Top 3 Best and Cheapest Chromebooks of 2018 (Buyer’s Guide)

Top 3 Best and Cheapest Chromebooks of 2018 (Buyer’s Guide)

So you’re looking for the cheapest Chromebooks of 2018.

You want a new laptop, but you don’t want to spend a lot (who does?).

Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this list I’ll go over the best and most affordable Chromebooks you can buy right now.

I’m assuming you’re looking for the best, yet you want to get your money’s worth!

You just want something affordable and gets you the best bang for your buck.

Does that sound like you? Read on.

Last updated: 3/16/18.

 

Choosing the cheapest (and best) Chromebooks

Cheapest Chromebooks of 2018

MODELCPURAM/SSDFEATURESPRICE
Acer 11 (CB3-131-C3SZ)Intel N2840 at 2.16GHz/2.58GHz, Dual-CoreRAM: 2GB/4GB
SSD: 16GB
Large touchpad, gorgeous IPS screen, easy to type onCHECK AMAZON
HP 11 G4 (11-V010NR)Intel N3060 at 1.60GHz/2.48GHz, Dual-CoreRAM: 2GB/4GB
SSD: 16GB
Durable military-tested design, 12-hour battery, 180-degree hingeCHECK AMAZON
Samsung 3 (X5500C13-K04US)Intel N3060 at 1.6GHz/2.48GHz, Dual-CoreRAM: 2GB/4GB
SSD: 16GB/32GB
Spill-proof keyboard, 180-degree hinge, 11-hour batteryCHECK AMAZON
Compare the top 3 models' specs.

So I’ve gone through and put together a little buyer’s guide of the cheapest Chromebooks based on personal experience and reviews around the web.

Only the best models made it to this list- all the crappy ones didn’t.

The following stipulations are in play:

  • The Chromebook must be new (not refurbished)
  • The Chromebook must be one of the best (based on ratings and personal experience)
  • The Chromebook must be affordable and around $200 and under (that’s why you’re here)

Thankfully, they’re not that expensive in the first place- so you won’t be shelling out too much cash anyway (though, you can if you want to).

So, let’s get started already and put you in the right direction for your brand new (and very affordable) Chromebook!

 Editors choice: If you just want the best of the best at an affordable price, go with the Acer CB3-131-C3SZ. 

 

Acer 11 Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ

Acer 11 Chromebook is one of the best and cheapest Chromebooks of 2018.
The Acer 11 is the most popular Chromebook of all time- and for good reason. It’s cheap and affordable (and one of the best)!

Okay, I may be a little biased including this one but I had to.

It’s my first ever Chromebook and it’s still one of the best and cheapest ones you can buy in 2018. It’s the most popular and best-selling Chromebook online based on my research at the time of this writing.

What’s so special about the Acer 11? And why is it so popular?

For starters, it offers a lot of features for a small price.

 

Intel-powered Chromebook with Burst Technology

It’s powered by an Intel Celeron N2840 CPU clocked at 2.16GHz with Intel Burst up to 2.58GHz.

It’s a Dual-Core CPU and it offers plenty of performance for the price point.

If you’re not familiar with “Burst Technology,” it’s basically Intel’s proprietary tech that allows the CPU to draw more power and increase its clock speed when needed.

So if you’re doing heavy multitasking, gaming, rendering, or whatever else and your device starts to slow down, your processor will automatically boost the clock rate in order to keep up an offer a smooth and lag-free experience.

The only cost it that it drains the battery.

But as soon as you’re done, it’ll dial back the clock and run at a lower speed so you get your battery life back. It’s an efficient mechanism that gives you power when you need it. The majority of all Intel-powered Chromebooks have Intel Burst Technology.

From personal experience, the CPU does stress when you’re running a lot of applications at once- multiple tabs, multiple apps, music in the background, watching a video, playing an awesome Chrome game, etc. The tech comes in handy because without it, I’d expect the laptop to stutter a lot more.

You can get away with basic multitasking on the CB3-131-C3SZ. Anything more and you’ll probably want a Chromebook with a more powerful hardware setup.

 

2GB RAM (upgrade to 4GB if possible) and 16GB of storage

As for RAM, it’s got your basic 2GB DDR3L SDRAM.

This is considered to be pretty low for modern Chromebooks. In fact, 2GB is the lowest amount of RAM to be concerned a Chromebook.

There’s a 4GB variant available at a higher price, and I’d recommend that you upgrade to it because the double RAM capacity makes a huge difference in performance and is definitely worth the cost. I first started with the 2GB basic version. Then I purchased the 4GB variant. It’s like night and day in terms of performance.

For storage, you get a modest 16GB of SSD.

Again, this is definitely on the lower side in terms of storage capacity compared to the average-priced Chromebook. But at this price point, it’s reasonable.

