Between this month’s unveiling of the Google Pixel Slate tablet and a number of announcements and quiet launches for both high-end and budget-friendly Chromebooks, October hasn’t necessarily been dull for Chrome OS. Of course, that’s setting aside what appear to be noteworthy changes that are beginning to take place within the operating system itself. While the Pixel Slate Chrome OS tablet won’t be making an appearance here for the time being, for example, the device appears to represent a subtle shift in priority. More succinctly, following the trend set by the HP Chromebook x2 and Acer Chromebook Tab 10, Google seems ready to push in a tablet or detachable device, touch-first direction. Any implications of that won't likely appear in the short term, however, and the incoming wave of "premium" Chrome OS devices hasn't hit yet either. So most of the entries in our top 10 best Chromebooks list will be sticking around for at least one more month.
10. ASUS Chromebook 12 C223
ASUS is squeezing its way back into the number ten spot on our list with a new device it launched earlier this month without fanfare, the ASUS Chromebook 12 C223. First revealed near the beginning of August, the new model is sold as the Chromebook C223NA-DH02 and opts for a clean aesthetic and style instead of a 360-degree hinge. Weighing in at just over 2.1lbs and measuring just 17.25mm thin, the C223 is an 11.6-inch clamshell device with a display rated at 1366 x 768 and powered by a dual-core Intel Celeron processor with turbo boost up to 2.4GHz. The silicon is backed by 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 32GB of solid-state storage for Android apps or files. Those specs and the lack of a touchscreen panel may not allow for the best experience for power users. But those are going to be more than enough for the average consumer for browsing, editing documents, and general entertainment. With that said, it does pack dual custom-tuned speakers and resonance chambers as well as Bluetooth 4.0 and a ten-hour rated battery. That’s in addition to two USB Type-C ports, an SD card reader, single USB 3.1 port, and a headphone jack. Pricing for all of that is set at just $229.99.
9. ASUS Chromebook Flip C101PA
ASUS is also holding onto its place at number nine with the ASUS Chromebook Flip C101PA, in spite of its slightly lower specs compared to the new Chromebook C223. That’s because, with a price starting at around $288 for 16GB of storage or $329 for double that, the Chromebook Flip C101 is an ultra-portable all-aluminum 10.1 Chrome OS convertible that tips the scales at under two pounds. Its 360-degree hinge allows users to type away in a netbook configuration or fold over for a tablet-like experience while using Android apps. The display panel is also set at a respectable 1280 x 800 resolution that compares well with dedicated Android tablets and two USB Type-C ports are built into the frame alongside an SD card reader and 3.5mm headphone port. Powering all of that is a quad-core Rockchip SoC clocked at 2.0GHz and granted Google’s OP-1 Chromebook-specific optimization rating, with 4GB of RAM backing that up. Battery life, on the other hand, averages at around nine hours between charges. Quad-core and hexacore variations of the Flip C101PA sold via the ASUS website for users who need a bit more power.
8. Acer Chromebook R13
The Acer Chromebook R13 is the only Chrome OS laptop currently on our top 10 that ships with a MediaTek SoC inside. While that’s not going to stack up to the same level of performance as the Google OP-1-rated Rockchip SoCs or Intel processors most Chromebooks bring to the table, it does allow for a 12-hour battery life from this device’s 4,670mAh battery. Moreover, it’s clocked at 2.1GHz and will almost certainly be able to hold its own with regard to the vast majority of applications and processes Chrome OS users can throw its way. Looking past that, Acer has also included a 13.3-inch 1920 x 1080 display panel with this device, packed into an all-aluminum build that converts between laptop and tablet mode with ease. At under $400 for 32GB storage and just over for 64GB, all of that adds up to make the Chromebook R13 a worthy addition to the list from what is by far the most prolific Chrome OS manufacturer.
7. Acer Chromebook Spin 15
Sticking with Acer, the company’s latest Chromebook Spin 15 hits the charts with 15.6-inch of touchscreen real estate that can be flipped on a 360-degree hinge for tent, tablet, or laptop mode. Priced at just $450, this is also one of the most high-value devices on the market even though it may not be the very best in terms of specs. The Chromebook Spin 15’s all-aluminum frame comes packed with two USB Type-C 3.1 ports, as well as two more USB 3.0 plugs and Bluetooth 4.2. Meanwhile, battery life is rated at up to 13-hours, letting users get even more out of the FHD 1920 x 1080 display panel. All of that’s driven by a quad-core Intel Pentium N4200 processor and Intel HD Graphics 505. The current Acer Chromebook Spin 15 model is sold under the designation ‘CP315-1H-P1K8’.
6. Lenovo 500e Chromebook
Lenovo’s 500e Chromebook is one of three devices comprising the company’s ‘e’ family of devices. Positioned as the top-tier model for $319, the 11.6-inch 2-in-1 Chrome OS device is ruggedized to MIL-STD-810G specifications and ships with 32GB storage that’s expandable via micro SD card. An Intel N3450U processor clocked at a baseline 1.1GHz powers the convertible, backed up by 4GB RAM and dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity are included from Intel as well. The display, a glossy panel, is set at a resolution of 1366 x 768 and serves up a third input option, in addition to touch, via a frame-embedded EMR stylus. Two less powerful variations, the 300e and 100e Chromebooks, are available too, starting at $219.
