We've got several new entries to our list, most notably the Acer Chromebook 516 GE - one of the first 'gaming Chromebooks' to hit the market.
The top spot has been claimed by Acer's Chromebook 515, though the excellent Acer Chromebook 314 only gets shunted down to second place, mainly because it's just so gosh-darn cheap. You can buy it on Amazon for barely more than two hundred bucks right now, so students on a budget should snap that bad boy up.
- Christian Guyton, Computing Editor
The best student Chromebooks should be capable, durable, and affordable. That means they should pack sufficient power to accomplish all your school-related tasks, a robust but portable chassis so you can easily stow it away in your school bag without being concerned about damaging it, and a reasonable price that falls within your student budget.
You don’t have to worry though, because almost all of the best Chromebooks will feature all three of these qualities. Not only are Chromebooks generally more affordable than most laptops, but some of them also host processors that are impressive enough to handle all of your after-school laptop needs as well.
In fact, a great Chromebook might also match the battery life found on some of the best laptops on the market. Even better, they could also sport Full HD or touchscreens, which are always an appreciated feature in the best student laptops as they make interactive learning for young students much easier.
Another reason why a Chromebook makes for an excellent device for school is its ability to automatically sync all of your school work to Cloud storage. Ask anyone who has lost hours of work in a single second, and you’ll learn how important this feature is.
It’s completely understandable for you to not know which Chromebook to go for. Fortunately, we have curated a well-thought-out list of our top picks. After spending hours testing a number of student Chromebooks, we are confident that our final list features the best options, regardless of your preferences and budget.
The best student Chromebooks for 2023
While Acer has directed the Chromebook 515 more at the office than the classroom, we still feel that this is one of the best Chromebooks a student of any age can buy right now.
The solid build quality, large display, and above-average performance for a Chromebook make the 515 a great pick - and it won't let you down when it comes to battery life either, although in our tests we did find that Chrome OS was a bit inaccurate when it came to estimating the remaining time before needing a charge.
Pricing starts at the midrange, so this isn't the cheapest Chromebook money can buy, but you're getting decent bang for your buck here compared to most Windows laptops. The inclusion of an Intel Core CPU (rather than a more basic Pentium or Celeron processor) is great to see, and 128GB of storage means you can install plenty of apps from the Google Play Store too!
Read our full Acer Chromebook 515 review
Picture your perfect school Chromebook, and if it’s not the Acer Chromebook 314 then it’s pretty damn close, especially at this price. It’s not surprising if there’s one thing Acer knows, it’s how to build the best student Chromebooks.
The only weak point – considering the price – is the processor, but for general school work and research the 1.1GHz Celeron is fine. When we tested it, we found it struggled a bit with opening a ton of Chrome tabs since there's only 4GB of memory, but even the best laptops can have issues with Chrome's RAM-guzzling tendencies.
On the plus side, we’re amazed there’s a Full HD 1080p display at this price point, although the 314 doesn't feature a touchscreen, which can potentially limit Android app use (if that’s important to you). Another key feature for students is the long battery life, with Acer claiming up to 14 hours, while we recorded 13 hours of video playback in our tests, making this a strong choice for getting you through your school day.
Read our full Acer Chromebook 314 review
Remember when tablets were going to take over the world? With the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook, that might still happen! Okay, probably not, but this is still the best detachable Chromebook money can buy right now.
Using a hybrid tablet/laptop design with a magnetic snap-on keyboard, this is ideal for the classroom and students - allowing easy tablet browsing for researching or easy Netflix fun when you kick back at home, but still has a keyboard when you need one.
Packing Qualcomm's powerful but super-efficient Snapdragon 7c processor, the Duet 5 lasted for more than 16 hours of continuous use before needing a charge when we tested it, and generally offers superior performance to its predecessor, the IdeaPad Duet Chromebook - although it's worth mentioning that this newer model is more expensive, and the nifty Lenovo smart stylus isn't included.
Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook review
Chromebooks don’t typically come with an Intel Evo certification but the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is different. That certification means this portable meets a higher standard thanks to its 11th-gen Core i5 CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, and 8GB of RAM. In our review, we praised the strong performance and excellent screen.
That 13.5-inch display packs a higher resolution than the typical 1080p screen that most laptops come equipped with, with a tall 3:2 aspect ratio for improved productivity in large spreadsheets and text documents - giving you more on-screen real estate to cut down on scrolling. And of course, the 'spin' part shouldn't be discounted: the 360-degree hinge and touchscreen let you swap to tablet mode in an instant.
Sure, the Spin 713 is not the most exciting-looking Chromebook out there, not to mention missing some expected features like a privacy shutter for the webcam. But considering how good everything else on it is, these minor missteps are easy to overlook.
Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review
'Gaming Chromebooks' are a new oddity, and we're pleased to say that this first offering from Acer fits the bill. With a brushed black metal chassis, RGB-backlit keyboard, and a truly incredible display, this is a gaming laptop with the heart of a Chromebook.
In our review, we admired the strong performance of the 12th-gen Intel CPU and the phenomenal clarity of the 120Hz QHD+ screen - probably one of the best we've ever seen on a Chromebook, in fact. It's got a ton of storage too, thanks to the 512GB drive. The battery life isn't quite as strong as some of the other laptops on this list, but that's a tradeoff for the superior overall package.
