So, you want to buy a Chromebook. And you want the best Chromebook.
(And preferably one that’s affordable.)
Maybe you want one because of the speed. Or maybe the simplicity. Or maybe you just heard a bunch of good things about them and now you’re persuaded to buy one.
Welcome to the club.
I wrote this buyer’s guide just for those who are in this position.
Last updated: 1/24/21. This list has been updated for accuracy in 2020.
So, why should I get a Chromebook?
The Google Chromebook is a very secure, safe, and fast laptop. That’s what they’re known for.
I’ve been an avid Windows user since I got into computers in general, and within a few months, I’m now a hardcore Chrome OS 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 laptop has (literally) taken over my Windows computer.
Plus, with a lot of people WFH, they need a cheap, but compatible laptop that works with their work programs they use daily.
Chromebooks then become an attractive choice. They’re cheap and work with most online web apps, work with online meetings, have touchscreen support (select models), and run on all day battery.
They could even make you give up your Windows for Chrome OS!
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 what the differences are between Windows and Chromebooks. You can check ‘em out if you’d like.
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 different 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 them, and recommend you the best Chromebooks on the market that fit each criterion.
Given that there are way too many out there, I’ve scoured the web and handpicked the top 5 best Chromebooks I could find.
All of the laptops 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 of 2017.
Best Chromebook #1: Acer Chromebook 11.6”
This laptop 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.
If you’re familiar with computer components, here’s a brief rundown:
- CPU: The processor is the main component of the computer. It’s where all the processing happens (duh).
- A faster processor means a faster Chromebook. It’s also called a CPU.
- RAM: 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.
- SSD: 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. This is also often referred to as storage or memory (which is also often used interchangeably with RAM, so don’t get confused).
All computers have spec sheets and use nearly the same terminology. So what you learned here can be applied to all computers and laptops in general.
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.
It has enough RAM to multitask basic processes and can handle a nifty amount of apps and tabs open at once.
The Intel Celeron CPU is also a pretty decent processor and gives you enough power to take on browsing the ‘net, watching videos, getting work done, and even playing some light games.
Portable with a small screen
It 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.
As you know by now, it measures 11.6 inches. It’s not that big, so if you’re looking to do gaming or you want an entertainment laptop, I suggest you look elsewhere.
But if you’re just looking to do stuff like browse the Internet, social media, and productivity work, it should work just fine. It does have an HDMI out so you can easily connect it to a bigger monitor (or even your TV).
(Want a bigger screen? You’ll probably want to check out this list.)
It’s also an IPS anti-glare screen, which really shows when you use it in the sun, or indoors under bright light. You can use the screen without having glares all over your screen. The screen also can be viewed from multiple angles thanks to the display.
That’s probably my favorite feature about the screen. I can use it in bed without having it directly facing me. Perfect for leaning on your side to watching some Netflix.
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. But actions like dragging and dropping, or copying and pasting require a trackpad click, so that’s a problem area.
Dragging things on this trackpad doesn’t play well and you’ll often have to use both hands to drag and drop.
You’ll be using the handy gestures to navigate most of the time anyway, so it’s not a big deal.
Very nice touchpad and overall build quality
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 just the trackpad.
That’s how responsive it is. It even sports Intel HD graphics, which is more than enough to handle most videos, images, and games- including Minecraft.
The frame 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. It’s got all your basic necessities.
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-time for a single charge.
I find that I can get through a whole day of work (typically 8 hours) with intermittent use and still have about 25% charge left over at the end of the night.
The performance is decent, but it doesn’t compare to a high-end Windows computer. Remember, it’s only using a basic CPU and only has 2GB of RAM.
Compared to Windows laptops, the specs are a lot weaker. But because it runs Chrome OS, it compensates for the lack of power because the operating system is built for speed. So it kind of makes up for it.
It boots within seconds, updates automatically, and is ready for your command as soon as you flip the lid.
The Acer 11.6” really backs what a Chromebook is all about- ease of use, simplicity, and speed.
It’s very affordable and offers a decent spec sheet. It’s built 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 has thousands of them.
This Chromebook is also scheduled to receive the Play Store update coming to Chromebooks, which means you’ll be able to use Android apps on this model as well.
