So, you want the best Chromebook for Linux you can get your hot little hands on.
There’s good news and bad news. You’ll probably want the bad news first.
But it wouldn’t really work with what I’m trying to say, so here’s the good news instead:
Almost every Chromebook can run Linux.
And the bad news?
You have way too many choices.
That’s why I compiled this list- to guide you on your quest to find the best Chromebook (ever).
Let’s get started then.
Last updated: 1/3/19.
These are still the developer’s best friend for stepping into the world of Linux on a Chromebook.
A list of the best Chromebooks you can dedicate for Linux
I’ve had the blessing to try out a few different Chromebooks (and install Linux on them). And from the dozen or so that I got to mess around with, these 5 are my favorite of the bunch.
If you solely intend to use your Chromebook for Linux, any of these 5 laptops will do the trick.
They vary in hardware, specs, and price obviously, so you should just look for features that appeal to you in your price range.
Get the one that best suits your lifestyle, whether you’re a power-user or just a beginner with Linux.
Whatever the case, I hope you find the best Chromebook for your purposes.
Now let’s get on with the list already. I talk too much.
I’ll first talk about the necessary hardware requirements to actually install the Linux kernel so you know what to look for in a Chromebook. This can benefit you just in case you decide that you don’t like any of these laptops and want to go out hunting on your own. This way you’ll know exactly what to look for so you know it’s compatible.
What are the exact Chromebook requirements to run Linux?
All you need are the bare essentials. This is composed of two things:
- An Intel processor
- A decent hardware setup
The majority of Chromebooks are powered by Intel, but there are few here and there which use some oddball processors like MediaTek and Rockchip. So you need to make sure you’re running Intel if you want to install Linux.
As for hardware requirements, it depends on the Linux distro you want to install onto your Chromebook. You can view the specific hardware requirements of each distro.
But for the majority of Linux desktop environments, even a basic Intel Celeron CPU with 2GB of RAM will do the trick. Linux isn’t all that resource intensive after all. So you’re pretty much safe with any newer Chromebook. You may be able to get by with an older laptop as well, but just make sure it meets the requirements for whatever Linux distro you plan to install. Most should be powerful enough.
But if you’re unsure, you’re better off with a newer laptop (or any Chromebook on this list, which is kind of why I wrote it). This isn’t just for meeting the minimum requirements, but rather for performance. A faster Chromebook means faster loading times, boot times, and program execution and processing times. It’s just better and a wiser decision overall.
This article won’t cover how to actually install Linux on your Chromebook (because it’s a buyer’s guide).
I actually wrote a full-fledged detailed guide on getting Linux on a Chromebook via Crouton that you can refer to after you’ve made your purchase (don’t forget to bookmark it =]).
So, now that we’ve discussed some of the basics about how this list is compiled and why these Chromebooks were chosen to be reviewed, let’s get started already, shall we?
Here we go.
1. Acer Chromebook 14
I’m a big fan of the Acer line of Chromebooks.
Not to be biased, but my first ever Chromebook was a cheap little Acer 11.6’’ (specifically, the CB3-131). It’s still one of my favorites and I still use it almost daily. This obviously put me in the market for other Acer laptops.
A stylish, sleek aluminum finish with a full-HD display
The Acer 14 will catch your eye because of the aluminum finish.
It gives the body of the laptop a very extravagant look that you’d expect to see in a high-end Windows laptop. It’s very eye-catching and sleek. Everything looks better with aluminum (only if phone manufacturers would take a hint).
It features a full 13.3’’ IPS display with a full-HD 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. In case you didn’t know, IPS is often preferred over other display technologies because of the color vividity and multiple viewing angles. It does come at a cost of having a slightly higher response rate, but it’s negligible. You probably won’t be doing any hardcore twitch gaming on a Chromebook anyway.
The screen is absolutely gorgeous. Although it’s nothing that impressive in terms of specs, I found that the silver bezel adds a very nice frame around the display that makes it look like a laptop from the near future. It’s much more pleasing than having a black or white bezel. Again, aluminum for the win.
