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Product Review

The best Chromebooks for 2023

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We’ve reviewed hundreds of the best laptops over the years, testing for important qualities like performance, battery life, and display quality. And we’ve found that Chromebooks consistently excel at performance and reliability. The best Chromebooks we’ve assembled here are something special, however. They offer solid performance, excellent functionality, and enough diversity to handle just about any need.

Best Chromebooks Google Pixelbook Go
Best 2-in-1 Chromebooks Acer Chromebook Spin 713
Best Budget Chromebooks Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5
Best Premium Chromebooks Asus Chromebook Flip C436

Best Chromebooks

Google Pixelbook 4

Riley Young/Digital Trends

Chromebooks are known for being ultra-cheap alternatives to Windows and Mac. But the Pixelbook Go doesn’t feel like a cheap imitation. A Windows laptop that costs around the same won’t feature anything like the build quality, portability, and performance the Pixelbook Go can offer. The efficiency of Chrome OS has a lot to do with that, but it’s also a credit to Google’s hardware team. The Pixlebook Go is the complete package, elevating the strengths of its platform. With unmatched battery life, a beautiful 13-inch screen, and fantastic battery life, the Pixelbook Go is a go-to for college students, as well as the ultimate travel companion for those who need to take their work on the go.

Read our full Google Pixelbook Go review

Best 2-in-1 Chromebooks

Acer Chromebook Spin 713

The Acer Chromebook Spin 713, partially in tablet mode and propped on a stone patio.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is a larger and considerably more expensive alternative to the diminutive Chromebook Duet. But that’s okay — it offers a lovely 13.5-inch display in the productivity-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio and with a high resolution of 2256 x 1504. That’s well-worth the extra real estate.

It’s also a very fast Chromebook, with our review model featuring a 1oth-gen Intel Core i5-1035G7 CPU — plenty fast for the light and efficient Chrome OS. It’s the first Intel Evo-certified Chromebook, and it’s also the first with support for Thunderbolt 4. The laptop took everything we threw at it and kept chugging along. It’s also designed as well as it performs, with a solid chassis and a very usable 360-degree convertible format.

It’s not the least expensive Chromebook you’ll find, but it’s not the most expensive, either. The Chromebook Spin 713 is just a great option for anyone looking for a highly productive 2-in-1 Chromebook.

Read our in-depth Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review

Best Budget Chromebooks

Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5

The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 from the side, partially closed, on a wooden counter.

Laptops under $500 are pretty rare, but Chromebooks under $500 are a dime a dozen. None hold up as well as the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5, though. It’s a 13-inch laptop that’s highly portable at just under three pounds in weight. It’s a fairly rigid and well-built laptop, unlike a lot of the plasticky options out there, with a quality backlit keyboard.

Its best feature, though, is the performance. Many Chromebooks come with underpowered processors that will suffer under heavier loads, such as video conferencing or having lots of tabs open. Not the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5. It comes with the option for a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor — the same one that you can find in many Windows 11 laptops. Because of how light Chrome OS is, the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 feels snappy and speedy, regardless of how many tabs you have open.

Of course, the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 also comes with a 360-degree hinge and a touch screen, making it as good for binging Netflix and using Android apps as it is for getting work done.

Read our in-depth Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 review

Best Premium Chromebooks

Asus Chromebook Flip C436

The Asus Chromebook Flip C436 open on a stone patio.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Premium Chromebooks have had a resurgence, offering higher-end build quality, faster performance, and even high-resolution screens. The Asus Chromebook Flip C436 is the best example of this new crop, featuring a supremely portable design with its tablet mode and a premium finish. From the all-aluminum chassis to the 2.5-pound weight, you could easily mistake the Flip C436 for a $1,000 Windows laptop — an accomplishment for a Chromebook laptop.

Under the hood, the Asus Chromebook Flip C436 includes a 10th-gen Core i3 processor, which is plenty of power for Chrome OS. The one competitor to this Asus is the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2. It’s even sleeker than the Flip C436, but it upgrades the display up to 4K if you are willing to pay for such an advanced Chrome OS device — we like the Flip’s mix of high -end features with a somewhat lower price.

