Best Chromebook 2023: 8 Options to Fit Any Budget
Best Chromebook 2023: Chromebooks are known for their ease of use, portability and affordability, meaning a lot of people in the market for a laptop would be better suited with a Chromebook.
Using Google’s ChromeOS, Chromebooks are designed to be user-friendly for everyone.
The best Chromebooks tend to be more affordable than traditional laptop options, such as Windows laptops or Apple MacBooks. And since they’re safe and less complicated to use, Chromebooks are an excellent gift for kids and less tech-savvy adults in need of just a simple computer. They’ll also suit anyone who wants an inexpensive laptop for productivity and entertainment.
While entry-level Chromebooks don’t feature all the bells and whistles of more premium models, they still get the job done. And for those with some extra money to spend, premium Chromebooks often include features like touchscreens, backlit keyboards and USI pen support for notes or drawing. Now, there are even Chromebooks made for cloud gaming. If you’re looking for the best Chromebook 2023 has to offer, keep reading.
What is the best Chromebook?
The Acer Chromebook Spin 714 is the best Chromebook for 2023 that we’ve tested. It’s full-featured with a fast 12th-gen Intel Core i5 processor and it is built to last. If you’re looking for a Chromebook to use as your one and only computing device, this is a great choice. It is more expensive than the average Chromebook, though it regularly goes on sale . If you want to spend less, consider the 17-inch Acer Chromebook 317 or, if mobility is a concern, the Lenovo Duet Chromebook.
The best Chromebook is still somewhat subjective, though. A lot comes down to what features you need in a Chromebook and how big of a budget you have. CNET’s editors tested and reviewed all of the Chromebooks on this list and all offer excellent performance and features for their price. Also, if you’re considering an older or used model, be sure to check the auto-update expiration date for the model.
The AUE is when ChromeOS stops receiving system updates and is typically eight years, but the date is not the same for every model.
And if you’re still not sure if this type of laptop is right for you, here’s a breakdown of all that a Chromebook can and can’t do compared with a traditional laptop. This list of the best Chromebook models is updated periodically.
Best Chromebooks for 2023
Acer Chromebook Spin 714
Acer had one of the best Chromebooks available in 2021 with the Spin 713, and now it’s repeated that success with the Chromebook Spin 714. The premium two-in-one doesn’t stray far from its predecessor in terms of what it offers — sturdy design, nice-looking display, strong performance and long battery life — but Acer did make some changes to keep it competitive, like including a USI pen that stores and charges in the 714’s body. There are less expensive options, but if you want a Chromebook that’ll last for years, this is it. Keep an eye out for a sale on this one: Its normal price is $729, but can be found on sale for less than $600.
Acer Chromebook 317
The 317 is essentially a portable all-in-one ChromeOS desktop, otherwise known as a Chromebase. The big display makes multitasking a breeze. You can stream a YouTube video in the corner while you work on a presentation and keep an eye on email or chat — all without overlapping windows. It is big and heavy compared with all the smaller Chromebooks here, so it’s not a great option if mobility is a priority. But it’s certainly small enough to move around the house, and with more than 10 hours of battery life according to my tests, you can work all day and still have time left for a video chat with family, gaming or streaming a movie. The configuration we tested sells for less than $400 but there is a version that meets our basic requirements for a Chromebook that is less than $300.
Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook
This Lenovo 13-inch Chromebook two-in-one has a full-HD display as well as excellent performance and battery life for the money, thanks to an Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor, 8GB RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive. Battery life is great, too, at nearly 11 hours.
While it’s not overflowing with extras, the Flex 5i Chromebook does have a privacy shutter on the webcam so you can physically block it when it’s not in use. The touch display is also pen-enabled so you can write or draw it with a USI pen. It is definitely one of the best Chromebook models for its price, power and size.
Lenovo has another two-in-one option on our best Chromebooks list, the Lenovo Duet Chromebook. The Lenovo Duet Chromebook is similarly priced to the Flex 5i but is a detachable two-in-one i.e. a tablet with a removable keyboard cover. If you need a Chromebook for full-day use, go with the Flex 5i. The Lenovo Duet Chromebook is better as a secondary device for on-the-go productivity tasks and entertainment.
HP Chromebook x360 14c
This premium 13.3-inch HP Chromebook has a wide display that’s nice for video streaming and easier to fit two side-by-side windows. The two-in-one design means you can use the HP Chromebook x360 as a tablet (though it’s a bit heavy to use as a handheld device). You can also tent it, connect an external keyboard and mouse and use it as a small all-in-one computer.
The Core i3 processor and 8GB of memory in the model we tested kept this HP Chromebook running smoothly even with a couple dozen tabs open and streaming video in the background. The Chrome OS will handle typical usage seamlessly. And this Chromebook laptop has a long battery life, lasting 10 hours and 40 minutes in CNET’s testing. This is a higher-end configuration, though, and its regular price is $699. This laptop regularly goes on sale for less than $500, but if you like the design and don’t need its more powerful components, the Celeron version is closer to $300.
Lenovo Duet Chromebook
The Lenovo Duet Chromebook (aka Chromebook Duet 3) is an awesome little 11-inch ChromeOS tablet with a detachable keyboard and touchpad. Its small size and performance aren’t ideal for full-time use. But the Chromebook Duet 3 is a good pick if you’re looking for an affordable ultraportable device to get some work done on the go, sketch or jot down notes in class, or do simple stuff like email, web browsing, gaming, reading and streaming video.
The original 10-inch version of the Duet Chromebook is also still available for $300 or less when it is in stock.