Now, let’s talk about what really matters- performance.
Quad-Core CPU for quick and speedy performance
It’s powered by an Intel Celeron N3160 Quad-Core processor clocked at 1.6GHz (Braswell).
If you’re familiar with CPUs, which I assume you somewhat considering you’re trying to get Linux going, you’ll know that the Braswell processors are excellent for multitasking and pack a lot of power. With 4 cores running on some of the newest processor architecture, you’ll have a very decent machine to boot Linux with.
Plenty of RAM for multitasking
If you do happen to like multitasking, you’ll be glad to know it also comes loaded with 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM.
This is double the standard 2GB of RAM you commonly find on older and entry-level Chromebooks. And with double the RAM comes double the productivity. You’ll be able to “sudo” your fingers off and launch all your favorite programs while playing a game on Steam while watching a video on VLC while chatting on Pidgin. And then some.
And it’s also got a nice 32GB of storage, which again is double the 16GB standard. You’ll have plenty of space to save games, files, images, pictures, and other media to your local drive if you’re paranoid about using cloud storage.
I know, compared to traditional modern laptops, 32GB is literally nothing.
Depending on how you plan to use Linux on your Chromebook, you may need more storage space.
One thing to note is that the storage is eMMC, which means you won’t be able to ever upgrade to a larger capacity hard drive.
But don’t worry. You can easily connect an external drive to the USB 3.0 port.
It really depends on how you use it and how much space you need. If you don’t like bloating up your laptop with programs and apps, 32GB should be enough space. Or you can use a cloud provider like Google Drive or Dropbox to save your stuff. But if you really need space, just go for external storage.
(Don’t know which external storage drive is compatible for Chromebooks? Want the best? Check out this list of the best external drives for Chromebooks.)
No Micro SD card reader- but everything else
Now let’s talk about the connectivity.
The Acer 14 has 2 USB 3.0 ports, a basic audio jack, 1 HDMI out port, and that’s it. It doesn’t have any connections for SD or MicroSD cards, so if you’re a big fan of those, you may have to get an adapter to make it compatible. This is a decent setup and works for the majority of Linux users, but it’s not completely future-proof. With USB Type C ports becoming more and more popular, you can easily tell this laptop is a generation behind. But then again, Linux users generally don’t really need the latest and greatest hardware anyway. Some of us are often content with an 8-bit system.
You also get Bluetooth and WiFi 802.11 a/c as with the majority of Chromebooks out there. I don’t think this is worth mentioning as it’s pretty much standard. So I won’t bother saying it again for the rest of this article.
You also may be wondering why I’d recommend this laptop if it’s missing an upgradable hard drive and doesn’t have an SD card reader. It’s because those two features weigh heavily on the end user. Some people can get by just fine without an SD card reader. And others don’t need a huge storage capacity or may be okay with using an external hard drive. The Acer 14 offers a lot of pros over the few cons, so that’s why I still suggest you to consider buying this Chromebook for Linux. It’s worthy.
Intel HD Graphics, 12-hour battery, and all the essentials
For those who like to use Linux for entertainment, you’ll be glad to know that the majority of Chromebooks have an Intel HD Graphics as a coprocessor.
It’s not nearly as good as a dedicated, discrete GPU. But it’s good enough for light to moderate gaming, HD video, and even basic rendering. The Acer 14 Chromebook features an Intel HD Graphics 400 coprocessor you can enjoy some entertainment on Linux.
And of course, you get the other essentials- an HD 720p webcam, a built-in microphone, dual speakers, and a basic non-backlit keyboard.
(Want backlighting? Check out this list of Chromebooks with backlit keyboards.)
It also features a full 12-hour battery runtime so it’ll last you all day if you don’t have a power source. Linux isn’t resource demanding for basic Ubuntu installation, so that should only help keep the battery going. The 3-cell, 3920 mAH Lithium-polymer battery is packed with enough charge to help even the most devoted developer going all day (and night).
A larger display means a heavier Chromebook
The dimensions are 13.4 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches and weighs about 3.42 pounds.
