Pixelbook Go vs. Pixelbook: Which generation should you buy?

Pixelbook Go and the OG Pixelbook side by side
Pixelbook Go and the OG Pixelbook side by side (Image credit: Android Central)

Google Pixelbook

Pixelbook

(opens in new tab)

If you care about function more than form, the original Pixelbook's 2-in-1 form factor and more productivity-minded 3:2 aspect ratio might win out over the Go's curves and colors.

Google Pixelbook

Old reliable

Higher storage options
Easier to find deals on
2-in-1 form factor is nice
Two-year-old processors
Sharper edges and boring rectangles

Google Pixelbook Go

Pixelbook Go

(opens in new tab)

The latest Pixelbook is missing some of the features of the old model — most notably the 2-in-1 form factor — but the more rounded and polished clamshell look with next-gen processors still give it the edge.

Google Pixelbook Go

Flashy new upgrade

Premium look with more colors
8th Gen Intel processors
16:9 screen better for media
Not a 2-in-1
Shows scratches quicker
Still expensive

Google makes the best in bleeding edge, ultra-premium Chromebooks, but when you look at the Pixelbook and the new Pixelbook Go side-by-side, it's not as easy a choice as you'd think. One is shinier, newer, and more affordable, but the other is more adaptable and arguably more powerful, if a bit long in the tooth in 2019.

The Go vs the OG: a battle of Pixelbooks

The Pixelbook Go's design is dramatically different than the Pixelbook, all soft curves and easy angles compared to the original's boxy look. The Pixelbook Go is also a narrower Chromebook; the switch to a 16:9 screen means you don't have to put up with the absolutely massive palm rests that the Pixelbook's 3:2 screen necessitated, nor do you have to deal with black bars whenever you're watching YouTube or Netflix.

Some users argue the 3:2 screen size is better for productivity, but honestly, the 13.3-inch 16:9 display split-screens Chrome tabs (or apps) better than the 12.3-inch 3:2 screen on the OG Pixelbook. Where the Pixelbook does take the edge for productivity is the 2-in-1 hinge that allows it to fold back into a tablet when you don't need the keyboard. The Pixelbook Go has a less forgiving clamshell lid, and it lacks support for the $100 add-on Pixelbook Pen (opens in new tab), so artists and other content creators may want the older model instead.

Magnesium and Metal

Getting past those shiny metal cases — painted magnesium, in the Go's case — both the new and old generation of Pixelbooks are remarkably similar on the inside. Both can come with either 8 or 16GB of storage, and most of the configurations include Intel i5 or i7 processors. The Pixelbook Go can come with a less powerful — and less expensive — Intel M3 processor, and the original Pixelbook can come with 512GB of storage as opposed to the top size of 256GB on the Go.

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CategoryGoogle Pixelbook GoGoogle Pixelbook
Display13.3-inch LCD touchscreen
1920 x 1080
4K "Molecular Display" 3840 x 2160
12.3-inch LCD touchscreen
2400 x 1600
ProcessorIntel Core m3, i5, or i7
8th Generation
Intel Core i5 or i7
7th Generation
Storage64GB SSD
128GB SSD
256GB SSD
128GB SSD
256GB SSD
512GB NVMe SSD
RAM8GB
16GB
8GB
16GB
Battery47 Whr
Up to 12 hours
41 Whr
Up to 10 hours
Charging45W USB-C
Up to 2 hours after 20 minutes
45W USB-C
Up to 2 hours after 15 minutes
ConnectivityUSB-C (x2)
3.5mm headphone jack
USB-C (x2)
3.5mm headphone jack
Pixelbook Pen support✔️
Dimensions311 x 206.3 x 13.4mm
(12.2 x 8.1 x 0.5 in)
290.4 x 220.8 x 10.3mm
(11.4 x 8.7 x 0.4 in)
MaterialsFinely painted magnesiumAluminum
Corning Gorilla Glass detail

One of the biggest differences between the Pixelbook Go and Pixelbook on paper is the price: Google still charges you $1,000 for a Pixelbook whereas you can get a Pixelbook Go for $649. Unfortunately, this comparison isn't as clear cut as it seems. The $649 Go comes with an M3 processor, which is enough for most non-coding, non-Linux-using folks, but if you want an i5, that price difference shrinks considerably.

Bigger isn't always better

The i5 Pixelbook Go (opens in new tab) was initially $850, whereas the i5 Pixelbook (opens in new tab) launched at $900 on Amazon. Both come with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, but the Go is an 8th gen i5 over the Pixelbook's 7th gen i5.

At that point, the question becomes whether you want a 16:9 screen or a 3:2 screened 2-in-1. I use stand mode on my Pixelbook all the time when it's docked on my standing desk, but the clamshell Pixelbook Go is still easy to use and should bend back far enough for when you're working with it on the couch.

The price argument also gets even murkier once you realize that as a two-year-old laptop, the original Pixelbook is much more prone to sales than the brand-new Pixelbook Go. Last Black Friday, you could get the Pixelbook for $700 and I wouldn't be shocked to see similar sales this year as retailers clear out stock of the older model. You can also get a refurbished Pixelbook (opens in new tab) from the Google Store, complete with a one-year warranty, for just $749, which may be the best option if you prefer the 3:2 screen or 2-in-1 form factor.

Should you upgrade?

Nope. The Pixelbook is more functional and about as powerful as the Pixelbook Go, so unless you like Not Pink, there's literally no reason to spend as much money on the new model as you paid for the original two years ago.

If you're buying a Pixelbook for the first time, there are arguments for getting the newer processors and cuddlier design, but if you already own a Pixelbook, you'll be happier with what you've got.

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.