromebook x2 11 is the list price. See, the x2 11 starts at $600. Yes, the same price as the Google Pixel 6 for a Chromebook with a budget processor. 400-nit screens with 2K resolution costs money, and so does that nice keyboard and kickstand and the fact that this charges at 45W instead of the original Duet's piddly 18W.

Bottom line: While the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 is a fine tablet, it may not be for everyone, and that's where the HP Chromebook x2 11 comes in. With a more refined look, faster charging, and a high price, the X2 11 is a good tablet that you should buy.

How to pick the best Chromebook for you

Chromebooks might get pegged as only being for students and salarymen. Still, there truly is a Chromebook for everybody these days, whether you're just browsing email and social media or getting down and dirty with Linux apps and coding IDEs. While there are a lot of great Chromebook manufacturers out there, Lenovo and ASUS's models seem to go harder and last longer than the competition, though Samsung, Dell, and HP can make some pretty premium Chromebooks when they put their minds to it.

Choosing your Chromebook is slightly different from picking a Windows or Mac laptop due to Chrome OS's standardized, cloud-centric nature. Because Google controls the software look and update schedule for every Chromebook model, a Chromebook built by Lenovo should act the same as a Chromebook from Dell or Samsung. So what does that mean?

It means you can focus a little less on those core specs and more on what you want to do with the machine you choose. This process may seem slightly out of order, but trust me on this one:

Get one with a touchscreen — a 2-in-1 if you can

Touchscreens may be a luxury for other laptop systems, but on Chromebooks, I consider it a requirement. Chrome OS's touch optimization is getting better every month, and since most of the Android apps Chromebooks can install via Google Play are optimized for touch, treat yourself to a touchscreen model!

Touchscreen models usually aren't that much more expensive for Chromebooks nowadays — many Chromebook models don't even bother with non-touchscreen versions these days — but if you see a Chromebook that says it's non-touch, walk away and don't look back. It's a beautiful thing to be able to tap on the screen when scrolling through Amazon, and after playing Solitaire on a touchscreen, you'll never go back to using a mouse. Especially when buying a student Chromebook, a touchscreen is imperative for helping younger users adapt from the touchscreen world of tablets to the mouse-and-keyboard banality of laptops.

That touchscreen comes in even handier on 2-in-1s, the best form factor I've seen for Chromebooks yet. Being able to prop up your Chromebook in Tent mode for a movie or fold it flat into Tablet mode for some in-bed browsing while down with the flu is amazing, but having a 360-degree hinge is excellent for everyday productivity too. You can bend your Chromebook back to more angles when working in awkwardly-lit offices with weird light glare or propped in your lap at a ballgame because you didn't forget those quarterly expense reports that were due tomorrow and refuse to skip the game for that.

Decide on the other features you want

Chrome OS is almost entirely the same on every device from a software perspective, which means that standout hardware features become paramount, and figuring out which of those features you want or need in a machine can help narrow the field and steer you to your perfect Chromebook.

As mentioned before, you want a touchscreen Chromebook — a 2-in-1 if you can swing it — but if you tend to do a lot of movie-watching, you may want a high-quality screen or loud, front-facing speakers.

If you're looking to be more productive with many open tabs and multi-window screens, you might want a 3:2 display that's more suited to split-screening and a more powerful processor/memory configuration. Productivity-minded users should also pay special mind to the port configurations on their prospective Chromebooks, as USB-C starts to replace most other ports on more premium Chromebooks like the Pixelbook while more grounded models keep USB-A ports around alongside new USB-C charging ports.

Families with younger kids — or travelers prone to slips, spills, and accidents — might want to look to the growing number of Chromebooks with military-grade MIL-STD 810G durability or spill-resistant keyboards.

Pick your size

Chromebooks come in a variety of sizes, but they tend to gravitate to four sizes in general:

  • 11.6-inch models are portable and affordable. At their smaller size, their screens can look good, even if they're less than 1080p native resolution — though screen resolution is handled a bit differently on Chrome OS; we'll get to that a little later. Depending on the bezels on the screen, 11.6-inch Chromebooks can either have full-sized keys or slightly shrunken keys, though most manufacturers use full-size keys on 11.6-inch models.
  • 12.3-13.5-inch models are becoming more and more popular, especially with 2-in-1 models like the Lenovo Flex 5 and the Acer Chromebook Spin 713. This screen size allows you to comfortably split-screen windows, enjoy a full-size keyboard, and you've got the room for more powerful components and more battery to power that bigger screen. These are portable but powerful, and I love them.
  • 14-inch models sit at the high margin for the portable category. Still, with thin bezels and proper engineering, these can be almost as portable and manageable as 13-inch laptops with 7-9 hour battery lives. If you need to display your text in a larger font — and yes, Chrome OS has a separate font scale independent of the display zoom — a 14-inch model is your best bet for a productive Chromebook that won't strain your eyes, especially as most 14-inch models start at 1080p.
  • 15.6-inch models are made for desks and dining room tables. I lovingly refer to these as LIMOs — Laptop in model only — because while you can shove them into larger laptop backpacks for a vacation, these Chromebooks aren't made for laps and tray tables. Instead, these are made for a standard office environment where they live stationary lives in peace. They are great for productivity because you can see more at once, but they tend to have shorter battery lives and higher weights, which dissuade them from being dragged around daily.

