Gears & Gadgets

Guidemaster: How to buy a Chromebook, plus our best picks

There's now a pretty wide range of Chromebooks available—and we've tested <em>a lot</em> of ’em. “><figcaption class=
Enlarge / There’s now a pretty wide range of Chromebooks available—and we’ve tested a lot of ’em.
Valentina Palladino
We’ve tested many new Chromebooks since our guide came out earlier this year, and we’ve updated our top pick for Fall 2019.

Chromebooks dominated the affordable laptop scene in 2018. The same wasn’t true just a few years ago, when most were unclear what to do with Google’s browser-based operating system. But now, after Chromebooks have successfully infiltrated the education market, users both young and old are familiar with Chrome OS.

Chrome OS runs exclusively on Chromebooks, the name for the laptops, two-in-ones, and now tablets that run Google’s operating system. If you’ve used the Chrome Web browser before, you know how to use Chrome OS—the browser is the portal to nearly everything you can do on Chrome OS. Google created an operating system that’s simple to use, efficient, and low maintenance in the sense that it doesn’t take a ton of power to run a Chromebook well.

All of those factors, plus the recent introduction of Android apps into the ecosystem, have made Chromebooks popular with younger users, teachers, and anyone who works and plays primarily within the confines of the Chrome Web browser.

As people gravitate to Chromebooks, OEMs have been producing more and more of them. There is a plethora of Chromebooks available now, some at dirt cheap prices and others at premium prices, making it hard to know which you should buy. Luckily, Ars has tested some of the most popular Chromebooks, and we can offer some insight as to which ones are worth your money.

Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

What Chrome OS can do for you, and what it can’t do

Chromebooks can be solid devices for people who spend most of their computing time in a browser. Chrome OS is ideal for doing things like managing email, writing and sharing documents in Google Drive, streaming video and music, and general Web browsing. Chrome OS’ suitability for these types of tasks also means that those who have never used a Chromebook will find it easy to use without much of a learning curve.

Android apps add another layer to Chrome OS, allowing you to run your favorite mobile programs, including Spotify, Snapchat, Instagram, Netflix, Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, and more. The rollout of Android apps on Chromebooks has been slow, and not all Android apps are optimized for the large screens and full keyboards of Chromebooks yet. However, Chrome OS has been made more versatile thanks to the inclusion of Android apps.

Affordability makes Chromebooks stand out among most of their competitors. You can get a Chromebook for as little as $ 199, whereas the cheapest Windows machines run at least a couple hundred dollars more, and similar macOS machines don’t even come close in price.

Affordability has been a blessing for Chromebook users, but it has been somewhat of a curse for Chromebooks as a whole since many people have the false assumption that all Chromebooks are cheap. Time has proven that presumption untrue as more OEMs have come out with Chromebooks that feature premium materials and better specs.

Those devices are more expensive than your average Chromebook, and rightly so. The most expensive Chromebooks run anywhere from $ 699 to more than $ 1,000—though not all Chrome OS lovers need a Chromebook with the powerful specs and premium build that those expensive devices have. However, those who know that Chrome OS will fulfill their personal and professional needs may want to shell out more money for a luxury device.

But aside from better build quality and more powerful internals, those pricey Chromebooks still run Chrome OS and are not exempt from the operating system’s limitations. Unlike on Windows and macOS machines, you can’t download and install programs like Photoshop CC or Final Cut Pro. Chrome OS only supports Web-based extensions and Android apps—that’s one of the reasons it takes much less power for a machine to run Chrome OS well.

Also, most Chrome OS programs require an Internet connection and will not work when the device isn’t connected to Wi-Fi. If you don’t take the necessary precautions before leaving a reliable Wi-Fi network—like making pertinent Google Docs available offline—your Chromebook will essentially become a useless brick when unconnected.

Things to consider when buying a Chromebook

Design

Chromebooks come primarily as laptops or two-in-ones, so you’ll need to decide if you want the versatility of a 360-degree hinge. If you want to use a lot of Android apps on your Chromebook, getting a two-in-one with a touchscreen will be the best option, since you can switch it into tablet mode and use it like an Android mobile device. The same advice goes for those who plan to use a Chromebook as a multimedia device—streaming videos on YouTube and Netflix can be more comfortable when using a convertible in tent or show modes.

