Hardware on the Chrome OS front has stayed mostly static for the month of July but that doesn't mean there's nothing interesting going on in the world of Chromebooks. In fact, the recent introduction of Linux into the software ecosystem means they could soon go far beyond the web browsing and other basic functionality they're typically known for. That software stacks on top of an already robust Android environment and several improvements that seem to be incoming on that side of the equation as well. However, to really get the most out of the operating system and take advantage of the latest enhancements, prospective buyers will want to buy hardware configurations that can enable a smooth experience with the latest features. To that end, we've put together a top ten list of solid offerings from leading manufacturers in the space. These are certainly not the only devices on the market that will offer up the best of Chrome OS but they do represent what we believe are the best of the bunch for the time being.
10. Samsung Chromebook 3
The only true budget offering on our list is Samsung's Chromebook 3. Currently selling for under $250, the Chromebook 3 ships with either 2GB or 4GB of memory backing up a dual-core Intel Celeron N3060 processor clocked to boost at up to 2.4GHz and a base clock of 1.6GHz. Storage is available at either 16GB or 32GB. Google Play is supported for Android apps and the 11.5-inch device can hit more than 11-hours of usage from a single charge up. It's not a particularly powerful laptop but should more than serve the needs of the average user under most circumstances. Best of all, it can do so without breaking the bank and Linux app support is present. The lower-specced versions can currently be found on Amazon for under $200.
9. ASUS Chromebook Flip C101
Priced just above the number ten entry at $299 to start, ASUS's Chromebook Flip C101 is a 10.1-inch Chromebook with Android and Linux app support. It's also offered up with slightly better build quality thanks to an aluminum frame wrapped around a 360-degree hinge to allow a full tablet experience. There are two versions available, both sold at the official Google Chromebook store under the C101 'PA' model branding, with either 16GB or 32GB storage and 4GB RAM. Each also ships with an OP1-rated Rockchip RK3399 SoC on board. That's a quad-core processor with cores clocked at 2.0 GHz for a smooth experience that might not be as powerful as others but which will certainly meet the needs of most users.
8. Acer Chromebook R13
Acer's Chromebook R13 has dropped a ranking or two on this month's list mostly due to pricing and the introduction of a couple of other devices. However, it's still a worthy entry from the world's most prolific Chromebook OEM. This is one of the very few Chromebooks to come packing a MediaTek SoC, the MT8173C. While not the most powerful chipset manufacturer by any means, the quad-core 2.10GHz processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage and provides plenty of boost for Android apps and other functionality. Moreover, that's packed behind a 13.3-inch 1920 x 1080 touch display on a hinge that allows operation in a laptop, tablet, or tent configuration. An aluminum body surrounds that. At under just over $300, the screen size and its 12-hour-rated, 4670mAh battery set this Chromebook apart from the pack.
7. Acer Chromebook Spin 15
Acer also has a brand new version in its long-standing 'Spin' series with a refreshed Acer Chromebook Spin 15, sold as model number 'CP315-1H-P1K8.' Its 15.6-inch touch-enabled display makes this one of the largest Chrome OS devices available and placing it firmly at number seven. Like the previous model, a quad-core Intel Pentium N4200 is included in the package along with 4GB RAM. However, the new variation bumps the storage capacity up to 64GB from 32GB. A 360-degree hinge is still a part of the all-aluminum build, allowing for tablet and tent modes, and the battery life is still rated at 13 hours. Pricing hasn't changed either, in spite of the improved storage and is set at just under $450 direct from Acer. Connectivity is provided via Bluetooth 4.2, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.1 port, and a USB Type-C port.
9. Acer Chromebook Tab 10
Acer's Chromebook Tab 10 was intended primarily for the education sector but its mold-breaking design can be purchased from several sources for just under $400 at various sites. Although it's a tablet, its well-thought-out design, high-quality audio, rear-facing 5-megapixel shooter, and the availability of a keyboard accessory for under $20 easily earns it a spot on our list. That's setting aside its 2.0 GHz hexacore processor rated OP1 for Chrome OS optimization, backed by 4GB of dual-channel RAM and 32GB of micro SD expandable eMMC flash storage. The primary concerns holding the Tab 10 back are its smaller size, at 9.7-inches, and 9-hour battery life that's somewhat lower than most top Chromebooks. The display is comprised of a multitouch 2048 x 1536 panel which can take advantage of the included and internally stored Wacom EMR stylus. That's all encased in plastic, which is less slippery but brings down the aesthetic appeal.
