3 Best Chromebooks for Students (2019) – Cheap, fast, and powerful

3 Best Chromebooks for Students (2019) – Cheap, fast, and powerful

So, you wanna buy one of the best Chromebooks for students, huh?

With the summer break coming up, it’s the perfect time to pick up a new Chromebook for the next school session- whether you’re looking forward to it or not!

This comprehensive buyer’s guide will cover some of the most popular, affordable, cheapest, and best Chromebooks for school you can grab this year and be the cool kid in class.

Whether you’re in middle school, high school, or even college, all of these Chromebooks are perfect for students in an educational environment and built for class, notes, homework assignments, and just getting things done. And maybe even ace that class while you’re at it. Eh?

Enough blabbering, here’s my personal list of suggested Chromebooks for school for 2019.

Let’s roll!

 

Acer 11.6″ (CB3-131-C3Sz)

The Acer CB3-131 is a well-rounded and versatile Chromebook for students.
The Acer CB3-131 is a well-rounded and versatile Chromebook for students.

This is my favorite Chromebook by far and I’ve written about it plenty of times.

Call me biased, but it’s the Chromebook I’d first suggest to anyone getting into buying one of these machines.

The Acer 11.6 is a portable, lightweight, and decently powerful Chromebook. It’s also extremely cheap and affordable with thousands of reviews to back it up. It’s probably the most popular Chromebook model on the market right now.

 

A modestly powerful CPU for speedy everything

The CB3-131 has a decent spec sheet.

Students will get a nice and speedy Intel Celeron N2840 CPU clocked at 2.16GHz with 2GB of RAM. The CPU is decent and fast enough for everyday productivity, note-taking, homework, social media, and research. It can handle pretty much all common daily tasks a student may encounter, so there’s not much it can’t do.

The CPU has a Turbo of 2.58GHz when needed.

Only when you stress the CPU by trying to do homework, play a game, listen to music, watch cat videos, listening to a lecture, and have 30 tabs launched, then you’ll see some lag. Or rather, a lot of lag.

So it can handle what the typical student’s workload may be. That’s for sure.

 

2GB of RAM, upgradable to 4GB for multitasking power

One thing to mention is that this Chromebook does only have 2GB of RAM. If you don’t know what RAM does, it basically lets your device multitask and do more at once. 2GB is the bare minimum and the lowest you’ll find a Chromebook entirely.

For me, it’s enough because I focus on one or two things only at a time and don’t need everything running at the same time.

For those who like to do many things at once, you can grab the 4GB variant with the model number CB3-131-C8GZ. This is the same Chromebook with double the RAM. that’s the only difference. Same CPU, screen size, and hard drive size. Just more RAM.

Both variants come with 16GB SSD which will load up Chrome OS within seconds. This isn’t that much space, but you can always buy an external hard drive, USB flash drive, or whatever other Chromebook compatible hard drive to expand the storage capacity.

 

Gorgeous and crisp anti-glare widescreen HD display

Other than the specs, the Chromebook itself is well-suited for school.

It comes with an 11.6’’ screen with IPS technology, anti-glare coating, and 1366 x 768 resolution for HD videos and pictures. The screen is nice and gorgeous- but it does hurt sometimes to not have the full 1080P video and only 720P as the highest setting. Other than that, no complaints. Crystal clear and everything looks sharp and smooth.

 

All the modern connectivity a student needs

It’s also equipped with plenty of connectivity such as 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, 1 HDMI w/ HDCP support, 2 loudspeakers, and Bluetooth 4.0, so you can pretty much connect anything you need to connect with its plethora of modern input/outputs.

The battery is advertised to run a full 9 hours, which is more than enough for the typical student’s day. keep in mind that’s 9 hours of continuous runtime. I doubt anyone’s going to use it for 9H straight, so it should be more than enough runtime until the next charge (or at least until plugin into an outlet).

There’s also an HD webcam for chatting and student projects that require collaboration, tutoring, or other group work. The battery is a 3-cell Li-Polymer battery rated at 3220 mAh.

 

Super light and easy to carry around for students

The model weighs just 2.43lbs and measures 11.57 x 8.03 x 0.73” all around, so it’s portable and lightweight and you can bring it with you anywhere.

Just get a sleeve or case for your Chromebook if you’re worried about external damage. And a screen protector for the screen. This thing weighs about the same as a hefty paperback book!