Chromebook OEMs tend to cut costs by using cheaper materials when making these devices. Most affordable Chromebooks are made out of plastic, but that’s not always bad. While they won’t have the look or feel of an XPS 13 or a MacBook, Chromebooks made out of plastic or other materials can be just what one needs in an affordable, portable device.

Be sure to check the tech specs of the Chromebook you want before you buy it to make sure it has basic features, such as a backlit keyboard, an HD or FHD screen, a non-touch or touch panel, and an included stylus. Depending on the type of device and its price, not all of the features we consider “standard” will come standard on every Chromebook.

The same idea goes for ports—you should check to see if your preferred Chromebook has the ports you need. While most come with at least one USB-A port, a few of the newest models forgo USB-A and opt for all USB Type-C ports instead. Some Chromebooks come with additional connectivity options like HDMI ports and DisplayPorts, so consider how you’ll use the Chromebook and decide which ports you’ll require.

RAM

RAM, or the amount of memory in a Chromebook, helps the device run quickly when you have many tabs open. Most Chromebooks come with 4GB of RAM, and that will be sufficient for those who use the Chromebook for leisurely Web browsing, YouTube watching, and light Android app use.

Those who plan to push Chrome OS further—users with more than 20 browser tabs open at once, Android apps running in the background, all while streaming YouTube—should get a machine with at least 8GB of RAM. Doing so will ensure that the machine doesn’t lag as you open more tabs and programs and use them simultaneously.

Some Chromebook models can be specced out to have 16GB of RAM, and those typically have optional processor upgrades as well (a base model may have an Intel Celeron processor, but you can upgrade to a Core i3 or i5 CPU if you wish). More RAM never hurts, but only developers or experimental users who want to run Ubuntu, Linux, or Windows on their Chromebooks really need such high volumes of memory.

Storage

Storage isn’t the most important spec in a Chromebook, but it should not be overlooked. Chrome OS works as well as it does because Google expects users to rely (at least partially) on cloud-based services for storage—things like Google Drive, DropBox, and others. As long as you have an Internet connection, you can access all of the files you need through those various services. Google Drive even lets you save some documents for offline access now, ensuring you’ll be able to work on that paper or proposal even in a dead zone.

But every Chromebook needs some onboard storage—those who go Google’s recommended route can get by with just 16GB or 32GB of storage. Keep in mind that those levels are similar to those in low- to mid-range smartphones, so your Chromebook will have the same storage capacity as one of those handheld devices.

If you prefer being able to save some documents locally, or if you plan to download many apps and programs, you should get a Chromebook with at least 64GB to 128GB of storage. While Chromebooks aren’t built for serious photo or video editing, it is possible to do such things with these devices. If you dabble in that at all, you’ll need more onboard storage than the rest if you’re working off of locally saved files.

Price

Some choose Chromebooks over other PCs because they are so affordable. Most Chrome OS laptops and convertibles are priced anywhere between $ 199 to $ 499, which is a couple hundred dollars less than the most affordable Windows devices (save for the new Surface Go tablet).

All of the factors we previously outlined contribute to the price of a Chromebook: design, materials, screen quality, processor, RAM, and storage. A Chromebook that works well enough for most customers can be found at $ 299-$ 499, but there will be some who want a device that comes in either above or below that price range.

Only recently have OEMs experimented with more expensive Chromebooks. Google owned (and mostly still owns) the luxury Chromebook market with its $ 1,000 Pixelbook. While it has the slickest design of nearly any Chromebook and specs that beat most other Chrome OS devices, it’s overkill for most customers. Nevertheless, we considered the Pixelbook and the newest expensive Chromebooks in this guide.

How we tested

Real-world work testing: We used each Chromebook for at least one full day as our primary work and play device. This includes working a standard eight-hour work day running multiple Chrome tabs while occasionally streaming video, listening to music, and using Android apps. We made note of any performance hiccups, lag when opening new Chrome tabs, and slowness when loading Android apps and particularly laborious webpages.

