Over the last few years, the best Chromebooks have become more and more sophisticated. And they're surprisingly affordable, because they run Chrome OS, a lightweight operating system that Google gives away for free.
That means manufacturers don't have to pay for an expensive Windows licence, keeping the cost of their devices down. And it also means that Chromebooks usually run very fast, because they're not weighed down by the massive Windows OS. They typically also have longer battery lives that can easily outlast the competition too. Of course, there are some disadvantages to not having Windows: for a detailed discussion of this issue, see our article Laptop vs Chromebook: which is best for you? But in short, they give you a lot more bang for your buck. And this makes them excellent devices for students and creative professionals alike.
Below, we've listed the best Chromebooks you can buy today. However, if cash is tight, you may also want to check our guide to the best Chromebooks for students. Or, if you're looking for a laptop with a bit more power, see our roundups of the best student laptops and best laptops for graphic design.
The best Chromebooks available right now
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The HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is our pick as the best Chromebook for creatives. It's a premium Chromebook that comes with some brilliant specs, including 12-generation Intel processors and 8GB of RAM, making this a fantastic performer.
It has a stylish design and a gorgeous touchscreen display, and it comes with the HP Digital Pen stylus, which makes it great for digital artists in particular. The stylus attaches to the body of the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook via magnets and charges itself, so you should never have to worry about it having enough battery when inspiration strikes and you want to quickly doodle. And it's thin and light enough to carry around with you.
On the downside, it's very expensive for a Chromebook. Plus, all that power means that its battery life isn't great. But otherwise, this is the most sophisticated and capable Chromebook on the market today, period.
The HP Chromebook 14 is our pick for the best value Chromebook for creatives, and the value makes it a great choice for students, too. It's one of the cheapest Chromebooks you'll find, but that doesn't mean it feels (or looks) cheap. HP's build quality is clearly evident here. This is a laptop you can comfortably carry around with you all day, safe in the knowledge that it'll withstand any knocks and bumps as you travel.
It also proves that you don't have to compromise when buying a budget Chromebook. Sure, it's cheap, but it has a stunning screen, and while the battery life isn't the longest when it comes to Chromebooks, it'll still outlast many more expensive laptops, and it'll easily go a whole work or school day without needing a charge.
The HP Chromebook 14 also comes with plenty of ports, including HDMI-out, USB 3.0 and a microSD card slot, making this a brilliantly versatile Chromebook for the price.
If you're after the best Chromebook for students, then the Acer Chromebook 314 is a fantastic choice. It's affordable, has a great battery life lasting throughout an entire school day, and its build quality means students can lug it around without too much concern for its well-being.
When it comes to performance, it's fine for most standard schoolwork, but with a 1.1GHz Celeron CPU and 4GB of RAM, it'll start lagging if you want to do too much with this thing. In our Acer Chromebook 314 review, during Mozilla's Kraken benchmarking, we found this laptop scored 2349.8ms, while the older Google Pixelbook scored 1378.9ms (the lower the score the better in this test of browser speed).
The 1080p screen is good, giving you plenty of workspace for your homework. Note, though, that it's not a touchscreen, which will affect anyone looking for a cheap digital art tablet or even its compatibility with many Android apps.
On the plus side, the Acer Chromebook 314 has a great battery life (our review found it easily hit the boasted 12.5 hours) and has a good keyboard. Plus its use of Google docs and cloud-based storage ensures it starts and saves in seconds. Overall, this is a good, cheap laptop for school and college.
The tech industry is starting to realise that posturing about the environment isn't enough: practical action is needed too. So this Acer Chromebook is made from PCR (post-consumer recycled) material. To be specific, its manufacturer uses 30 per cent recycled plastic in the chassis and screen bezel, and 50 per cent in the keycaps and audio speakers. The packaging, too, is made from 90 per cent recycled paper, cardboard or other natural fibres, plus part of it can be reused as a laptop stand
As a separate point, it's also got distinctive styling, embedded with flecks of bright yellow and a tactile canvas-like textured finish. That adds up to a fresh and unique design that makes it look very different to a normal laptop.
Of course, none of this would be helpful if the device wasn't any good. Thankfully, it's a decent performer too. Our review model featured the lowest-specced processor, the Intel i3 (it goes up to i7 if you pay more). But even so, our reviewer found it provided zippy performance, even with multiple tabs open.
Our battery tests also turned up good results: eight hours for work, and 13 hours for video playing. There's a good mix of ports, including two USB-C ports, a full size USB-A port, an HDMI out and a standard headphone jack. And the 128GB SSD is more than enough storage for a laptop that will mostly use cloud storage. For more details, read our full Acer Chromebook Vero 514 review.
More affordable than the number one Chromebook on our list, the Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook is perhaps the best choice for creative professionals. It's stilll pricey compared to others, but it offers excellent performance and design, with some features cheaper Chromebooks simply lack.
Its industry-leading performance is thanks to the powerful components included within, such as the new AMD 3000C mobile processors, which offer a level of power that you don't find on budget Chromebooks.
