Find the perfect Chromebook with this guide.

The 5 best Chromebooks reviewed 2016 – “which Chromebook should I get?”

So, you want to buy a Chromebook. And you want the best Chromebook.

Maybe you want one because of the speed. Or maybe the simplicity. Or maybe you just heard a bunch of good things about Chromebooks and now you’re persuaded to buy one.

 

Welcome to the club.

I’ve been an avid Windows user since I got into computers in general, and within a few months, I’m now a hardcore Chromebook user. It’s replaced most of my work and online activities, and I only use the Windows desktop for some programs here and there. My Chromebook has literally taken over my Windows computer.

But, this article isn’t about Windows vs. Chromebooks. If you want to know more, I wrote a post about the benefits of Chromebooks over Windows and the differences between Windows and Chrome. You can check ‘em out if you’d like. Other than Google making a very secure, safe, and fast laptop, there’s not much else to say.

This article is about helping you to decide which Chromebook to get.

If you’re new to the market, you’ll probably see dozens upon dozens of Chromebook models. You’re probably asking yourself:

Which Chromebook is the best for productivity, school, or gaming?

Which Chromebook is right for me?

What’s the fastest Chromebook?

What’s the best Chromebook?

Which Chromebook is the newest?

What’s the cheapest Chromebook?

And probably even more questions…

 

I’ll try to answer to answer as many as I can based on my knowledge of Chromebooks, and recommend you the best Chromebooks on the market that fit each criteria.

Given that there are way too many Chromebooks out there, I’ve scoured the web and hand-picked the top 5 best Chromebooks I could find. All of the Chromebooks that made this list are backed by hundreds of positive reviews and have proven their worth. Some of them I’ve even tried myself at demo booths, or at work, or I own.

So, without further ado, here’s my list of the 5 best Chromebooks.

 

Best Chromebook #1: Acer Chromebook 11.6”

The Acer Chromebook 11.6 is my personal favorite and best Chromebook in my opinion.
The Acer Chromebook 11.6 is my personal favorite and best Chromebook in my opinion.

This Chromebook is my tried-and-true favorite and is the laptop I use daily. It comes loaded with your standard Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB SSD. If you don’t know what these specs mean, I’ll break it down.

You can use the same train of thought to the rest of the article for the other Chromebooks, since all the components work in the same way. It’s just that some components are faster than others.

 

The processor is the main component of the Chromebook. It’s where all the processing happens. A faster processor means a faster Chromebook. It’s also called a CPU.

The Intel Celeron processor is a popular processor and is widely used in a lot of budget computers. Don’t let the word “budget” fool you. It’s a very powerful and efficient processor and can handle almost anything you can throw at it.

The RAM is basically used to multitask. The more RAM you have, the more you can do at once. If your habits include opening a lot of tabs, or running a lot of apps at once, you’ll want more RAM. 2GB of RAM is the standard for all Chromebooks and you won’t find one without at least 2GB.

The Acer Chromebook has your standard 2GB of RAM. This is enough for most people to do whatever they need to do on their laptop. I usually have about 5 tabs open for work, and 1 for YouTube music. I also have 3 other web apps open besides Google Chrome. This Chromebook doesn’t stutter a bit. It has more than enough RAM for your activities. Even gaming.

The SSD stands for solid state drive. It’s the onboard storage of the laptop. Traditionally, computers use HDDs (hard disk drives) for storage. SSD is the new standard and is much faster. You’ll be storing all your data on your Chromebook’s SDD. In other words- the memory.

 

You can store up to 16GB of data on this Chromebook, which is more than enough for most people. If you need more storage, you can use Google Drive, or any cloud service (such as Dropbox), for that matter. You can also connect a USB thumb drive, SD card, or external hard drive if you please. For me, I use Google Drive and hardly store anything on my Acer Chromebook, so it’s more than enough for me.

