Best Chromebook 2021
Thinking about getting a new computer? Rather than a traditional laptop, how about a good Chromebook? If you live your life on the web and don’t need to install Windows or Mac software, these machines are a solid choice. You see, Chromebooks run on Google’s web browser-based Chrome operating system, offering a more minimalistic experience than MacOS and Windows laptops.
A great Chromebook is my go-to recommendation for a basic computing experience, and Chromebooks are a better fit for a lot more people than a Mac or Windows laptop. (If you’re not sure if a Chromebook is right for you, here’s all they can and can’t do compared with a traditional laptop).
Chromebooks have a lot going for them. They’re generally easier on the wallet than Windows PCs, MacBooks and iPads. And, as the Chrome OS has evolved to include use of Android apps from the Google Play Store and Linux software, you can now find premium models with more memory, faster processors and speedier storage. They’re pricier than the Chromebooks on the cheaper side of the spectrum, but they’re also lighter and slimmer and usually have better battery life. Some even have a touchscreen.
Read more: The 7 best Chromebook deals for students
Here you’ll find the best Chromebooks we’ve reviewed. Each Chromebook laptop featured on this list is independently chosen by CNET’s editors and includes a review that does a deep dive into what makes it so great. I will note, however, that if there’s a specific set of specs you can’t live without, whether it’s more than one USB port, an HDMI port, a particular screen size or even just a headphone jack, you might want to dig deeper — those features are not guaranteed on all Chromebooks. This list is updated periodically.
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a 10-inch tablet with a detachable keyboard and touchpad. This Lenovo Chromebook’s small size might be a little limiting as a primary device, though you can connect to an external display via its USB-C port. It is, however, a great pick if you’re looking for an affordable Chromebook for pure mobility or as a secondary device that can be used in tablet mode.
Read our Lenovo Chromebook Duet review.
This Lenovo 13-inch Chromebook two-in-one is a better bet than the Duet if you need a laptop for all-day use. It has a full HD display as well as excellent performance and battery life for the money, thanks to an Intel Core i3-10110U processor, 4GB of memory and a 64GB solid-state drive. The Lenovo Flex is not a great choice for outdoor use, since the display is pretty dim.
Read our Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 review.
If you’d rather have a wider screen instead of a taller one like the Spin 713’s, this HP Chromebook is the way to go. It’s roughly 0.75 inch wider than a premium 13.3-inch model, but that extra width makes it easier to work in two side-by-side windows. The two-in-one design means you can use it as a tablet (though it’s a bit heavy to use as a handheld device). You can also tent it, connect an external keyboard and mouse and use it as a small all-in-one computer.
The Core i3 processor and 8GB of memory keep this HP Chromebook running smoothly even with a couple dozen tabs open and streaming video in the background. And this Chromebook laptop has a long battery life to boot, lasting 10 hours, 40 minutes in CNET’s tests.
Tired of trying to work on documents or spreadsheets on a small widescreen display? The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 uses one of Acer’s bright VertiView displays, a 13.5-inch 2,256×1,504-pixel touchscreen with a 3:2 aspect ratio. As the name implies, it gives you more vertical room to work in, but it still has the width of a typical 13.3-inch laptop with a 16:9 ratio. Between that and its battery life, which lasted nearly 13 hours in our tests, you’ll be able to get more work done in a day — and it’s still thin and light enough for an everyday carry.
The latest version of this Chromebook is the first to receive Intel’s Evo verification, which means you’ll be getting the best possible mobile experience with this model. It’s also the first with Thunderbolt 4 support, which lets you connect to multiple external displays as well as providing fast data speeds and networking.
Read our Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review.
Chromebooks are typically not associated with gaming. However, with cloud gaming services such as Stadia, GeForce Now and Xbox Game Pass able to run on Chromebooks alongside Android mobile games and Linux games, you have a lot of options now — and the CM5 is ready for them.
The configuration we tested will first be available from Costco sometime soon for $600. A $500 configuration of the CM5 is available at the link below, but it drops to a slightly slower Ryzen 3 processor, 4GB of memory and 64GB of slower eMMC flash memory for storage. That configuration would still be fine for general use, but spending the extra $100, if you can, gets you a much better Chromebook.
Read our Asus Chromebook Flip CM5 review.
Just as Google’s Pixel phones offer the best pure Android experience, the Google Pixelbook Go is built to deliver the best of Chrome OS. The premium Chromebook starts at $649, but fully loaded with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, 256GB of storage and a 4K display, the price hits a pricey $1,399. That’s a lot, and more than most people need. Still, the Pixelbook Go is an excellent little Chromebook, especially for those who really want to explore all that Chrome can do, including Linux and Android app selections.
Read our Pixelbook Go review.
It’s unusual for the second generation of a device to have fewer features than the original and still be an improvement, but that’s the case for the Galaxy Chromebook 2. Samsung dialed back on some of the features and components of the original, making this Samsung Chromebook sequel more affordable than the first-gen model. It also has much better battery life. And Samsung did it all without losing all of its predecessor’s premium appeal.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 review.
The Acer Chromebook 715 started life as a premium model targeted at a growing market for Chrome OS devices. Along with its smaller sibling, the Acer Chromebook 714, the 715 has a premium all-aluminum chassis built to survive drops from up to 48 inches and downward force of up to 132 pounds. This model has been discontinued, but you can still find the more affordable version of the premium 715 that dials back the specs and extras but keeps the premium build quality, making it a fantastic choice for a home office or student use.
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