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Lenovo Chromebook S330 – should I buy one?

(Image credit: Lenovo)

Lenovo is the biggest PC maker out there, selling more machines than any other manufacturer worldwide, and as such, it may need no real introduction. Odds are you’ve seen a Lenovo PC, or at least heard of the vendor, and the firm makes some well-known laptops including the famous Yoga and ThinkPad models.

Many of those kind of products are pitched towards the premium end of the market, but Lenovo does also make budget laptops. And Chromebooks – which can run on lean and inexpensive hardware – are perfect for the most affordable end of the market, and this particular Lenovo model is very wallet-friendly.

While we haven’t formally reviewed the Chromebook S330 at TechRadar, we were impressed enough with this Lenovo notebook to award it a place in our roundup of the very best budget laptops currently available.

So let’s explore in more depth why this portable is such a great value proposition – pointing out any downsides to look out for, as well – because if the Chromebook S330 gets some Black Friday price-cutting, it could be one of the best buys of the entire week for students. Or indeed anyone looking for a really affordable notebook.

Don’t forget, we’ll flag up any great deals on this, or any other portable, on our page which rounds up all the best Black Friday laptop deals.

The bottom line: This is a superb option for a budget laptop, and those looking for a highly affordable Chromebook won’t do much better than this – particularly with a bit of Black Friday discounting thrown in.

Pros: Lightweight and nicely portable. It’s really cheap, but offers enough performance for everyday computing tasks. This laptop also boasts good battery life, and a nifty 180-degree hinge.

Cons: Display isn’t the best. Don’t expect the world in the performance stakes with the Mediatek CPU.

Key specs

  • CPU: Mediatek 8173C
  • Graphics: Imagination PowerVR GX6250
  • RAM: 4GB 
  • Screen: 14-inch HD (1,366 x 768) anti-glare
  • Storage: 32GB eMMC
  • OS: Chrome OS

Lenovo Chromebook S330: everything you need to know

This Chromebook is a great laptop for students who want to keep their expenses down, or indeed anyone who fancies a really cheap notebook – perhaps as a second (reserve) machine.

Bear in mind, though, that as a Chromebook, it runs Google’s Chrome OS, not Windows, so your choice of software is limited (and you won’t be able to run popular Windows apps – although you may find solid alternatives, like G Suite rather than Microsoft Office). A lot will depend on exactly what you want to do with your notebook, so check here for more on the ins-and-outs of using a Chromebook.

The key to the S330, though, is that it’s cheap, but still remains very cheerful in terms of performance. There’s only so much you can expect from hardware in this price bracket, of course, but the fact is that the Chromebook S330 has enough grunt to cope with all your basic computing tasks – and benefits from some surprisingly neat touches considering how affordable it is.

Mediatek CPU: One major point to bear in mind is that this Chromebook doesn’t have an Intel or AMD processor, but a Mediatek one (an ARM CPU also used in Android tablets). But don’t worry – Chrome OS is designed to be streamlined and undemanding, and this chip delivers perfectly palatable performance levels for everyday computing tasks. Just don’t expect the earth, obviously (you shouldn’t at this price level, anyway). It’s also worth noting that the CPU helps to deliver sterling battery life here.

Portability: This is an impressively light laptop, making it easy to take with you wherever you travel. Build quality is decent enough, but again, in this budget category, temper your expectations.

Display downer: The 14-inch screen on the basic model has a resolution of 1,366 x 768 – in other words, less than Full HD – and as such it’s not great. Don’t expect pin-sharp here, but that said, it’s serviceable enough, and movies, for example, will look okay (they’ll sound fine, too, as Lenovo provided a pretty decent pair of speakers which is a nice surprise).

180-degree hinge: While this isn’t a convertible laptop, the hinge does allow for the screen to be folded back up to 180 degrees, so you can adjust the angle to whatever might best suit you in any particular use case (or indeed fold the thing flat on a surface).

Conclusion: For the money, the Lenovo Chromebook S330 is simply one of the best budget laptops you can buy (and arguably the absolute best cheap Chromebook you can lay your hands on right now). It’s light, reasonably well-built, and delivers a capable performance for the budget. Given some extra Black Friday price-cutting, this could be an amazing machine for those who don’t have much money to spend on a portable.

TechRadar is scouring every retailer and rounding up all the top deals over the Black Friday period, and we’ve put all the best Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday deals in easy-to-navigate articles to help you find the bargains you’re looking for.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).