The Acer comes with an 11.6’’ screen, which I’ll admit is pretty small. However, I’ve gotten used to it. Remember, I’m coming from a desktop PC with a huge monitor. If I can transition over to an 11’’ laptop display, it should be no sweat. The screen itself is crisp and clear and offers a 1366×768 resolution, which works well with most HD videos, including those on YouTube. The display is an IPS anti-glare screen, which really shows when outdoors in bright light. You can use the screen without having the sunlight interfere too much. The screen also can be viewed from multiple angles without too much dimming, which is perfect if you use your Chromebook in bed, like I do. That’s probably my favorite part about the screen.

A speedy Chromebook with all the necessities at a cheap price.
A speedy Chromebook with all the necessities at a cheap price.

The keyboard is easy to use with plenty of space between the keys. It’s not too spaced out, but it’s cozy simultaneously. The trackpad is huge and easy to use as well. It’s very responsive and works well with multiple fingers for all the trackpad gestures. You do have to press down pretty hard to make it click, which is something I don’t particularly like. However, you can just tap the trackpad instead of clicking for most actions. Things like dragging and dropping require a trackpad click, so that’s a problem area. However, it’s not that bad once you get used to it. It offers a huge area to run your fingers across and is very accurate to the touch. If you’re a gamer, you can play MMORPGs without a mouse and only the trackpad. That’s how responsive it is.

The body of the Acer Chromebook is thin and lightweight. You’ll have no problem carrying this around since it only weighs about 2.4 pounds and is only 0.7’’ in thickness. The moonstone white color also makes it look expensive and Apple-like. It has your standard USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 inputs, a microSD card input, power, lock, and headphone port.

The battery is advertised to last 9 hours, but you can go way over if you conserve it. It really depends on what you do with your Chromebook. If you just browse the web, reply to emails, and type documents, you can get plenty of juice on a single charge. If you watch YouTube videos, play games, and video chat on Skype, you’ll drain the battery. Either way, it definitely has a nice run for a single charge.

The performance of the Acer is excellent, and compares to a high-end Windows computer. It boots within seconds, updates automatically, and is ready for your command as soon as you flip the lid. Of course, these features are native to all Chromebooks. But the Acer Chromebook really backs what a Chromebook is all about- ease of use, simplicity, and speed. It sports Intel HD graphics, which is more than enough to handle most videos, images, and games- including Minecraft.

The Acer 11.6 is the best selling Chromebook on amazon.
The Acer 11.6 is the best selling Chromebook on amazon.

If you’re new to Chromebooks, I’d highly recommend you checking out the Acer Chromebook CB-131. It’s a relatively cheap Chromebook and offers a punch of performance. It’s perfect for productivity, work, school, and even moderate gaming. You can browse the web, watch videos, work on spreadsheets, documents, and slideshows without a hunch. If you need any specific app, the Chrome web store is fully available and this Chromebook also supports the Play store update coming to Chromebooks, which means you can use Android apps on this model as well. It’s perfect for pretty much anyone who wants a cheap Chromebook with a proven track record.

In fact, it’s the best selling Chromebook on amazon.

What I liked best: It’s gotta be the keyboard. It’s super easy and comfortable to use. I can type faster on this keyboard than on a real standalone keyboard.

What I didn’t like: The trackpad is kinda big for my taste and my hand rubs on it unintentionally when I type. It’s not a big problem though. It’s because I slack in my chair and lean back too far.

Either way, I’d highly recommend the Acer CB-131 as your first choice consideration. It’s the best Chromebook on the market, in my opinion.

Take a look at the awesome Acer Chromebook on amazon.

 

Best Chromebook #2: ASUS Chromebook 11.6’’

 

The ASUS C201 is a Chromebook perfect for students and professionals.
The ASUS C201 is a Chromebook perfect for students and professionals.

The ASUS 11.6’’ C201 is a Chromebook built for professionals. If you’re looking for a Chromebook to get things done, this is one of your best choices. Let me tell you why.

The C201 sports a Rockchip 1.8GHz processor, which is a professional CPU with blazing speed and efficiency. Rockchip isn’t as popular as Intel, but they’ve recently gained more popularity due to their performance within these laptops. It’s a quad-core Chromebook, which means it has 4 processors instead of 2, like most Intel-based Chromebooks. This means faster processing for apps that use multiple cores and more efficient multitasking if you run multiple apps or tabs simultaneously.