This is fairly decent footprint considering the size of the display. It’s actually pretty lightweight for a 13.3’’ Chromebook, probably due to the aluminum alloy casing. Typically, 13.3-inch Chromebooks are slightly heavier and can go into the 4-pound range.
I think the best feature about this laptop is the screen. Although I’ve grown accustomed to using an 11.6’’ laptop, a 13.3’’ feels like a world of difference. If you often do productivity work on Linux (coding, developing, etc.), you and I both know that a bigger screen boosts efficiency and productivity. The Acer 14 features a screen that’s big enough to get the work done, but doesn’t weigh down the laptop so it’s a pain to carry around.
Now, this often depends on again, your intents and purposes for buying a Chromebook just for Linux. If you plan to mainly leave your laptop at home, then a bigger screen with a heavier weight and bigger footprint doesn’t matter. In fact, you may even want a Chromebook with an even bigger screen.
But if you plan to be mobile and need a portable Chromebook, then you’ll have to factor in the dimensions, weight, and screen size and find the perfect balance between all 3 variables that suits you.
It’s something to think about.
Powerful CPU, big screen, and runs Linux smoothly
Overall, the Acer 14 Chromebook is a very nice laptop for running Linux.
It’s powerful, looks awesome, and has a larger screen. With the Quad-Core CPU and 4GB of RAM, it’ll take on pretty much any reasonable Linux installation without a hiccup.
It’s an excellent choice for any level of Linux user- whether you’re moderate or advanced. It delivers powerful hardware at a very affordable price point. This is probably my go-to choice for anyone who wants to dual-boot their device.
2. Toshiba Chromebook 2 (2015) (CB35-C3350)
This is probably one of the best-known Chromebooks used for dual-booting Linux and Chrome OS.
It features a very nice display (which we’ll cover in a bit), a powerful processor, and a very small footprint with a stylish finish.
Don’t get confused over the two versions
The Toshiba Chromebook 2 came in two different versions- 2014 and 2015.
You can still easily find the 2015 version online, and it’s preferred over the 2014 version.
To make things even more confusing, the 2015 version comes in two different models.
The differences between the 2014 and 2015 versions aren’t much. You get a few upgrades like a backlit keyboard and the option to upgrade to an Intel Celeron i3 CPU. The processor upgrade alone over the 2014 version makes it worth it. It’s slightly more expensive, but you can easily find one used for a decent price. You’ll want the i3 processor. It’s worth every penny.
Let’s talk about performance and specs. We’ll only be talking about the 2015 version from here on out.
Upgradable to an i3 CPU
The Toshiba 2 is a powerful little beast of a laptop. It features two different processors you can choose between. Specifically:
- Intel Celeron 3215U 1.7GHz
- Intel Celeron i3-5015U 2.1GHz
The price difference between the two is pretty significant, but if you can afford it, I highly recommend getting the i3. It makes a world of difference from boot time, program cold start launch time, installation time, loading time, and general processing tasks. The 5th Gen Intel i3 is a very fast processor that you can literally benefit from.
The i3 is a very fast and speedy CPU that’ll save you time. And it’s more than enough to run nearly any distro of Linux.
Even the ones with a lot of special effects and eye-candy. It’s nearly twice as fast compared to the 3215U. If you’re planning to just use Chrome OS and Linux, you’ll appreciate the i3. It’ll deliver the performance you need compared to the 3215U. Some installations of Linux via Crouton may not be compatible with the weaker processor because it won’t be able to handle it. But then again, it all depends on what you plan to do with Linux on your Chromebook.
Other than the processor, both versions are identical. You get 4GB of RAM and a standard 16GB of storage space, which is on the smaller side. If you need more disk space, you can easily connect an external storage device or upgrade the storage to a larger SSD. Yes, you can swap it. Woot.
It’s got all the connectivity you need- it has both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, a single HDMI out port, an SD/SDHC card slot, audio jack, and a security lock. You can connect most devices to this laptop like printers, webcams, microphones, speakers, and external hard drives.