5. ASUS Chromebook Flip C302
ASUS’s Chromebook Flip C302 is a 12.5-inch convertible Chromebook that starts at just $449 for an Intel Core m3 CPU backed by 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. For a bit more money, buyers can pick between either of Intel’s decidedly more powerful Core m5 or Pentium 4405Y processors instead, with 8GB of memory and a much more massive 128GB of storage. That range of price options represents a shift in performance but doesn’t alter the premium build in any way, however. Each of the C302 models features a screen set at a 1920 x 1080 resolution with Gorilla Glass protection and every model features an all-aluminum build that tips the scale at just over 2.5 lbs. That’s just one half of an inch thick, as well, making this device quite portable for its size. Better still, the included battery is rated to last 10 hours between charges with typical use.
4. Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro
Samsung’s Chromebooks Pro and Plus have undergone a relatively slow evolution since first appearing in our list, resulting in a slow decline down the list as more capable devices hit the market but that doesn’t mean they should be overlooked. At the more budget-friendly end of the spectrum, the Samsung Chromebook Plus - model designation XE521QAB-K01US - starts at $499 with a brand new LTE-enabled version on the way set to start at $599. That’s packed with an Intel Celeron 3965Y CPU clocked at 1.5GHz and backed by 4GB RAM and 32GB of micro SD expandable storage. The display on that device is a 12.2-inch 1920 x 1200 touch panel and a camera is included on the keyboard for use as a primary shooter when its 360-degree hinges are folded into a tablet configuration. The Samsung Chromebook Plus - model XE510c24-K01US - starts at $599 and features the same storage and memory backing up an Intel Core m3 CPU. The display is slightly larger at 12.3-inches and the resolution of the Pro is bumped up to 2400 x 1600 alongside the inclusion of a backlit keyboard. Both devices feature an all-aluminum build and a version of Samsung’s iconic S-Pen stylus.
3. HP Chromebook x2
HP’s Chromebook x2 starts out at $599 through the company’s website and has been spotted at as low as $539.00 through Best Buy when on sale. The Chromebook x2 may not be running the latest of Intel’s processors and doesn’t start out at 8GB RAM but it does have one feature at least that sets it apart. As a completely "detachable" 12.3-inch Chromebook, shipping with a separatable keyboard, EMR stylus, and a display resolution of 2,400 x 1,600, this is a device that competes as much with Microsoft’s surface as any Chrome OS device. That’s not only in specifications either, although those do match up well enough, since the build quality is all metal and the 0.3-inch thin, 1.62lb design is inherently premium. Internally, HP has opted to utilize an Intel Core m3 processor, coupled with 32GB of storage and either 4GB or 8GB of RAM to power its Chromebook x2. Storage can be expanded further via a micro SD card. Dual Bang & Olufsen speakers round out the package with exceptional sound while battery life is claimed at around 12.5-hours.
2. HP Chromebook x360 14
The Chromebook x360 14 is HP's latest addition to its Chrome OS lineup and, as its placement in our ranking would suggest, this is not an entry at the sub-premium side of things. That doesn’t mean it’s hugely expensive either, with a starting price of just $599.99. For that price, buyers are getting an Intel Core i3-8130U dual-core processor with a starting clock at 2.2GHz and up to 4GHz thanks to Intel's Turbo Boost. Intel's UHD Graphics 620 is included here as well, offering plenty of power for Android or Linux desktop applications pushed to the 14-inch 1920 x 1080 'micro-edge' reduced-bezel display panel. 8GB of DDR4-2400 SDRAM are responsible for keeping data moving to and from that processor and 64GB of micro SD-expandable eMMC storage is provided for apps and files. Aside from that, HP has included two Bang & Olufsen Play-branded speakers, a 3.5mm headphone port, wide-angle HD camera, backlit keyboard, and a battery that should provide up to 13.5-hours of use between charges. Users can also output video, transfer data, or charge the device via two USB 3.1 Type-C ports and two further USB 3.1 ports. All of that is packed into under a ceramic white lid and in a mist blue base and keyboard frame measuring 12.81 x 8.93 x 0.63-inches and weighing 3.7 lbs, with a 2-in-1 convertible design.
1. Google Pixelbook
Although the Google Pixelbook maintains its position on this list, its hold on the number one slot is beginning to become more than a bit shaky. That’s primarily because the search giant has bumped its price back up to $999 and failed to present a new entry at this year’s Made By Google hardware event. Simply put, there are plenty of upcoming devices that could match the performance of the reigning mid-size Chrome OS device with newer hardware at a more affordable price point. For now, Google keeps its place with a 12.3-inch display set at a resolution of 2,400 x 1,600 within a 2.5lb dual-tone silver design that measures just 10.3mm thin and pivots on a 360-degree hinge. Its base model, priced as listed above, offers 8GB RAM and 128GB storage backing up an Intel Core i5 processor while a more expensive model boosts storage up to 256GB. At the top end, Google’s Pixelbook sells for $1,649 at the search giant’s store and brings an Intel Core i7 processor backed by 16GB RAM and 512GB of storage. Premium dual speakers are a part of that package as well as four mics for better noise cancellation. The benchmark Chrome OS gadget is available for a price that’s several hundred dollars cheaper on Amazon, for the time being. However, users will need to factor in an additional $99 for a Pixelbook Pen active stylus if they want the same input options as some other devices on this list.