Which Pixelbook Should you Buy?

I've seen this discussion on the internet a lot more often than I would have imagined. People are thinking about buying a Pixelbook and trying to decide if they need to spend more to get one with those beefy specs; not something you expect to see when you're talking about a $1,000 Chromebook.

It's great to see interest in a product you want to buy yourself, but before we get into the reasons why anyone should spend more on an upgraded Pixelbook, I have to say that the Samsung Chromebook Plus is a much better purchase. It's half the price and will do everything Chrome-related you ever wanted to do. It's also really well-built and has a beautiful display, and there's even a Pen. At least have a look at one before you decide, because it might be just what you wanted but leaves you with $500 to buy other things. I'm not saying the Pixelbook isn't an amazing-looking piece of gear, but it's worth your time to look at other amazing pieces of gear, too.

OK, now that's out of the way. There are people who have looked at other Chromebooks and decided the Pixelbook is the one they want. Folks who have an older Chromebook Pixel might appreciate the attention to detail we assume the Pixelbook will have, or maybe you're in love with the style and build. And of course, there will be more than a few people buying them because they want a high-end ultrabook they can install other operating systems on. We all have our reasons.

To answer the question, though, you have to know why you want a Pixelbook in the first place. What you plan to do with it makes a big difference — especially when the upgrade cost is also a huge difference.

If you want the best Chromebook money can buy and decided that the Pixelbook is going to be just that, you probably don't need to buy anything but the base model. Using this Chromebook as a Chromebook with Chrome and Android apps, surfing the internet, writing or doing web development or any of the things a Chromebook does well without any headaches definitely doesn't need a faster processor or more than 128 GB of storage space. Chrome is Chrome, and no matter which Chromebook it's installed on you have the same features and options. And there are several Chromebooks under $300 that can do any or all of those things really well.

Chrome can't do anything that will need more horsepower than the base model can deliver.

A base-model Pixelbook will have the same quality and deliver the same Chrome OS experience as the $500 upgrade models will. That's the beauty of Chrome OS: it runs amazingly on low spec'd hardware. It's a mobile operating system designed with a specific set of features and functions in mind, and when something gets added to the OS it has to be able to "just work" on the existing models. So it's like the very opposite of Android. The $999 Google Pixelbook is about a ton of overkill on the hardware side, so you really don't need to add another ton of hardware under the hood.

Folks interested in the higher priced models know why they are the exception. The idea that you can't take advantage of even more horsepower goes out the window if you start installing a second (or third) OS to your new ultrabook. I've heard from people who plan to compile code and from folks who are interested in installing Steam, and yes, you are the target for the upgraded Pixelbooks.

Spending about $1,500 on a high-end ultrabook isn't unheard of. And that's what you would be getting if you spent that much — top-notch hardware specs, an amazing screen, a great keyboard and trackpad all in a slim and light package. If that's what you're looking for you're not buying one because it runs Chrome. Because anything will run Chrome. Though you should consider that you can buy a laptop from Apple or Microsoft or Dell or HP or any number of other companies that won't be difficult to configure with another OS, and the Pixelbook might prove to be a pain when it comes to doing it.

I'm not trying to talk anyone into doing anything, and how you spend your money is your decision. But I assume that people are asking because they want genuine feedback. And really, this is one of those things that if you have to ask the answer is no. If you just want an incredible Chromebook, the base model Pixelbook is the one for you. And even if you decide to take the plunge and start fiddling with the system, it's more than enough to make for a good experience there, too. Leave the $500 upgrade costs to the people who already know they need it.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.