Best overall

ASUS Chromebook Flip (C302)

See at Amazon

A student needs a laptop that is both reliable and fast, both affordable and robust. The ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 is both. It's a big step up from our previous pick, the Flip C100, but in the Chromebook space this is about the best you can get for the price. It has a large 12.5-inch display, a flexible but strong hinge, and is powered by an Intel Core m3 processor. And at 10 hours, the battery should last the entire school day.

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

Why the ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 is the best

Most Chromebooks sacrifice power or battery life in the name of affordability, but the Chromebook Flip C302 finds the right balance. Available starting at $470, it's not cheap, but with the price you get plenty of RAM (4GB) and storage (64GB) for all your multitasking and app needs. The 12.5-inch display is sharp and the touch response is perfect, while the keyboard makes typing for long stretches a breeze.

At 2.65 pounds and only 13.7mm thick, the laptop is also incredibly portable which, for a busy student, can't be overstated in importance.

Best for younger students

Lenovo Flex 11

See at Lenovo

The Lenovo Flex 11 is the perfect Chromebook for a younger student. Far from the most attractive laptop you'll run across, the Flex 11 more than makes up for it by being built with rugged materials and designed to survive a 2.4-foot drop on a hard surface. Combined with its water-resistant keyboard, the Flex 11 can survive more of the rough-and-tumble treatment a youngster will dish out.

The Flex 11 has an industry standard MediaTek processor with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, so performance and usability are on par with most other models. Android app support is an additional plus, especially when paired with the many educational apps in Google Play.

Bottom line: If you are shopping for a younger student or anyone who is a little accident-prone, the Flex 11 will take a lot more abuse than most other models and has a modest price tag.

Best big screen

Acer Chromebook R13

Acer Chromebook R13

See at Amazon

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.

The addition of Android apps and a full touchscreen just add to the list of reasons why this is the right Chromebook for any student who needs something bigger.

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 wants something a little larger than the ASUS Chromebook Flip.

Best high end

Samsung Chromebook Plus

See at Amazon

Samsung and Google have built one of the best Chromebooks you can buy with the Samsung Chromebook Plus. It's incredibly well built, has one of the best displays of any laptop and has the horsepower to handle anything you throw at it. And handle it well. That makes it perfect for the student who needs the very best.

The bottom line: For anyone who wants to use a Chromebook on a regular basis, and values getting extra performance and hardware quality at an added price, Samsung has made the Chromebook for you.

One more thing: There's also a Samsung Chromebook Pro, built with a slightly faster Intel processor and available for a bit more money.

Conclusion

There are plenty of great Chromebooks for students right now, but the ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 finds the right balance between performance and price. If you want something a bit bigger, the Acer Chromebook R 13 is cheaper and not quite as powerful, but has a great big touchscreen, while Lenovo's Flex 11 can take a spill, and Samsung's Chromebook Plus comes with a stylus for added productivity in certain apps. All these laptops run Android apps.

Best overall

ASUS Chromebook Flip (C302)

See at Amazon

A student needs a laptop that is both reliable and fast, both affordable and robust. The ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 is both. It's a big step up from our previous pick, the Flip C100, but in the Chromebook space this is about the best you can get for the price. It has a large 12.5-inch display, a flexible but strong hinge, and is powered by an Intel Core m3 processor. And at 10 hours, the battery should last the entire school day.

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

Update, January 2018: We've swapped out our top choice for the ASUS Chromebook Flip C302, which is the perfect balance of price and performance for most students.