Chrome OS makes a great laptop accessible to everyone.
Chromebooks have long since ceased to be newcomers to the laptop arena. Although the use of Chrome OS was somewhat difficult for many in the beginning, the Asus Chromebook Flip C436FA, for example, can handle more than a mediocre Windows laptop.
The Chromebook is therefore a full-fledged competitor to the giants under the operating systems such as Windows and macOS (okay, and Linux if you’re a fan of that 😜).
The message that many people actually want good Chromebooks – rather than just cheap ones – has got through to manufacturers. Many of the best Chromebooks are around $500, although there are also good options in the higher and lower price ranges. The extra investment is well worth it.
For the first time, the quality of the Chromebooks is consistent. There are so many similarities between the offerings from Asus, Lenovo, Google, HP, Dell, and Samsung that you could almost swear that they each source their components from the same factory.
That’s great news when you compare prices; most of this list would then immediately fall into the category of a ‘good buy’ if you can find them at a discount.
Lenovo Idea pad 3 82C1000YMH
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HP x360 14a-ca0101nd
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Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook ZA6F0063NL
The Best Chromebook Buying Guide: How to Make the Best Buy
If you really want to find the best laptop for you, there are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing. When looking for the best Chromebook, you sometimes have to adjust your expectations in that regard a bit. You can read about that here!
Who is a Chromebook suitable for?
Not everyone! Those who mainly focus on gaming, video editing, heavy photo editing, and 3D design will not benefit from a Chromebook. Even the best Chromebooks are simply not (yet?) powerful enough for that.
However, if you need a laptop with which to browse, e-mail, consume multimedia and write texts, then buying a Chromebook is a good idea for you! They’re great value for money, have great battery life, and run nice and fast – as long as you don’t overload them with heavy apps.
Many models also have a touchscreen, which makes navigation even more intuitive.
Chrome OS Vs. the giant
You choose a Chromebook for its software. Why? Because it is lighter than most other operating systems. There are no dozens of frozen processes running in the background in Chrome OS. This is also reflected in the hardware needed to run a Chromebook properly.
Below you can read the main differences between the operating systems:
- Simple and very safe from viruses
- Appearance is somewhat like Windows
- Cloud-based, so unfortunately many web apps don’t work as well (yet) without an internet connection
- Apps are downloaded from the Google Play store or as a Google Chrome extension
- Extremely flexible and widely deployable operating system
- Most used on laptops
- You will find few programs not made available for Windows
- More vulnerable to viruses
- Only available for Apple laptops (Hackintosh not counted here 🧐)
- Elegant, minimalist, and powerful operating system
- Most programs are now also available for macOS
- Linux is available for free
- Very flexible and adaptable. You can choose the overlying OS yourself (Ubuntu, Debian, etc.) and use it as a kind of skin or launcher, each with its own properties
- Few programs available compared to Windows and MacOS
That is with Chromebooks – as mentioned – slightly different than with most other laptops. You don’t need super expensive high-end hardware to run a Chromebook smoothly. The main things to watch out for are:
In many cases, Intel is chosen. In general, you often see these processors:
- Intel Celeron. If you’re not interested in Android apps and want a Chromebook to surf the web, stream videos, or write your latest novel, the now somewhat dated Celeron processor is for you.
- Intel M3. However, ideally, you are looking for at least an M3 processor. It offers great speeds, dual-core, four-thread processing power. They range from clock speeds of 2.2 GHz to 3.4 GHz. Many new Chromebooks will include such processors because they are not as expensive as Intel i3, i5, or i7 processors. This means you’re getting your hands on a powerful Chromebook for a decent price.
- Intel i3. The Intel i3 is the next step of an Intel M3 processor. It’s the baby of the Intel Core ‘i’ series and offers great speeds at a reasonable price. The latest 10th generation i3 processor is capable of speeds up to 4.60GHz and comes with a 4MB cache. The amount of cache is important because it helps the processor to cache frequently used processes, leading to better performance.
- Intel i5 and i7. If you want the very best that can be bought when buying a Chromebook in 2021, you can’t go wrong buying a Chromebook with an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. The i7 is the more powerful of the two but usually comes at a much higher price as well. You have to be careful when choosing between an Intel Core i5 and an i7 processor because the difference in power can sometimes be very small, and an i7 processor is simply not worth the extra money. However, if money is no object, the i7 is always the best option, because it does offer more computing power.
Of course, there is more than just Intel in the Chromebook world (think of MediaTek for example), but these are the main choices on the Dutch market.
