You used to have to explain what a Chromebook is, because the idea that there might be a laptop that just had a browser and perhaps some Android apps seemed strange. That is no longer the case. Most people understand that Chromebooks can cover much more of their computing needs than before. A good Chromebook is more useful than a mediocre Windows laptop.
In fact, the message that people actually want good Chromebooks – rather than just cheap ones – have penetrated manufacturers. As long as you are willing to spend around $ 500 or $ 600, you can get something great. That's more than we used to spend people on Chromebooks, but that extra money helps a lot to get something you're happy with.
For the first time, the quality of laptops in this range is consistent. There are so many similarities between the HP, Asus, Acer and Dell offerings that a conspiracy-conscious person might suggest that they all get their components from the same plant.
That is great news if you shop comparatively. We have a choice for our favorite and second place, but the majority of the laptops on this list would be a good purchase if you can find them at a discount. Those discounts also appear fairly regularly (with the exception of the Pixelbook from Google, which remains insanely expensive).
What you want in a good Chromebook are the same things you want on every laptop: a good keyboard, solid build quality, long battery life, a nice screen and enough power to do the things you want. More Chromebooks can meet these qualifications than ever before, but there is still one that surpasses the rest.
The best Chromebook at the moment: Asus Chromebook Flip C434
Asus has a strong history in making good Chromebooks, but the C434 is something special. It is almost unique among this class of laptops in offering a large 14-inch screen in a laptop body that is much closer in size than a 13-inch model. It does that trick by minimizing the edges around the screen, which is the same thing the best Windows laptops have done lately.
Asus has also nailed the basics. The keyboard is great to type on, but it has the annoying problem that it is hard to see in low light, because the backlight has the same color as the keycaps. The trackpad is accurate and I appreciate that there is not only a USB-A port, but that the two USB-C ports are on either side of the laptop, so you can connect to the side you prefer.
There is even a microSD card slot for expanded storage – and you may need it because it only comes with 64 GB. The processor is not the most powerful that you can get in a Chromebook in this price range, but it should be sufficient for most tasks, especially if you follow our recommendation to get the 8 GB RAM model. Unless the game is more expensive, it is definitely worth it: from now on only the extra RAM costs $ 30 extra on Amazon, that is as close to a no-brainer as you can get.
In a market where the main differences between Chromebooks in this price range come down to their screens and perhaps a supplied stylus, Asus distinguishes itself by making a laptop that simply feels better. It has a 360-degree hinge, but when you open it in laptop mode, it subtly lowers the screen, further minimizing the appearance of the ring.
A potentially cheaper, more powerful option: HP Chromebook x360 14
If you are looking for more power and don't mind buying a slightly larger laptop, the HP Chromebook x360 14 is a great choice. Instead of the 8th generation Core m3 Y-series processor from the Asus, you get a Core i3 U-series processor, which is slightly more powerful. HP has several configurations that fall under this name, but we recommend the model that we tested with 8 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage to match that i3 processor.
Although we chose the Asus because of the elegant design, there is not much to complain about the slightly larger HP. It has the same ports, RAM and storage. The keyboard is great and it sounds a little better because the speakers are placed on the keyboard instead of on the bottom.
The thing that places the HP Chromebook x360 14 above the rest is that it is often heavily priced at the original price. We see it regularly selling for well under $ 500.
The quality on Chromebooks can unfortunately vary greatly as soon as you fall below $ 400. It is possible to find something pretty good if you are willing to abandon features such as a touchscreen or a backlit keyboard, but you must try them out before you buy them, if you can. That is because the money savings generally come from cuts in build quality and processor.
But if you are willing to spend more than that, you can generally get something quick and reliable if our most important choices are not available or do not meet your needs.
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