Choosing from the best Chromebooks on the market has become a fairly complex process as the number of available devices has grown year after year. The market for the devices now includes low-end budget machines and top-tier workhorses. But it also includes a number of off-format devices. Chromebooks are no longer limited to just laptops and 2-in-1 convertibles.
The decision-making process has perhaps been made more challenging alongside improvements to Chrome OS itself. With each successive launch of a new version, the difference made by variations in performance becomes more prominent.
When the OS first launched, premium devices weren’t necessarily a lot more capable than budget gadgets. Now, a high-end device can be utilized for everything from light browsing to Android development. But they can also be used for heavier tasks such as for image or video editing. So budget Chromebooks won’t always fit the bill.
Top 10 Best Chromebooks 2021 Summary
As the array of available Chrome OS devices has increased over the years, the number of plausible use cases has too. So not every Chromebook is going to be well suited to every user. In fact, most users averaging most of their time in the Chrome browser won’t need more than a budget device. Those gadgets will typically run Android apps well enough too.
There are more powerful gadgets available for those who need to get more serious work done too. And Chrome OS offers access to Linux apps, Android apps, and web apps. So there’s plenty of software to take advantage of the extra processing power available.
Fortunately, Android Headlines has spent a lot of time conducting reviews and research on Chromebooks. That’s helped us to determine which devices really stand out from the pack. It also allows us to make an attempt at making the process of choosing a lot easier.
Now, not every great or deserving Chromebook will have made this list. And many of those that didn’t will easily suit users as well as those that did. Bearing that in mind, here’s our take on the best Chromebooks currently available to suit just about any need.
|Samsung Chromebook 4||From $236.26||Amazon|
|Acer Chromebook 317||From $329||Best Buy|
|Asus Chromebook Flip C434||From $504.88||Amazon|
|Acer Chromebook Spin 512||From $499||Acer|
|HP Chromebook x2 11||From $599||Best Buy|
|Lenovo Chromebook Duet||From $279||Best Buy|
|ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5||From $724.99||Amazon|
|HP Chromebook x360 14||$599||HP|
|Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2||From $449.99||Best Buy|
|Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (CP713-3W)||From $699.99||Best Buy|
Best small budget Chromebook
Samsung Chromebook 4
- Price: From $236.26
- Where to buy: Amazon
The Samsung Chromebook 4 is one of the least expensive small form-factor Chromebooks on the market, starting at just $229 and maxing out at $279. Or currently on sale for $236.26 from Amazon. But that doesn’t mean this clamshell laptop is weak. Chrome OS devices tend to do a lot more with less power, to begin with. So anybody looking for a cheap device that’s ultra-portable at just 11.6-inches would do well to start here.
There are three configurations for the Samsung Chromebook 4 on Amazon but each iteration packs a stalwart Intel Celeron N4000 processor. From there, Samsung includes either 4GB or 6GB RAM. The latter configuration comes with 64GB storage, while the 4GB variant comes with either that or 32GB. A battery that lasts up to 12-hours, conversely, makes this one of the longest-lasting Chromebooks too.
Setting aside internal specs, there’s less reason to worry about ruining that investment here too — small, though that investment is. Samsung has ensured this little beast meets eight standards for military-grade toughness.
The MIL-STD-810G standards met include transit drop, vibration, high temperature, temperature shocks, freezing, dust, humidity, low pressure. There’s no water-resistance rating, but that’s not unexpected with Chromebooks and doesn’t stop this from being one of the best around. The Samsung Chromebook 4 should survive just about everything else better than most of the competition.
Best full-size budget Chromebooks
Acer Chromebook 317
- Price: From $329
- Where to buy: Best Buy
If you want the biggest screen among Chromebooks in any price bracket and one of the best available anywhere on battery life, look no further than the Acer Chromebook 317. This particular gadget, starting out at $329 or for $499 with a touch screen, isn’t the most powerful. But it will get the job done and, as noted, it is the biggest screen available.
What’s more, the Acer Chromebook 317 display is bright, responsive on the touch variant, and has a FullHD panel. So it isn’t as low-res as the overwhelming majority of its competitors. So, at 17.3-inches, it’s not exactly cheap.
A Kensington lock slot, two USB-C ports, two USB-A ports, a card reader, and Wi-Fi 6, as well as Bluetooth 5.1 round out the benefits of this gadget. As does the up to 10-hours of battery life, tested by Android Headlines under moderately extreme conditions at over 6 hours of use. And the solid design language, 8GB of RAM, and relatively low weight at just over 4lbs aren’t too bad either.