A vivid, crisp, sharp, and colorful display
The display is absolutely stunning. It features a full 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution offering an FHD IPS experience.
At 13.3’’, it’s not too big and not too small. The colors are vivid and the fonts are sharp. You can watch movies in crystal-clear HD quality. You can view images in photorealistic slideshows. This screen on the Toshiba 2 is one of the best I’ve seen so far (among all Chromebooks). It’s brilliant. It’s bright. It’s vivid. It’s crisp, clear, and easy to read. Your games, docs, photos, videos, and anything else you do will be rendered beautifully.
If you compare the specs of the display to other similar laptops, it’s nothing impressive.
But you need to see it for yourself. I’m not sure if it’s the coating they used or simply the design of it, but it’s a super gorgeous screen you need to see to believe. Toshiba may not dominate the Chromebook market, but their product quality is top-notch.
A small enough footprint for portability
The dimensions 8.4 x 12.6 x 0.8’’. It’s a little thicker in profile than a lot of other 13.3’’ Chromebooks, but just barely.
The overall size of it is small and it’s easy enough to carry around. The best part is that it weighs just 2.9 pounds total. This is considered very light for a 13.3’’ Chromebook. If you’re looking for a laptop to use on-the-go, this is a worthy choice. Remember, it’s 13.3 inch Chromebook housed into a compact 12.6’’ body. That’s compact.
If you do some research, you’ll likely come across other Toshiba 2 owners who use this just for Linux. It’s considered to be one of the best Chromebooks for Linux due to its powerful i3 processor, feature set, and compatible hardware. The 16GB of storage can also easily be upgraded to a bigger capacity, say a 128GB or 256GB SSD.
One of the best Chromebooks for Linux
If you’re thinking of getting a Chromebook just for Linux, consider the Toshiba 2. Get it and load it up with a nicely-sized SSD and galliumOS and you’re good to go. You’ve got a full-fledged Linux ultrabook that you can use for anything.
3. Dell Chromebook 13 (3380 6TXJ4)
The Dell Chromebook 13 is a lesser-known laptop, but it deserves more recognition.
Dell isn’t particularly too popular in the world of Chromebooks, but if you’re a Linux user, you’ve probably heard some good things about them. I wouldn’t be surprised if the only advertising this Chromebook got was from people who bought it just for Linux.
Besides trying to figure out what’s going on with Dell’s advertising budget, let’s talk specs.
A basic hardware setup
The Dell 13 features a nice little Intel Celeron C3855 CPU clocked at 1.6GHz.
It’s not the most powerful processor nor the fastest on this list, but it gets the job done. It comes paired with 4GB of RAM and a 16GB SSD which can easily be swapped for a 128 or 256GB drive. It also has your standard Intel HD Graphics 510 coprocessor for watching movies and playing games.
This is pretty much your average run-of-the-mill hardware setup. Nothing impressive. But it works for Linux.
Bulky and heavy
The screen is a 13.3’’ display at 1366 x 768 resolution.
This isn’t full HD as it only plays back in 720p video, but it still serves a purpose. If you plan to use this laptop just for productivity work on Linux, like programming, designing, developing, publishing, or coding, screen resolution may not be that important to you. Thus, having a lower resolution wouldn’t be a big factor.
It measures 11.6 x 18.5 x 3.1’’, so it’s literally huge compared to other Chromebooks. It also weighs a whopping 5.55 pounds, making it one of the heaviest Chromebooks you can buy. But this huge footprint and weight is for a specific reason which you’ll find out soon.
Now that we got the basics out of the way, let’s talk about some impressive features about the Dell 13.
Something pretty awesome about the display is that it’s mounted on a 180-degree hinge, which means you can lay it completely flat on a surface. This makes it a lot more flexible (no pun intended) to use. I often use my Linux Chromebook in bed in a variety of positions, and folding it out to lay flat on my knees while they’re bent is a very nifty feature. If I try to do this with my CB3-131, the screen may snap off the hinge since it only opens up to about 170-degrees. It’s made for sharing content easier, but if you have no one to share with and you’re solely using it for Linux, it makes a nice viewing position.
