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 finding one available for purchase after its fall launch — and that the screen is only a 250-nit, 1080p touchscreen.
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 Evo Core i5, 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.
On the more compact and lightweight side of things, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is an excellent companion device, while the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 is an excellent 11.6-inch Chromebook for students and light on-the-go work.
1. Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5i
Best Chromebook OverallFrom $420 at Amazon (Intel Core i3, 8GB)
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.
|Category||Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5i|
|Display size||13.3-inch 1080p IPS touchscreen|
|CPU||Intel Pentium 7505 / 11th Gen Intel Core i3|
|Battery life||10 hours|
|Ports||2x USB-C, 1x USB-A, microSD, audio combo jack|
|Other features||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, 720p camera, 45W charger|
|Auto Update Expiration date (AUE)||June 2029|
- USI Stylus compatibility
- Loud upward-facing speakers
- Backlit keyboard
- 8GB configurations easy to find
- 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.
The best Chromebook offers power and productivity for less.
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 review. 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.
2. Acer Chromebook 713
Best Chromebook for gaming & performance$700 at Amazon
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.
|Category||Acer Chromebook 713|
|Display size||13.5-inch 2256x1504px 3:2 touchscreen|
|CPU||Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7|
|Battery life||10 hours|
|Ports||1x USB-A, 2x USB-C, HDMI, microSD, audio combo jack|
|Other features||400 nits brightness, USI stylus compatible, backlit keyboard, 720p webcam, 45W charger|
|Auto Update Expiration date (AUE)||June 2029|
- Powerful futureproof specs
- Bright 3:2 screen for productivity
- HDMI port built-in
- Speakers aren't great
- Limited availability
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 until 2022. But instead, Acer upgraded it this summer to 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.
Premium performance without an ultra-premium price tag.
Even with dozens of tabs open and a couple of Android apps, this Chromebook keeps cruising along, though the fan may kick on from time to time — yes, the i5 processor here needs a fan to keep it cool once you really get it going. The bottom of the laptop doesn't heat up too much, so you can still use it in your lap pretty easily, but you will hear the fan now and then.
Moving from the 2020 model to the 2021 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.
3. Lenovo Chromebook Duet
Best Chromebook tabletFrom $200 at Amazon (64GB)
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 is the perfect couch companion that can pull double-duty as a light-duty laptop while your kids co-opt the family desktop.
|Category||Lenovo Chromebook Duet|
|Display size||10.1-inch 400 nits 1920x1200px touchscreen|
|CPU||Mediatek Helio P60T|
|Battery life||10 hours|
|Ports||1x USB-C (USB 2.0 + DP)|
|Weight||0.94 lb (tablet only) / 2.03 lbs (with cover & keyboard)|
|Colors||Two-tone Ice Blue and Iron Grey|
|Other features||USI Stylus compatibility, Included kickstand and detachable keyboard, 10W charger (max charging speed 18W)|
|Auto Update Expiration date (AUE)||June 2028|
- Excellent battery life
- Kickstand and keyboard included
- Bright 1080p screen for comics and videos
- Too small for some
- Only one USB-C port
Lenovo first debuted the Duet at CES, and it gave us hope that we might see a Chromebook tablet finally done right. The Lenovo Chromebook Duet has a battery that goes on and on and on, especially if you're just doing some reading and casual games, and the screen is nice and bright for videos and comics. The specs say the battery lasts 10 hours, but I've averaged 10-12 hours on an average charge.
The detachable keyboard can feel cramped if you're using it for hours and hours on end. So if you have larger hands, you'll probably want to invest in a full-size keyboard for your desk to use instead for stationary use. However, as a companion device or a couch computer, the Duet is perfect. The screen is bright, videos are crisp, and comics look lovely. The speakers are a bit on the quiet side, but as a slim 10-inch tablet, I'm fine with pairing headphones or a Bluetooth speaker to it for YouTube binges.
