This story was originally published and last updated .
With coronavirus keeping many of us homebound, there's a dramatic increase in the demand for laptops, especially affordable ones for students and those of us working from home. This has caused massive stock shortages for popular models of various Chromebooks, but we think there are still a few solid picks available that you can get in the $200-300 range.
All of the models we've selected are fast enough to handle at least a few Chrome tabs and applications running at once, and when they're available, we try to include models with large screens. We have a dedicated guide for the best Chromebooks overall, but this list is solely focused on budget options that are actually in stock right now.
The fall semester's starting up, and with many schools opting for remote learning, Chromebooks are hotter than ever. Unfortunately, that means that most are out of stock. If you're fine with a refurbished unit, Woot is offering some higher-end Chromebooks right now for decent prices.
For the first few years, Chromebooks were only worth buying if they were cheap as dirt. As Chrome OS has improved, so has the hardware. While Chrome OS is still more limited than Windows or macOS, there's an argument to be made for a nicer piece of hardware running Google's software. Not too nice, though. Chromebooks like the Pixelbook or Galaxy Chromebook are too expensive to be genuinely competitive. The Spin 713, on the other hand, is priced just right.
Acer's Spin 713 is an excellent Chromebook; a device with specs like these would usually set you back more than the usual $629 asking price. Being such a new product, we assumed it'd be a while before we saw any reduction in cost, considering how reasonable it already is. But we were wrong: Best Buy is currently selling the Spin 713 for only $529, a whole $100 off.
Acer is one of the most committed manufacturers when it comes to Chromebooks and routinely releases new and iterated products. Its Chromebook Spin series is among the better known as it combines a 2-in-1 form factor that lets you flip the screen 360 degrees, making it easy to transform a Chromebook into an entertainment device. Today, Acer has announced two new laptops for that lineup: The flagship Chromebook Spin 713 and the entry-level Chromebook Spin 311.
Chromebooks are tremendously successful in the US education system, and Acer in particular is among the more prominent players in this market. Thus it comes as no surprise that the company has announced a brand-new device geared to this segment, the Chromebook 712 (going as "817" for commercial customers). Its durable, hardened exterior is paired with the latest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies on the inside while the laptop also offers a decent selection of ports.
Google introduced the idea of a premium Chromebook (and a matching premium price tag) with the original Chromebook Pixel. Other companies have followed suit with devices like the Yoga C630 from Lenovo and some HP X360. In this competitive landscape, Acer has a compelling solution of its own: the Acer Chromebook 715. Acer's new high-end Chromebook sports an all-metal construction with MIL-STD 810G compliance, optional quad-core Intel Core i5 processor with up to 16GB of RAM, a full-size keyboard with a number pad, and an optional fingerprint reader. Currently, there is no other large Chromebook on the market that has those last two features.
Chromebooks come in all different kinds of sizes and forms, but if you prefer one that's small and convertible, the Acer Spin 11 might just be the one for you. The 4GB RAM/32GB storage model is currently available for only $219 at Best Buy, which is $110 cheaper than the usual price.
Chromebooks are great machines for casual users, providing a simple and easy-to-use interface, support for Android apps, low maintenance, and often perfect as either a secondary device or a starter laptop for a child. Low-cost Chromebooks usually come with slow Intel Celeron or Pentium-level CPUs with a heavy plastic build. But cheap doesn't always mean low-quality, though. Walmart's got for sale the 15.6" Acer Chromebook 715 with a respectable Core i3 CPU and an all-aluminum build for just $300, a full $100 off its usual price.
Let's say you're looking for a Chromebook: you want something that's versatile, premium-feeling, and... uh... well, not a Pixelbook Go. May we suggest Acer's Chromebook Spin 13? It's got full-blown Intel laptop power, 8GB of RAM, a convertible form factor plus a stylus, and its price has just fallen off a cliff edge on Amazon.