Note that this Chromebook doesn’t have touch screen support, so if you’re looking for that, continue reading on or check out this list of the best touchscreen Chromebooks.

 

An excellent starter (beginner) Chromebook with a lot to offer

Overall, it’s an excellent value and it’s my first choice for students who need a Chromebook.

You get power, portability, and a laptop that does a little bit of everything for a very affordable price. Call me biased, but it’s my favorite Chromebook out there- even over the more powerful ones like the Samsung Pro and Plus.

Check out the Acer CB3-131 on Amazon here.

 

ASUS 11.6″ Chromebook (C202SA-YS02)

Rugged and durable Chromebooks.
The ASUS C202SA is a durable and rugged Chromebook for students.

Next up, we have the ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02.

This is an 11.6’’ clamshell Chromebook so it’s exactly the same screen size as the Acer CB3-131 listed above.

But this one is a lot more ruggedized with some awesome features like water-resistant design, drop-proof construction, and shock-proof rubber guards. This beast even has handles for extra grip- and even with all these durability extras, the thing only weighs 2.65 pounds.

I recommend this Chromebook just for the durability and pricing.

Because students don’t necessarily take care of their electronics, this is a good fit for any hectic student. Traveling from class-to-class, constantly opening/closing the lid, power on/off, charging on/off, and bumps, bruises, drops, spills, and any other damages will be protected against with this thing’s solid design. That’s why I put it on this list of Chromebooks for students in school.

 

Screen folds flat for group projects

The display is an 11.6-inch screen with a 1366×768 resolution and 180-degree hinge so it can literally lay flat on the table for collaborative work and screen sharing.

The display is very high quality and renders crystal-clear performance with an anti-glare coating so outdoor light and ambient bright lights won’t affect the screen with a glossy finish. The processor is an Intel Celeron N3060 clocked up to 2.45Ghz (Dual Core) with a nice amount of DDR3L-1600 RAM for multitasking and the option of a 32GB SSD for storage, or a standard 16GB. It has 4GB of RAM for both variants.

 

All-day battery

The battery is advertised to run up to 10-hours, and that’s with constant use. Powered by an all-day battery, students can go to class, take notes, and have plenty of leftover for assignments (and games). Of course, processing power and brightness are two factors that weigh heavily into battery runtime.

 

Larger key prints, faster and accurate typing

The keyboard features a nice typing area with 15% larger characters on the keys and a 2mm travel time to allow faster typing and accuracy. The keyboard is also spill-proof and will redirect drinks, liquids, and other nasties away from the electronics and out through a gutter.

 

Drop-proof, spill-proof, rubber edges, secure grips, and an overall solid build

It’s also drop-proof up to 3.9 feet with rubber frames and bumpers to guard against accidents.

The rubber-wrapped edges use nano-molding technology on all edges and corners to protect the components and reduce impact from drops, bumps, and other accidents. They really tested this Chromebook for drops, as they used twist force drops over long periods of time at different vibrations to ensure a solid construction. The easy grip makes it easy to hold and avoid drops- even with sweaty palms.

Although it’s not a military-grade Chromebook, it still has plenty of rugged design for durability.

Holding the laptop in my hands with the holding grips makes it’s extra grippy. Even with wet, greasy, or oily fingers (I cleaned it after), it was still very easy to hold and I had no feeling of dropping it at any point.

This Chromebook comes with an HD webcam, Bluetooth 4.2, WIDI support, 802.11ac WiFi connectivity, 2 USB 3.0 ports, SD card reader, and a generously-sized keyboard.

 

Plenty of power, lightweight, and just “does the job”

The ASUS C202SA-YS02 measures 11.6 x 0.9 x 7.9 inches and weighs just about 2.5 pounds.

With an all-day battery, powerful CPU, plenty of RAM, optional storage upgrade, durable design, and Intel HD Graphics, this thing can take any student’s workload with ease. Perfect for word processing, browsing the web, email, social media, and using the full Google Suite (Docs, Sheets, and Slides) for productivity.

Pretty much everything you do on a Chromebook is done through the web-browser, although you can get Chrome Web Apps to extend the capabilities, such as Microsoft Word or Excel or PowerPoint. You can get these to run on a Chromebook, but it’ll be done through the browser- not as a program, you can download onto your desktop and double-click to launch.

