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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
Jerry Hildenbrand

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.

  • Serious question regarding the new Pixelbook. I see lightroom is supported, which is great from some basic photo editing from my Sony a6000. However, will there ever be something like the gopro editing suite that we could use for some basic gopro edits? I don't really use the sony for video, mainly just POV sports stuff from the GoPro. I know there are plenty of other $1,000 level options out there for editing, but for the very little I do, I wonder if the Pixelbook is capable.
  • It seems the only way this would happen is if GoPro makes an Android App. And then make an app this is great for the phone, and for the pixelbook/tablet. So we will see if all of this happens, but I think the debate is still out as to whether a chromebook should be arm, or x86 or both and what you target these types of apps for. But as Jerry is saying, if you want a pixelbook and go pro editing, it takes some nerdism and dual boot OS'es.
  • I use this most of the time with my Chromebook The full version was like $11 and does everything I need for photo editing. Haven't found the perfect video editor yet, but I'm still looking.
  • Juan Bagnell uses Powerdirector. I asked about it on his Note 8 video, haven't tried it myself yet. If it works well on Note 8, I imagine it will work well on a Chromebook with Android Apps Support. Especially a top of the line experience like the Pixelbook.
  • Awesome. Just installed it and will check it out. Thanks!
  • Based on what this does, the base model will be the best.
  • So when are you going to do the post about how to install multiple OS's on a chromebook and how you have your pixel configured?
  • Once i get it and finish any review and articles that should be done with it stock, I'll set it up and go throughout the process I use.
  • Thanks!
  • I pulled the trigger on a sale for the Samsung Chromebook Plus about a month ago and am really glad I did. I can replace it in 18-24 months and still not spend as much as I would have on the Pixelbook.
  • $1000-$1500 for a convertible laptop that you can't just download/install/run ANY app you might need on it (because it's still a chromebook)? yeah, i don't get it.
    by contrast, i spent $400 on a refurb Lenovo convertible laptop w/ Windows 10 on it and really great specs, and yet i can download practically any app i'd ever need from the internet, and it just works. i love my Yoga 700!
  • Just bought me a used Chromebox for less than $100.
  • Nice!
  • I'm going to get the base model pixelbook with the pen. I think I heard that they will start shipping on Oct 1, is this correct?
  • I heard Oct 31. I haven't got any official release date yet, and if I do I might not be able to share it until it's time.
  • Jerry, do you happen to have any thoughts on getting the Chromebook Pro versus the Plus? I believe you had mentioned a while back to save the money and go for the Plus, but the Pro is now coming in under $500.00 at several places. I have owned a Pixel before and loved it and I am debating if I spend the money on the Pixelbook or go the Samsung route. I know the Intel chip had some problems running android apps on the Pro, but I wonder if the Pixelbook will have the same issues?
  • I'm betting the intel issues are sorted with the PixelBook coming. I sure hope so ... If you're running Chrome and Android apps and not trying to do anything fancy, the Plus is just as good because it doesn't really need anything more powerful
  • I enjoyed the Chromebook plus, but really want the excess storage and specs that the pixel book provides.
  • michfan4837,
    The only real difference between the two is that the plus uses a mobile processor and the pro uses a desktop/laptop processor. I hear that there's not a lot of difference in performance, but that's only what I heard.
  • Thanks. I have heard they are somewhat similar although I also suspect the intel baed processor is a bit quicker on the Chrome OS desktop side of things and the ARM is a bit faster on the Android-ey side of things.
  • I know that benchmarks aren't everything
    But the pro has like 2-3 better octane performance than the plus
    Just something to consider
  • I was on the waitlist and off it about three times. Couldn't make up my mind about buying this machine.
    Then my wife started looking at my Chromebook Pixel 2.
    "Can I have that if you get the Pixelbook?" she asked.
    "I don't know, Sweetie. That Pixel 2 is a top-level machine, so I'd be giving up a lot of firepower."
    "You're just saying that because you want to buy the most expensive PixelBook, aren't you?"
    "Just buy it and gimme that laptop!"
    The Art of Negotiation 101.
  • I don't know if was just me but I had to RMA two Samsung Chromebook Plus devices due to faulty touchscreens. The first one simply stopped responding to touch from a finger but worked fine with the pen. The second one would go haywire and register phantom touches all over the display. I was really sad about it because I absolutely loved them as a laptop. I bought myself one to work out whether I could recommend a ChromeBook to clients and was surprised how well it fitted me. I think I may have been unlucky because I didn't see anyone else with touchscreen issues. I survived a good 6 months without a chromebook after that until the PixelBook was discounted on Valentine's day and I plumped for a basic model with pen and feel much happier again! I would never go for a Samsung CB plus again though.