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Chromebooks have come a long way from the original CR-48, and for many, a complete workflow is now possible in the confines of Chrome OS thanks to the addition of Android and Linux application support. But there are quite a lot out there to choose from, and some are better options than others. For your convenience, we've put together a small list of some of our favorite picks, categorized based on your primary consideration.
This list is obviously non-exhaustive. There are a lot of Chromebooks and Chromeboxes out there, and plenty of new hardware is always on the horizon, but these are our recommendations for the best Chrome OS-powered devices among a range of prices and utility categories.
The best one to get: Google Pixelbook
It's almost two years old at this point, but despite that age, Google's first-party Pixelbook is still our top pick if money is no object — or you don't have specific needs like a bigger screen or more powerful CPU. On paper, devices like the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 beat it in pure specifications, but the general experience of using a computer comes down to more than that, and the Pixelbook is still the overall king — in our opinion, anyway. It's also seen frequent discounts, so the original sky-high price tag isn't always a deterrent (though it can be at times).
I wouldn't recommend the more expensive i7 16GB/512GB model since most of the benefits of that much RAM, storage, and processing power are a bit lost on Chrome OS, but the base i5 8GB/128GB model can be picked up for a more reasonable price.
If you want a bigger but lower resolution display, and paying $570 for 4GB of RAM doesn't put you off, ASUS' latest Chromebook Flip C434 could be a decent choice. It isn't anywhere near as good of a value as the original C302, and that 4GB of RAM is very nearly a joke, but ASUS' build quality is always premium, the processor in it is a bit faster than the Pixelbook's, and you get quite a lot more physical space on the screen.
If you need even more CPU power, though, and you're willing to compromise with some other tradeoffs, a higher-wattage device like the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 might satisfy. The HP Chromebook x360 14 G1 (chonk of a name) also impressed us in our review, and its currently discounted ~$800 price isn't too shabby if you need a bigger but lower resolution screen.
Where to buy the HP Chromebook x360 14 G1
Mid-range: Samsung Chromebook Plus V2
Samsung's Chromebook Plus V2 refresh comes with a few compromises compared to the original, stepping down the implicit V1's insane 2400x1600 display for a pedestrian 1080p panel, and cutting the mostly metal build quality for plastic. But, it's a reasonably powerful mid-range device, with the power of a Y-series Celeron and all the features you'd expect in a modern Chromebook.
Sure, you don't get the Pixelbook's build quality, but you do get a similar transforming form factor, a built-in stylus, and Linux/Android application support, and all for a whole lot less. You can check out our review of the LTE-equipped version for more details, as it's mostly the same (though we don't recommend it, given the increased price).
A true "mid-range" $350-500 section for Chromebooks is a bit lacking. HP's Chromebook x360 11 is the right price, but it's N-series Celeron chipset and 768p display are decidedly entry-level. Some older models like the Acer Chromebook R 13 can land in that price range, but they're harder to recommend these days given their age. Still, they're technically available while we wait for more and better devices at that price point.
Budget pick: Lenovo C330
I've spent a little bit of time using the C330, and for the current ~$250-280 starting price, it's my favorite budget Chromebook. You get a 1.7 GHz MediaTek SoC (I know, but at least it isn't an N-series Celeron, right?), 11.6" 768p IPS display, 4GB RAM, 32-64GB eMMC storage, 2x2 MIMO AC Wi-Fi, and a 45Wh battery. The keyboard is on the shallow side, and in tablet configuration it doesn't have the requisite magnets to hold itself shut, but build quality is surprisingly good.
It's a bit on the chunky side at 0.77" thick, and decently heavy for a 12" laptop at 2.64 lbs, but the $280-$300 price tag smooths all those concerns. Without going used, it's hard to find a better deal than the Lenovo C330.