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2
It’s unusual for the second generation of a device to have fewer features than the original and still be an improvement, but that’s the case for this Samsung Chromebook. Samsung dialed back on some of the features and components of the original, making this Samsung Chromebook sequel more affordable than the first-gen model. It has a touchscreen, tablet capacity, 8GB RAM and an Intel Core processor. The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook also has much better battery life, and Samsung did it all without losing all of its predecessor’s premium appeal.
Acer Chromebook Spin 513 (CP513-2H) (Update: Currently Out of Stock)
Acer’s Spin 513 is an update of sorts to one of the best Chromebooks from 2021, the Spin 713. It’s a two-in-one convertible Chromebook with a 13.5-inch display that has a 3:2 aspect ratio. The extra vertical space means less scrolling when you’re working. The screen size is also close to that of letter-size paper, making it comfortable for notetaking in tablet mode with a USI pen. Compared to the 713, it drops a couple of noncritical features like an HDMI output in favor of a more affordable price. It has amazing battery life, though, and a sturdy fanless design, making it silent — perfect for quiet classrooms, lectures or video calls. Also, be sure to get the latest version of the Spin 513, model CP513-2H, powered by a MediaTek Kompanio 1380 processor.
HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook
Though the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 might be the best model I recommend, the Elite Dragonfly is the ultimate Chromebook for business users. HP, Google and Intel set out to create a complete Chromebook for enterprise more than two years ago. A Chromebook that didn’t have just a couple of important features but all of the features business users wanted. The Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is the result, a legit ChromeOS dream machine for hybrid workers.
It’s too expensive to recommend for most people — it starts at $1,149 and can go up to more than $3,000 — but it is definitely one of the best you can buy right now.
What is the difference between a laptop and a Chromebook?
A Chromebook is a laptop running on Google’s ChromeOS instead of Microsoft Windows or Apple’s MacOS. This is the biggest difference and it means Windows or Mac software cannot be directly installed and run on a Chromebook. Instead, Chromebooks are designed to use web apps (like those for Microsoft Office 365), Android apps and Linux software. Because ChromeOS is built for efficiency and to take advantage of web or cloud services, the operating system runs well with less expensive hardware. However, while Chromebooks come in a variety of sizes and designs, options are more plentiful with Windows laptops or Apple MacBooks, especially if you need to run demanding software. Again, ChromeOS is what really makes a laptop a Chromebook but there are some other differences to consider before you buy.
What OS does a Chromebook use?
Chromebooks run on Google’s minimalist Chrome operating system, or ChromeOS. When ChromeOS launched more than a decade ago, it was essentially Google’s Chrome web browser. It has grown vastly in capabilities over the years but remains a simple, lightweight and secure operating system that can run briskly on even low-end components. And, even though ChromeOS can do much more today, the fact is quite a lot can be done entirely on the web these days. Take stock of everything you do on a daily basis and you may find there’s nothing you can’t accomplish with ChromeOS.
What are the pros and cons of a Chromebook?
There are several pros to a Chromebook but one big con will instantly rule out buying one. Chromebooks are not natively compatible with Windows or Mac software. If you need to run a specific Windows or MacOS program, you will not be able to do so directly from a Chromebook. That said, there are ways around it including finding a substitute web or Android app, or a Linux equivalent.
Also, if you need advanced photo- and video-editing capabilities, you’ll want a Windows, Mac or Linux laptop. Basic photo and video editing are fine, but Chromebooks typically don’t offer the graphics performance you need for demanding tasks or, again, the option to install Windows or Mac software and games.
One other potential negative is the Auto Update Expiration date, or AUE. Currently, non-Google hardware is only supported for so long before it stops receiving ChromeOS and browser updates, including those for security. For models released now, the date is roughly seven to eight years from the initial release of the device, but that’s not always the case. Google maintains a list of AUE dates for all models, and you should check it before you buy a Chromebook, new or used.
There are many pros to a Chromebook, but the biggest is the price. While premium models start at around $500, you can find excellent options for everyday use for $200 to $300. The Lenovo Duet Chromebook, for example, is a two-in-one Chromebook with a detachable keyboard cover so it can be used as a tablet or a laptop and starts under $300. Like other laptops, though, a higher-end Chromebook generally means a better experience.
Also, some of the same reasons Chromebooks are popular for schools and businesses make them excellent family computers. Everyone in the family can have separate Google accounts, and signing in gives them access to only their stuff and not yours. Accounts for kids can be managed with Google Family Link. It’s nearly impossible for Chromebooks to be corrupted with viruses or other malware. And if it isn’t running quite right, you can reset it with Chrome’s Powerwash feature and in a couple of minutes, the system is clean and fresh. Just sign into your Google account and the Chromebook is completely restored.
Can I use any USB-C charger for my Chromebook?
Yes and no. Since 2017, new Chromebooks all charge via their USB-C ports. Chromebooks typically need either a 45- or 65-watt power adapter. You’ll need to check the specs for your specific model to find its power needs, typically found on the bottom of the Chromebook or on the manufacturer’s site. (If it’s given in volts and amps, you can get watts by multiplying the two together e.g. 15 volts x 3 amps equals 45 watts.) Using a charger that doesn’t meet the power demands of the Chromebook may still charge it but at a slower rate. Also, if you’re using the Chromebook while using a low-power charger, it will take even longer to charge fully. On the upside, Chromebooks will display a notification if the USB-C cable you’re using won’t support the necessary performance.
Here’s why a Chromebook might be all the laptop you need
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How we test computers
The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets and other computer-like devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device’s aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both those objective and subjective judgments.
The list of benchmarking software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important core tests we’re currently running on every compatible computer include: Primate Labs Geekbench 5, Cinebench R23, PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra.
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