Working memory (RAM)
When purchasing a Chromebook, the exact purchase depends on what you will be using the Chromebook for. Not only now, but also later. Obviously, money is important to everyone and you should buy whatever you find affordable.
However, when it comes to the amount of RAM (random access memory) — or internal memory — your Chromebook has, you should try to buy a Chromebook that has as much RAM as you can afford.
- 2GB. There are still Chromebooks that run perfectly with just 2GB of RAM. A Chromebook with 2 GB of RAM in 2021 is not asking too much. If you buy a Chromebook with this amount of RAM, don’t expect much in terms of speed.
- 4GB. A Chromebook with 4 GB of RAM is capable of running at a good speed. You can also use most Android apps with this amount of RAM without any problems. In 2020, 4 GB of RAM would be considered ‘a lot’ for a Chromebook, but in 2021 you should see 4 GB of RAM as the bare minimum.
- 8GB. The high-end Chromebooks that come out in 2021 come with 8 GB of RAM. This is what you should look for if you want a Chromebook that offers blazing-fast performance.
The storage space you need for your Chromebook has changed a lot in recent years. The Chromebook is built to work seamlessly with Google Drive, so you can easily store your work in the cloud. Because of this, it was not necessary to have a lot of hard disk space on a Chromebook.
The launch of Android and Linux Apps changed all that. To install Android apps (via the Google Play Store) and Linux Apps on a Chromebook, you need internal storage space. This is because these Apps install on your Chromebook’s internal storage.
- 64GB of storage is a sensible option these days. You won’t get very far with 32 GB. You will be able to install many Android Apps and it also means that you will have no problems installing some Linux Apps. However, even with this amount of storage space, you can get to a point where you run out of storage space. This is especially true when you consider installing Linux Apps.
- In 2021, you should ideally be looking for a Chromebook with 128 GB of storage. This amount of storage space means you can install many Android and Linux apps without any problems. With 128 GB of storage space, your Chromebook is future-proof. This is now more important than ever because we don’t know what kind of Linux apps are waiting for us in the future.
There are many Chromebooks for sale that do not have a touchscreen. This was fine before the Android Apps launch, but if you plan on using Android Apps with your Chromebook, you’ll need a touchscreen .
Trying to use Android Apps without touchscreen is too difficult. Also, some Android Apps just don’t work without a touchscreen. That’s why the latest Chromebooks come as hybrids, also known as 2-in-1 laptops . Then you can use the Chromebook as a laptop as well as a tablet. Ideal for school or on the go.
Chromebooks are known for their great battery life thanks in part to how little Chrome OS consumes. Specific processors are also often used that require little energy. So if you’re looking for a laptop that you can literally use all day long, a Chromebook is a great idea.
Inputs and Connectivity
This is something that you easily overlook when purchasing a new laptop. The older usb-a ports are becoming a thing of the past and are being replaced by usb-c ports. Not only do these offer much faster transfer rates when using an external hard drive; they also provide a more user-friendly experience.
USB-C cables plug into a USB-C port in either direction , so you don’t have to struggle to make sure you insert the USB cable correctly. Moreover, such an input takes up much less space than the older USB-a ports. This generally means that the Chromebook fits in a much smaller slim case.
That said, it takes quite a bit for everyone to buy new peripherals, such as hard drives and a USB mouse. Much contemporary equipment is just starting to add USB-C connections. You have already seen in this top 5 that there are a number of models that have multiple types of USB connections.
This allows you to use your older hardware for some time. However, you should be sure that any future hard drives or USB mice you purchase will support USB-C. This is because support for the USB-a ports will probably disappear completely in the coming years.
I’ve said before that Chromebooks are n’s meant for graphics-intensive use. For example, it is not possible to play heavy games such as Red Dead Redemption 2 for a long time. Even if it could be hardware-wise, the majority of mainstream games are not even available for Chrome OS.
The Chrome Web Store offers casual titles like Bejeweled and Cut the Rope, but you don’t have the same selection as on a Windows machine or a Mac. Fortunately, newer Chromebooks with Android support are getting more modern titles like Fallout Shelter, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, and Minecraft.
Also, things like photo and video editing are not really in it. You can download an app like Lightroom, but it’s not nearly the same as Photoshop CC on MacOS or Windows. Video editing is also possible to a certain extent, but besides the fact that there are not many suitable apps, the apps that you can find are often limited in terms of functions.
That’s why Chromebooks are especially suitable for text editing, social media use, emailing, and light games. Do these things pretty much include your usual activities? Top! Then you have found your match in Chrome OS.