Best Chromebooks with 2-in-1 flip functionality
ASUS Chromebook Flip C434
- Price: From $504.88
- Where to buy: Amazon
ASUS’s continuation of the Chromebook Flip lineup has been among the most popular series and that’s not without good reason. One of the most powerful entries in the family is the Chromebook Flip C436. But that device starts at a higher price and only packs up to an Intel Core i5 chipset.
The ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 packs in up to an Intel Core i7-8500Y chipset, coupled with 8GB of memory and 128 GB for files and apps. The base model, with a still-powerful Intel Core M3-8100Y Processor, 4GB RAM, and 64GB storage starts out at a relatively low $489.99.
In terms of build, the Chromebook Flip C434 brings a 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 resolution display to the table. That’s in an ultra-slim-bezel-touting all-metal package that’s more about refinement than making massive changes to the series.
Dual speakers and a microSD card slot round things out for this touch-enabled 2-in-1 but a slightly more expensive model begins adding in the features users love, beginning with a backlit keyboard. That keyboard is where the Chromebook Flip C434 really gains its reputation. The comfort and productivity-focused keys deliver 1.4mm of key travel and a unique ergonomic lift at the back of the board as the lid is opened up.
Best Chromebooks for students
Acer Chromebook Spin 512
- Price: From $499
- Where to buy: Acer
Acer’s second entry in our list is a device that’s built with students in mind but will serve just about anybody. The Chromebook Spin 512, on the student-friendly side of things, is a 12-inch 2-in-1 convertible laptop that features a microbe-resistant display coating and spill protection thanks to drain-through slots positioned over the keyboard.
Following in that same vein, this Chromebook can withstand a beating. Acer included a rubber trim and extra reinforcement with this gadget, so it’s going to survive falls from a reasonable height too.
The trim doesn’t take away from the aesthetics and the coating doesn’t interfere with touch interactions. On the former front, the ruggedization is melded into the build itself, keeping things slim and the overall bulk down. That means that although this laptop can be used without worry that it’ll be damaged by rough users, it also doesn’t take up a lot of room in a laptop bag or backpack.
The included EMR stylus makes productivity and creativity tasks a breeze, as does the up to 8GB RAM, 64GB storage, and the respectable quad-core Intel Pentium Silver N5000 processor. The starting cost of $499 for the more budget-friendly but still quite capable models isn’t bad either, despite featuring a slightly lower resolution than others listed here — 1,366 x 912.
Best Chromebook for tablet buyers
HP Chromebook x2 11
- Price: From $599
- Where to buy: Best Buy
At 11-inches, the HP Chromebook x2 11 isn’t one of the biggest Chromebooks around but it is easily one of the best. It’s also one of the only gadgets presently available built on the latest Snapdragon 7c compute platform chips. And, aside from being nearly perfectly engineered for running Android tablets, there’s a lot of other features to love here as well.
Not least of all, HP packed this tablet-like detachable Chromebook with a USI magnetically attached active stylus and keyboard. And that’s leaving alone the FullHD+ touch panel at right around 2K resolution and the 8GB of RAM. Ports and storage arguably aren’t going to be the best with this tablet, as is the standard for these types of Chromebooks.
With that said, the included Audio by Bang & Olufsen with dual speakers, fingerprint reader, ultra-portable versatility, fast charging, and world-facing camera more than makes up for the inclusion of just 2 USB-C ports.
Best detachable Chromebook
Lenovo Chromebook Duet
- Price: From $249
- Where to buy: Best Buy
Available from $249 directly from Lenovo or starting at $279 on Amazon, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet — often dubbed the Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Duet — is not what people probably think of when looking for a powerful new computing device.
Not only is the 10.1-inch device powered by a relatively paltry MediaTek P60T processor instead of Intel. Lenovo also equipped this tablet-like detachable laptop with just 4GB RAM and either 64GB or 128GB storage. The difference in cost between the two models is around $20.
It’s minimal in the sense that there’s only a single USB-C port and it ships with a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter instead of featuring one. There’s no expandable storage either. But there’s more to this all-metal Chromebook than meets the eye.
Lenovo designed the Lenovo Chromebook Duet to make computing on the go as straightforward as possible. For its size, it offers one of the best keyboard experiences around. And its processor is more than enough, coupled with well-optimized Chrome OS in both tablet and laptop configuration, to get real work done.
Lenovo includes a bright and vibrant 1920 x 1200 resolution display coupled with stereo speakers that give a lot of quality for the price. That’s universal stylus compatible for even more productivity on the go at a slightly higher cost.
All of that culminates in a device that arguably represents what Chrome OS tablets should have been from the start.