HP's cheapest 14" Chromebook goes by a variety of SKUs depending on the retailer and precise configuration, but it's also a good choice if you don't need a screen that folds back to become a tablet. It's available in both touchscreen and non-touchscreen varieties, with Intel or AMD chipsets, all for $220-250.
If the form factor and portability of a smaller convertible aren't required, this could be your best and cheapest bet, though there are a lot of different specific SKUs to sort through at different retailers, so be careful.
Beater: CTL NL7TW-360
Sometimes it doesn't matter how cheap something is. If you know you're the clumsy type that's prone to heap abuse on a laptop, durability is prized above all else — and beyond that, a good price comes in handy when it does eventually succumb to your terrors. If that's you, then you might want to consider a brand you may not have heard of: CTL.
We took a look at the poetically named CTL NL7TW-360, and while it's not winning any performance awards, it's a durable and inexpensive Chromebook that still manages to pack in plenty of modern features like USB Type-C ports, a 2-in-1 design, stylus support, and even a built-in retractable handle. The N-series Apollo Lake Intel CPU might grind your gears (and your workflow) a bit, but it does have a spill-resistant keyboard, 4GB RAM, 32GB eMMC, and a durable design, all for just $329.
Sure, it's technically made for education, but we're all kids at heart, right?
Tablet/slate: Pixel Slate
I feel the need to preface this with a warning: There are no objectively good Chrome OS-powered tablets. That said, it's a small list, and there is technically a "best" tablet.
I know. We're sorry.
Google's Pixel Slate has, objectively speaking, the best set of specs for any Chrome OS Tablet, with options covering the more recent m3 up to an i7 (all 8th-gen Y-series 5-7W CPUs), and one of the best screens you can get, crammed into an attractive and solidly built tablet. It even has good battery life and a unique fingerprint scanner.
At launch, the overall software experience was best described as "janky," though some claim most of those issues have since been resolved. Whether they have or not, it also sports some difficult ergonomics, the dubious benefit of a touch-first design on a previously mouse and keyboard-driven OS, and a very high price tag. Google has also canceled its plans for future Chrome OS-powered tablets, and though it claims it will continue to support the form factor, it's not a good sign for the future.
While it's ultimately up to you, the Pixel Slate delivers quite a lot of drawbacks and compromises to merely present a new form factor. Yes, it's the "best," but please don't buy one.
HP's Chromebook x2 delivers a similar tablet-first design, but with a stiff hinge on a detachable keyboard, rather than a kickstand. Its 12.3" 2400x1600 display is quite nice, and performance from the 7th gen Intel m3 is good — even if the 4GB of RAM it's paired with definitely isn't.
Although the keyboard has excellent tactile feedback and plenty of travel, it's not the most durable. I wouldn't recommend picking the device up from the front corners, as the deck has entirely too much flex. For $600 it's an okay alternative to the Pixel Slate, even if I personally believe its shortcomings still exceed the price tag, but occasional discounts bring it closer to $400, which make it a pretty good choice for a tablet.
Should you want to push cheaper, the education-targeted Acer Chromebook Tab 10 has even less oomph with an ARM SoC, but a correspondingly lower sub-$300 price.
Box/desktop: Acer Chromebox CXI3
Our previous recommendation for the best Chromebox was the CTL CBX1, given its incredible $220 price, but it doesn't seem to be sold reliably anymore. Our default recommendation is now the Acer Chromebox CXI3, which costs a whole lot more at $420 and doesn't really justify it beyond a slightly better CPU, but you can actually buy one.
That cash gets you a Core i3-7130U, 8GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a pile of ports and plugs, even including USB Type-C and gigabit ethernet.
Some older Chromebooks are still good options, especially if you can pick one up used, but they don't compare to more recent models. The ASUS C302 and ASUS C101 are both decent if dated Chromebooks, and either nabbed at the right price could be a good deal.
We have reviewed plenty of other Chromebooks and Chromeboxes favorably, but a list of the "best" sadly can't include everything, and we're sorry if your Chromebook didn't make the cut.