Web-based is the new thing and most students are already familiar with it. Nothing wrong with doing everything through the browser- no installs needed!

Note that Chromebooks can’t run basic programs by “installing” them as you can’t install anything on Chrome OS. Everything needs to be done through the browser and usually is done through an extension to Chrome. Unless you install Linux, which will then let you run native Windows programs and do a lot more.

(You may want to check out my list of suggested Chrome extensions for students.)

 

A rugged, durable laptop that can take the student’s daily routine

Overall, this is a compact, durable, water-resistant, virus-free, productivity with Google Drive/Docs, rugged, and provides a way to access the internet to get things done for students.

It’s relatively cheap also compared to other Chromebooks and makes a perfect entry Chromebook that can handle the typical day of any student, whether they’re in high school or college.

So, if you want a Chromebook that’s built for durability and is cheap, go for the ASUS C202SA.

You can check it out on Amazon for yourself.

Backed by over 1K reviews at the time of this writing, this sure is a popular Chromebook.

 

ASUS 12.5″ Chromebook (C302-DHM4)

ASUS C302 review.
The ASUS C302 is a fully rotatable Chromebook and offers premium features for students.

Next, up, we have the ASUS C302 Chromebook.

This Chromebook is a fully convertible touchscreen Chromebook, which means the screen can fully rotate 360 degrees around itself. This means you can literally wrap the screen around the keyboard and transform your laptop into a tablet.

For those who haven’t heard about this feature, it’s basically a design that lets you convert the laptop into one of four modes:

  • Laptop mode
  • Tablet mode
  • Tent mode
  • Playback mode

Each mode is suited for a particular purpose.

For example, tablet mode is good for being on-the-move, perhaps taking notes for a science lab or walking around the campus for a project. Tent mode is good for presentations. The laptop will sit as a tent and is good for tilted viewing angles to watch tutorials, read ebooks, or watching presentations. Or cat videos.

Playback mode is the same thing but removes the laptop out of the way. So you can get an even better experience- perfect for distraction-free usage.

Lastly is laptop mode. This needs no explanation. Come on, you should know that one by now!

 

A powerful and versatile multipurpose Chromebook for students

The ASUS C302 is a powerful laptop and is one of the best Chromebooks for students and professionals due to its versatile usage possibilities.

It’s powered by an Intel Core m3 clocked at 2.2Ghz. This laptop is also packed with a nice 4GB of DDR3 RAM and has a whopping 64GB of SSD storage.

It’s totally an entertainment laptop at its core, but when you use it for school, it’ll literally knockout homework assignment, classwork, notes, projects, and any other student tasks out of the park. Perfect for work, then entertainment. It’s got an Intel HD Graphics 515 card for powering HD video, games, and images.

 

Full HD 12.5″ display

The screen is a sharp, crisp, and clear HD 1920 x 1080 resolution display with a 12.5’’ screen size.

This is full HD and the largest screen on this list of Chromebooks. This means full HD glory for everything on the modern web. The screen on the ASUS C302 is coated with anti-glare for bright environments and offers amazingly crisp images. The light sensor on it will automatically dim the screen just like a smartphone, but this is a laptop- this is awesome technology!

This is the biggest screen on the list- but if you want bigger, I have a list of the big screen Chromebooks.

 

Touchscreen compatible

It’s also a full touch screen compatible Chromebook.

So use your finger, a mouse, or a stylus, the choice is yours (or your student’s, depending on who you’re buying it for). This means they can do homework, browse the web, play games, watch videos, take notes, or just do whatever they please with their fingers directly on the screen, which a lot of younger generation students are accustomed to these days.

 

Portable and lightweight

The laptop itself measures 8.3 x 12 x 0.5’’ and weighs just 2.65 pounds. It’s got all the connectivity a student could possible need- USB 3.1 Type-C (which connects with USB 2.0, 3.0, and even charges phones and streams HD videos). There’s also a Micro SD card reader and standard audio jack.

 

Full-size keyboard, palm rejection touchpad

The keyboard is a full-size chiclet keyboard with 1.4mm of key travel for fast, accurate, and efficiency typing has minimal key float. Typing on this thing feels like a premium experience and I can type notable faster (probably an extra 10 WPM) compared to the Acer CB131.

