If you're on the hunt for the best Chromebook of 2021, then we're here to help. From brilliant budget options to Chromebooks that have top-end components inside, the T3 experts will point you to the right Chrome OS-powered laptop for you, right here in this guide.
It's actually a great time to buy a Chromebook right now: these versatile, inexpensive, lightweight laptops are attracting more and more users thanks to their speed, simplicity, and (generally) low prices. And with more of us than ever finding ourselves working from home and needing to be online all the time, a streamlined and cloud-based Chromebook can make a real difference to any home office environment.
With Chrome OS, there's no need to install additional software or any security packages, and you won't notice any bloating or sluggishness over time. As an added bonus, you can now run Android apps on Chrome OS as well (head to our article on 'what can you do on a Chromebook?' for more info there).
However, it can be tricky to pin down the differences between the various models on the market, which is why we're here to help you find the best Chromebook for your needs – so read on for our top picks for a range of uses and budgets.
Not sure exactly what device you need? Jump to the bottom for an explainer on the differences between a Chromebook and a laptop (and head to our best laptop or best cheap laptop guide if you decide on the latter).
The best Chromebooks you can buy today
On one hand, all Chromebooks are the same, as they all run Chrome OS. On the other hand, there's plenty of variety in terms of screen size, build quality, keyboard and trackpad performance, and all the other factors that go into making a laptop. The Spin 713 from Acer ticks a lot of the right boxes, and we think it's the best Chromebook for most people.
It comes with a high-resolution, 2265 x 1504 pixel 13.5-inch screen that can be folded over and used in tent mode, as well as plenty of power under the hood – we're talking up to an Intel Core i5-10210U processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage. This should be able to handle all the Chrome tabs and Android apps you throw at it, and then some.
Other extras that we appreciate include an HDMI out port – not something you see very often on a Chromebook – and the 3:2 aspect ratio on the display, which means you can fit much more on the screen vertically, compared with a 16:9 or even a 16:10 aspect ratio display. A polished and professional-looking Chromebook.
A lot of people think budget or mid-range when they think of Chromebooks, but the HP Pro c640 makes a very good case as to why you should spend a bit more money for a bit more quality and power – this is a laptop that simply flies along, no matter whether you're browsing the web or running Android apps.
You can pick up this HP Chromebook in a variety of configurations, all the way up to a model running a 10th-gen Intel Core i7-10610U processor (a lot of power for ChromeOS and a few mobile apps). The 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel display is bright and sharp, and the construction of this laptop impresses too. The screen can't fold right over, but it can lay flat if you need it to.
From the webcam at the top of the display to the full-sized HDMI port that you can use to connect up an external display, it's an impressive offering from HP that's particularly suitable for business users. We also like the battery life, with a day away from a power supply no problem at all.
Is it worth the extra cash? See how it matches up against our best budget Chromebook below in our HP Pro C640 vs Asus C523 Chromebook face-off.
If you want to keep the costs of your next Chromebook purchase down but still want as much as you can get in the way of power and features, then the Asus C523 is absolutely worth a look. It'll do everything that you need a Chromebook to do, without costing you much at all.
Getting a laptop with a spacious 15.6-inch screen at this price feels a little bit like stealing, and on top of that there's an Intel Celeron N3350 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage – not top-level specs by any means, but definitely enough to keep Chrome OS running happily (plus any Android apps you might want to load up).
The Asus C523 Chromebook looks the part too, with a matte grey finish and a keyboard and a trackpad not unlike something Apple might put out. With four USb ports, a headphone jack and an SD card reader to make use of too, you really are getting plenty for your money with the Asus C523.
There's been a trend for Chromebooks recently to pack in more powerful specs and a greater amount of storage than is strictly necessary, but the Acer Chromebook 514 manages to not only deliver a strong all-round hardware package, but does so for a price that isn't going to break the bank.
You get a 14-inch touchscreen panel, which has a Full HD 1080p resolution, and that is then partnered with a 1.1GHz Celeron CPU, Intel HD Graphics 500 GPU, and 4GB of RAM. Storage space sits at 64GB. This Chromebook is also a looker too, with a luxe aluminium chassis radiating a mature, professional aesthetic.
Battery life is also good, at 12 hours on a single charge, and that's with a backlit keyboard as well, which makes using it in dark or low-light environments easy. Naturally, the laptop grants access to Google's suite of applications, as well as Chrome versions of popular apps like Skype. Overall, a strong all-round Chromebook that will service most people's needs incredibly well.
See how it matches up against the Acer at number 1 in our list in our Acer Chromebook 514 Touch vs Spin 713 comparison article.
With its elegant looks, a screen that you can 'flip' (to stand up or lie flat against the keyboard), and support for Android apps, the Flip C434 from Asus is undoubtedly one of the best Chromebooks money can buy in 2021.
The 87 per cent screen-to-body ratio is worthy of a premium Windows laptop and looks great running Chrome OS, while the internal specs can configured as required, with an m3, i5 or i7 processor available, along with up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of internal storage.
