Best student Chromebooks 2021: top choices from Asus, HP and more

Affordable student Chromebooks for going back to school and college

Best student Chromebooks 2021
(Image credit: Acer)

The best student Chromebooks are today one of the absolute smartest choices for going back to school or college, as not only are they very affordable but they're also geared toward online use, which is where the vast majority of studying is now taking place. They're ideal, for example, for attending Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet online classes, as well as producing coursework in Google Docs.

As we note in our best Chromebooks guide, these laptops are also ideal for learners as they are very portable, too, and tend to have great battery lives, making them ideal for those days where a student is taking classes and seminars in person on campus, or needs to visit the library for an all-day cramming session.

Our choices of the best Chromebooks for students differ to our recommendations for most people in the sense that we're looking for value for money and affordability over everything else. Many students don't have lots of money to drop during their studying years and that means they don't want to drop going on a grand on a study tool. As such, we've kept our recommendations here to Chromebooks that we feel have affordable or budget price points.

Lastly, we think it important to note that any prospective buyer should really consider if one of the best student Chromebooks is a good fit for them. For many students they'll be perfect, but remember that these systems run ChromeOS and, in general, are not as powerful as, say, one of the best laptops, best 2-in-1 laptops or best lightweight laptops

If you're going to spend the majority of your student years writing essays in Google Docs then a Chromebook is likely ideal, however, if you're on a course where serious computing is needed (such as video editing, 3D modelling, heavy image editing, rendering or number crunching) then you're probably best plumping for a laptop running Windows or macOS. These are our recommendations for the best laptops for engineering students, for example.

The best student Chromebooks to buy in 2021

Acer Chromebook Spin 713 best student Chromebooks 2021T3 Award

The best student Chromebook for most people? That's the Acer Chromebook Spin 713.

(Image credit: Acer)

1. Acer Chromebook Spin 713

The best Chromebook for most students

Specifications
CPU: Up to Intel Core i7-10510U
Graphics: Up to Intel UHD Graphics
RAM: 4GB / 8GB
Screen: 13.5-inch, 2256 x 1504 pixels
Storage: 64GB / 128GB / 256GB
Reasons to buy
+Versatile, solid design+Sharp and bright screen+Strong all-round specs
Reasons to avoid
-Cheaper student Chromebooks exist

Of all the Chromebooks on the market today we think Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is the best all-round choice for students. This is because it delivers a strong all-round combination of robust build, stylish design, good screen and powerful internal hardware – everything you need for going back to school or college.

The Spin 713's screen, for example, is a lovely 13.5-inch panel with crisp resolution of 2265 x 1504 pixels, while its core internal hardware spec includes up to an Intel Core i5-10210U processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage. That's the sort of spec you'll find on most laptops, and that means that as well as crushing every application in the Google Workspace and Android app store, it's also got plenty of grunt for photo and video editing.

The Spin 713 also ticks other boxes we're looking for on a student Chromebook, including impressive connectivity options (it actually comes with a HDMI out port, which is not something a lot of Chromebooks have, and is perfect for when you want to hook the system up to a TV or monitor), a 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, and the ability to rotate the screen into a tabletop viewing mode, which is ideal for watching movies and TV shows.

Overall, this is a really strong all-round Chromebook, and we consider it our number one choice for students.

HP c640 Chromebook best student Chromebooks 2021T3 Award

The HP c640 Chromebook delivers a top-shelf computing experience.

(Image credit: HP)

2. HP Pro c640 Chromebook

The best premium student Chromebook

Specifications
CPU: Up to Intel Core i7-10610U
Graphics: Up to Intel UHD Graphics
RAM: Up to 16GB
Screen: 14-inch, up to 1920 x 1080 pixels
Storage: Up to 128GB
Reasons to buy
+Excellent performance+14-inch, FHD screen+Good port connectivity+Good in-built webcam
Reasons to avoid
-No 2-in-1 functionality-Pricey

This is the one system in our list of student Chromebooks that costs a decent chunk of change, but that's because it really does make a great case for why, if you can afford it, you'd be well rewarded for doing so. That's because the HP Pro c640 comes with a hardware sheet which, at max spec, rivals many full-blown laptops and delivers an incredibly speedy performance across the board.

What we like especially, though, is that this premium student Chromebook can be picked up in a wide range of configurations, meaning you can tailor what it delivers directly to your college's course needs. If you're on a technical or creative course where you need plenty of processing power, then you can slot a 10th-gen Intel Core i7-10610U along with 16GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD in, for example, but equally you could spec more of an entry level system in the same chassis that is equipped, say, with an Intel Core i3 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 32GB storage drive.

Regardless of the spec you choose, the HP Pro c640 Chromebook's screen is another reason to consider dropping the extra cash on it. That's because it is a 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel display that 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, and its size is greater than what a lot of Chromebooks deliver.

You also get a good webcam built-in to the top of the display, a battery that is good for all-day use away from a power socket, and a full full-sized HDMI port as well that you can use to connect up an external display. Overall, a very strong portable computer that we feel is the best premium student Chromebook on the market today.

Asus C523 best student Chromebooks 2021T3 Award

For those shopping on a budget, the Asus C523 is well worth checking out.

(Image credit: Asus)

3. Asus C523 Chromebook

The best budget student Chromebook

Specifications
CPU: Intel Celeron N3350
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 500
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 15.6-inch, 1366 x 768 pixels
Storage: 64GB
Reasons to buy
+Great value for money+Spacious 15.6-inch display+Well built unit
Reasons to avoid
-Not top level specs

If you want to keep the costs of your student Chromebook purchase down but still want as much as you can get in the way of power and features, then the Asus C523 is a great choice. It's got basic specs but providing you don't need to do much in terms of heavy duty processing or editing work, then it'll do everything that you need a Chromebook to do, without costing you much at all.