Ars benchmarks: We ran all of our regular benchmark tests on each Chromebook to measure performance, including Geekbench 4, Google Octane, Kraken, and Jetstream.

Ars battery tests: We ran both our Wi-Fi and WebGL battery tests on each Chromebook three times and averaged those scores to come up with an average battery-life estimate.

A note on education Chromebooks: Affordability, efficiency, and ease of use have made Chrome OS devices popular in schools and with students. OEMs make education-specific Chromebooks that go directly to schools and are priced to be bought in bulk. Since many of those education-based Chromebooks aren’t available for regular consumers to buy, we won’t be covering them in this guide. However, don’t be surprised if your child comes home with a Chromebook model you’re not familiar with, as it’s probably an education device.

Best overall

Asus Chromebook Flip C434

Specs at a glance: Asus Chromebook Flip C434 (as tested)
Screen 14-inch FHD touchscreen (1920×1080)
CPU Intel Core m3-8100Y
RAM 4GB
HDD 64GB eMMC
GPU Integrated Intel GPU
Networking 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
Ports 2 x USB-C 3.1 Gen 1, 1 x USB-A 3.1, 1 x microSD card slot, 1 x audio combo jack
Size 12.64×7.95×0.62 inches
Weight 3.19 pounds
Battery 48Wh 3-cell
Warranty 1 year
Starting price $ 569
Price as reviewed $ 569

Asus takes the top spot once again with its updated Chromebook Flip C434. We still like our original pick, the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA, but the new model is worth paying $ 569 if you want the Chrome OS device with the best combination of features and style at a decent price.

There are a lot of noticeable differences between the Chromebook Flip C434 and the C302CA—the former has an updated design that makes it look and feel more like one of Asus’ more expensive Zenbooks. It has a matte-silver finish with shiny accents on its edges and a new hinge that lifts the machine slightly when in laptop mode. Its full-sized silver keyboard is now backlit and it has a larger, 14-inch display with thin bezels surrounding it. There was nothing wrong with the C302CA’s design, but the C434 is up there with the most attractive Chromebooks we’ve seen.

Asus also added a USB-A port onto the side of the C434, which is a much welcomed addition that complements the USB-C ports on both sides of the device. Along with this added connectivity, you also get more power options. Asus ditched the Pentium processor so the C434 starts out with a Core m3 CPU. We originally recommended getting the Core m3 model of the C302CA, and we still believe the a Core m3 processor provides just enough power to get most things done efficiently on a Chromebook.

Unsurprisingly, the new Chromebook Flip served me well as my primary work computer for the few weeks I tested it. It’s just as speedy and smooth, if not more so, than the C302CA and it can handle multiple open Chrome tabs easily. There’s also less lag overall when opening new tabs and programs.

Asus also managed to improve upon the Chromebook Flip’s battery life, too. Our review unit lasted an average of 11.25 hours on our Wi-Fi test on a single charge, and nearly 6 hours on our WebGL test. That’s roughly one hour more than the C302CA lasted on both tests. We also appreciate that the new C434 lasted more than 1.5 hours longer on our default battery test than the C302CA.

We know that $ 569 seems like a lot of money for a Chromebook, and it is on the higher end of the price spectrum. However, all of the useful updates that Asus made to an already stellar Chromebook make it worth the higher price tag for anyone that wants a Chrome OS device that can be their primary laptop. It’s price also isn’t as hefty when you consider the price of a modern Windows laptop, most of which start between $ 600 and $ 800. That being said, the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA is still available for $ 499, making it an even more affordable option for those that want a similar and just as stellar device.

The Good

  • Well-designed Chromebook with above-average performance for the price.