This Chromebook also comes with 4GB of RAM, which is double the standard 2GB of RAM you get with most Chromebooks. This means multitasking power. You can run more apps, open more tabs, and do more things at once without slowing down your Chromebook with double the RAM. It also has your standard 16GB SSD for storage of your files, sheets, docs, and slideshows for quick access.

What’s special about the ASUS Chromebook is that it has a free embedded QuickOffice editor app, which opens and lets you edit MS Office files without having to save each file as a specific file type for compatibility between devices. You can also download MS Office Online, which is basically a cloud version of MS Office at no extra charge. If you’re used to working with .docx or .ppt or .excel files, you’ll have no problem moving files around between your Windows device and this Chromebook. It should be seamless. This works out perfectly if you need to work with MS Office products due to work or preference. Now you can easily type documents, make spreadsheets, and present presentations on a Chromebook with the built-in app.

The ASUS C201 Chromebook also offers an excellent keyboard to go along with boosting your productivity. The keyboard I found was very responsive and I could type with less errors compared to a traditional standalone keyboard. The keys are slightly bigger than most Chromebooks and have more travel distance. This could be a pro or con depending on your preference. Personally I like the extra distance and it gives that feedback to let you know if you hit a key or not.

A thin bezel makes the screen's profile thinner.
A thin bezel makes the screen’s profile thinner.

The trackpad is also accurate and responsive to the touch. It has a silver finish and blends well with the body of the Chromebook. It looks expensive to the touch, and feels not as plasticy as you’d think. It’s very spacious and offers effortless navigation and control. Perfect for typing documents or working on spreadsheets on a Chromebook.

The screen is a 1366×768 pixel LED display. It offers HD playback for most videos, such as YouTube videos. It looks crisp and clear, however it doesn’t have the wide viewing angles that the Acer Chromebook does (Chromebook #1 above). One thing it does have over the other Chromebooks in this list is that the screen’s bezels seem to blend well, probably because they’re dark. Having a white finish makes the screen appear to be smaller because they stand out, whereas a darker finish blends in and makes the screen appear to be bigger. It offers an 11.6 inch display just like the Acer does, but for some reason the screen looks bigger. It’s gotta be the bezel color. It’s an illusion but it does make a slight difference.

The body has a taper towards the user and offers an extravagant finish. The bottom half is silver, whereas the rest of the Chromebook is navy blue. It’s not really my color, but it works. It comes with plenty of ports to go for connectivity via USB. It also features an 801.11ac wireless connection for up to 3 times faster WiFi speeds, although this isn’t exclusive to the ASUS Chromebook. It weighs in at about 2 pounds and is only about 0.7 inches thick, just like the Acer Chromebook. This makes it super portable and easy to carry.

The battery is advertised to run for 13 hours, which is very impressive for a laptop. In the Chromebook world, this is way above average for a battery. Most Chromebooks about 8 or 9 hours, so this Chromebook has the upper hand. If you need to get stuff done and you don’t always have access to a power outlet (or you don’t want to be tethered to one), you’ll be happy to known a single charge can last you all day on this Chromebook. Oh yeah.

The ASUS Chromebook also features a Trusted Platform Module, which is basically an extra layer of security to protect your sensitive information that you type in online. Chromebooks are already super secure, but more security can’t be bad.

Overall, the ASUS C201 is an excellent Chromebook for professionals. You have everything you need to get work done- a fast CPU, extra RAM, a spacious trackpad and responsive keys, a huge battery, Microsoft Office integration, and a crisp and clear screen. All for a price that won’t’ break the bank.

The ASUS Chromebook is a workhorse.
The ASUS Chromebook is a workhorse.

What I liked best: The RAM. It’s definitely noticeable when I run many apps simultaneously and there’s no slowdown. I had to purposefully stress test the Chromebook to see what it could handle. And it was more than enough- way more. That extra 2GB of RAM makes a huge difference if you’re a multitasker.