If you often do these things simultaneously, pay attention to the aforementioned specs – especially the processor and working memory. The better these are, the more apps or tabs you can run simultaneously.
Chrome OS won’t work well without the internet
Chrome OS largely relies on cloud services, where the operating system stores all kinds of things. You, therefore, need an internet connection almost continuously. If you often work offline, consider a laptop with a different operating system, or a MiFi router!
Because Chrome OS can’t be customized by developers as Android can, Google can completely manage Chromebook updates on its own. That, in turn, means brand new software will come out to all current devices within days of its release, regardless of who made your Chromebook or where it was purchased.
However, as with many things in life, Chromebooks do have “best before” dates built-in.
Just like with an Android phone, to find out the true value of a Chromebook, you need to think about how long the device will receive OS and security updates after production. Then you need to do a little math to calculate the annual cost of ownership for the recommended use.
If a device no longer receives these updates, it is no longer recommended for anyone to use them for optimal levels of privacy, security, and performance. You – as the intelligent, fresh, progressive mammal that you are – clearly know the importance of those factors. 👩💻
The lifetime Calculation
The good news is that the aforementioned calculation is easy to perform yourself. In terms of Chrome, Google promises six and a half years of software updates from the time a chipset first appears on the platform.
For most of us, that doesn’t mean much; even if the Chromebook you’re considering was announced just two weeks ago, it’s entirely possible that another Chromebook was released six months ago with the same CPU. So unless you follow the development of the Chromebook way too closely, you’ll never know what to expect in terms of support.
The simple solution is to bookmark this somewhat hidden link and then always check that page before considering a Chromebook purchase. The page is Google’s official Chromebook end-of-life database. Here’s a list of all Chromebooks ever made and, most importantly, when each Chromebook will (or has) received its latest software update.
With that information at hand, you can start with some clever math. Divide the total asking price of the Chromebook you’re considering by the number of years left with active upgrades. That will give you the actual annual cost of using the Chromebook, which says a lot more than the device’s price tag.
Suppose you find an $800 Chromebook that is supported until June 2025 – so another 5 years. 800 / 5 = €160 per year, in which you regularly receive software updates.
The 5 best Chromebooks among themselves
1. Lenovo Idea pad 3 82C1000YMH
2. HP x360 14a-ca0101nd
3. Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook ZA6F0063NL
4. ASUS C423NA-EB0350
5. ASUS C223NA-GJ0088
❓ Is Chrome OS Android?
New. Both operating systems are produced by Google, but Chrome OS is based on the well-known Chrome browser. Android, on the other hand, is an independently developed operating system that runs in its own ‘container’. Apps therefore cannot access system files with Android.
💻 What do you use a Chromebook for?
Chromebooks are especially suitable for text editing, social media use, emailing and streaming. Light Android games can also be run on the more premium models. Furthermore, other intensive graphic work such as photo and video editing is also difficult. While light editing apps are available, this isn’t what Chromebooks are for.
🤔 How to take a screenshot on a Chromebook?
To capture the entire screen, hold down the Ctrl + Switch Window keys. To capture a specific part of the screen, press the Ctrl + Shift + Switch Window keys.
Which Chromebook Should I Buy?
That’s up to you and your budget; everyone is unique. What I do have for you is a handy table with what I believe are the most important specifications of the best Chromebooks. That way you can make the best choice.
|screen size||Adjustable screen position||Processor type||Internal memory||Total storage capacity||Estimated battery life|
|1||Lenovo Ideapad 3 82C1000YMH||14 inch||Tillable||Intel Celeron||8 GB||64 GB||Max.10 hours||Check price|
|2||HP x360 14a-ca0101nd||14 inch||Tiltable||Intel Celeron||4 GB||64 GB||Max.12.25 hours||Check price|
|3||Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook ZA6F0063NL||10.1 inch||360 degrees Tiltable||MediaTek P60T||4 GB||128 GB||Max.10 hours||Check price|
|4||ASUS C423NA-EB0350||14 inch||360 degrees Tiltable||Intel Celeron||4 GB||64 GB||Max.10 hours||Check price|
|5||ASUS C223NA-GJ0088||11.6 inch||360 degrees Tiltable||Intel Celeron||4 GB||32 GB||Max.8 hours||Check price|
Chromebooks are becoming more and more interesting and therefore more popular. While they used to be the odd one out, it’s now clear that Chromebooks deserve their place among mainstream laptops. For those who do a lot of text editing and use social media but don’t do graphic intensive work, the best Chromebook is the answer!
Let us know which one you’re attracted to – or if you have any questions. Thank you for reading!