The 9 best Chromebooks of 2016: the top Chromebooks ranked

TechRadar's top-ranking Chromebook reviews

Update: Black Friday may be over, but the sales sure aren't! You can find discounts on Chromebooks such as the Acer Chromebook 13 all week on our Cyber Monday deals page.

You're not interested in a cheap Windows laptop. The entry-level specs couldn't handle the hardy system requirements of a Windows 10 install.

Instead, you would rather have in your grasp the lightweight and minimal Chrome OS, Google’s notebook operating system that represents what computing has been all about since the mid-90s: the internet and your web browser, though many of these notebooks now support the Play Store for access to an extensive catalog of Android-based apps.

Although they don't approach the imposing specs of some of the best laptops on the market, Chromebooks are exceptional in their own right. With little more than 1,366 x 768 resolution screens and low-spec Celeron processors, Chromebooks are built with longevity, portability and affordability in mind rather than sheer clout.

Most Chromebooks on the market claim somewhere between seven and nine hours of battery life on a single charge while 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 2-in-1 laptops; other, more premium offerings even bear styluses.

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 affordable Asus Chromebook Flip has been considered…

best chromebook

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 eMMC

Excellent keyboard, trackpad
Crisp, vivid screen
Slower than some rivals
Average battery life

With a rock-bottom starting price, the HP Chromebook 14 is an excellent value for those seeking a basic web browsing machine. It's cheaper than the Toshiba Chromebook 2 while offering a bigger screen. And, 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. For when coffee shop appeal is crucial, the HP Chromebook 14 sports a bright blue finish and a screen devised to surprise.

Read the full review: HP Chromebook 14

Best Chromebook

2. 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

Rugged design
180-degree barrel hinge
Touchscreen not standard
Small keyboard

On the Chromebook 11, you'll find a 180-degree reinforced hinge, rugged 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 take delight in its ability to lay flat using a 180-degree barrel hinge, effective for touch-based activities.

Read the full review: Dell Chromebook 11

Best Chromebook

3. 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

Fully metal construction
Excessive battery life
Occasional crashes
Large screen bezels

Aside from the budget price tag, the Asus Chromebook Flip is one of the best-built Chromebooks to blaze the trail onward for more convertibles. Touchscreen functionality feels slightly more logical, with a screen that actually rotates for once. All the while, the Flip meets all the core tenants of an ideal Chrome OS device, including stellar battery life. 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

best chromebook

4. 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

Fast processing speed
Long battery life
Very heavy
Awkward keyboard

Rather than "Think Different," Acer's spin on the classic Apple catchphrase is "Think bigger." Unlike most in its class, the Acer Chromebook 15 is blessed with a 15.6-inch Full HD screen made better only by its optional Core i5 processor. Sure, 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 for once.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 15

best chromebook

5. HP Chromebook 13

Flashy and functional, this Chromebook means business

CPU: Intel Pentium – 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

Ultra-thin and sharp design
High-resolution display is a beauty
Lacks touchscreen
QHD+ display hikes price and lowers battery life

For the price, the HP Chromebook 13 offers a handful of distinct from what you might find on a comparable Windows laptop. Even at the baseline, you're guaranteed a 1440p screen that's far above average for a Chromebook. Even more unusual is the inclusion of not one, but two USB Type-C ports, and if you're willing to shell out just a bit more cash you can also nab yourself a Core-M processor rather than a Pentium. All of this is complemented by the HP Chromebook's outward appearance, a metallic design that reeks of Pixel influence.

Read the full review: HP Chromebook 13

best chromebook

6. Google Chromebook Pixel

The end all, be all of Chromebooks

CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 12.85-inch 2,560 x 1,700 IPS touch | Storage: 32GB – 64GB SSD

Intel Core processor
Long, long battery life
Very expensive
3:2 screen hurts multitasking

Hardware and performance aside, the Pixel is one of the few Chromebooks that seems like it has itself completely figured out. The build quality of this machine is superb, with a design that's nailed down to a science. A vibrant screen – plus the tactile keyboard and trackpad – helps round out the Pixel as one pretty, premium package.

That said, this one's quite an investment. At this price, you could buy several Chromebooks or a far more powerful Windows laptop. So, before you buy, we suggest you consider all the much more affordable options out there before plunking down so much money into this luxury Chrome machine.

Read the full review: Google Chromebook Pixel 2

Acer Chromebook R11

7. Acer Chromebook R11

360-degree flips for days

CPU: Intel Celeron N3060 – N3150 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 2GB – 4GB | Screen: 11.6" 16:9 HD (1,366 x 768) | Storage: 16GB – 32GB SSD

Convertible
Good battery life
HD-only display
Terrible trackpad

The Acer Chromebook 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. Acer's R11 packs a day-long battery life, punchy performance and a 360-degree hinge with touchscreen into a subdued design. 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

Best Chromebook

8. Acer Chromebook 13

With incredible battery life, the Chromebook 13 is a winner

CPU: Nvidia Tegra K1 | Graphics: Nvidia Keplar | RAM: 2GB – 4GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, HD (1.920 x 1.080) | Storage: 16GB – 32GB SSD

Battery life
Great speakers
Strange port locations
Lackluster visuals

Powered by Nvidia's powerful Tegra K1 chip, this Chromebook squeezes quite a bit into a tiny frame. You're bound to fall in love with its 13.3-inch, 1080p resolution screen as well as its portable form factor. At 3.31 pounds, the Acer Chromebook 13 is a feather on the outside and a powerhouse within. Even as you learn to overcome its limitations, you'll undoubtedly enjoy the lengthy battery life made possible by its conservatively mobile specs.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 13

Best Chromebook

9. Lenovo N20p Chromebook

A versatile Chromebook experience for a reasonable price

CPU: Intel Celeron N2830 – N2930 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 2GB | Screen: 11.6-inch HD (1,366 x 768) multi-touch | Storage: 16GB SSD

Gorgeous design
Super fast
Poor viewing angles
Bad speakers

One of the "sexier" Chromebooks around, the Lenovo N20p showcases Lenovo's lust for style. The N20p's most notable feature is a 300-degree hinge, which folds the display backward into stand mode (or "tent" mode), lending itself quite nicely to watching films or showing presentations. Unfortunately, using Chrome OS on a tablet isn't exactly ideal, but the range of ports certainly makes up for lacking software optimization.

Read the full review: Lenovo N20p Chromebook

Juan Martinez and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joe has worked in games and technology media for nearly a decade for several publications. His writing has been featured in PC Magazine, AOL's Games.com, Laptop Magazine and Tom's Guide among others. Currently, Joe serves as TechRadar's Senior Editor, leading computing coverage specifically. Yes, that means he uses both macOS and Windows – every day.