The Bad

  • Might be slightly too expensive for those used to dirt-cheap Chromebooks.
Chromebook Flip C434 product image

Chromebook Flip C434

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Best Chrome OS tablet

HP Chromebook x2

Specs at a glance: HP Chromebook x2 (as tested)
Screen 12.3-inch QHD IPS touchscreen (235 ppi)
CPU Intel Core m3-7Y30
RAM 4GB
HDD 32GB
GPU Intel HD Graphics 615
Networking 802.11b/g/n/ac (2×2) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
Ports 2×USB-C, 1×microSD card slot, 1×headphone/mic combo
Size 11.5×8.32×0.33 inches
Weight 1.6 pounds (tablet only), about 3 pounds (with keyboard attached)
Battery 48Whr
Warranty 1 year
Starting price $ 465
Price as reviewed $ 465
Other perks Included keyboard and stylus

Chrome OS tablets remain novel, but the $ 465 HP Chromebook x2 already managed to set itself apart from the few other slabs available. HP took its expertise in making Windows notebooks and translated it for Chrome OS, bringing Spectre-level elegance to the tablet’s design and just the right internals to make it a more-than-capable Chrome OS device.

The slab itself features that special white finish found on Spectre laptops that brings durability and an extra level of scratch-resistance to the device. The 12.3-inch QHD touchscreen is higher quality than most people need on a Chromebook, but it adds to the premium nature of the device. The Core m3 CPU inside the tablet, as well as the 4GB of RAM and 32GB or 64GB of storage, support work and play well. After reviewing it, I was convinced that anyone who plans to use a Chromebook for anything more than occasional Web browsing should get a device with Core m3-level power or a comparable CPU.

Included in its $ 599 price tag are its keyboard attachment and an active pen, so you get all the accessories you need to use the Chromebook x2 to the fullest. The thick metal hinge bar on the edge of the keyboard holds the tablet securely in place, making it one of the sturdiest detachables I’ve ever used. With no kickstand to worry about, you can angle the Chromebook x2 freely in laptop mode and swiftly move into tablet mode without trepidation.

There are a few minor bones to pick with the Chromebook x2, like the fact that its stylus takes AAAA batteries and that it came out just before Chrome OS supported fingerprint authentication. But if you can overlook those minor indiscretions, the HP Chromebook x2 is both a solid detachable and one of the best-value Chrome OS tablets available now.

The Good

  • Solid detachable with accessories included in price.

The Bad

  • No fingerprint sensor.
HP Chromebook x2 product image

HP Chromebook x2

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Best budget Chromebook

Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C330

Specs at a glance: Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C330 (as tested)
Screen 12.6-inch HD (1366×768) touchscreen
CPU MediaTek MTK8173C (1.7GHz)
RAM 4GB
HDD 64GB eMMC
GPU Integrated MediaTek GPU
Networking Lenovo Wireless AC (2×2), Bluetooth 4.1
Ports 1×USB-C, 1×USB-A 3.0, 1×HDMI, 1×SD card slot, 1×audio combo jack
Size 11.4×8.48×0.77 inches
Weight 2.64 pounds
Battery three-cell 45Whr
Warranty 1 year
Starting price $ 279
Price as reviewed $ 299

The world is full of low-cost Chromebooks because that’s how the landscape began: OEMs made laptops that ran Google’s stripped-down OS only as well as they needed to, resulting in many affordable devices. As the category expanded, the differences between good and bad budget Chromebooks became more apparent. Lenovo’s Yoga Chromebook C330 has the most important attributes of a great Chromebook at an equally great $ 279 starting price.

The Yoga Chromebook C330 sports a design that’s utilitarian but not ugly. While it’s not the thinnest Chromebook, it’s not very heavy at 2.64 pounds, and it’s a convertible, so you can use it in laptop, tablet, tent, and other modes. Its 11.6-inch HD touchscreen complements this design, as do the chunky bezels surrounding it, as they make for good gripping spots when in tablet mode.

Available in a “blizzard” white color, the Yoga Chromebook C330 has a comfortable, full-sized chiclet keyboard with gray keys that pair nicely with the machine’s light aesthetic. Its wider edges allowed Lenovo to include an array of ports on the device: one HDMI port, one USB-A port, an SD card slot, one USB-C port for charging, and a headphone jack. That mix ensures a wide variety of possible connections, and those who are already embracing USB-C can make use of their cables or chargers with these devices as well.