Since the day pre-orders opened, the Duet has been very, very hard to find in stock, so if this seems like the Chromebook for you, you'll want to check back early and often to see if the stock has just been refreshed. However, it's worth the wait for a Chromebook tablet that's affordable, reliable, and fully accessorized out of the box, having learned from the Google Pixel Slate's mistakes.
There's only one port on the Duet, one single USB-C port, so you'll want to use Bluetooth for headphones and leave the port free for charging. The lack of a headphone jack is not a huge loss, but some will be turned off by it; I'm more disappointed there isn't a USB-C port on both sides the way that basically every Chromebook released in the last two years has.
It's worth mentioning that the charger in the box here is a piddly little 10W USB-A charger — Hey, Lenovo had to cut costs somewhere — so you'll likely want to swap that out for an 18W Power Delivery charger instead. The Duet still charges in less than 90 minutes, but I wish it at least had 30W charging instead of the same 18W charging that most phones use.
Since there's no microSD slot for expanding the internal storage, do yourself a favor and buy the 128GB version if you intend to download lots of videos and comics for those holiday trips home to see the family.
4. ASUS Chromebook Flip C536
Best Big Screen Chromebook$569 at Best Buy
Bottom line: Good things come in big packages, too. This 15.6-inch Chromebook offers a great blend of striking design, consistent performance, and durable reliability at a more than reasonable price. You have 8GB of RAM for better multitasking and a nicely backlit keyboard with a number pad for late-night number-crunching.
|Category||ASUS Chromebook Flip C536|
|Display size||15.6-inch 1080p touchscreen with USI support|
|CPU||11th-Gen Intel Core i3|
|Battery life||Up to 12 hours|
|Ports||1x USB-A, 2x USB-C, HDMi 2.0, microSD, audio combo jack|
|Other features||Backlit keyboard, 720p camera, 45W charger|
|Auto Update Expiration date (AUE)||June 2029|
- Extra-large touchscreen and trackpad
- Good backlit keyboard
- Good battery for a large laptop
- New with fewer sales
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. While there's only so much you can do to slim down a 15.6-inch laptop, ASUS did wonders with the ASUS Chromebook Flip C536.
Within the crisp white shell sits an obsidian abyss, illuminated by a 15.6-inch 1080p touchscreen where you can easily spread out two or three windows as you rush to get all your work done by the weekend. The 2-in-1 design here means you can flip the laptop over into tablet or stand mode while you're working, but the only time I did that was when I wanted to use the touchscreen while at my standing desk. After all, a 15-inch tablet is just too unwieldy, but stand mode will let you prop up the screen at a nice angle if you're having a movie marathon in bed.
That nice big screen is matched by a giant glass trackpad and a full keyboard with a number pad. The keyboard is softly backlit, which is helped by the high contrast between the black keys and white lettering. If you do a lot of typing, you won't be disappointed by the keyboard on the ASUS C536.
Powering this supersized Chromebook is an 11th Gen Intel Core i3 with 8GB of RAM, and that extra RAM will come in handy if you need to keep multiple tabs or windows running during a video call. ASUS also has i5 and i7 models of the C536, but I've yet to find any of them on sale yet.
You get a USB-C port on each side (USB 3.2 Gen 2) along with HDMI 2.0, USB-A (also USB 3.2 Gen 2), microSD, and audio combo jack. You'll have little use for the microSD port, given that it has 128GB of SSD storage inside, but it's always nice to have options, I suppose.
This model just debuted this summer, so there haven't been many sales on it yet, but I'm sure they'll start coming as we get closer to the holiday shopping season. That said, for the build quality, latest-gen processor, long support life, and that large screen, the regular price is quite reasonable.