If you have a habit of saving files from the Internet like images, videos, PDFs, documents, funny cat pictures, memes, and your Facebook selfies, you may want to buy some external storage. You can easily connect an external hard drive, SD card, or a traditional USB flash drive and save your data there.

 

Modern connectivity

This Chromebook is also equipped with plenty of connectivity- a USB 3.0 port, a USB 2.0 port, an HDMI port, and an SD card reader as well so you can connect to modern devices.

It doesn’t have any USB-C ports though. It also has 802.11ac WiFI with MIMO technology for Dual-Band support at 2.4GHz and 5GHZ for faster Internet speeds.

It also has a basic HD built-in webcam that works pretty well. It’s a 1280 x 720p resolution camera with a little blue LED to show you when it’s on. The lag isn’t too bad, but the clarity does have a grainy look to it.

If you need a Chromebook with a good webcam, I’d suggest looking at the newer models with the latest tech. Or you can just buy a good webcam for your Chromebook as well.

 

Very nice (non-touchscreen) Chromebook

The display is an 11.6’’ IPS LED-backlit ComfyView widescreen with a 16:9 aspect ratio at 1366 x 768 pixels.

It’s an HD display that renders games, images, and videos at 720P, but not 1080P (it’s not full HD, just HD). But again, at this price point, you get what you pay for.

And even at 720P, it’s still considered HD and looks crisp and clear. The screen is coated with anti-glare film and works well under bright lighting. It works okay outside under the sun at maximum brightness as well- but it tends to drain your battery quickly.

The screen has a matte finish rather than glossy, for those who do photography work and other works where color reproduction is important. It’s just something worth mentioning.

(Are you a photographer? Graphic designer? Creative editor? You may want to get a screen that has good color reproduction. Check out this list of Chromebooks with the best screens.)

Also, the screen isn’t a touchscreen.

A lot of newer Chromebooks all come equipped with touchscreens as that seem to be the future. Chrome OS can also now run Play Store apps (Android apps) as well. And since these apps were designed for a smartphone, it makes sense to run them on a device with a touchscreen rather than keyboard and touchpad.

That’s why Chromebooks are now moving in the direction of touchscreens.

(Thinking about a getting a touchscreen instead? Check out the best touchscreen Chromebooks reviewed.)

 

Decent battery runtime

The battery is advertised to run a full 9 hours on a single charge.

I’ve gotten this result very often depending on what I do. If I’m just doing some light browsing or typing up a document (like this one), I can sometimes squeeze out 10 hours of battery.

However, if I’m doing intensive stuff like watching videos, playing games, or chatting on Skype, I can only get about 5-6 hours out of a single charge. It’s not too bad, but there are models out there that can get up to 12 hours of runtime on a single charge.

It comes with two built-in stereo speakers that have decent sound output. It’s more on the treble and doesn’t have much “oomph” for the bass. But that’s okay. You can plug in earbuds or headphones using the audio/mic jack if you’re an audiophile.

 

Light and portable

It weighs just 2.43 pounds and measures 8.0 x 11.6 x 0.7 inches in dimension.

It’s easy to carry around and the thin profile and tiny footprint make it easy to fit into any backpack or Chromebook case/sleeve.

The touchpad is also generously-sized and makes it easy to accurately move your cursor around. The keyboard is also a full-size keyboard with decent travel and makes typing quick and easy. I never have any issue using the touchpad or keyboard and actually, prefer it to a standard desktop keyboard.

(Like portability? Check out this list of super small Chromebooks.)

 

Your best bet if you want affordability and performance

Overall, the Acer 11 CB3-131-C3SZ is one of best and cheapest Chromebooks you can buy in 2018.

It has a lot of features and offers a lot of hardware options for the price point. It’s decently-specced, fast, snappy, and gives you a little bit of everything for a very affordable price.

Whizz on over to Amazon and see the reviews about the Acer 11.

 

HP Chromebook 11 G4 (11-V010NR)

HP G4 is a very affordable Chromebook.
The HP G4 is one of the cheapest 4GB RAM Chromebooks on the market.

Next up, we have the HP Chromebook 11 G4.

HP isn’t quite as popular as Acer in the Chromebook world, but this particular model made by HP is a decent laptop with a cheap price tag.

 

Gorgeous display, but lined with big bezels

The HP G4 features an 11.6’’ SVA WLED HD display with a 1366 x 768-pixel resolution.

Like the Acer CB3-131, this isn’t FHD, but it’s still HD. You’ll still be able to look at images, play games, and watch videos at 720P in full glory.

If you want FHD at 1080P, you’ll need to shell out more cash. It’s a non-touch Chromebook with a traditional clamshell design. The hinge folds out to 180 degrees so you can lay it flat. This is useful for presentations and collaborative projects.