Aside from the choice of 32GB or 64GB of onboard storage, the Yoga Chromebook C330’s specs remain the same across its two available models. It performed as well as you could expect on our benchmarks with its MediaTek MTK8173C processor. It handled my daily Web-based work fairly well, although it was a tad slow in loading webpages in new tabs. It also lasted 11 hours on our Wi-Fi battery test, so it should support you throughout an entire work day.

In testing numerous Chromebooks, most of those that fit in the “budget” category of $ 350 or less had boring, uninspired designs, with lackluster performance to boot. The Yoga Chromebook C330 won’t be winning any design awards, but it combines a clean, practical design with decent performance and battery life, all at a price that’s hard to beat. Are there even cheaper Chromebooks? Yes. But if you want to spend a couple hundred bucks on a device that will work well enough in most situations, the Yoga Chromebook C330 is a solid choice.

The Good

  • Good performance and solid battery life for the price.

The Bad

  • A bit chunky.
Lenovo Chromebook C330 product image

Lenovo Chromebook C330

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Best for students

Dell Chromebook 11

Specs at a glance: Dell Chromebook 11 (as tested)
Screen 11-inch HD non-touch display (1366×768)
CPU Intel Celeron N3350
RAM 4GB
HDD 32GB eMMC
GPU Integrated Intel GPU
Networking 802.11ac 2×2Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
Ports 2×USB-A, 1×HDMI, 1×microSD card slot, 1×lock slot, 1×audio combo jack
Size 11.96×8.19×0.82 inches
Weight 2.82 pounds
Battery Three-cell 32Whr
Warranty 1 year
Starting price $ 195
Price as reviewed $ 249

Parents looking for a Chromebook for their kids need look no further than the $ 249 Dell Chromebook 11. We tested the consumer version of this notebook, but one of the benefits of it is that Dell makes many versions of the Chromebook 11. The slightly pricier education models have a few extra features geared toward teachers and administrators, but all have the same design, spec variants, and core features.

Devices primarily used for school work should be durable, decently powerful, not too distracting, and not too expensive. The Dell Chromebook 11 fits that bill, sporting a simple black chassis that’s built to withstand bumps and drops. It doesn’t employ the same tricks as other consumer notebooks (ultra-thin bezels, fancier materials, and the like), but that’s because it’s made for those who want quick, easy, and affordable access to Chrome OS.

The 11-inch, 1366×768 screen and full-sized keyboard aren’t anything to write home about, but students can complete Web-based assignments and write in Google Docs easily with them. I found the keyboard comfortable despite the keys being just a hair smaller than traditional keys, and the trackpad is responsive and smooth. While it doesn’t come standard with a touchscreen, you can customize it with a touch panel if you wish.

The hinge on the Chromebook 11 tilts back 180 degrees, allowing students to collaborate more easily with their peers or their parents and teachers. Whether your student leaves this Chromebook at home or takes it to school, it has a good port selection that should suit most environments: two USB-A ports, one HDMI port, a microSD card slot, and a lock slot.

All models come with an Intel Celeron processor, but you can customize the Chromebook 11 with up to 4GB of RAM and up to 32GB of storage. The highest configuration, which includes a touchscreen, costs $ 309—still within the originally acceptable price range for a Chromebook. But if you can live without the touchscreen, our review unit costs just $ 249 and should serve students of all ages well.

The Good

  • Affordable, even when specced out to the max.

The Bad

  • On the small side.
Dell Chromebook 11 product image

Dell Chromebook 11

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Best for families

Acer Chromebook 14

Specs at a glance: Acer Chromebook 14 (as tested)
Screen 14-inch 1920×1080 IPS non-touch display (16:9)
CPU Intel Celeron N3160 (1.6-2.24GHz)
RAM 4GB
HDD 32GB eMMC
GPU Integrated Intel HD GPU
Networking Wireless 802.11 ac MIMO (dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth 4.2
Ports 2×USB-A 3.0, 1×HDMI, 1×audio combo jack, 1×power port
Size 13.43×9.31×0.67 inches
Weight 3.42 pounds
Battery 3950mAh
Warranty 1 year
Starting price $ 279
Price as reviewed $ 299

A device that serves an entire family needs to have universal appeal, and the $ 299 Acer Chromebook 14 has that. We liked this device for multi-person use primarily because of its size—14-inch devices hit a sweet spot that most people enjoy. It’s not so small that grandma will have trouble seeing things on its screen, but it’s not so big that it becomes cumbersome to tote around the house.