There's another great reason to pick this Chromebook if you're a student, too – it comes with a large (for a Chromebook) 15.6-inch screen. As such, if you're going to want to stream movies and TV shows from places like Netflix and Disney Plus between study sessions then the Asus C523 provides the screen real estate for a genuinely immersive experience.

In terms of other specs nothing is standout and beaten easily by other systems in this guide, with an Intel Celeron N3350 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage completing the core package, but it's enough for what this system is designed to do, which is run Android apps and Google's suite of applications and software well.

The matte grey finish is professional looking, too, and the equipped keyboard and a trackpad is not unlike something Apple might put out. Connectivity is also stong with four USB ports, a headphone jack and an SD card reader to make use of.

Overall, a strong budget student Chromebook buy. To learn more about this system be sure to check out T3's should I buy the ASUS Chromebook C523? guide.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet best student Chromebooks 2021T3 Award

If you need 2-in-1 functionality from your student Chromebook then definitely consider the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet.

(Image credit: Lenovo)

4. Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook

The best 2-in-1 student Chromebook

Specifications
CPU: MediaTek Helio P60T Octa-Core
Graphics: ARM G72
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 10.1-inch, 1920 x 1200 pixels
Storage: 64GB / 128GB
Reasons to buy
+2-in-1 form factor+Excellent design+Great value
Reasons to avoid
-Small keyboard, keys have limited travel-No micro-SD slot to expand storage

Value for money is important for everyone, but especially for students, and that's why 2-in-1 systems make perfect sense – they bag you a laptop and a tablet in one device. Naturally there a few 2-in-1 student Chromebooks of note, but our pick of these is the very capable Lenovo IdeaPad Duet.

The Duet is primarily a tablet running Chrome OS, but you can snap on the included in the price keyboard and it's a great laptop, too, delivering a system loaded with a 10.1-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel display, MediaTek P60T processor, 4GB of RAM and up to 128GB of internal storage. Yes, those specs aren't top tier or anything to write home about, but they're still more than enough to run Chrome OS, Google's suite of applications as well as any Android app you can think of.

Oh, and the Duet also delivers excellent battery life – we're talking multiple days of normal usage without having to recharge. That flexibility is fantastic on campus as you can go from taking notes in class, to writing up an essay in the library, to chilling out in the common room while browsing the internet, and onto watching your favourite shows or listening to music in your dorm room, all on one very light and portable device.

Overall a really strong (and affordable) 2-in-1 Chromebook experience, and our number one choice of hybrid Chromebook for students going back to college or university.

HP Chromebook 11 best student Chromebooks 2021

If money is really tight then the HP Chromebook 11 should be right up there on your systems to scope out.

(Image credit: HP)

5. HP Chromebook 11

The best student Chromebooks for buyers with a very tight budget

Specifications
CPU: Intel Celeron N3060
Graphics: Integrated graphics
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 11.6-inch, HD (1,366 x 768) touchscreen
Storage: 16GB eMMC
Reasons to buy
+Very, very affordable+Very portable
Reasons to avoid
-Small 11-inch screen

The HP Chromebook 11 is the best student Chromebook on the market today for a seriously low price point. We're talking about a system that retails for under $200/£200, which here at T3 we feel every student can afford. From a value for money perspective it is therefore right up there.

And, while you absolutely don't get a beastly powerhouse of a system for that spend, what you do get is a very capable Chromebook that will be more than enough for many students going to college or school today. The Intel Celeron N3060, 4GB of RAM and 16GB storage drive don't sound impressive, but they're more than capable of running ChromeOS well, as well as Google's applications and Android apps.

The screen is only 11 inches, mind, so you really don't get much screen real estate, and the screen's bezels are large, too. But if those things aren't deal breakers for you then this is super portable Chromebook that makes studying on a super tight budget not just possible but a good experience.

How to buy the right student Chromebook for you

As we mentioned in this guide's introduction, the first thing you should ask yourself when thinking about buying a Chromebook for study is just why are you considering a Chromebook and not a laptop running Windows or macOS. If the answer to that is due to budget then that makes sense but with some caveats, while if it is because you just need a simple, online-focussed system to read and write essays then that makes total sense regardless.

First off, there are affordable laptops that run Windows and, in the second hand market, macOS, so if you've got a decent budget and feel you need the full functionality that those operating systems deliver (as well as their, in general, better specs) then you should consider those first and foremost for sure.

Secondly, though, if you've already identified that a Chromebook is a right fit for your needs then you need to consider exactly what they are, as that will determine how much you spend on a student Chromebook and if you need anything specific like 2-in-1 functionality.

As a rule we'd say only students who are going to be expected to need serious computing or processing power (such as those involved in engineering, for example) should spend big on a Chromebook, as even the most basic spec Chromebooks all run ChromeOS and Google's suite of apps like Google Docs perfectly. You'd just end up wasting money. Remember, for example, that a lot of Google's apps are cloud based, so you don't even need much storage space for files or images. So, yes, don't overspend on a student Chromebook.

The other thing we'd suggest is weighing up how much entertainment you're expecting to get out of your student laptop. If you need a system to stream movies and play games on then, then we'd suggest opting for a Chromebook with a decent size screen (14-inch or higher), or with 2-in-1 functionality, so you can unwind with the system in tablet mode in the evening when the day's study in laptop mode has been completed.

Robert Jones
Robert Jones

Deputy Editor for T3.com, Rob has been writing about computing, gaming, mobile, home entertainment technology and more for over 15 years. You can find Rob's work in magazines, bookazines and online, as well as on podcasts and videos, too. Outside of his work Rob is passionate about motorbikes, skiing/snowboarding and team sports, with football and cricket two favourites. Feel free to contact him with any related products, events, and announcements.