And now, let’s talk about why it’s so gosh darn heavy.
Spill-proof keyboard, rubberized edges, drop-tested, and scratch-resistant screen
A nice feature about the Dell 13 is that it’s very durable.
It comes with a fully-sealed spill-resistant keyboard so you can protect it from your morning coffee, soda, water, or energy drink. The edges are also lined with rubberized pads which seems to be something that every laptop should have nowadays. These pads have saved this laptop from many bumps and bruises, according to a friend who let me borrow his Chromebook. It even has drop protection so if it falls from your hand, desk, or dining table, it should do no harm other than some cosmetic damage.
It utilizes Corning Gorilla Glass for the screen so it can withstand pens, fingers, and other shocks and bumps. It’s advertised to have up to 10 times higher scratch-resistance.
As for connectivity, you get a single USB 3.0 port, USD card reader, headphone/microphone jack, USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, a Noble Wedge Lock slot, and an HDMI out port. And again, the hard drive is easily swappable for a bigger capacity SSD.
It has some nifty little features as well like a shiny, bright, backlit keyboard and a glass touchpad with a built-in button.
And lastly, it boasts 10 hours of battery runtime on a single charge. This is more than enough for all but the most dedicated Linux user. Whether you’re getting stuff done on Ubuntu or playing games on Lakka, the Dell 13 has you covered.
Suitable for home use and on-the-go
I’d say this is probably one of the best Chromebooks for Linux for two very different people.
The first is someone who stays at home. You get all your stuff done on your laptop and only your laptop. The extra weight and size don’t matter.
You have all this extra protection in case you accidentally shove it over the edge or spill your Red Bull all over it. You’re not a hardcore gamer or anything since you mostly use it to get work done. But you can still appreciate the HD experience in 720p for movies and games when you’re bored.
The other person is the traveler. You’re constantly on the move and you need something portable. The durability of this laptop will save you plenty of times and pay for itself. It’s worth the extra 2 pounds and extra-large profile. You’re using it for productivity. You don’t have time for games or messing around, so the 720p resolution doesn’t really bother you.
A durable Linux ultrabook
Both of these scenarios would fit someone looking for a Chromebook just for Linux.
The Dell 13 is relatively affordable and comes with a decent hardware setup and a very durable construction. I’d definitely ask you to consider this one if you’re looking for a Linux Chromebook for productivity rather than entertainment.
4. Acer C720P Chromebook
The Acer C720P is a touchscreen Chromebook that’s perfect for running Linux on.
If you’re a touchscreen user, you’ll like this laptop.
Full touchscreen support
It has an 11.6’’ screen, making it one of the smaller Chromebooks on this list.
But then again, you get a full touchscreen support so you can use your fingers to your hand’s content. The display is an IPS 1366 x 768-pixel screen with capacitive touch for up to 10 fingers. This means you can literally use every single one of your fingers and it’ll register all of them. That’s pretty cool.
The screen isn’t that big, considering that it’s only 11.6 inches. But you get a few perks of having a smaller screen.
For starters, it’s a lot more portable. It only weighs 2.98 pounds and measures 8.03 x 11.34 x 0.78 inches, so it has a tiny footprint compared to the 13.3’’ and 14.6’’ Chromebooks on this list.
This makes it easy to carry around and very lightweight. If you don’t really plan to move it around and you want to keep it at home, you can always connect it to an external monitor for a bigger screen.
(Looking for a smaller, lighter alternative? Check out this buyer’s guide list of the smallest Chromebooks.)
The Acer C720P is also a widescreen Chromebook. This makes the aspect ratio work better for programming, coding, developing, or even just playing games or watching videos in widescreen. It’s rare to find widescreen support on an 11.6’’ laptop, especially with touchscreen support.
But then again…you get a touchscreen.
A decent processor
It’s powered by an Intel Celeron 2955U processor running at 1.4GHz with a 2MB L3 cache.
This isn’t the most powerful CPU on this list (awarded to the Toshiba 2), but it packs a good punch. It’s enough to handle the most popular and stable versions of Linux distros.
