November has finally seen the start of shipments for the new run Chromebooks catering to the premium sector, including several from manufacturers that traditionally reserve the best hardware for Windows machines. Coupled with recently launched offerings from Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Acer over the past several months, that means our top ten is also beginning to fill out with truly capable hardware to match the continuously improving capabilities of the OS. Of course, it also means that some budget devices that are still well worth consideration, such as ASUS's variably-sized Chromebook C223, Chromebook C423, and Chromebook C523 or Lenovo's Chromebook C330 and S330 have been removed or won't be included. Google’s Pixel Slate Chrome OS tablet, meanwhile, is only up for pre-order for the time being. However, many of the inclusions on our latest compilation still fall well below the $1000 mark set by Google’s Pixelbook. In fact, many of those now come very close to the Pixelbook in performance despite very little change in pricing at the upper end of the market. That’s good news overall for those looking to discover the best of what Chrome OS has to offer.
10. Acer Chromebook Spin 15
The world’s most active Chrome OS manufacturer takes the number ten spot on our list with the Acer Chromebook Spin 15. Sold under the model number ‘CP315-1H-P1K8’, the Chromebook Spin 15 ships with a 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080 touchscreen that can be folded for use as a laptop, tablet, tent, or stand-style device thanks to the inclusion of a 360-degree hinge. Battery life here is also rated at up to 13-hours, depending on use. However, this is a more premium device, priced at $450 with an Intel Pentium N4200 processor backed by 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB storage. That processor simply plays more nicely with Chrome OS than MediaTek SoCs typically do. Meanwhile, the exterior frame offers a total of two USB Type-C ports, two USB standard 3.0 ports, and Bluetooth 4.2 allows for further wireless connections to be established aside from Wi-Fi.
9. Lenovo 500e Chromebook
The Lenovo 500e Chromebook represents one of three devices launched by the company nearer the beginning of 2018 at the more budget-friendly end of the spectrum. The top model starts at just $319 but, despite that price, has actually quite a lot to offer. To begin with, this is among the very few mainstream Chrome OS 2-in-1 devices that is ruggedized to MIL-STD-810G specifications. It’s also ultra-portable, with a 1366 x 768 touch-enabled display that measures 11.6-inches and rests on a 360-degree hinge, making it among the least expensive devices to come with that feature. Moreover, it's among the least expensive to ship with a frame-garaged EMR stylus for added productivity and entertainment. An Intel N3450U processor with a base clock of 1.1GHz drives the operating system, supported by 4GB RAM and expandable 32GB storage. Dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 are included on the connectivity side. Two much more affordable options in the family are available as well, sans the EMR stylus and with slightly less impressive features and sold as the Chromebook 300e and Chromebook 100e round out the ‘e’ series at a starting cost of $219.
8. ASUS Chromebook Flip C302
The ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 is a high-value convertible Chrome OS device that comes in a premium all-aluminum 1.5-inch thick build regardless of which option buyers pick. Each of the models bearing that designation feature a 12.5-inch Gorilla Glass display rated at 1920 x 1080 resolution and each weighs in at slightly more than 2.5 lbs. The starter version currently costs just $474 and that nets users 4GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable storage. More pricey variations offer double the memory and capacity, in addition to bumping the processor up from an initial Intel Core m3 to an Intel Core m5 or Pentium 4405Y processor. Battery life isn’t exceptional but isn’t bad either at around 10-hours between charges. Two USB Type-C ports are part of the package as well as a 3.5mm audio jack and card reader.
7. Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro & Plus LTE
Over the past month, Samsung’s Chromebook news has been slim. However, the company did introduce yet another variation of its redesigned Chromebook Plus (V2) - primarily by adding a Verizon-specific LTE version. That means that the ever-so-slightly less capable of its flagship Chrome OS convertibles, which is sold as model XE521QAB-K01US and features an Intel Celeron 3965Y CPU clocked at a base frequency of 1.5GHz, can now be used over mobile data. The two ‘Plus’ variants are identical with that one exception, meaning that buyers will get 4GB RAM, 32GB expandable storage, and a 12.2-inch 1920 x 1200. They’ll also get a dual camera setup, with a second webcam included on the keyboard that acts as a main camera similar to a smartphone’s when placed in tablet mode. However, the newest addition to the family does cost $100 more than the original Chromebook Plus - which starts at $499 - and is sold under the model designation XE525QBB-K01US. Just above that, a similarly specced Samsung Chromebook Plus - model XE510c24-K01US - also starts at $599. However, while RAM and storage remain the same here as well, the CPU is boosted up to an Intel Core m3 and a 12.3-inch display at 2400 x 1600 resolution is included. Any of the Samsung Chromebooks listed here ship with the company’s now-iconic garaged S-Pen stylus.
6. HP Chromebook x2
Although it has dropped down our list a couple of places - mostly due to the introduction of more powerful hardware - HP’s Chromebook x2 is an exceptional value at just $539. It’s running similar hardware to that found in the Samsung Chromebook Pro, with a Intel Core m3 processor, coupled with 32GB of storage. However, it also ships with either 4GB or 8GB of RAM to drive a Chrome OS experience that’s enhanced by a magnetic detachable keyboard with an EMR full-size stylus. The display panel is a laudable 12.3-inch multitouch panel with a resolution of 2400 x 1600 and the entire all-metal device is just 0.3-inches thick. The build also features a unique ceramic white on oxford blue design and weighs in at just 1.62lbs. All of that stacks to ensure a premium experience that’s only made better by the inclusion of dual Bang & Olufsen speakers. Moreover, two USB Type-C ports are provided in the frame and battery life comes in at right around 12.5-hours. So this is one truly portable powerhouse that will meet just about any user's needs whether for entertainment or productivity.
5. Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14
Not long ago, Dell made a return to the top ten best Chromebooks list with a series of budget-level 2-in-1 and clamshell-style Chromebooks under a single branding that set a nice standard for its respective tier. That didn't last for long but the long-time Windows PC manufacturer is back with its first ever top-end Chrome OS gadget, the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14, which was only just announced at IFA this year. Like a few of the earlier devices from the company, this is a 2-in-1 convertible Chromebook. However, Dell isn't cutting any corners here and has included a 1080p touch-enabled display panel on top of a backlit keyboard in a classic 'urban gray' colored all-aluminum chassis. The internal specs are equally impressive for a Chromebook, Dell is powering its top offering with a 56Wh battery that has a claimed battery life of up to 15 hours. Charging, and other functions can be done through either of two USB 3.1 Type-C ports, while a headphone jack, micro SD card reader, and USB 3.1 standard port are included as well. Driving the system, Dell has opted to incorporate an 8th-Gen Intel Core i3 CPU clocked at a base frequency of 3.4GHz. That's backed up by 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 128GB of storage space. A garaged EMR stylus is included as well.
4. Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630
The Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 is, as its name might hint, Lenovo's entry into the premium end of the Chrome OS market and its very first at that. It earns its place near the top of our list not just because of its starting price of $599.99. The 2-in-1 Chromebook C630 is an all-aluminum 4.2lb device in a smooth midnight blue coloration with either a 15.6-inch 'near-edgeless' 1920 x 1080 panel or a 3840 x 2160 UHD display set in a frame that measures 361.5 x 248.85 x 17.8mm. Moreover, it features two 2-watt stereo speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack, one USB 3.0 plug, and 2 USB Type-C ports for display out, charging, or data transfers as well as a backlit keyboard and micro SD card slot. Chrome OS is powered by a brand new eight-generation Intel Core i5-8250U Kaby Lake R processor backed up by Intel's HD Graphics 620 and 8GB of modern DDR RAM. Solid state storage is available at either 64GB or 128GB. All of that is driven by a 10-hour or 9-hour rated 56WHr battery - depending on the display tech chosen.