The 14-inch FHD display is also touchscreen-enabled, thereby unlocking that secondary tablet functionality, and delivers a 1,920x1,080 FHD resolution.
Overall, this is a very strong all-round system, and one that not only delivers laptop functionality but slate also.
If you want the very best Chromebook experience currently available then, for T3's money, the Lenovo Yoga C630 is the best choice on the market today. Not only does this system come with a very strong internal hardware spec that includes a rapid Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 CPU, Adreno 650 GPU, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, but its design is sleek and its build premium.
It also comes with flexible 13.3-inch FHD screen capable of a 300nits brightness, an integrated 720p HD web camera that is perfect for video meetings, and a long-lasting 4-cell 60Wh battery that delivers a super-long 25-hour battery life between charges. 25 hours? Now that really is an all-day battery.
As this is a premium Chromebook, it also comes with a in-built fingerprint reader for secure biometric sign in, a backlit keyboard and it runs a full copy of Windows 10 Home in S mode. Simply put, a fantastic all-round Chromebook that will suit those shopping at the premium end of the market.
The Pixelbook Go is the latest Chromebook direct from Google, and while we miss the taller screen of the original Pixelbook, there's no doubt that this newer, faster model gets a lot right. A variety of configuration options are available, up to an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB and a 4K display.
We've got yet more evidence that the Google hardware design team is hitting its stride with the Pixelbook Go, from the slim bezels around the display to the textured rubber underneath the laptop, which keeps it in place when it's on a firm surface (or on your actual lap).
Chrome OS flies along on the Pixelbook Go, and it's a fine example to other Chromebook manufacturers of just how good these laptops can be. You don't get the ability to fold the display over and use the device as a tablet, however. To find out more, head to our Pixelbook Go review.
If you've been looking enviously at the iPad Pro from Apple and the Surface Pro from Microsoft, and wishing Chromebooks could offer the same sort of versatility, then the Lenovo Duet could well be the device for you. It's primarily a tablet running Chrome OS, but snap on a keyboard and it's a great laptop too.
You get a 10.1-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel display, and the device is run by a MediaTek P60T processor together with 4GB of RAM and up to 128GB of internal storage. Those aren't top-of-the-line specs of course, but they're still more than enough to run Chrome OS, and battery life is excellent – you can take this away from a power source all day easily.
The keyboard and trackpad that turn this into a laptop are included in the price – take note, Apple and Samsung – though the stylus is an optional extra. It's versatile, it's very portable, it looks and feels great, and it's definitely one of the best Chromebooks on the market today (especially for fans of 2-in-1s).
If you're in need of the very best components inside your Chromebook, and you have a decent budget to spend on one, then consider the Asus Chromebook Flip C436. It comes with a choice of the latest 10th-gen Intel Core processors, as well as either 8GB or 16GB of RAM.
That means it should be more than capable of coping with any web browser tabs and Android apps you want to throw at it. We like the form factor too – as with other Asus Flip models, you can bend the screen right back and set it up in tent mode or use it as a tablet (albeit a thick tablet).
Battery life could be better, and it is expensive, but this is a Chromebook that really looks the part and that's going to last you for years and years. We're big fans of the gorgeous 14-inch screen as well, which makes webpages and apps crisp and bright, and features very little in the way of bezels. For more info, check out our Asus Chromebook Flip C436 review.
The Acer Chromebook R13 delivers an impressive 12 hours of battery life, while its 2-in-1 form factor means you can use it in tent or tablet configurations, too. However, it's biggest feat is that as well as running Chrome OS apps it can also run Android apps.
This ability to run Android apps is clutch as it means that, in partnership with its touchscreen display, the system can be used as an Android tablet, too.
It's overall tech specs aren't the strongest on the market, but each is strong for a Chromebook and combine to deliver a good all-rounder with some nifty extra features.
Overall this Chromebook delivers great value for money, and is well worth a considering by shoppers who like the idea of bagging a laptops and a tablet in one product.
Who says Chromebooks have to look ordinary and dull? That's not the case with the Lenovo C340, which gives off the impression of costing a lot more money than it actually does. It's all grey plastic and aluminium, with a large, bright screen and a nicely laid out keyboard that gives a satisfying typing experience.
The 15.6-inch display flips right over, so the laptop doubles up as a tablet, and you can prop it up in a 'tent' position if you want to sit back and enjoy some movies. It's not the thinnest or lightest Chromebook we've ever seen, but you do get a good selection of ports and buttons around the edges.
With an excellent build quality, impressive battery life, and plenty of flexibility, it's a Chromebook worth considering, and definitely worth a place on our list of the best Chromebooks of 2021. Add in the price means it's one of the best value Chromebooks right now, too.
There's a lot to like about the Acer Chromebook 314. Firstly, it is very attractively priced, meaning that the vast majority of people will be able to ring it up. Secondly, it delivers what all good Chromebooks should, which is a long-lasting battery life (12 hours) – this makes taking it out all-day easy.