But if you find it lagging or having performance issues, you can always get something like Lubuntu, LXLE, Puppy Linux, Linux Lite, or Debian.
Personally, I just stick with Xfce for weaker Chromebooks and just KDE for slightly more powerful ones. But the Acer C720P can handle most versions of Linux even with a 1.4GHz Celeron CPU. Linux isn’t that demanding, after all (unless you make it so). With Intel HD Graphics, it’ll definitely give you a performance boost in graphic-intensive applications.
RAM, storage, connectivity, and battery
You get 2GB of DDR3L SDRAM, which is standard for any Chromebook.
It’s the bare minimum to be considered one. 2GB of RAM is more than enough for the majority of Linux distros.
However, if you plan to do a lot of multitasking, you may want to upgrade to a 4GB Chromebook instead. I’d say 2GB is fine for running one or two programs for best performance. But this heavily depends on what you’re running. You can easily run multiple instances Notepadqq because it’s lightweight, but only a few instances of VLC or MPlayer since it’s resource-intensive. 2GB could be plenty or way too little. Again, it depends on what you’re planning to use Linux for on your Chromebook.
It comes with 32GB of storage as well, which can be swapped out for a larger capacity SSD.
If you plan to save a lot of files and media on your computer, you’ll definitely either want to upgrade or get an external drive to store them. But it’s nice that this laptop comes with double the storage of entry-level Chromebooks without bumping up the price tag too much. It also has a weird combination.
You get only 2GB of RAM but you get 32GB of SSD storage. Chromebooks are usually sold in 2GB RAM and 16GB SSD or 4GB RAM and 32GB SSD options. This one offers you the upgraded storage without inflating the price. It’s actually pretty cheap for a touchscreen laptop.
As for connectivity, you get all your necessities: a single 3.0 USB port, a single USB 2.0 port, HDMI out with HDCP support, Bluetooth 4.0, SD card reader, and a special Acer inviLink Nplify 802.11 a/b/g/n/ MIMO Dual-Band 2.4GHz and 5GHz LAN. That’s something worth mentioning as well. Typically, Chromebooks only support 802.11 a/c WiFi connectivity. The Acer C720P offers you a few more ways to connect.
It sports a 7.5-hour battery, which isn’t as impressive as the other laptops here, but it’s still fairly good. It’ll last you about a whole day if you’re a hardcore power-user. If not, it should be more than enough.
Of course, given that this is a touchscreen laptop, you’ll have to be sure to install the proper flags in your code to enable touchscreen support when you’re installing Linux.
Want Linux on a Chromebook with touchscreen support?
Overall, it’s one of the best laptops for Linux with full touchscreen support.
You can swipe and touch your way through your favorite apps, films, movies, shows, games, programs, websites, pictures, spreadsheets, docs, and notes.
If you want to buy a Chromebook just for Linux and you absolutely need touchscreen support, check out the Acer C720P. It’s a worthy laptop.
5. ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA (Flip 2)
The ASUS Flip 2 is one of the most popular modern Chromebooks on the market.
If you’re serious about getting the best performance, you’ll want to take a glance over this beast of a laptop.
It’s a convertible
For starters, it’s a convertible Chromebook.
This means the screen folds over the body in a full 360 degrees circle. This allows it to be used in 4 different viewing modes: immersive, laptop, tablet, and tent mode.
If you’re not familiar with how you can use these modes (or convertible in general), I wrote a detailed explanation of what a convertible Chromebook is and how you can take advantage of one.
You’ll notice the aluminum body right away. It’s similar to the Acer 14 in terms of quality and build (especially to the touch). It instantly adds a sleek design that makes it feel expensive.
An FHD gorgeous display
The display on this thing is a 12.5’’ FHD with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.
This offers a crystal-clear picture and is pretty much the new standard for a full HD screen. Although you can get a 4K display with some laptops, it’s not quite mainstream enough to become the new standard. I still consider it an enthusiast’s resolution for now.
No Chromebook currently has a true 4K display. The closest one is the HP Chromebook 13 which has a 3K resolution.