5. HP Chromebook x2 11
Best premium tablet$399 at Best Buy (8GB RAM)
Bottom line: While the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a fine tablet, it lacks polish, 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 — when it's on sale.
|Category||HP Chromebook x2 11|
|Display size||11-inch 2160x1440px IPS touchscreen|
|CPU||Snapdragon 7c compute platform|
|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|
- Bright 400-nit touchscreen
- Magnetic keyboard and kickstand
- Well-placed fingerprint sensor
- Long battery life
- Expensive, especially for the size
- Limited power
While the Lenovo Chromebook Duet higher up in this guide is suitable for a great many things, it's still very much a first-generation product. 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).
Powered by the Snapdragon 7c compute platform — the first generation, not the Gen 2 the new Lenovo Duet 5 is getting — 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 cast money, and so does that nice keyboard and kickstand and the fact that this charges at 45W instead of the Duet's piddly 18W.
Thankfully, the x2 11 has been getting regular discounts that drop it close to $400, and I highly recommend waiting for one of those sales to grab one. At $400, the upgraded screen and premium build quality make it worth the upgrade from the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, but $600 will be steep for most of us.
6. Acer Chromebook Spin 311 (CP311-3H)
Best compact Chromebook$190 at Amazon
Bottom line: 11.6-inch Chromebooks still make up a massive section of the Chromebook market, and the best blend of power, portability, and price to be found right now is the latest generation of the Acer Chromebook Spin 311. It sheds ports in exchange for lighter weight and battery that will go all day and then some.
|Category||Acer Chromebook Spin 311 (CP311-3H)|
|Display size||11.6-inch 1366x768px IPS touchscreen|
|Battery life||14 hours|
|Ports||1x USB-C, 1x USB-A, audio combo jack|
|Other features||720p camera, 45W charger|
|Auto Update Expiration date (AUE)||June 2028|
We highly recommend purchasing the 64GB configuration due to the lack of microSD slot. Without a microSD slot, you can't expand the internal storage without using the one and only USB-C port to plug in a flash drive.
- Compact design
- Good build quality
- Long-term support
- Limited ports / no microSD slot
- No 8GB RAM option
Normally when you're shopping for a new laptop, it's easy to get caught up in specs and end up buying the biggest, most powerful laptop you can afford. However, for Chromebooks, that isn't necessarily going to get you a better experience. Big screens and fancy features are all well and good, but most of the time, when I leave my apartment to do some writing in a brighter and more fun atmosphere, I bring a lightweight 11.6-inch Chromebook like the Acer Chromebook Spin 311.
Acer slimmed down the sides of the 311 and pared down on ports while it was at it. However, you still get a USB-C port for 45W Power Delivery charging as well as using hubs, adapters, and external monitors, a USB-A port for legacy peripherals like wired keyboards and old flash drives, and a 3.5mm audio combo jack. You may have noticed that list did not include a microSD slot, a rarity for a Chromebook in this price range, and yeah, it's weird that we don't have one. But at least we have a 64GB version if you care about storage.
This new model is also slated for almost eight years of Chrome OS updates, with an AUE date of June 2028. It's lightweight and highly portable, easy to slide into a bag as you move from meeting to meeting, and quick to wake back up once you get where you're going. The bezels around the screen are large, but they come in handy when you flip it over into tablet mode, and the keyboard is easy to type on for hours at a time.
Speaking of hours at a time, Acer says that this Chromebook can last up to 16 hours in its spec sheet, and with real work use, I usually get 12-14 hours on a single charge depending on how much I crank up the screen brightness.
7. ASUS Chromebook Flip C214
Best Chromebook for students$325 at Amazon (Non-Stylus)
Bottom line: Lightweight and portable, the ASUS Chromebook Flip C214 is one of the most versatile Chromebooks out there. It's got a spill-resistant keyboard and has been Mil-STD 810G certified, which means a drop from a bag or table won't hurt it, making it perfect for a student of any age. Plus, the included stylus makes it school-friendly!