Isn’t that awesome?
With apps from both platforms, that’s a lot of apps.
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. Excellent for productivity.
What I didn’t like: The trackpad is kind of big for my taste, and my hand rubs on it unintentionally when I type. It’s not a big problem though and you’ll get used to it with use. (It’s because I slack in my chair and lean back too far.)
I highly recommend the Acer CB-131. It’s a good all-around laptop and perfect for anyone getting into Chrome OS.
Take a look at the Acer Chromebook on Amazon.
Update: I still use this as my main typing workstation in 2020. I’ve been using the same Acer for nearly 3 years now and it’s still yet to have any hiccups!
Best Chromebook #2: ASUS Chromebook 11.6’’
The ASUS 11.6’’ C201 is a laptop built for professionals students.
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 laptop, 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.
The C201 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 laptop 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 also offers a superior keyboard. It’s very easy to type on and feels very comfortable. I found that it was very responsive and I could type with fewer 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 that’s just so satisfying to type on.
The trackpad is also accurate and responsive to the touch.
It has a silver finish and blends well with the body of the laptop. It’s very responsive and accurate for the most part. I only had issues when trying to drag and drop, which is a common problem among these laptops.
But on the plus side, it’s very spacious and offers effortless navigation and control. Perfect for typing documents or working on spreadsheets.
HD display with out-of-the-way bezels
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 of the darker color choice. Having a white finish makes the bezels reflective and it makes the screen appear to be smaller.
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 frame is navy blue. It’s not really my color, but it works. Fancy.
Lots of connectivity
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 one 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 know a single charge can last you all day on this Chromebook. Oh yeah.
The C201 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.
What I liked best: The RAM. It’s definitely noticeable when I run many apps simultaneously and there’s no slowdown. It could handle a lot more than my daily rituals. The extra 2GB of RAM (4GB total) makes a huge difference if you’re a multitasker.
What I didn’t like: The trackpad was a little too spacious for me. I prefer working with a smaller trackpad and larger keyboard. Also, the display isn’t an IPS display, so colors were noticeably duller.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend the ASUS C201 Chromebook to anyone who needs a laptop for productive work. It’s built for it.
Take a gander at the ASUS C201 Chromebook on Amazon.
Best Chromebook #3: HP Chromebook 14
The HP Chromebook 14 has a huge screen.
Let’s get that out of the way. 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 majority of Chromebooks have 11.6” screens. Having a 14” screen is huge. That extra screen real estate enhances everything.
If you’re working on a spreadsheet, that’s a few more columns you wouldn’t have seen on a smaller screen.
If you’re watching a movie, that’s a bigger picture so you don’t have to squint your eyes. If you’re playing a game, well, that’s self-explanatory.
The HP 14 is very affordable and comes with all the necessities.
Powerful enough for moderate use
For starters, it sports an Intel Celeron 2.16GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 16GB SSD. This laptop is basically HP’s counterpart to Acer’s Chromebook (#1 above). Nothing special, but hey, it keeps the price low.
The Acer has the same specs, but only comes with an 11.6’’ display, whereas the HP comes with a 14’’ screen. Otherwise, both laptops are pretty much identical. The HP is priced differently 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.
Nice screen size
I can say the screen size is well worth the price. With the extra few diagonal inches, it makes a world of difference. It’s one of those things where you don’t know how much of a blessing it is until you try it. 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.
The keyboard was pretty plasticky and didn’t feel up to par. I had to retype a few letters here and there because I couldn’t get used to it. The travel distance is too little and it offers no feedback, so it’s awkward to type on.
The trackpad worked fine. It’s a moderately-sized pad with accurate control and precision. No complaints here.
What I liked: The bigger screen is well-appreciated and works wonderfully for HD movies and games.
What I didn’t like: The keyboard feels a little cheap.
Overall, I’d only recommend the HP 14 if you can afford to upgrade to a larger screen. If you have no reason to go big, then the Acer 11.6” will do just fine.
Check out the HP 14 on Amazon.
Best Chromebook #4: Toshiba Chromebook 2 – 13.3’’
The Toshiba Chromebook 2 is a mid-range Chromebook with high-end performance.
