Should you buy a Chromebook on Black Friday?

Acer Chromebook Spin 311
Acer Chromebook Spin 311 (Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Yes, Black Friday brings a ton of great deals on Chromebooks that we only see two other times of the year (Prime Day and Back to School), and for most folks needing a lightweight laptop, now is the time to buy. With smaller models discounted to $180 or less and new, beefy business-class Chromebooks seeing their first big discounts, you should take full advantage of the opportunity.

With millions working from home for the first time this year and tens of millions of kids trying to learn from home (with or without a school-issued computer) as we enter a second wave of lockdowns, Chromebooks have never been in such high demand. This high demand led to Chromebook shortages for much of the last seven months — including basically no Chromebook deals for Prime Day — but supply has recovered enough for us to finally start seeing good deals again in the lead-up to Black Friday.

There's a reason Chromebooks have been so sought after this year: if you're looking for performance on a budget, Chrome OS has a significant edge over Windows 10 when running on sub-$500 hardware. A $300 Windows laptop will be a sluggish mess in less than six months, but I spend most of my days working just fine on $300 Chromebooks like the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 and the Lenovo C340-11.

Compact, budget-minded Chromebooks have been especially hard-hit by the Chromebook shortage this year as parents and school districts have been scrambling to get laptops for all of their kids. This has led some of the best education Chromebooks to be either back-ordered clear into 2021, like the Dell 3100 2-in-1, or go on a roller coaster of price gouging like the ASUS Chromebook Flip C214.

The ASUS C214 is finally stabilized back at $400 on Amazon, and if you need a durable Chromebook that can survive a rambunctious kid, this is probably your best bet on Black Friday even if it doesn't drop back down to it's intended $350 price. $400 for the non-stylus model beats $530 for the stylus model and the $420-$440 Dell wants for the best configurations of the Dell 3100 2-in-1.

Chrome OS is a lightweight operating system that's designed to run well on mediocre software and to be blazing fast on premium machines. They run Android applications and Linux applications on top of just being lightweight laptops that get you to the Chrome Browser and online as fast as possible. They're even available in desktop form as Chromeboxes, but this is the one area where I recommend skipping Black Friday and waiting for December or January.

See, Acer, ASUS, and HP all announced new Chromeboxes that are releasing over the next two months. This means that if you're buying a Chromebox deal on Black Friday, it's a two-year-old model that retailers are trying to get rid of before new models show up, but the new models have better port configurations and will get Chrome OS updates until 2028-2029 depending on the model. This is one instance where waiting and buying the model is the better long-term value.

Why you should buy a Chromebook with 8GB of RAM on Black Friday

Acer Spin 713 Chromebook

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Most Chromebooks today come with 4GB of RAM, which is okay for the average user, but if you see a deal on a Chromebook with 8GB of RAM, it's absolutely worth the upgrade, especially if you're working/learning from home and tend to have a bunch of video calls. RAM (Random Access Memory) is the temporary storage that your Chromebook uses to accomplish whatever you're doing on the screen: it holds the tabs you've most recently used and the apps that you're currently using. Video calls are more intensive tabs that tend to use more RAM than your normal webpage, and when you run out of RAM, the system automatically starts dropping the last used tabs and apps from it.

So if you've ever been in a video call, tapped a previously-opened tab, only to see a blank window before it reloaded, that's what happened: your Chromebook ran out of ram and dropped that tab in order to do something else. Most of the time, you're not going to run into problems with this, but now that more of us are on Zoom or Google Meet calls multiple times a day, 8GB of RAM has never been more important

As far as 8GB Chromebook deals go, the recently-released HP Chromebook x360 14c is already $250 off, which gets it under $400. We also saw some deals on the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 and Samsung Galaxy Chromebook that we're hoping will return again on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

We have a full roundup of Black Friday Chromebook deals, but these are my favorites so far:

Black Friday Chromebook Deals

Ara Wagoner

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.