The powerful components do come at a price, however. For a start, it means that battery life isn't quite as long as lower-powered Chromebooks, due to the fact that the hardware is more demanding. But that's a balance you're going to have strike whatever laptop you buy. And so if you want to do creative work on your Chromebook, it's a compromise we think worth making to get that extra power.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 311 is a great all-around Chromebook, offering fantastic value for money, good build quality and a handy 2-in-1 design that lets you use it as both a traditional laptop as well as a tablet-like device. This gives it flexibility that other Chromebooks lack, and now that you can run Android apps in Chrome OS, it means this could actually save you from buying two separate devices.
Build quality is excellent, so you can happily chuck this in a bag and carry it around with you (from class to class, or job to job) without worrying about breaking it, and it's small enough that you'll hardly notice it's there. Battery life is also very good, which means it's a great choice for people who want to work for long periods of time away from a desk or power source.
The compact size does mean that some people may find it uncomfortable to use for long periods of time, however, and the screen isn't as bright or vibrant as other Chromebooks out there. However, for the price, this is a great value Chromebook.
Google, the company behind Chrome OS, is – perhaps unsurprisingly – a dab hand when it comes to building Chromebooks as well, as the Pixelbook Go shows. Google has packed in some brilliant hardware into this device, so while it's more expensive than many other Chromebooks out there, it offers a level of performance that others cannot match.
This includes a fantastic screen and brilliant battery life that powers the Pixelbook Go throughout an entire workday. It also has one of the best keyboards we've used on any laptop, not just Chromebooks. If you want a device for writing on, then this is a brilliant choice.
However, we should point out that Google launched the Pixelbook Go in 2019, so it's beginning to show its age. Unfortunately, the company dissolved the division last September, so we're unlikely to see an updated Pixelbook soon.
The HP Chromebook x2 11 offers a high-end feel and approach in an affordable little package. It's a Chromebook to convince you Chrome OS has a place in your life. Its 11-inch screen is just right for viewing on the go, and its bright edge-to-edge glass finish feels classy in your hands. Battery life is fantastic and easily meets HP's 11-hour boast.
Inside the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c handles everything you can throw at it, which admittedly is limited by Chrome OS – there's no full version of Photoshop on Chrome, for example. Yet, the HP Chromebook x2 11 proves adaptable and flexible; a tablet for sketching, browsing and games and a laptop of work. It's also an excellent Chromebook for your Cricut projects, for example.
Check out our full HP Chromebook x2 11 review for more info.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 713, updated in 2021, comes packed with seriously powerful components, including an 11th-gen i5 CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, and 8GB of RAM. It's also incredibly thin and light, and its high-resolution 13.5-inch screen is easily one of the best we've ever seen in a Chromebook. While it's getting a bit old now, that makes it a bit cheaper. And so depending on the price you get one for, that could make it a good choice for your creative work and student projects.
The brilliant Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook is a fantastic 2-in-1 Chromebook. As its name suggests, this is a device that comes in two forms; a traditional laptop, or a tablet. Unlike some 2-in-1 Chromebooks, the keyboard is actually detached from the screen to turn it into a tablet, rather than flipping the keyboard back behind the screen – a brilliant option if you don't want to fork out for a tablet and a laptop.
This means it's much thinner than other 2-in-1 Chromebooks, and lighter as well. It also has a huge battery life that far outlasts many of its competitors - you can squeeze around 22 hours out of this thing.
Not only that, but it's also one of the cheapest Chromebooks you can buy as well, making it a brilliant investment for many people.
The Acer Chromebook 311 is a cheap laptop that may lack processing power but its 1990s design notes and solid build make it a great option for school or taking on your travels. It's a refreshing design decision to wrap this laptop in a rubberised shock-resistant plastic.
In our Acer Chromebook 311 review we found this laptop wasn't great for detailed or intensive video work, and gaming on this device isn't an option. Yet if you need a cheap laptop for basic editorial tasks and web browsing, the Acer Chromebook 311 coupled with Google's own apps – Docs, Sheets and Google Drive – is a good option.
A plus point is you can hook up the Acer Chromebook 311 to a 4K monitor and the Intel CPU does a great job of running the video – you won't find too many Windows PCs in this price range that can handle 4K video. It's just a shame the actual screen of this Chromebook is basic HD, and its matt finish masks details.
Are Chromebooks worth it?
If you don't need a heavy-duty operating system, that can handle programs like Photoshop, then yes, a Chromebook is worth it. As a writer, my Chromebook is great for speedy internet browsing, writing articles and streaming content. If I need to edit videos or photos, I fire up my MacBook Air. But that's not to say that Chromebooks are only good for minor tasks.
While there are plenty of cut-price Chromebooks out there, there are also a growing range of premium Chromebooks as well. These offer a level of build quality and performance that rivals the best laptops and MacBooks, while still being relatively affordable. Even gaming Chromebooks are coming out, offering large screens with fast refresh rates. (This makes them excellent choices for digital creatives too.)
However, it's worth noting that Chromebooks still aren't suitable for intensive tasks such as ultra-high resolution video editing or 3D animations, because they don't come with dedicated graphics cards.
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