What I didn’t like: The trackpad was a little too spacious for me. Italics. And the screen doesn’t have the wide viewing angles, so I had to adjust whenever I changed my angle of eyesight. Personal preference.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend the ASUS C201 Chromebook to anyone who needs a workhorse of a Chromebook. It’s Built to get things done and it does it well.

Take a gander at the ASUS C201 Chromebook on amazon.

 

Best Chromebook #3: HP Chromebook 14

The HP Chromebook 14 shines with its large screen and affordable price.
The HP Chromebook 14 shines with its large screen and affordable price.

The HP Chromebook 14 is a basic, affordable Chromebook with all the basics made by a leading computer manufacturer. If you’re on the shaky side about Acer, you may be more comfortable with HP.

The HP Chromebook 14 comes loaded with your bare necessities, such as an Intel Celeron 2.16GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 16GB SSD. This Chromebook is basically HP’s counterpart to Acer’s Chromebook (#1 above).

What the HP has over the Acer is obviously screen size. The Acer Chromebook with similar specs comes in an 11.6’’, whereas the HP comes in a 14’’ screen. Otherwise, both Chromebooks are pretty much identical. The HP is slightly higher priced due to the screen size, so if you’re looking for a bigger screen at an affordable price, the HP 14 is worth a shot.

After reviewing the HP Chromebook 14, I can say the screen size is well worth the price. With the extra few diagonal inches, I could view my laptop from a distance and still see what’s going on. Compared to the Acer, it’s a lot more convenient than having to go full-screen constantly just to squeeze out more vertical screen space.

Other than the screen size, both Chromebooks performed about the same.

What I liked: The bigger screen is well-appreciated and works wonderfully for HD movies.

What I didn’t like: The color scheme. Also didn’t feel as snappy as the Acer.

If screen size matters to you, you may want to go for a bigger screen (check out Chromebook #5).

Check out the HP 14 on amazon.

 

Best Chromebook #4: Toshiba Chromebook 2 – 13.3’’

Students and professionals will appreciate the Toshiba 2.
Students and professionals will appreciate the Toshiba 2.

 

The  Toshiba Chromebook 2 is a mid-range Chromebook with high-end performance. The processor that comes loaded on this Chromebook is an Intel Celeron 1.7GHz, which is a dual-core processor that’s built to perform. However, this Chromebook also is available in an Intel Celeron i3 processor, which is even more extreme. Of course, the i3 comes at a higher price tag.

The Toshiba Chromebook 2 comes with a 13.3 full HD display, and that’s what stood out the most when I reviewed the Chromebook. It’s in 1920×1080 pixels, which means you can watch nearly all HD videos on the web, whether it’s a movie or YouTube video. The monitor is also full IPS, which means less glare and more quality. I tried watching a few YouTube videos in HD and they were simply stunning.

The Chromebook 2 comes loaded with your choice of processor, 4GB or RAM for multitasking, and a 16GB SSD for storage. The i3 processor really shined during multitasking in conjunction with the double RAM. Apps load quickly and the computer run super snappy.

The body has an ice silver finish and a decent keyboard. Nothing really special to note. One thing I did like is the backlit keyboard, but usually I’m not a fan of these since they drain battery. I didn’t get to use it in the dark, but the light looks pretty intense so there should be no issue even in pure darkness since the letters lit up in a bright demo room very well. The trackpad is also spacious and responsive. Overall, the input worked well. It weighs 2.9 pounds and is only about 12 inches in length. It’s pretty easy to carry around and light for its screen size.

The backlit keyboard is perfect for those who type in dim lighting.
The backlit keyboard is perfect for those who type in dim lighting.

It has your basic ports- USB 3.0, headphone port, and microSD port.

The battery was advertised to run around 8.5 hours, but I didn’t get to fully test it out. After giving it an initial run, I wouldn’t be surprised if it would go a few hours over because it seems pretty efficient if you’re not doing anything intensive.

Overall, if you want a full HD Chromebook, this is it. I’d recommend this to anyone who wants a full, stunning HD experience on a Chromebook. It’s affordable and works well as a gaming or entertainment Chromebook.

What I liked best: The full HD screen.