The device’s all-metal design is quite sturdy: its palm rests don’t feel flimsy, and its lid and chassis don’t bend or give when force is applied. While it’s not a convertible, its lid tilts back 180 degrees to give you more flexibility than other laptops. Its edges taper, getting wider as you move farther back on the device and providing space for two USB-A ports, one HDMI port, an audio combo jack, a power port, and a lock slot.

We also like its 14-inch 1920×1080 IPS display—it’s just the right size for multi-person use, allowing a few people to gather around the laptop and watch a video or work on a project together. The display has a low-reflective, anti-glare coating on it as well, so it won’t be marred by environments with a lot of harsh light.

Family members can also video chat with relatives and friends using the 720p Webcam that sits atop the display. With the latest Chrome OS update and Google Duo, the Chromebook 14 makes for a convenient video chat device as well as an impromptu photo booth.

The device has a full-sized chiclet keyboard that is spacious and comfortable to type on. The right Backspace key is a tad shorter than usual, but otherwise there’s nothing abnormal about this keyboard. Both kids doing their homework and parents sending after-hours emails will find it to be a good typing companion.

The Chromebook 14’s internals are what you’d expect in a low- to mid-range device: an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, and either 16GB or 32GB of storage. Performance matched these specs, running Chrome OS well but slowing down a bit when faced with multiple open apps or tens of open Chrome tabs. It’s a solid machine that won’t break the bank and has the right design, size, and specs to serve parents and kids alike.

The Good

  • Sold chassis with 14-inch screen that’s ideal for multi-person use.

The Bad

  • No USB-C.
Acer Chromebook 14 product image

Acer Chromebook 14

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Best premium Chromebook

Acer Chromebook Spin 13

Specs at a glance: Acer Chromebook Spin 13 (as tested)
Screen 13.5-inch FHD+ (2256×1504) IPS touchscreen
CPU Intel Core i5-8250U (1.6-3.6GHz)
RAM 8GB
HDD 64GB
GPU Intel UHD Graphics 620
Networking Intel Dual Band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac W-Fi, Acer Nplify 2×2 MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2
Ports 2×USB-C 3.1 Gen 1, 1×USB-A 3.0, 1×microSD card slot, 1×audio combo jack
Size 12.19×9.68×0.67 inches
Weight 3.5 pounds
Battery 54Whr
Warranty 1 year
Starting price $ 699
Price as reviewed $ 899

Out of the few high-end Chromebooks available now, Acer’s $ 899 Chromebook Spin 13 stood out for combining premium build quality and powerful specs at a relatively good price point. The all-metal convertible looks handsome with its steel-gray finish and shiny, silver metallic accents. It’s complemented by a 2256×1504 IPS touchscreen that has a 3:2 aspect ratio, making you scroll less to see more on its high-quality display.

Acer sacrificed thinness and lightness to make the Chromebook Spin 13 more powerful. Even so, it’s not particularly heavy at 3.5 pounds, making it easy to bring with you when you’re traveling to and from meeting places. Its edges are just wide enough to include two USB-C ports, one USB-A port, a microSD card slot, and a headphone jack, and Acer hid an EMR stylus in a housing that sits at the bottom-right corner of the chassis.

A Chromebook two-in-one with an all-metal design, FHD+ touchscreen, comfortable keyboard and trackpad, and included active pen is enough to make many take notice, but Acer sweetened the deal by making the Spin 13 one of its most powerful Chromebooks. It can be powered by Core i3 and i5 processors, giving it strong performance that bested almost all others on our benchmark tests.