Read our in-depth Asus Chromebook Flip C436 review

How we test Chromebooks

When laptops enter our labs, they undergo a torturous battery of tests intended to give us a look at how each one will perform in a variety of situations. We want to define their limits, find out what they can do in everyday use and how they perform when they’re pushed.

We test individual components like the display, the CPU, GPU, and hard disk, using specific benchmarks like Primate Labs Geekbench 5 and Cinebench R23 to see how they stack up against competitors. We test for speed, reliability, and most importantly, we just spend a lot of time with each laptop.

You can find out how individual components work on their own by checking out manufacturer specs, but we test notebooks as a whole as well. We don’t just want to find out how fast each component is; we want to see how they complement each other and how they perform as a package. That way, we can give you a fully-rounded recommendation.

Chromebook FAQs

Do you need a Chromebook?

While they have plenty of admirable qualities, Chromebooks aren’t for everyone. Some users will be frustrated by their lack of functionality, especially when transitioning from Windows 10 or MacOS. Others might not even notice that Chrome OS is a bit more limited than traditional operating systems. If your internet speed is less than stellar, you may also run into frustrations with a Chromebook.

The way you perceive a Chromebook’s performance depends mainly on how you use your current laptop or desktop. If you need to run specialized applications like Photoshop or Illustrator, for example, Chrome OS may fall short. Similarly, if you need the Microsoft Office Suite and can’t settle for Google Docs, a Chromebook probably isn’t for you. On the other hand, it might be the perfect solution for people who mostly surf the web or stick to other online tasks. Knowing how you use your current laptop or PC can help you decide whether Chrome OS can handle your regular activities.

There are also caveats with streaming content — like Netflix — that are worth considering. The ability to download episodes of your favorite show could be a deciding factor, though.

Overall, Chromebooks are devices that excel at general-purpose use. Think of a Chromebook as a slightly more robust tablet or a big smartphone with a keyboard. If you can’t perform a function in a web browser or Android app, a Chromebook probably can’t manage it, either. That said, if you need an affordable mobile device to bridge the gap between a desktop and your smartphone, a Chromebook might be for you.

Are Chromebooks safe to use?

If you’re worried about malware and viruses, then yes, Chromebooks are very safe to use. Google created and maintains Chrome OS to be a safe environment for work. That includes built-in sandboxes, verified boot sequences, dependent encryption — and cloud syncing so that you won’t lose data. It can’t fix user error — downloading viruses off a sketchy website or responding to phishing emails will still cause trouble — but it’s very secure compared to other options.

Do Chromebooks work offline?

Chromebooks are popular for their cloud-based options, but you can use them with offline apps. Make sure that apps like Gmail are set to offline modes. Google Drive can also easily be used offline and will update when you connect again.

Do Chromebooks run Android apps?

Chrome OS isn’t the most robust operating system around, but it gets the job done for Chromebooks by providing the essentials such as web browsing, word processing, and browsing basic file types. But sometimes, you need more than a Chromebook provides. Does that mean you should jump ship or skip over Chromebooks entirely? Not anymore.

Starting in 2017, every new model of Chromebook supports the Google Play store and can run Android apps. You’re no longer limited to the Chrome ecosystem, and you can get just as much functionality out of your Chromebook as you could out of an Android phone or tablet.

Some earlier models also feature Android integration. For a full and continually updated list, you can check here. To find out how to install Android apps on your (compatible) Chromebook, check out the official instructions from Google here.

What are the pros and cons of Chrome OS?

Chrome OS is speedy, has a lightning-fast startup, and is right at home in the Google ecosystem which means it works great with all your favorite Chrome extensions and Google apps.

However, limited RAM on many Chromebooks can cause issues, and Chrome OS doesn’t support everything. If you need to run specialized applications like Photoshop or Illustrator, for example, Chrome OS may fall short. Similarly, if you need the Microsoft Office Suite and can’t settle for Google Docs, a Chromebook probably isn’t for you.

On the other hand, it might be the perfect solution for people who mostly surf the web or stick to other online tasks. Knowing how you use your current laptop or PC can help you decide whether Chrome OS can handle your regular activities. Just keep in mind that download space is generally quite limited on Chromebooks, so Chrome OS is designed to run things online, meaning you’ll need a reliable internet connection and bandwidth.

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