What I didn’t like: The backlit keyboard. Again, this is personal preference. Most people would probably appreciate it, however, I always use my laptop in a bright room so there’s no need other than a battery drain. However, that’s subject to the user.

Check out the HD quality of the Toshiba 2 Chromebook on amazon.

 

Best Chromebook #5: Acer Chromebook 15

The Acer 15 is one of the best of the best Chromebooks on the market.
The Acer 15 is one of the best of the best Chromebooks on the market.

Again, another excellent Chromebook made by Acer. This is an extremely popular model that’s basically an upgrade to the previous Chromebook up to (Chromebook #1). It’s Acer’s upgraded version with a leaner and meaner build.

The processor has been upgraded to an Intel Celeron 1.5GHz CPU with dual-core performance and the newest architecture for even more speed and efficiency. It also offers your choice of 2GB or 4GB RAM and 16GB or 32GB SSD storage. When I reviewed this Chromebook, I tested the fully-loaded (4GB RAM/32GB SSD) version, and let me tell, the difference between this model and the Acer CB-131 is huge.

The first thing you’ll notice is the huge screen. We’re talking about an 11.6’’ screen versus a 15.6’’ screen. It looks like it’s almost double the size. Well, not really, but you get what I mean. It’s huge. The display is also in full HD, which means a 1920×1080 pixel resolution. You can watch all the HD stuff you want on the web on a huge screen. The display still retains the multiple viewing angles and anti-glare matte screen.

The keyboard feels the same, with the same travel and offers a very responsive design just like the CB-131. The trackpad seems to slightly improved, as I didn’t have to press down as much to get it to click.

The battery is advertised to run the full 9 hours, just like the CB-131. This is quite impressive, as the screen is much bigger and runs at a higher resolution with more powerful components under the hood, but the battery runs the same amount on a single charge.

I tested some movies, watched some YouTube, and played some games. I can’t name a single issue I had with the Acer 15 over the Acer 11. It’s improved and doesn’t compensate for it. Well done, Acer. If you don’t like small screens on laptops, this is your bet. Playing games on this Chromebook almost felt like playing them on a desktop monitor.

The only issue I had was the size. Obviously a bigger screen means a bigger profile. It weighs about 4.8 pounds and is slightly thicker (0.3’’) than the CB-131. It’s also larger in dimensions due to the screen. If you don’t mind the extra sizing for the screen, then you’re good to go. It comes with all your standard ports and has the same appearance as the Acer 11.

The Acer 15 has a bigger screen, improved specs, and customization options.
The Acer 15 has a bigger screen, improved specs, and customization options.

Overall, the improved specs, bigger screen, and your choice of 2/4GB RAM and 16/32GB SSD really makes this Chromebook the winner. I know I said earlier that my favorite is the CB-131 and that’s only because of the size of this Chromebook. I carry my Chromebook around even within my room a lot, so a smaller footprint on a laptop is a dealbreaker for me. If I didn’t move around as much, I go with the Acer 15. It’s the winner.

What I liked best: It’s the Acer 11 improved in every way. Nothing to not like about it.

What I didn’t like: The footprint of the Chromebook, but that’s due to my laziness of carrying a laptop around.

Check out the new and improved Acer 15 on amazon.

 

Well, there you have it. The 5 best Chromebooks on the market based on my experiences and tons of research on the web. All of these Chromebooks are clear winners and you can feel free to research any of them that fits your style.

If you want a cheap and affordable Chromebook, but just works, go with the Acer 11 or HP 14.

If you’re looking for a Chromebook for work or school, check out the ASUS 11.

If you want a fast Chromebook with speed and performance, try the Acer 15 or Toshiba 2.

Or you can browse all Chromebooks on amazon.

Thanks for reading. If this helped you on your quest for the best Chromebook ever, consider sharing this article. It’s much appreciated.

About Andy Z.

Andy is a casual-hardcore Chrome OS fan and contributes to the site regularly. He likes computers, tech, sports cars, videogames, and of course, Chromebooks. Thinker. Introvert. Geek. You can find him on Twitter (@platytech), or send him an email (platy@platypusplatypus.com).

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