The best Chromebooks for students are a great alternative to Windows laptops and MacBooks, because they're a lot cheaper. They're also lightweight, making them convenient for carrying around school, college or university all day.
And that's not all. Because they're not slowed by bloated operating systems like Windows or macOS, they offer fast boot up times and smooth performance, allowing you to get more done in breaks between classes. Plus Chromebooks are known for their higher level of security, reducing the chance of being hacked and defrauded, which cash-strapped students in particular will appreciate.
So what's the catch? Well, because unlike most of the best laptops for graphic design, they don't come with Windows or macOS, you'll be limited in terms of the software you can use. Essentially, all you're getting is an internet browser, so you won't be able to run, for example, creative software like Premiere Pro, 3DS Max or the full version of Photoshop.
You'll have to say goodbye, too, to Microsoft Office software, although browser-based alternatives like Google Docs provide a pretty decent alternative for free. Perhaps most importantly, you won't be able to do much without an internet connection, so if the Wi-Fi at your college is dodgy, you'll have to use your mobile data to make up for it.
If those aren't deal-breakers, though, then the affordability, speed and convenience of Chromebooks have a lot to offer. For a general guide to Chromebooks, read our best Chromebooks guide, or for student specific options, read on.
The best Chromebooks for students available now
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The Acer Chromebook 314 is very low priced: you certainly won't get a Windows laptop or MacBook this cheap. And yet it does pretty much everything the average student will need. Yes, there are small compromises to be made for the price. Most notably, it doesn't have a touchscreen. Also, the processor isn't the fastest on the market, there's just 4G of RAM, the 14-inch screen offers a resolution of "only" 720p, and it's a little heavy at 1.7kg.
But really, these are small niggles. On the plus side, our reviewer found it easy to use, fast to boot up, and able to handle multiple tabs with ease. And impressively, they got 13 hours' battery life from a single charge. So overall, this laptop offers astonishing value to students. For more details, read our Acer Chromebook 314 review.
Is your budget really tight? Then this is the cheapest Chromebook we can recommend today. For day-to-day student tasks like writing essays, streaming music and video content, and general web browsing, it'll do the job admirably, and at a staggeringly low price.
Let's be clear: if you want to do anything particularly resource-intensive, such as create art, play games or edit photos and videos, this isn't the best choice, because the processor is relatively low-powered, there's just 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage and the screen is just 720p.
But to balance that out a little, the battery life is great: our reviewer managed 13 hours 50 minutes of Netflix viewing on a single charge. And they found the splash proof casing a welcome addition to boot. For more details, read our full Acer Chromebook 311 review.
The best 2-in-1 laptops give you the ultimate in flexibility: a touchscreen that you can detach and use on its own as a tablet, plus a keyboard that you can attach to turn it into a full laptop. And the HP Chromebook x2 11 is our pick as the best 2-in-1 Chromebook for students available today.
Yes, it's more expensive than the first two Chromebooks on our list. But as well as the flexibility of a 2-in-1 device, you're also getting a screen with superior 1440p (QHD) resolution. Its edge-to-edge glass finish is super-stylish. And the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c processor makes everything run nice and fast.
Battery life is strong, too: our reviewer watched Netflix for 11 hours 10 minutes on a single charge. And you even get Bang & Olufsen speakers, although in fairness our reviewer found these a little disappointing and lacked depth. For more details, see our HP Chromebook x2 11 review.
At time of press, the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook costs over $1,000 / £1,000 at its cheapest configuration, which rises beyond $3,000 / £3,000 at the highest specs. And that obviously puts it beyond the reach of the vast majority of students. But if you happen to have money to spare, or parents who are feeling extremely generous, then you may be looking for the absolute best Chromebook for students on the market. And right now, this is it.
Aimed at enterprise rather than education, the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook boasts a gorgeous touchscreen QHD+ display made of Corning Gorilla Glass 5. It's beautifully thin and light. Its 12th-gen Intel processors, teamed with 32GB RAM, offer blistering speeds. And you get an impressive 128GB of onboard storage.
All of this is overkill for most student uses, and at these prices you'd need a strong reason for choosing a Chromebook over a MacBook or Windows device. But hey, if you really want the Rolls Royce option, and money is no object, you'll struggle to find a more powerful Chromebook.
If you're looking for a mid-range Chromebook for your student needs, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is a worthy option. With a 11th-gen i5 CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, and 8GB of RAM, it delivers enough power to cope with tasks beyond the basics, such as using photo and video editing apps, creating digital art and playing games.
It also has a decent HD touchscreen, which can be rotated throughout the full 360 degrees, and 256GB of flash memory. So while you are paying more for this Chromebook, you are getting excellent value overall.
If you want to play AAA games on the go, you'd traditionally needed to invest in one of the best gaming laptops, which tend to be very expensive. However, the rise of cloud gaming platforms like Nvidia's GeForce Now and Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass has changed all that.
These services deliver high-end titles via the web, and handle most of the processing on their own servers, which means you can even play them on some Chromebooks. And if that interests you, the Acer 516 GE is our top choice.
It comes with a large 16-inch display, which boasts QHD resolution and 120Hz refresh rate, so if your internet connection is good enough you should enjoy smooth gaming action. Plus, even if your Wi-Fi isn't good enough for stable streaming, there's a 2.5G Ethernet port to set up a wired connection instead.
The audio from the top-firing speakers is decent too. All this comes at a price, though, and so this Chromebook is probably overkill for anyone who's not interested in cloud gaming. Also note that the screen is not a touchscreen.
Looking for a 2-in-1 Chromebook with a big, beautiful screen? Then check out the ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5, which boasts a 15.6 inch Full HD touchscreen display that's perfect both for watching video and creative tasks like photo editing.
It's impressively specced overall too, with a choice of 11th-gen Core i3, i5 and i7 processors along with 8GB RAM providing great performance and a generous 128GB of stage. Audio is strong, and surprisingly loud. The full-sized keyboard and trackpad are first class. And its sleek design means that even though it's large, it's very light, so it's still nice and portable.
Want a 2-in-1 Chromebook but can't afford the ones above on our list? Then the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook could be the ideal option for you. At a quite surprisingly low price, you get a hybrid device that you can use as both a tablet and laptop.
To be honest, the processor is not the fastest, and the 10-inch screen is a little on the small side. The keyboard is a bit small and fiddly too.
The flipside of that small size, though, is that this Chromebook is nice and compact, making it very portable for carrying around campus. Battery life is excellent, too averaging out around 10 hours for mixed use. And in truth, to get any kind of 2-in-1 laptop at this rock-bottom price is quite amazing.