One important thing to note here is that while the Acer Chromebook 516 GE (that's short for 'gaming edition') can run Google Play Store games, you can't run PC games directly from Steam on it. Instead, these gaming Chromebooks exemplify Google's Chrome OS focus on cloud computing by relying on cloud gaming platforms such as Nvidia's GeForce Now or Amazon Luna - so bear in mind that you'll need to pay a subscription to one of those services to get the full gaming experience here.
Read our full Acer Chromebook 516 GE review
The Asus Flip has been around almost as long as Chromebooks have, and each release has remained solid yet stylish workhorses. The latest Flip C436 updates the magnesium-clad chassis with the latest 10th-gen Intel processor, so this thing is fast.
Backed with plenty of memory and storage, this is the best student Chromebook to crunch through classwork while keeping a 2-in-1 form factor for note-taking and reading assignments. The 14-inch display also balances portability, size, and weight perfectly.
It is expensive but you get a lot for your money, but is it the sort of thing you’d want to give to a young schoolchild? Probably not, but older students will get a lot out of this and the extras like fingerprint security, making it a fantastic Chromebook for college-level work.
Read our full Asus Chromebook Flip C436 review
How to find the best student Chromebook
If you're not really familiar with Chromebooks (and a lot of parents aren't) then trying to figure out which Chromebook your child needs can be a bit of an ordeal. Your child's education is important, so you want to make sure they have the tools they need to succeed, but how do you know what the right tools are?
Fortunately, there are a couple of key points to consider when it comes to shopping for a student Chromebook, and helpfully, a lot of it comes down to a child's grade level.
If they are younger students, i.e., in primary, elementary, and even middle school, focus on price and durability. Those kids are going to be rouch with that Chromebook, so don't worry about getting one that's "too cheap", so long as it can hold up to a kid's careless treatment of it. The specs here are pretty irrelevant, since schools are going to target lessons toward the least powerful Chromebooks in the class, not the fastest or most powerful, so higher specs are going to be a huge waste of money at this level.
If your kid is in Secondary/High school, then they are likely going to need something more robust than a basic, school-issued Chromebook. They will be writing papers, researching assignments, and possibly even doing some light multimedia editing using web apps. In this case, look to get at least an Intel Celeron, AMD Athlon, or Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, but if you can spring for an Intel Core i3 or an AMD Ryzen 3 processor, it definitely won't hurt. Try to get 8GB RAM if you can in case your child needs to work with any third-party or school delivered apps that might bog down a 4GB system, or if they end up working with a dozen or more open Chrome tabs while researching an assignment.
If you or your child is heading off to university, now is the time to invest in a much more powerful Chromebook, since you might really want to try and have it carry you through a full four years of undergraduate work. Aim for an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor, at least 64GB to 128GB of actual SSD storage rather than eMMC flash storage, and a minimum of 8GB RAM. This kind of Chromebook might cost you as much as some of the best Ultrabooks, which can be just as powerful and run a full-featured Windows OS, so it's ok to ask if a Chromebook makes sense for your program of study at this stage.
Are Chromebooks worth it for students?
Before a student hits the university level, the answer is a resounding yes. Especially for elementary/primary school students, a Chromebook is really the only computer that they should be using, since it does exactly what it needs to do and nothing more, all while keeping distracting apps off the device, and featuring some of the best built-in security features of any laptop on the market just by virtue of being a Chromebook.
Even in secondary/high school, students can use a more powerful Chromebook to do their school work just fine, while still keeping things affordable.
Once you get to the university level, it really depends on the program of study, but unless its a STEAM program that requires specialized hardware or programs that aren't available on Chrome OS, a Chromebook can carry you through all the way through graduate school if necessary.
What is the best Chromebook for a teenager?
While the different brands are largely irrelevant, there are some specs to focus on. First, a reasonably good processor (a Core i3 or Ryzen 3, for example), 8GB RAM, and 64GB SSD storage are a perfectly good setup for a teen's level of schoolwork. If you want to have some special add-in like a 2-in-1 form factor or touchscreen, these might also be useful at this age.
What are the disadvantages of a Chromebook?
If there is one disadvantage of a Chromebook, it's its app catalogue. While it has access to the Android app ecosystem, most of these are not optimized for Chromebooks and many won't work properly. A lot of the major apps that you might need for work or school might not be available as well. There are always web-based alternatives to just about any app, though, so it's not as if you will never be able to edit a photo or a video on a Chromebook.
How we test and choose the best student Chromebooks
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Generally, we don't set out specifically to test how a Chromebook will work in any given educational environment, since there is too much nuance to the education space to adequately assess that kind of thing. What we do test, however, is a Chromebook's performance and battery life, its features and functionality, and we assess its design with an eye towards the kind of user it is trying to serve.
Between running benchmarks for determining performance relative to competing models and gauging its average battery life over several tests, we use the Chromebook ourselves in the course of our day-to-day work, much like a student might (at least an older student, anyway).
If it's good enough for a tech journalist, it's going to be an excellent Chromebook for a teenager or college student. And while some lower-spec Chromebooks meant for young students will be entirely inadequate for a working adult, we can still determine its basic functionality and durability, which is ultimately all a young child needs from a Chromebook.
If it has enough battery life to get through a typical school day and it's appropriately priced, we can be confident that it will serve the needs of younger students for many years to come.
To read more about our testing process, find out how we test.