The screen is nice, but it does have some major bezels around the edges. If you’re not a fan of giant bezels and find them distracting, you may want to skip this one altogether.

Even though the bezels are charcoal in color, I found them to still be distracting- more than the Acer’s white bezels for some odd reason. It’s like they attempt to blend in, but the odd coloration makes them stand out (and the huge size).

 

Drop-proof, spill-resistant, and scratch-proof

But if bezels don’t bother you, then you’re okay.

I think this particular Chromebook has large bezels because of the durability of it. It’s actually designed to exceed MIL-STD 810G testing. It has bumpers around the edges and also a spill-resistant full-sized island-style keyboard as well.

The keyboard is also fully-textured and is very comfortable to type on. You can type quickly and efficiently because the keys are spaced out and have low-travel distances. And you can do it while sipping on coffee and not worry about spills!

These extra durability features make it resistant to daily wear-and-tear and give it that extra layer of protection. This is handy if you plan to go commando and not use any sort of case or sleeve to protect your Chromebook.

The extra durability is also good if you plan to buy this for a kid or student. It’s built to survive the everyday bumps, bruises, and dings from textbooks, pens, staplers, and even greasy fingers. The screen is also lined with Corning Gorilla Glass as a screen protector to prevent scratches and makes for easy cleaning. It’s also got anti-glare technology as well for bright lights or outdoor use.

(Looking for a durable laptop for your student? Check out this list of the most rugged and durable Chromebooks for kids.)

 

Speedy and quick (kids will appreciate it)

As for the hardware itself, the HP G4 comes equipped with an Intel N3060 CPU clocked at a base rate of 1.60GHz with Burst Tech up to 2.48GHz.

Again, this is power delivered when you need it. It’s also got Intel HD Graphics 400 (all Intel Chromebooks have this) for playing games, watching movies, and other graphics-intensive rendering.

The processor on this unit isn’t bad. There’s a “downgrade” option that’s available if you don’t need all the power and you want to save some cash, but I recommend getting the more powerful CPU. The price you pay is marginal compared to the performance you get.

And the other thing is the RAM. The lesser model only comes equipped with 2GB of RAM, whereas the upgraded model comes with 4GB of DDR3L-1600 SDRAM. Double the RAM means double the production capacity. RAM is used for multitasking.

The more you have, the more things you can do at the same time without slowing down your Chromebook. The 4GB upgrade is worth it.

 

Lots of connectivity

Both variants have the standard 16GB of eMMC SSD storage.

Again, if this isn’t enough of storage space, you can always plug in some external storage to add more storage space to your Chromebook. It comes with a nice variety of I/O ports including the newest USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (you get two of them), an HDMI port, and a headphone/microphone jack.

The single USB 3.1 port will work with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 devices. It’s an all-in-one port that allows you to do everything and more. And it’s got a microSD card reader that supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC as well.

For WiFi, you get your standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi connector. You also have Bluetooth 4.2 loaded into the system as well.

For entertainment, the HP G4 has dual stereo HD audio speakers. They sound okay, but I still prefer just plugging in a pair of earbuds. They don’t have the bass output that many audiophiles crave. It also has a basic HD webcam for Skype, Google Hangouts, or Facebook Video (or whatever your platform of choice is).

12.5-hour battery, portable, and durable

The battery is advertised to run for 12.5 hours.

This will last you all day throughout the typical workday and you’ll still have enough battery juice for afterward before it needs that overnight charge. It’s significantly more (about 30%) battery runtime compared to the Acer CB3-131, and for those who travel or need a portable Chromebook, this will surely come in handy.

Pair that with the added durability and rugged design and you’ve got a laptop that you can literally take anywhere and last you all day.

Of course, what you do on it greatly affects the performance of the battery. Intensive apps and usage will drain it much faster than simply reading, browsing the web, or typing a document.

It weighs 4.4 pounds and measures 17.2 x 10.2 x 3.0 inches. It’s bulkier and heavier than the typical Chromebook, but again, you get the extra military standard durability. This is kind of against the whole portability factor, but it’s worth it for the protection you get. It’s a trade-off.

 

Good choice for professionals and students

Overall, the HP 11 G4 Chromebook is a cheap and affordable laptop that’s perfect for the professional on-the-go. It has a powerful CPU, plenty of RAM, and a nice durable design with an all-day battery. This is one of the best Chromebooks for professionals like teachers, interns, office work, and similar fields.

Check out the built-like-a-tank HP 11 G4 on Amazon.

 

Samsung Chromebook 3 (X5500C13-K04US)

The Samsung 3 Chromebook is one of the cheapest and best Chromebooks.
The Samsung 3 Chromebook is a work of art.

 

Lastly, we have the Samsung Chromebook 3.

This little powerhouse of a laptop is awesome because it gives you plenty of performance from a premium and trusted brand.