|Category||ASUS Chromebook Flip C214|
|Display size||11.6-inch 1366x768px touchscreen|
|CPU||Intel Celeron N4000|
|Battery life||12 hours|
|Ports||2x USB-C, 1x USB-A, microSD, Audio combo jack|
|Other features||720p camera, 45W charger, optional built-in stylus|
|Auto Update Expiration date (AUE)||June 2026|
- Durable, drop-resistant build
- Spill-resistant keyboard
- Built-in stylus (on some models)
- 360-degree hinge
- Limited storage options
- Almost two years old
The 11.6-inch ASUS Chromebook Flip C214 folds completely flat into a tablet with a high-strength zinc alloy hinge that shouldn't wear out no matter how hard your kid — or you — are on it. With a channeled, spill-resistant keyboard, dropping a drink on it shouldn't immediately send you to a repair store, just to the kitchen for a cloth.
ASUS has several student-friendly features on the C214, including a fully-articulating hinge, a built-in stylus on the premium model, and plenty of ports for plugging in accessories. The main draw here, though, is how portable the laptop is: it can fit in the smallest of backpacks, making it perfect for kids starting out bringing a laptop to school.
You're also going to get a very school-friendly battery life of around 12 hours of use, which should get most people through an entire day. Even better, ASUS has thought of every use case, adding a rubberized grip to the edges of the C214, ensuring that clumsy hands won't drop it while toting it around the classroom, and the anti-scratch coating should keep it from looking too scuffed after months and years of constant attention.
There are only 4GB of RAM, which should be just fine for everyday homework and research. I would try to keep tab-switching while on video calls under control, but 4GB should be enough for most kids' workloads. 8GB would be better, but there's no option for it in this generation. Maybe in the next version.
The other problem facing the C214 isn't a product issue. It's a market issue. This year's surge in distance learning and working from home led to a run on education-grade Chromebooks, so while you can find the C214 pretty easily, chances are the price will be marked up about $50-$100 by resellers. It's a captive market, and resellers are taking full advantage, but I wouldn't go higher than $450 for the non-stylus version or $500 for the stylus version.
ASUS debuted the C214 in 2019, so we're also due for a refreshed model soon. Hopefully, prices will stabilize at that point, but given the C214's popularity, it might sell out entirely first.
8. Google Pixelbook Go
Best Chromebook for new featuresFrom $642 at Amazon
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.
|Category||Google Pixelbook Go|
|Display size||13.3-inch 1080p touchscreen / 13.3-inch 4K touchscreen|
|CPU||Intel 8th Gen Core m3 / i5 / i7|
|Battery life||12 hours|
|Ports||2x U SB-C, audio combo jack|
|Colors||Just Black or Not Pink|
|Other features||1080p camera, 45W charger, Titan security chip|
|Auto Update Expiration date (AUE)||June 2026|
- Lightweight, compact design
- Incredible keyboard and trackpad
- Best-in-class battery life
- Limited port options
- 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.
9. Samsung Galaxy Chromebook
Best 4K ChromebookFrom $599 at Amazon
Bottom line: If you want the absolute best screen you can get on a Chromebook, you know it has to be a Samsung. The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook is not only beautiful, but it's also powerful, with a 10th Gen i5 processor and 256GB SSD storage. This is a super-thin, fanless laptop with an i5, so just keep in mind this laptop will get hot during longer sessions.
|Category||Samsung Galaxy Chromebook|
|Display size||13.3-inch 3840x2160px (4K) AMOLED touchscreen|
|CPU||10th Gen Intel Core i5|
|Battery life||8 hours|
|Ports||2x USB-C, microSD, audio combo jack|
|Colors||Fiesta Red or Mercury Grey|
|Other features||Project Athena certified, backlit keyboard, fingerprint sensor, fanless, built-in stylus, front and rear cameras, 45W charger|
|Auto Update Expiration date (AUE)||June 2028|
- Best screen on a Chromebook
- Super thin and beautiful
- Built-in stylus for sketching
- No fan means it gets hot
- No configurations, only color choice
- Meh battery life
Chromebooks with 4K screens are still a relatively small and elite group. If you want a 4K Chromebook that's light enough to carry around all day without having to blow an entire month's rent, Samsung's latest and greatest Chromebook is the one for you. The Galaxy Chromebook features a 4K screen, a 10th gen i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. This is the brass ring, folks.