Best Chromebooks in the mid-range
ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5
- Price: From $724.99
- Where to buy: Amazon
ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5 is undeniably one of the best Chromebooks available in 2021. And, in fact, it’s a strong contender for the top Chromebook for the year overall. And that really comes down to just a few factors.
Squeaking in just under the cut-off for a mid-range Chromebook at the premium end, the ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5 starts out strong with an Intel Core i5 11th Gen processor. And that can be bumped up to an i7 processor from the same generation for a bit more. Up to 16GB of some of the fastest RAM, 512GB of SSD storage, and a foldable touch screen are big perks here too. As is the modern design language for this 2-in-1.
Put simply, this is easily one of the most powerful Chromebooks around, even at its base price. Tying that in with up to Intel Iris Xe graphics, 14-inch FullHD resolution display panel, Wifi 6, Harmon Kardon speakers, and a built-in garaged USI stylus takes things over the top. As do the aluminum build, ample ports, and backlit keyboard.
Best Chromebook for power and a long-lasting battery
HP Chromebook x360 14
- Price: $599
- Where to buy: HP
HP’s Chromebook x360 14 is an anomaly in that it brings both the stunning aesthetic of the HP Chromebook x2 as well as a more powerful build, sacrificing the detachable design for a 2-in-1. There’s no pen here either but users do get to keep the Bang & Olufsen speakers found on that other gadget.
The bezels to either side of the 1,920 x 1,080 resolution touchscreen too, providing for a lot more display in a relatively small, lightweight package.
The real selling point for this $599 Chromebook, however, is its high-clocked 2.2GHz Intel Core i3-8130U chip. That’s boostable up to a whopping 4GHz. 8GB of 2400MHz DDR4 RAM back that chipset up. That’s equipped with a UHD-capable graphics chip too, for better display output over USB-C. So there’s plenty of power despite the 13.5-hour-rated battery.
Storage falls in at 64GB, coupled with Chrome OS’s cloud-centric nature. That means there’s enough room for apps, files, games, or whatever else might be needed.
HP’s Chromebook x360 14 is a medium-to-large sized laptop that has a lot of bang for the price and lasts all day with extra to spare. Better still it goes a long way to catching attention thanks to its two-tone ceramic white on mist blue design. So if those things are important, this is the one to buy.
Best Chromebooks at a premium
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2
- Price: From $449.99
- Where to buy: Best Buy
Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook 2 should require very little by way of introduction. As a follow-up to the original, and launching in nearly identical colors, this is Samsung’s best Chromebook. And as its branding entails, it’s premium through and through.
Now, that’s not to say that this 2-in-1, stylus-included Chromebook is necessarily “better” in every regard, compared to its predecessor. Samsung opted to include a 10th Gen Intel Core i3 at the upper end of the range, for starters. Last year’s model packed an older Core i7 processor. And there is a variant with an Intel Celeron processor available too. Options of either 4GB or 8GB RAM are available. As are options with 64GB or 128GB storage.
But Samsung stuck to its guns on design and those older devices’ specs were effectively overkilling it too. As was that other gadgets 13.3-inch 4K Super AMOLED display. Instead, Samsung has chosen to use a 13.3-inch 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) display. Although, it did opt for QLED this time around. So the screen’s going to be as crisp as ever, setting aside the fact that that’s a market first.
A 13-hour battery, great audio, and all of the best of last year’s design are in place. Making this easily one of the best Chromebooks money can buy.
Best among Chromebooks overall
Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (CP713-3W)
- Price: From $699.99
- Where to buy: Best Buy
Acer has pushed itself back to the top of the stack when it comes to the best Chromebooks around. And that’s all thanks to its latest Chromebook Spin 713, sold with model designation CP713-3W. This device series, launched starting this month effectively represents the best of what a Chromebook can be.
In part, that comes down to value. Starting at just $699.99, none of the entries are weak. At the bottom of the pile, things start with an 11th Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor. Acer backed that up with up to 16GB RAM and 256GB of super-fast NVMe storage.
At the other end of the spectrum, Acer includes 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1185G7 processors. And each of the gadgets packs a 2-in-1 build with a 13.5-inch 2K screen, US MIL-STD 810H-level durability standards, Wi-Fi 6, and Intel Iris X Graphics. Two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, Multi-touch support, and has a more browser-comfortable 3:2 aspect ratio add icing to that cake.
A full-size HDMI port, up to 10-hours of battery life, DTS Audio, two stereo speakers with Smart Amplifier, and world-class design are to be expected here as well. And those who want just a bit more security can pick up a model with an optional fingerprint scanner.
All of that, of course, is packed into a frame on a 360-degree hinge for easy tablet, tent, stand, or clamshell mode.