Our review unit had a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 64GB of onboard storage, which is more than enough for even Chrome OS power users. Needless to say, it handled my daily Web work without any hiccups, loading tabs and Android apps swiftly and rarely lagging even when I pushed it to its limits. It also lasted more than 11.5 hours on our Wi-Fi battery test, so it should support you throughout an entire work day easily.

Along with Chrome OS tablets, premium Chromebooks are the new “it” thing. Google’s Pixelbook isn’t the only high-end Chromebook anymore, and users should expect to see a number of pricier Chromebooks debut in the coming years. Out of the few currently available, Acer’s Chromebook Spin 13 has the best mix of luxury design, high-end specs with solid performance, port selection, and extra perks like the included active pen.

Its price range truly seals the deal: while you could spend up to $ 999 on this Chromebook, you don’t have to. The most affordable Spin 13 gives you a Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage for $ 699—a reasonable price for a device like this with specs that will be suitable for most Chromebook users’ needs.

The Good

  • High-powered Chromebook with many models at reasonable prices.

The Bad

  • Slightly heavy.
Acer Chromebook Spin 13 product image

Acer Chromebook Spin 13

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Best for on-the-go professionals

Google Pixelbook

Unsurprisingly, the $ 999 Pixelbook is the most Googly Chromebook available (aside from its tablet sibling, the Pixel Slate), and professionals will love it for its uncompromising power and modern design. While it starts off more expensive than most Chromebooks, at $ 999, that base model gets you a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. Those specs are more than enough to support those who push Chrome OS to its limits, so they will support all professionals even during the busiest times.

Specs at a glance: Google Pixelbook (as tested)
Screen 12.3-inch 2400×1600 (235 ppi) QHD LCD touchscreen
OS Chrome OS
CPU Intel Core i5-7Y57
RAM 8GB
HDD 256GB SSD
GPU Intel HD Graphics 615
Networking 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2×2 (MIMO), dual-band (2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz), Bluetooth 4.2
Ports two USB Type C ports (charging 4K display out, data transfer), headphone jack
Size 11.4-in×8.7-in×0.4-in
Weight 2.4 lbs
Battery 41Whr
Warranty 1 year
Starting price $ 999
Price as reviewed $ 1,199
Other perks Pixelbook Pen (not included, extra $ 99)

The Pixelbook’s recognizable design also helps it stand out in the sea of relatively bland Chromebooks. Google spared no expense with this two-in-one, outfitting it with a metal chassis, clean white palm rests, and a glass portion on the lid, and silver and gray accents throughout. At just 10.3mm thick and weighing 2.4 pounds, the Pixelbook is also thin and light enough to slide unassumingly into your bag or under your arm when you tote it from meeting to meeting. Its hinges allow it to bend back 360 degrees so you can use it in multiple modes and make use of its 2400×1600 touchscreen comfortably.

If you don’t want to spare any expense yourself, you can spring for the $ 99 Pixelbook Pen to use with the convertible. It’s a solid stylus that makes sketching, note-taking, and general handwriting input on the device easier, and you can use its side button to search with the Google Assistant’s help. Just press and hold the side button while circling text, photos, and more on the screen to have the Assistant look up more information about that content. But you will have to keep an eye on that Pen, as there’s no way to secure it to the chassis of the Pixelbook.

OEMs may be trying to make their own versions of the Pixelbook, but it’s doubtful that any of them will make a Chrome OS device with a style as distinct as that of the Pixelbook. The device is made better by Google’s most recent Chrome OS updates, which make all Chromebooks significantly more intuitive to use in tablet mode thanks to more tappable elements, the new launcher tablet home screen, and other new features. Google’s partnerships with numerous Android app developers have produced better experiences for those programs on Chrome OS, and other developers continue to optimize their apps for Chrome OS. While the transition certainly hasn’t been fast, it points to a promising future for Chrome OS ahead of its already popular existence.

The Good

  • Sleek design with powerful base specs.

The Bad

  • Stylus costs $ 99 extra.
Google Pixelbook product image

Google Pixelbook

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