5. Lenovo 500e Chromebook
Last month's price drop for Lenovo's 500e Chromebook has remained in place, making this one of the most affordable and high-value options available at just $309. There are less expensive 100e and 300e models available as well. However, the 500e ships with Intel's Celeron N3450U inside, coupled with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The included pressure-sensitive stylus and A.I.-driven stylus software also offset what may otherwise be a subpar screen offering at 1366 x 768 resolution. That's a standard Chromebook-sized display at 11.6-inches. Meanwhile, Lenovo tests the 500e Chromebook to MIL-STD-810G shock and drop resistance and spill protection has been tested up to 1.3 cups of liquid.
4. ASUS Chromebook Flip C302
Acting as the older sibling to the ASUS Chromebook Flip C101 featured earlier, the ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 has very similar features in a 12.5-inch form factor. It's compatible with Android apps, has a 360-degree hinge for tablet mode, and takes the internals up a notch. At $449, entry-level models of the C302 start with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage, backing up an Intel Core m3 CPU. However, more expensive models ship with an Intel Pentium 4405Y Processor or an Intel Core m5 and support for up to 8GB RAM and 128GB storage.
3. Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro
Samsung's newest iterations of the Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro make for solid entries in any top ten ranking. The more expensive Pro features a 12.3-inch 2400 x 1600 resolution display panel. The Chromebook Plus is a 12.2-inch device with a resolution at 1920 x 1080 while the larger Chromebook Pro has a 12.3-inch display at 2400 x 1600. Both feature frame-stored S-Pen stylus and 4GB of RAM backed by 32GB of microSD expandable storage. Android and Linux applications are also present in both. For the new version, Samsung has dropped its previously used Rockchip SoC in favor of an Intel Celeron 3965Y CPU and some water resistance for the keyboard. A 13-megapixel rear camera has been included on top of that to round the whole package out. The Pro version of Samsung’s high-end Chromebook features a noticeably more powerful Intel® Core™ m3 Processor. Pricing is currently set at $549.99 for the Chromebook Pro and $449 for the Chromebook Plus. A more expensive version of both is also available with a backlit keyboard.
2. HP Chromebook x2
HP's Chromebook x2 has earned its way back into the number two slot with expectations of at least four more variations on the already spectacular Chrome OS detachable. That's based on recently revealed service documentation which showed a new budget-minded configuration and a presumably more expensive top-tier model. The latter of those may be able to compete against Google's own Pixelbook if and when it releases. In the meantime, the Chromebook x2 is a 12.3-inch device with a completely detachable keyboard and a highly optimized stylus which can be stored on a loop attached to the keyboard. The multitouch display is set a resolution of 2400 x 1600 and performance is driven by a capable 7th Gen Intel Core m3 processor. The above-mentioned high-end model is expected to land with an Intel i5 processor on board. Currently, the x2 can be bought in either 4GB or 8GB RAM options accompanying 32GB of storage. The battery life is rated for up to ten hours. That's all packaged together and on sale for just $569, down from the usual $599, although there will be some price fluctuations if and when the new versions of the model launch.
1. Google Pixelbook
Google's Pixelbook is still holding onto its number one placement thanks largely to its top-of-the-line specifications. The entry-level model starts with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of solid-state storage and features a 7th Gen Intel Core i5 processor. Other configurations bump things up further with up to 16GB RAM and either 256GB or 512GB storage. That may seem like overkill for a Chromebook but future-proofing is the name of the game here. No stylus is included with this convertible Chrome OS device but there is one available for purchase at $99 which has pressure sensitivity features and a great full-size pen feel. Aside from that, four mics, dual speakers, and a ten-hour-rated battery are squeezed into the aluminum frame which weighs in at just 2.5 pounds at 10.3mm thin. Adding to all of that, Google currently prices its Pixelbook at $749. That's substantially cheaper than last month's $999 price tag and could indicate a new version is incoming. For the time being, however, this laptop-like is still the very best of what a Chromebook can aspire to be.