The processor that comes loaded on this laptop is an Intel Celeron 1.7GHz, which is a dual-core processor that’s built to perform.
However, this laptop also is available in an Intel Celeron i3 processor, which is a lot more powerful than the Celeron. Of course, the i3 comes with a higher price tag.
Nice HD display
The Toshiba 2 Chromebook comes with a 13.3” full HD display, and that’s why it stands out from all the other laptops on this list.
Coming in with a 1920 x 1080 full HD display, which means you can watch everything in high-definition whether it’s a movie or YouTube video (assuming the video supports HD). The monitor is also an IPS display.
This means more viewing angles and vivid colors. I tried watching a few YouTube videos in HD and the colors just popped. The screen on this laptop is really something to be marveled about.
It comes loaded with 4GB of RAM for multitasking, and a 16GB SSD for storage. It’s up to you to choose the CPU. You have the option of the basic Celeron or the i3. If you really want to take it to the extreme, go for the upgraded processor.
The i3 processor really shines when you’re multitasking in conjunction with the 4GB of RAM. Apps load quickly and the computer runs blazingly fast.
The body has an ice silver finish and a very nice backlit keyboard. The keys have a nice travel and feedback feels snappy. The trackpad is accurate and precise. Other than that, there’s nothing really special to note.
It weighs in at 2.9 pounds and is only about 12 inches in length. It’s not the smallest nor lightest Chromebook, but you can still lug it around. It’s still very portable.
You can toggle the lighting so it’s not really an issue. But I thought I’d mention this just in case anyone out there has the same mindset as I do.
As for connectivity, it’s got all your basic stuff- USB 3.0, headphone port, and microSD port.
The battery was advertised to run around 8.5 hours, and I got just about 8 hours out of it. 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 powerful Chromebook with a full HD display, this is it. I’d recommend this to anyone who wants a full, stunning HD experience. It’s perfect for any enthusiast. If you want movies, play games, or otherwise want an entertainment laptop, this is a good bet.
What I liked best: The full HD screen.
What I didn’t like: The backlit keyboard. Again, this is personal preference.
Check out the Toshiba 2 Chromebook on Amazon.
Best Chromebook #5: Acer Chromebook 15
Again, another excellent Chromebook made by Acer.
This is basically an upgrade to the previous Chromebook up to (Chromebook #1). It’s Acer’s upgraded version with a leaner and meaner build (and a bigger screen).
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 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.
Does the job
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 11.6”. Sure, it’s a heavier and bulkier, but that’s the price of having a larger display.
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.
If you plan to just leave it at home, then the size shouldn’t be an issue.
What I liked best: It’s the Acer 11.6” improved in every way. Bigger screen, bigger storage, more RAM, and a powerful CPU.
What I didn’t like: The footprint of the Chromebook. This thing is huge and heavy. But if you don’t need it to be portable, it works.
Check out the new and improved Acer 15 on Amazon.
Did you find the best one?
Well, there you have it.
The 5 best Chromebooks on the market based on dozens of reviews around the web and my personal input.
- If you want a cheap and affordable Chromebook that 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 built for performance, try the Acer 15 or Toshiba 2.
Or you can browse all Chromebooks on Amazon.
Update: Note that some of these laptops are older now and newer models have replaced them with upgraded specs and features.
This was written for 2017, however, newer laptops have been released since then and I’ve updated them for 2018 and 2019.
If you really want to know about the latest releases, check out this list of the newest Chromebooks.
Because of this, prices may have fluctuated since this guide has been written. The computer hardware may also not be that powerful compared to the newest Chromebooks nowadays. So just do your research before you make your purchase.
It’s not difficult though. If it looks appealing to you and fits your purposes, go for it. If there’s a newer model, just give it a check to see if you like it or not.
Older is cheaper
Generally, the older model is cheaper which may be beneficial for your purposes of buying a Chromebook. Either way, these were the best Chromebooks of 2017 based on reviews and my own opinion- not necessarily by popularity.
All of these Chromebooks are clear winners and you can feel free to research any of them that fits your style.
If this helped you on your quest for the best Chromebook ever, consider sharing this article. It’s much appreciated. Or just tell a friend =].
Thanks for reading.