3. HP Chromebook x360 14
HP’s most recent Chromebook, and a successor to the Chromebook x2 in all but the detachable keyboard, is the HP Chromebook x360 14. As its name suggests, this is a 14-inch Chrome OS convertible with a touchscreen display resolution of 1920 x 1080 with a “micro-edge” ultra-slim bezel. Although pricing starts at just $599.99, it boasts an 8th-generation Intel Core i3-8130U processor backed by an Intel UHD Graphics 620 chip. The base clock for that comes in at 2.2GHz and can be turbo boosted up to a whopping 4GHz and, backing that up, is a full 8GB DDR-2400 SDRAM. Although specs really aren’t everything with Chrome OS gadgets, HP has gone well beyond the standard fare with the Chromebook x360 14 to deliver a 2-in-1 laptop that stands apart as a genuinely great value with power to spare. Storage is set at 64-GB and is micro SD card-expandable while the battery boasts a longevity of around 13.5-hours. Although a bit heavy, at 3.7lbs, the 12.81 x 8.93 x 0.63-inch ceramic white on mist blue frame houses a ton of extra features as well. Bang & Olufsen speakers complement the 3.5mm headphone jack, while two USB 3.1 Type-C ports and two further USB 3.1 ports are available too, enabling data transfers, charging, or video display out capabilities.
2. Google Pixelbook
As with last month, Google has just barely managed to maintain its top position and the threat doesn’t necessarily arise from its Pixel Slate Chrome OS tablet either. Acer’s Chromebook Spin 13 would likely have supplanted the king of Chromebooks if not for the fact that it is only available to business buyers. Setting that aside, starting at $999, the Google Pixelbook is a bit above the price range most users would be comfortable paying for a Chromebook but, for more tech-savvy or demanding users, is a perfect fit to get just about anything accomplished. The $1,649 top-end variation, meanwhile is effectively future-proofing overkill. Each device comes with a 2400 x 1600 resolution 12.3-inch display with an all-metal 2.5lb build in a white-on-silver color configuration. As with the majority of top devices, a 360-degree hinge is part of that package as well and a Pixelbook Pen active stylus can be purchased for an additional $99. The final similarities are the inclusion of two USB TYPE-C ports for input/output needs, a 3.5mm headphone jack, dual-premium speakers, four mics with noise cancellation, and a battery rated at 10-hours of use. Starting at the lower end of the search giant’s offerings, the base model starts with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage with an i5 processor. A more expensive model can also be purchased that nets consumers twice the storage space and the best-in-class flagship model pushes things further still with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and 512GB storage. Best if all, the base model of the Pixelbook is currently on sale for just $848.87 at Amazon.
1. Acer Chromebook Spin 13
Google’s crown has officially been stolen this month by the company that started Chromebooks off to begin with back in 2011. Acer’s Chromebook Spin 13 had initially been intended as a business user-only device but at least one model was finally launched to the more general user audience this month, starting at a few pennies over $895. Sold under model designation CP713-1WN-53NF, the Chromebook Spin 13 offers up a very similar spec-sheet to Google’s older model. For starters, the model in question packs in 8GB RAM and 128GB behind an Intel Core i5 processor. However, in this case, that’s a brand new 8th-Gen Intel Core i5-8250U that brings substantial improvement in terms of both battery efficiency and overall performance. Screen size in the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 comes in at 13.5-inch 2256 x 1504 Gorilla Glass-bolstered touchscreen built on Wacom’s technology for use with the included frame-garaged EMR stylus. The touchpad, build into the 12.19 x 9.68 x 0.67-inch, 3.5lb frame just below the backlit keyboard, is coated in Gorilla Glass too, for an extra premium feel and easier use. Meanwhile, buyers also have access to two USB Type-C 3.1 ports data transfers, display-out, and charging of the 10-hour-rated battery, in addition to a microSD card slot, single USB Type-A 3.0 port, and 3.5mm headphone jack. All of that is packed into an aesthetically-pleasing “Steel Gray” design built-around a 360-degree hinge for tent, stand, clamshell, or tablet use. With any luck, the lower specced base models and top-tier flagship model with 16GB of RAM could be brought to market in the near future as well, solidifying Acer's position at the top - pending any new flagship Chrome OS device launches.