As a Project Athena Chromebook, it is powerful and secure, offering a fingerprint sensor in the top right corner of the keyboard and Chrome OS's sandboxed system for apps. The Galaxy also comes with a built-in, pressure-sensitive pen — similar to the ones we find on the Note series — and it's a 2-in-1 so that you can turn it into a drawing tablet or prop it up in bed for a movie marathon.
The only downside to the Galaxy Chromebook — apart from that price tag — is that its thin profile means that the bottom of the Chromebook can get warm during intensive sessions. The battery life is also lower than we'd expect from a high-end Chromebook, but Google and Samsung have slightly improved performance since the buggy battery life we saw at launch.
10. Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook
Best Chromebook features$540 at Amazon
Bottom line: A big, beefy brick of a ThinkPad and a light, lithe Chromebook had a baby, and it is glorious. The ThinkPad C13 has all the features you could want in a Chromebook, from ample ports and a bright touchscreen to the classic TrackPoint, a built-in USI stylus, and the easiest-to-read keyboard on any Chromebook to date.
|Category||Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook|
|Display size||13.3-inch 1920x1080p (4K optional) IPS touchscreen, 300 nits (400 optional)|
|CPU||Up to AMD Ryzen 7 3700C|
|Battery life||8 hours|
|Ports||2x USB-C 3.2 Gen 1, 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, HDMI, microSD, audio combo jack|
|Other features||65W charging, backlit ThinkPad keyboard with TrackPoint, optional built-in stylus, optional fingerprint sensor, mil-spec durability,|
|Auto Update Expiration date (AUE)||June 2029|
- Ryzen processors with Radeon graphics
- Backlit large-font keyboard
- Bright touchscreen
- Durable, understated design
- Battery is just OK
Lenovo's Chromebooks are durable and functional, but none quite so much as the ThinkPad series, including the newest ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook. While it's not rubberized like the "rugged" Chromebooks aimed at classrooms and rugrats, the C13 has endured a dozen military-grade durability tests while keeping a more polished, presentable look with that beautiful Abyss Blue color. Can all Chromebooks come in this color, please?
The ThinkPad is far from just a pretty face, though, as the 13.3-inch touchscreen inside is brighter than the vast majority of Chromebooks with either a 300 nit 1080p screen or 400 nit 4K screen once you get up to the beefiest configurations. The keyboard here is also brightly backlit and better to read at night and in low-light situations, thanks to the fact that the ThinkPad keyboard has larger, upper-case letters than a standard Chrome OS keyboard with lower-case letters that are easier to read. There's also that classic TrackPoint nub in the middle of the keyboard if you're still hardwired to use the pointer, and there are physical left/right-click buttons at the top of the trackpad. What a concept!
Performance for the ThinkPad C13 has been great so far; apps load smoothly, it can juggle multiple windows between two displays — thank you, HDMI port — and do it all we ease thanks to Ryzen processor and minimum 8GB of RAM. The model I reviewed — and am still using over a month later because I just love the keyboard and screen on this thing — had a Ryzen 5, but the Ryzen 3 should still be about on par with the Intel M3 in the ASUS C434 we recommended above.
The only area where the ThinkPad might disappoint is the battery, but it usually still gets 7 hours of use before I need to find a charger. It's not nearly as high as the "up to 12.5 hours" that Lenovo said on the spec sheet, but between 7 hours of use and the 65W charger in the box for faster recharges, you won't need to top off for long during your workday. Ryzen processors are still relatively new to Chrome OS, too, so there may still be some optimizations that come in the next few months.
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 in 2021 — 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.
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!
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Ara Wagoner themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing help and how-to's, she's running around Walt Disney World with a Chromebook. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco. If you see her without headphones, RUN.
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