Enough about that. The display on the Flip 2 is gorgeous. It offers a wide viewing panel (wide, no widescreen) that makes it easy to work with programs because you get more screen space.
It’s also coated with an anti-glare coating and an active light sensor that effectively rids any glares and reflections. If you use your Chromebook in a bright room, or outside, it’ll automatically adjust the brightness just like any modern smartphone so it’s easy to see. This kind of technology also relieves flicker that causes eyestrain and fatigue as well.
And guess what else? The screen is a full touchscreen. Oh yeah.
Even though I personally don’t like touchscreens, I understand that many people do. This laptop will provide you with all the swiping, tapping, and pinching hand gestures you’re used to. And it’ll just work.
When I had the opportunity to mess around with this convertible, I found that it was very intuitive and Chrome OS recognized the state it was in and switched over the UI accordingly without a hiccup. Chrome OS has been developing their system in favor for two-in-one Chromebooks as of late, so it’s expected to run smoothly and integrate nicely.
One of the best keyboards ever
I didn’t get a chance to install Linux on this Chromebook (not that my friend would let me in the first place), but it felt very nice to hold and type on.
The keys, touchpad, and screen all worked together in one wholesome piece and it felt like I was typing on a Mac or something. The whole experience was very nice and something I could do all day.
The keyboard is a full-size keyboard.
It has very nice spacing and a decent travel distance for each key. It’s a one-piece chiclet keyboard with 1.4mm travel. This is perfect for typing, coding, programming, and developing.
Each key gives you that feedback that tells you the key has been pressed and registered without you having to press too firmly. It’s not stiff, but it’s not too soft either.
If you type quickly, you’ll appreciate it. It lets you type on the fly without too much backtracking. It’s intuitive and feels very comfortable to type on quickly. I found that I made fewer errors compared to my CB3-131. Travel distance matters. A lot. And this Chromebook has it set up near perfectly.
I just wish the keys were slightly farther apart since that’s what I’m used to. But nonetheless, it’s one of the Chromebooks with the best keyboards for typing.
The key float is also minimal.
Palm rejection touchpad
The touchpad was also good. It was very precise and accurate for the most part.
The only issues I had were that it didn’t seem to register double taps that well. I had to tap twice in succession with a larger surface area on my finger to get it to work. Single taps worked without a hitch. Double taps were kind of weird. I don’t know. It could just be my browsing habits.
Nonetheless, it’s a very spacious and nice touchpad. It measures 104.5mm x 61mm so you get plenty of space for your index and thumb fingers. Usually, a bigger touchpad means that your palm will often swipe against it accidentally and it’ll push your cursor flying across the screen. We’ve all been there.
But guess what? The Flip 2 features palm rejection.
This means that if your palm rubs up against the touchpad, it’ll automatically detect it and refuse to register it. This feature recognizes and differentiates between your palm and your fingers so it’ll know not to pick up an accidentally swipe of your palm. That’s pretty cool. No more showing the player controls on videos in fullscreen.
No more cursors disappearing and having to relocate them again. No more automatically scrolling through a page by accident. Awesome.
You know that feeling you get when you’re just content with your computer setup? That’s how it felt the entire time I was using the Flip 2.
Packed with powerful hardware
As for specs, as mentioned earlier it’s powered by an Intel m3 CPU with a clock speed of 2.2GHz.
This is a very fast processor that beats a lot of competing Chromebooks. You’ll get super-fast loading times, boot times, and processing times.
An Intel m3 is more than enough to run pretty much any distro of Linux (that’s within reason). You can try out some of the most visually impressive desktop environments like Zorin, Ubuntu, Fedora Core 6, Suse/OpenSuse, KDE, Maku, and Cinnamon.
And if that’s not enough, you have the option to boost this baby up to an Intel Core m5 CPU clocked at 1.1GHz. It offers slightly better performance which results in a faster machine.
Personally, I don’t think the upgrade is necessary unless you’re a serious power-user. The m3 will do just fine for pretty much everything you need to do on Linux. But if you have the dedication (and the cash), go for the m5. Then you’ll have one slick ultrabook Chromebook for Linux.
