Chromebooks are no longer just laptops that run a browser and a few Google apps. They can cover a wide variety of computing needs now, and a good Chrome OS laptop or two-in-one can be more useful than a mediocre Windows laptop — especially now that many can run Android and Linux apps.
That’s assuming you get one with enough power to actually function, though — cheap Chromebooks are notorious for creaky processors, inadequate RAM, and slow, skimpy storage, while decent Chromebooks often cost just as much as Windows machines. Fortunately, the message that many people actually want good Chromebooks rather than just cheap ones has gotten through to manufacturers and to Google. The latter has recently launched the Chromebook Plus certification, which guarantees a baseline level of hardware as well as ten years of software support.
You can get a decent Chromebook for about $400. Many are around $500 or $600, though there are good options in the higher and lower ranges as well. The extra money goes a long way toward getting something you’ll be happy with.
For the first time, the quality of the Chromebooks in this range has been consistent. There are so many similarities between the offerings from Asus, Lenovo, Google, HP, Dell, and Samsung that a conspiracy-minded person might suggest they’re all sourcing their components from the same factory. That’s great news if you’re comparison shopping; the majority of this list would be good buys if you can find them at a discount. In some cases, we’ve left older models on the list precisely because they’re regularly discounted. A laptop that was great at $500 two years ago can still be a good deal at $300 today.
The best Chromebook
The Acer Chromebook Spin 714 offers a powerful package with fast Intel processors and Thunderbolt 4 support, while boasting perks like an HDMI port and a garaged stylus.
CPU: Intel Core i5-1335U / GPU: Intel Iris Xe / RAM: 8GB / Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD / Display: 14-inch IPS, 1920 x 1200, multitouch / Dimensions: 12.31 x 8.82 x 0.71 inches / Weight: 3.1 pounds
With a hefty Intel processor and Thunderbolt 4 support, Acer’s Chromebook Spin 714 is one of the most powerful Chromebook Plus-certified laptops you can buy. It’s lightning fast, generating little noise and heat even under fairly intense professional workloads.
It was a pretty good deal at $700-ish when it launched, but these days you can regularly find it for under $500 with a 13th-gen i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB NVMe SSD. That’s a screaming deal while it lasts. It’s also been updated with Chromebook Plus certification, which means it’ll get 10 years of software updates.
The keyboard is excellent with a comfortable, quiet feel, and nice backlighting. There’s even an HDMI port, which you don’t see on a thin Chromebook every day. It’s a well-built device as well, with a professional finish suitable for an office setting. The main drawbacks to consider are that the Spin’s speakers aren’t great, and the battery life is a bit lower than last year’s model’s was.
Read our Acer Chromebook Spin 714 review.
The best Chromebook Plus laptop under $400
CPU: Intel Core i3-1215U / GPU: Intel UHD / RAM: 8GB / Storage: 128GB, 256GB UFS / Display: 14-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080, 60Hz, non-touch / Dimensions: 12.9 x 8.4 x 0.74 inches / Weight: 3.17 pounds
The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 is the least expensive laptop with Google’s new Plus certification. At around $400 for a Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage, it’s the baseline Chromebook you should consider if you can’t spend any more.
It’s so easy to get a bad Chromebook at this price, so it’s a relief that the Chromebook Plus CX34 is so good. Not only does it have respectable internals, but the 1080p screen and 1080p webcam are good for the price, the keyboard is great, and the trackpad is fine, if a bit stiff. Battery life is decent, too, and like all Plus Chromebooks, it comes with 10 years of software updates. You can spend more on a laptop, and you probably should, but don’t buy a Chromebook less powerful than this one.
Read our review of the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34.
Last year’s best Chromebook
The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 is a powerful device with impressive features for a Chromebook, including a 57Wh battery, a stunning 15-inch screen, and a range of ports (including an HDMI port and a microSD slot). Read our review.
CPU: Intel Core i3-1215U / GPU: Intel Iris Xe / RAM: 8GB, 16GB / Storage: 128GB / Display: 15.6-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080, 60Hz, touch option / Dimensions: 14.08 x 9.48 x 0.73 inches / Weight: 4.3 pounds
The Chromebook Flip CX5 was a hard sell for most people at $800 in 2021, even with a Core i5 processor and 15GB of RAM, but it really was that good. It’s sturdy enough to withstand all kinds of jolts and jostles in a backpack or briefcase, and has a unique velvety texture that’s very pleasant to hold. Add a wide port selection, a smooth and comfortable keyboard, and a vivid display, and you’ve got a chassis that can hold its own against plenty of midrange Windows laptops.
It’s no longer the best Chromebook you can get, but if you can find a good configuration at a good price, it’s still worth considering. Battery life is quite satisfactory and easily lasted us all day. And the CX5 delivered some of the loudest audio we’ve ever heard from a Chromebook.
The model linked above, with a 12th-gen Intel i3, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage, is almost as powerful as the Chromebook CX34 above — though the webcam isn’t as good — and unlike that model, it’s convertible.
Read our Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 review.
Best OLED Chromebook
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 / GPU: Qualcomm Adreno / RAM: 8GB / Storage: 128GB / Display: 13.3-inch OLED, 1920 x 1080, 60Hz, touch option / Dimensions: 12.05 x 7.32 x 0.27 inches / Weight: 2.22 pounds
The Chromebook Duet 5 is a compact convertible device with an OLED screen. It’s thinner and lighter than most Chromebooks out there, and its back cover doubles as a kickstand. And it’s often available for under $400, making it one of the cheapest OLED devices you can buy.
The OLED display makes for quite enjoyable viewing, and the detachable keyboard is great as well with excellent spacing and satisfying feedback. Performance (our unit was powered by the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2) was surprisingly snappy, and the device could handle our standard office workload with no issue. But the standout feature was battery life: We saw between 10 and 12 hours to a charge, even when doing fairly demanding tasks like Zoom calls and high-resolution YouTube videos.
There are a few unfortunate omissions: there’s no fingerprint sensor, and there’s no included stylus (though one is supported). But Chrome OS fans who want a great screen for multimedia viewing can’t do better than this Chromebook at this price.
Read our Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 review.
Best business Chromebook with RGB for some reason
CPU: Core i5-1235U / GPU: Iris Xe / RAM: 16GB / Storage: 256GB / Display: 14-inch IPS, 2560x1600, 60Hz, touch option / Dimensions: 12.4 x 8.7 x 0.7 inches / Weight: 3.33 pounds
If you want a Chromebook with RGB lighting that isn’t specifically a gaming Chromebook — and who doesn’t? — your only option is the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook. This device doesn’t have quite as premium a build as the old school Elite Dragonfly, but it’s still quite nice. It’s also got a solid 8MP webcam, excellent speakers, and one of the brightest screens I’ve ever seen on a Chromebook. But the real differentiating factor is the colorful keyboard, which you won’t find on any of the other products listed here.
The one thing I will warn potential buyers of is that the colorful keyboard and bright screen take their toll on battery life. I only saw around six hours to a charge here. That’s not terrible, but we’d hope to see more from a device this expensive. Still, the Dragonfly Pro offers a premium build and unique combination of features, and that makes it worth a look from deep-pocketed business customers.
Read our HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook review.
Updated November 22nd, 2023: Changed top pick, added a new Chromebook Plus model, removed some older models, and repositioned others to account for lower prices.