The Acer Chromebook 314 also comes with a bright and sharp 14-inch display, which we rate, as well as a solid all-round core hardware package of Intel Celeron N4000 CPU, Intel UHD Graphics 600 graphics chip, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage space.
Yes, sure, this isn't the most powerful or feature-stuffed Chromebook, for example there is no touchscreen capability and no fingerprint reader, but if you just want a highly portable and capable portable computer then the 314 delivers.
How to choose the best Chromebook for you
These days, the majority of our daily computing happens in a browser. Most apps can be replicated online, through a browser, and so cloud-based Chromebooks make a lot more sense than they might do at first glance.
The Chromebooks of 2021 have learned a few tricks from Windows laptops too: some fold over to double as tablets, some sport all-day battery life, and some have upgraded internals on a par with a Windows 10 machine, for example.
What's more, most new Chromebooks that appear on the scene now come with support for Android's huge library of apps as well. If there's something you need to do that can't be done through the browser, maybe you can find an Android app to help.
When it comes to specs, these aren't quite as important as they are for Windows or MacBook laptops, but you'll still want a generous serving of processor speed and RAM, particularly if Android apps are involved.
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One of the key specs to look out for is screen size, as this will determine how much room you've got for webpages and apps, and how easy (or otherwise) it is to lug your Chromebook around.
Ultimately the reasons to buy a Chromebook are that they offer secure, lightweight systems that are always kept right up to date. Say your Chromebook gets stolen – replace it with another, log in, and everything will still be where you left it in the cloud.
Chromebooks have also become hugely important for education. Long battery life, low costs, and a decent suite of office apps mean that for cash-strapped students in need of a reliable work computer, they're absolutely ideal.
Is a Chromebook and laptop the same thing?
In almost all respects, yes they are. They deliver a portable computing experience that allows people to work and be creative wherever they might be, and often for significantly less money.
Where Chromebooks differ to laptops is in their operating system, apps, and internal components. The operating system, for example, is Google's Chrome OS not Windows, Linux or macOS, while the apps that Chromebooks use are from Google's G-Suite of software.
And, as Google's software pretty much all runs off the cloud, that means that Chromebook apps are designed to be online at all times. This is an important point to consider when buying a Chromebook. You really need to have an internet connection available to make using a Chromebook worth while.
Lastly, the internal hardware on Chromebook's tends to be (although not always) lighter than on a laptop. This is because Chromebooks use web apps and remote hardware to do their work for them. They still have CPUs and hard drives, but they just tend to be more basic as they don't need to do as much local processing and storing.
It is this lack of need in terms of internal hardware components that often leads to Chromebooks to ring in cheaper than a budget laptop, for example.
What brand makes the best Chromebook?
You might have noticed that when it comes to the best Chromebooks, the same brand names pop up again and again. It can help to know the manufacturers that you're looking for when it comes to finding the Chrome OS device that's right for you.
It's really Acer and Asus that are leading the field when it comes to how many Chromebook models they have on offer. Their laptops cover a wide variety of price points, but are always well built and reliable. HP is another name to look out for, especially if you're buying for business.
Like Acer, Asus and HP, Lenovo makes plenty of Windows laptops and has carried that expertise over to Chromebooks – you'll find some excellent Lenovo Chromebooks on the market covering a variety of form factors, including a 2-in-1 tablet/laptop model.
The other big names to look for are Samsung and Google: they don't make many Chromebooks, but the ones they do are very good. Samsung's latest is the Galaxy Chromebook 2, while Google has followed up the excellent Pixelbook with the Pixelbook Go.
How we test Chromebooks
Testing Chromebooks is very similar to testing laptops, as they are essentially the same thing. However, due to the online nature of Chromebooks, and the fact that they run their own Chrome OS, they very much operate in their own ecosystem and can't be compared 1-to-1 with Windows 10 laptops or Apple MacBooks.
As a general rule Chromebooks have weaker internal hardware specs than laptops, but also then tend to cost less money, too.
When testing a Chromebook T3 starts as we would for any laptop, in judging its design and build quality. For Chromebooks, as systems that are designed to be portable, this is very important, as a weak fit and finish can lead to rapid deterioration.
This stage also includes analysing the system's display, as well as its capabilities if present as a touchscreen. Many Chromebooks today come with flexible screens that can be orientated for slate usage, so ascertaining the quality of the touch interface is very important.
We then move onto judging the Chromebook's hardware and performance. Unlike Windows 10 laptops, for example, this doesn't lean on benchmark scores as much as it does experiential usage, and specifically usage of Chrome OS and its stable applications. If the system supports Android apps, then we naturally try out a suite to see how the system performs.
Finally, and this is very important for Chromebooks, we test out each system's battery life. Chromebooks are designed to be portable, use-anywhere-with-internet devices, and that means running them without a power supply. Here we see just how far a system can go in the real world before it needs plugging in.
Once these stages are complete we conclude the Chromebooks review and rank it out of 5 in terms of a star score. If a system reviews well, we then consider it for entry into our best Chromebooks buying guide.