And of course, both processors have an Intel HD Graphics coprocessor for games, videos, and other media.
One thing I did notice is the startup speed. This thing boots in about 3 seconds. And that’s a cold boot, not a waking up from sleep boot. I’m not even kidding. Compared to my Acer 11.6’’, the Flip 2 is almost twice as fast (mine boots in a little under 6 seconds). I was stoked at how far Chromebooks have come in performance.
It’s loaded with 4GB of RAM for moderate multitasking power. It’s comparable to a few other models on this list, so it’s nothing extraordinary. But it’s definitely nice compared to a 2GB variant. The double RAM capacity is definitely noticeable.
Here’s one thing that separates this Chromebook from all the others on this list- it’s got a whopping 64GB of SSD storage. Now, that’s a capacity that may work for some Linux users. For their other models, I suggested for you to up upgrade and swap out the SSD (except for the Acer 14, which can’t be upgraded due to its eMMC storage).
But for the Flip 2, some of you may just be fine and dandy with 64GB of disk space. If it’s not enough, you can still swap it out for a 256 or 512 SSD. Whatever you please.
It boasts a 10-hour battery runtime on a single charge, which is more than enough to get through the day. Whether you’re getting stuff done or just messing around, 10 hours of battery is plenty.
Here’s a video of the ASUS Flip 2 in action:
Super lightweight with a tiny footprint
The C302CA is also very lightweight.
It weighs just 2.65 pounds making it the lightest Chromebook for Linux on this list. Its dimensions are 8.3 x 12 x 0.5’’, which also makes it the thinnest Chromebook profile on this list as well.
If you want a very compact, portable, and tiny Chromebook for Linux, look no further. You can carry this laptop anywhere. It’s light, small, and super awesome to show off in public.
It also has some of the newest connectivity. It features USB 3.1 Type-C port, which has everything you need in a single port. You can use it to charge the Chromebook, transfer files to your external drives, connect a printer, or plug in a mini desktop fan.
This is a future-proof design that’ll last you for years.The plug orientation is also reversible so you can change the direction of your cables as well.
You also get a basic audio jack for your microphone input or connect your headphones so you can chat on Skype, or plug in your favorite pair of Chromebook speakers to listen to your favorite tunes. It even has a Micro SD card slot for those who like to boot Linux from an SD card.
It’s for the Linux enthusiast
Overall, if you want the best of the best, the ASUS C302CA Flip is your best bet.
It’s one of the most powerful Chromebooks for Linux (or Chromebooks in general) and it’ll run whatever distro you can throw at it.
If you’re just looking for a Chromebook specifically for Linux, this would be overkill. But then again, some Linux users like overkill. Consider this the Rolls Royce of Linux Chromebooks.
As I’ve been preaching throughout this entire guide, you should buy the laptop best suited for your purposes.
You’re already armed with the knowledge to know which Chromebooks are compatible with Linux and which ones aren’t. If you don’t, go ahead and read the hardware requirements section.
The best I could do is summarize this guide into a superficial bullet point list:
- If you want something cheap, powerful, has a large screen, go with the Acer Chromebook 14.
- If you want something regarded as one of the best laptops for Linux go with the Toshiba 2.
- If you want some affordable with full touchscreen support, go with the Acer C720p.
- If you want something that’s extremely durable with lots of nifty features, go with the Dell 13.
- And if you’re a hardcore enthusiast who wants the best in power, design, and feature set, go with the ASUS Flip 2.
It’s up to you do any additional research for your laptop of interest. Or you can go with your gut.
Did you find your new dedicated Linux Chromebook?
Well, there you have it.
A list of the top 5 best Chromebooks for Linux in 2017.
If you have any other awesome laptops to suggest, just leave them in the comments and I’ll check ‘em out.
And if you found this buyer’s guide helpful, leave a comment and let me know as well. It makes my day.
Consider telling a fellow Linux-head about this guide if you liked it =].
Thanks for reading.