In general, the bigger the size of your Chromebook, the more you can potentially fit on the screen, but it will also be less portable and shorter in battery life. The smaller it is, the less heavy and (usually) less expensive it will be. Still, smaller models can also suffer from lower resolution screens, though Chrome OS's display zoom and font adjustments can somewhat offset it.

Memory and storage — what do you really need?

RAM — Random Access Memory — is a critical spec for computers of all sizes and shapes, from phones and tablets to desktops and laptops. It's used by your computer's processor(s) to hold your current tabs, apps and execute the commands, clicks, and operations that make your Chromebook work.

So how much RAM do I need? 4 GB of RAM in a Chromebook is OK, 8 GB is better, and high-end Chromebooks can come with 16 GB or more, but 4 GB of RAM is enough to run Chrome OS with a couple of apps and a dozen Chrome tabs.

So how much RAM do I need? 4 GB of RAM in a Chromebook is OK, 8 GB is better, and high-end Chromebooks can come with 16 GB or more, but 4 GB of RAM is enough to run Chrome OS with a couple of apps and a dozen Chrome tabs.

If you're a long-time Windows user — or a long-time computer user of any kind — looking at the storage on most Chromebooks will seem confusing at first because it's not going to sound like enough. Chrome OS is based around cloud storage — Google Drive is integrated directly into the Files app — but local storage is still essential for things like Android apps from Google Play, offline documents, and downloaded music/movies for those horrible Wi-Fi-less flights.

You can also expand the storage on many Chromebooks with an SD or microSD card, but there's no beating proper local storage to start with. 32 GB of storage is workable, but I'd recommend a model with at least 64 GB of storage. Finding 128 GB or more is usually reserved for premium Chromebooks with heftier price tags, but 64 GB Chromebooks are pretty widely available and offer more than enough storage for some Drive offline syncing and some emergency entertainment.

Always check the expiration date!

Chrome OS is developed, managed, and updated by Google for all Chromebooks, but Google doesn't want to be stuck supporting every random budget chipset and driver set forever, so each Chromebook has a shelf life and an expiration date, just like the milk in your fridge! This is the Auto Update Expiration date, and it can be found for every single model on this handy dandy support page, which I have bookmarked because I am a freak and you should often check while you're shopping for Chromebooks.

Now, a Chromebook doesn't turn into a pumpkin on its AUE date — assuming your Chromebook lasts three to six years until that date — but it does stop receiving those system updates every Chromebook gets every four to six weeks that contain bug fixes, security patches, and new features. If your Chromebook is still running decently at that time, you're a champ, and with a teeny bit of know-how, you can reformat it to run one of a dozen Linux distros instead.

That said, four to six years is a long time for any laptop, and chances are yours will be getting long in the tooth by then, but right now, when shopping, always check the AUE to see how long your Chromebook will get updates. Some Chromebooks have shorter lifetimes than others if they're built on the same platform as a previous Chromebook — AUE is based on the hardware platform, not individual model, which is also why many Chromebooks have the same AUE dates — so it's something you'll always want to check before buying, even if the model itself is brand-new.

What is Chrome OS?

Chromebooks run Chrome OS, the Google-managed version of Chromium OS, a free Linux distribution that is open-source, lightweight, and web-centric. Chrome OS does not allow you to install regular applications and programs the way you would on Windows PCs; instead, Chromebooks rely on web-based applications, Android applications installed and managed via Google Play, and Linux apps, which are slowly rolling out to more Chromebook models.

Chrome OS's biggest strength lies in its lightweight stability and reliability. Chrome OS runs adequately and often excellently on computers with specs that barely support other operating systems, meaning that for lower-end laptops, Chromebooks rule! That said, Chrome can take advantage of the most potent components available — from latest-gen multi-core processors to 4K displays — to create a super-smooth, super-powered premium experience.

Chrome OS is designed in large part for education and enterprise, which means the system is hard-to-break, easy-to-manage — all updates are handled in the background by the system itself — and wonderfully secure, with a lucrative bounty program, including a huge standing bounty for anyone who finds ways to compromise Chrome OS in its extra-locked-down Guest mode.

In short, Chrome OS is a lightweight, high-security system that's great for users with any level of technical know-how. Chromebooks are easy enough for school children to use and powerful enough for bigshot businesspeople, which means that they're great for everyone that doesn't need system-specific high-intensity programs like video editors, CAD rendering, and PC gaming — and even that's coming to Chromebooks soon with Stadia.

Once you've got your priorities straight and pick the Chromebook that's perfect for you, you're ready to enter a new world of light, secure computing with the handy productivity of Chrome and Android apps from Google Play. Welcome to the club, and enjoy!

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

With contributions from