 

Gorgeous LCD

For starters, you get your standard 11.6’’ 16:9 screen with a 1366 x 768-pixel resolution and 220 nit brightness.

The screen is an LCD screen rather than LED, so it’s got that matte-finish rather than the glossy look. The bezels aren’t too bad on this laptop compared to the HP G4.

They’re still pretty big, but less noticeable overall compared to the HP G4. The display is a traditional clamshell design with a non-touchscreen. It can be reclined to a full 180 degrees for screen sharing.

(Again, if you’re looking for a touchscreen, you may want to check out the best touchscreen Chromebooks.)

The outside looks classy and expensive. The lid is a patterned texture while the rest of it is a charcoal black solid color. It’s almost metallic in a way. It looks a lot more expensive than what it costs!

Powerful Intel CPU

Under the hood, it’s got plenty of power.

It’s powered by an Intel Celeron N3060 Dual-Core processor clocked at 1.6GHz base and Burst up to 2.48GHz with a 2MB L2 cache. This ensures a speedy and quick response time when you’re browsing the web, launching apps, or playing games with the Intel HD Graphics 400.

 

4GB RAM and 32GB storage

It’s got 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM as well.

This is enough for some light to moderate multitasking and should be enough for the majority of users. My friend actually owns the Samsung 3 and I could have a few tabs open, two apps, music in the background, and be playing a game of all at once without a hiccup.

There’s also a 2GB variant as well. Go for the 4GB if possible. It’s totally worth the price to performance ratio. The extra 2GB of RAM makes a huge difference in terms of multitasking.

For storage, you get a nice hefty 32GB of space. This is double that of the others on this list, so if you’re someone who likes to download stuff from the ‘net often, this is for you.

With the extra storage means you can organize and save stuff directly on your laptop for offline working. And if you run out of space, like the other laptops on this review list, you can easily upgrade your storage capacity by plugging in an external USB hard drive.

Note that there are different models of the Samsung 3. Double-check the storage space and RAM capacity before buying!

 

11-hour battery

The 4400 mAh Li-Ion 2-cell battery is advertised to run about 11 hours, yet my buddy has told me he’s gotten over 13 hours on a single charge.

This is some crazy anecdote. He said he was only using it to read like an ebook reader and doing nothing else, so that’s why.

If you really want to squeeze out some battery life out of your Chromebook, use it lightly. Or if you plan to use it for a lot of reading materials like an e-reader, you’ll be glad to know that it’ll last you all day (and then some). It’s also Energy Star certified as well- for those who care.

 

Spill-proof keyboard (but nothing else besides that)

The keyboard is a 74-key spill-resistant work of art with a nice and generously-sized touchpad.

The touchpad also supports gestures as well. Like the HP G4, this keyboard can handle spilled liquid and will safely route the mess away from the internal components.

 

Connectivity

For connectivity, it has a single USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 port.

It also has a MicroSD multimedia card reader that reads the majority of SD cards. It’s got an HD webcam, a single HDMI port, and it’s equipped with dual stereo 1.5W speakers with mobile audio. It also has a 2 x 2 wireless LAN antenna with an Intel AC7260 LAN card. And you get your basic headphone/mic combo jack.

 

Light and small

It weighs just about 2.54 pounds and the dimensions are 11.37 x 8.04 x 0.70 inches.

It has a small size so you can bring it anywhere- especially with the super light weight. The Samsung 3 Chromebook is best-suited for any working casual or professional use. It’ll handle a daily workload of tasks- whether it be working with spreadsheets, documents, writing, typing, reading, research, projects, collaborative work, emails, video conferences, etc.

 

Good for professionals

It’s built perfectly for a professional and can be useful in an office setting.

For casual users, it’s also got enough power to handle all your web-based tasks like surfing the web, social media, watching YouTube, watching Netflix, and playing games.

If you’re getting it for a student or child, you may want to look at the HP G4 11 instead. It’s got the durability and ruggedness to withstand daily wear-and-tear that a child will put it through. And it’s within the same price range as the Samsung 3 Chromebook (at the time of this writing).

It’s one of the cheapest Chromebooks of 2018 and one of the best.

Check out the gorgeous Samsung 3 on Amazon.

 

Did you find an affordable Chromebook?

Well, that’s about it.

I haven’t written a buyer’s guide like this in a while, so it feels nice to finally write for you guys again. I felt it was necessary because a lot has changed in the Chromebook world, and a lot of new people are getting interested in these amazing little laptops.

So that’s why I put together a little review guide of what I think are the best and most affordable Chromebooks this year- sort of like an easy list that really narrows it down.

If you have any other excellent suggestions that are still cheap and affordable, please leave a comment and let me know!

And if you found this guide to be useful, let me know as well =]. Consider telling a friend who may be interested!

Thanks for reading.

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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