If you’ve ever dabbled with Windows 10 on a cheap laptop or tablet, maybe you see the value in the underlying minimalism of a Chromebook. Rather than shoehorning an intricate OS into sluggish, entry-level components, Chromebooks are distinguished by their simplicity and optimization.
Not only are they powered by one of the most powerful web browsers in the business, but many Chromebooks even support an expansive catalog of Android apps. Others, such as the leaked Asus Chromebook C302CA, even pull off premium hardware without bearing equally extravagant price tags.
Although they don't approach the imposing specs of some of the best laptops on the market, Chromebooks are exceptional in their own right. In lots of cases, they pack little more than 1,366 x 768 resolution screens and low-spec Intel Celeron processors. However, Chromebooks are built with longevity, portability and affordability in mind rather than sheer clout.
Most Chromebooks claim somewhere between seven and nine hours of battery life on a single charge, whereas screen size can fall anywhere between 11.6 to 15 inches. What's more, some even shake up the conventional notebook form factor by taking on the role of a 2-in-1 laptop, complete with detachable screens or even 360-degree hinge rotation.
Here we've gathered the best of the best Chromebooks and lined them up in a list for your convenience. Everything from the pixel-dense HP Chromebook 13 to the handsome Acer Chromebook 14 has been considered.
1. HP Chromebook 14
A well-balanced Chromebook
CPU: Intel Celeron N2840 – N2940 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 2GB – 4GB | Screen: 14-inch, HD (1,366 x 768) BrightView | Storage: 16GB – 32GB eMMC
With a rock-bottom starting price, the HP Chromebook 14 is the best choice for those seeking a basic web browsing machine. While Acer's Chromebook 15 serves up similar components (save for SSD storage rather than eMMC), HPs' 14-incher is a bit more compact and better looking to boot. The HP Chromebook 14 sports a bright blue finish and a screen devised to surprise. Overall, this machine boasts the best value out of every Chromebook you could buy. Albeit average in both battery life and performance, the HP Chromebook 14 is a sublime offering considering the cost.
Read the full review: HP Chromebook 14
2. HP Chromebook 13
Flashy and functional, this Chromebook means business
CPU: Intel Pentium 4405Y – Core m7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1920 x 1080) – QHD (3,200 x 1,800) | Storage: 32GB eMMC
This Chromebook offers a handful of distinct features from what you might find on a comparable Windows laptop. You’re guaranteed at least a 1440p screen – above average for a Chromebook. Even better are the not one, but two USB-C ports. And, if you're willing to shell out just a bit more cash, you can also nab yourself an Intel Core-M processor rather than a Pentium. All of this is complemented by incredible style, a metallic design that exudes Pixel influence. Given that Google discontinued its own Chromebook earlier in the year, the HP Chromebook 13 wins the best high-end Chromebook position handily.
Read the full review: HP Chromebook 13
3. Dell Chromebook 11
Dell's updated Chromebook is a star in almost every regard
CPU: Intel Celeron N2840 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 2GB – 4GB | Screen: 11.6-inch HD, 1366 x 768 touchscreen | Storage: 16GB SSD
On this Chromebook 11, you'll find a 180-degree reinforced hinge, sturdy design, sealed keyboard and trackpad and a punchy typing experience accompanying a perfectly portable package. In addition to using the Chromebook for classwork, bass-happy students will appreciate the loud stereo speakers for music and videos. Everyone else will appreciate the Dell Chromebook 11’s ability to lay flat using a 180-degree barrel hinge, an effective inclusion for touch-based activities. Don’t worry about dinging it, either. This device remains the most rugged Chromebook on our list.
Read the full review: Dell Chromebook 11
4. Acer Chromebook R11
360-degree flips for days
CPU: Intel Celeron N3150 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 2GB – 4GB | Screen: 11.6-inch HD, (1,366 x 768) | Storage: 16GB – 32GB SSD
The R11's minimalist design may not win any fashion shows, but behind that plain shell is a surprisingly fit laptop destined to endure an entire day's work. It’s even among the first Chromebooks to support Android apps by way of the Google Play Store. So, if you’ve ever wanted to use Firefox on a Chromebook, well, now you can. The R11 packs day-long battery life, punchy performance and a 360-degree hinge with touchscreen. It won't break the bank, thereby making flaws, like an iffy trackpad and barely-HD touch display, a little easier to swallow.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook R11
5. Asus Chromebook Flip
A flipping premium Chromebook for almost nothing
CPU: Rockchip 3288-C | Graphics: ARM Mali T624 | RAM: 2GB – 4GB | Screen: 10.1-inch, WXGA (1,280 x 800) IPS multi-touch | Storage: 16GB eMMC
Aside from the budget price tag (and budget components), the Chromebook Flip is one of the best-built Chromebooks to blaze the trail for more Chrome OS convertibles. Like with the R11, touch functionality feels logical with a screen that actually rotates. All the while, the Flip meets all the core tenants of an ideal Chromebook, including stellar battery life. As a 2-in-1 device, the Chromebook Flip is one of the best ways to experience Android apps on a laptop. If you've been ho-hum on Chromebooks before, the Asus Chromebook Flip is definitely one to ... flip out about. (Sorry.)
Read the full review: Asus Chromebook Flip
6. Acer Chromebook 15
The colossus of Chromebooks
CPU: Intel Celeron – Core i5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics – HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 2GB – 4GB | Screen: 15.6-inch HD (1,366 x 768) – FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 16GB – 32GB SSD
Rather than “Think Different,” Acer's spin on Apple’s catchphrase would be “Think Bigger.” Unlike most in its class, this Chromebook is blessed with a 15.6-inch Full HD screen made better only by its optional Intel Core i5 processor. You probably won't need all that power on a Chromebook (luckily, there’s a newer, even cheaper model that’s been added recently), but it sure is nice to have the option. When it comes to larger Chromebooks, there isn’t much selection, but luckily, Acer has devised a no-brainer.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 15
7. Acer Chromebook 14
The dollar store MacBook Air
CPU: Intel Celeron N3160 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 400 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS | Storage: 32GB SSD
Doing its best MacBook Air impression, with an all-aluminum shell and a clearly Apple-inspired hinge, you get what you pay for with the Acer Chromebook 14. The Intel Celeron processor will only get you so far with that 1080p screen, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get the job done. For basic web browsing and Google Docs, the Acer Chromebook 14 is a godsend. The laptop’s keyboard is both full-size and tactile. It’s no mechanical clicker, but in any public setting you’ll be grateful it’s not. The trackpad draws influence from Apple’s laptops as well, bestowing on users a roomy setting for navigating the cursor. However, in its attempt to offer more than the leader of this list for the same price – HD video playback isn’t entirely as stable as we’d prefer.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 14
Juan Martinez and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article.