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.
AMD is bringing Zen to Chromebooks. Shoring up last year's announcement of a handful of A-series chips, AMD has decided that the time is right for its much-loved Zen-based cores to make the trip. In total, five new 15W Ryzen and Athlon-branded chips based on Zen and Zen+ architecture are coming to Chromebooks.
Today, AMD has announced that it's bringing a few of its high-end chips to Chromebooks, including the Ryzen line. HP is one of the first partners to take advantage of the computing platform on Chrome OS and has taken the opportunity to launch its first Ryzen-powered Chromebook, the HP Pro c645. The company additionally gives us a look at the first Chromebox in a while, the HP Chromebox G3, but this one comes with Intel chips.
It is a well-known fact that Google has a rough history with Bluetooth. While the Bluetooth situation on Chromebooks is improving thanks to recent development, many of us who pair Bluetooth peripherals to our Chromebooks like wireless earbuds or mice will know that the wireless experience isn’t perfect. In 2018, with Bluetooth devices on the rise and the launch of the Pixel Slate looming, Google likely felt pressured to tackle this problem. This led to an experiment with a brand new Bluetooth daemon, in an ambitious project known as NewBlue.
It's no secret that Google loves to add powerful AI into its software whenever it can. The next generation Google Assistant demoed at Google I/O in 2019 is an excellent example of how capable Google's AI can be, and it continuously blows my mind how quick and snappy voice processing is as a result. Google is now using its powerful AI to improve the handwriting experience on Chrome OS.
Getting all your devices logged in on a new Wi-Fi network can be a hassle: entering the same password again and again, hoping you don't make any mistakes. Google started experimenting with ways to simplify this process last year when Chrome OS Canary started syncing Wi-Fi passwords with other devices. That feature never rolled out widely, leaving us to wonder if its development had stalled. Thankfully that wasn't the case, and now Google is working on a new and improved Wi-Fi syncing solution for Chrome OS.
GeForce Now, Nvidia's PC-based cloud gaming platform, is available in beta on Chromebooks beginning today. The service was already playable on PC, Mac, and Android — but Chrome OS, an environment known for both low-power hardware and a lack of high-end games, had previously been a particularly glaring omission. Now, practically any old Chrome laptop can fire up some of the most demanding games out there (provided it's got a strong internet connection).
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.
Platforms live or die on the backs of developers, without which we wouldn't have apps or services to run on them. Microsoft had that figured out years ago, and Google has learned all about it when it comes to Android. Now Google is stepping up its efforts when it comes to developing for (and on) Chrome OS, highlighting Chrome OS's new customizable Linux terminal, while also announcing support for the Android Emulator on select Chromebooks and a whole new website for ChromeOS developers, plus a handful of smaller changes.