The touchpad is generally large with a 104.5mm x 61mm space for your fingers and hand. And it’s got a handy palm-rejection feature so your palm won’t rub against the touchpad accidentally and throw your cursor off the screen!

 

A 10-hour battery runtime

The battery is advertised to last a full 10 hours, which beats out the other models on this list.

This is with video playback- nonstop. And I got to experience this myself. With my typical usage, mainly just word processing, research, and screwing around on forums, I can get it at least 14 hours out of this laptop without even turning it off before the next charge.

So you can imagine if you’re doing other things besides something demanding like watching dog videos all day, this thing will easily run over 10 hours. And that’s with constant usage. Without using it nonstop, this thing will easily last days for the typical student without a single charge.

So if they’re going on a field trip that lasts a few days, this particular laptop may make it through the whole trip without needing to be charged (save the packing space in the luggage).

 

A premium laptop for students – one of the best Chromebooks for students

Overall, the ASUS C302 is the premium Chromebook for students and professionals.

It offers a super HD gorgeous screen, a fully 360-degree rotatable body, 4 modes to use it (tablet, laptop, tent, and entertainment mode), a full-size keyboard, a large touchpad with palm-rejection, touch screen capability, plenty of storage space (64GB), an all-day 10-hour runtime, and a beast of a CPU (Intel m3). This will be the envy of all the other kids in the classroom- in both high school and college.

Check out the glorious ASUS C302CA-DHM4 on Amazon.

 

Can Chromebooks install/run/download a specific program?

Chrome Web Store offers plenty of extensions for students.
Chrome has a bunch of Microsoft Office alternatives on the Chrome Web Store.

Many readers have asked me how Chromebooks can handle teacher-assigned tasks without access to many common programs students use. This is because they can’t install third-party programs natively (they don’t even have a CD drive).

But in the modern world, most programs are web-based, meaning they don’t need to be installed on the actual computer anymore. They’re housed in a server somewhere in the world and users connect to it over the Internet browser. So there’s no need to actually have the program installed anymore, which is why the Chromebook is a modern device.

 

Modern-day programs are web-based

For example, in the older days, Microsoft Word would need to be installed onto a Windows computer either by default or by a CD (or downloaded online).

Now, although many users still have Word pre-installed on their PC, there’s a fully online web-based version of the same product that can be accessed within the web-browser. No need to download anything. No need to install anything. This is the way of the future. It also provides many perks of doing it this way, such as the ability to access your documents anywhere in the world with a connection to the ‘net.

Students with a Chromebook will be able to handle the typical’s students workload, with homework, classwork, research assignments, reports, projects, group work (it’s got a webcam), and even field trips with its all-day battery. Chrome OS has a suite of apps that can be downloaded for free that replace competitor apps made by Microsoft, such as Word.

 

The Chrome Web Store has everything

Word can be downloaded onto Chrome OS via a browser extension, but Google has its own version called Google Docs. Some popular replacements for common programs that a student may use are the following:

  • Microsoft Word = Google Docs
  • Microsoft Excel = Google Sheets
  • Microsoft PowerPoint = Google Slides

Of course, Microsoft does have their own version of these apps that can be downloaded onto a Chromebook if required. Students can find many popular apps that they’re used to on the Chrome Web Store, such as Evernote, Skype, LastPass, Kami, Momentum, Google Drive, Sumo Paint, Tampermonkey, Writer, GIPHY, Screencastify, and many others. I’ve written a list of the must-have essential apps for students, so you can check that out if you’re interested.

The Chrome Web Store has everything a student may need. And the majority of it is free.

Chromebooks will also be able to easily print assignments as needed by wirelessly forwarding print jobs to Google Cloud Ready Printers. If you’re not sure which printers to get and pair with the laptop, be sure to check out this list of the best printers for Chromebooks.

 

Did you find the perfect Chromebook for your student?

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you. If you had to put me on the spot and make me pick a few of the best Chromebooks for 2019, this list would be it- these 3, that’s all.

If you think I missed something or if you want me to give you advice/suggestions for a specific Chromebook model, don’t be afraid to ask me in the comments section below! I’ll be glad to provide you with whatever advice I can give!

Or if you have a Chromebook that you think works out really well for students and class, let me know by posting it in the comments and I’ll check it out!

Well, I hope this buyer’s guide helped you decide and narrow down your options on choosing the perfect Chromebook for school! Let me know if it helped you!

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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