Best Chromebooks of 2023

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These models from Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung can replace a Windows laptop, often at a lower price

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2.

By Nicholas De Leon and Melanie Pinola

If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to add another laptop to your household, a Chromebook may be the way to go.

What’s the difference between a traditional laptop and a Chromebook? Chromebooks are essentially laptops that use Chrome OS instead of macOS or Windows as their operating system. Chrome OS resembles Google’s Chrome web browser, so if you’ve spent any time using Chrome—and because it’s the most popular browser by far, there’s a good chance you’ve spent lots of time with it—you should feel right at home.

Although there are premium exceptions, many of the best Chromebooks have more modest specs than their Mac and Windows counterparts, so you’re not as likely to find very fast processors or super-spacious hard drives. Consequently, Chromebooks can often be found for under $500, making them a good value for consumers who don’t need macOS or Windows.

“Chromebooks will run word processing and spreadsheet programs, and you can use them to browse the web,” says Richard Fisco, who oversees electronics testing at Consumer Reports.

Chromebooks rely heavily on web apps like Gmail and Google Docs, which lessen the need for the sort of higher-end specs you’d find on a Mac or PC laptop. Those web apps are often just as capable as their desktop counterparts, too. Chromebooks are good for taking Zoom calls, participating in Slack chats, or trudging through your email in Outlook without skipping a beat.

As for the downsides, you won’t be able to play the latest Mac or Windows games on a Chromebook, and serious photo and video editors will probably want the power and flexibility afforded by a Mac or PC. But if you do want a laptop with higher-end specs and prefer Chrome OS—say, for the distinct built-in security features—there are models in our ratings that come with more storage, more memory, and more powerful processors. For example, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 has an Intel Core i5 processor, 16 gigabytes of memory, and 256GB solid-state drive; it’s built like a Windows laptop and has a comparable $1,060 price.

But for consumers with more basic needs, one of the Chromebooks below may make more sense. They deliver on Chromebooks’ original promise of inexpensive, lightweight, and long-lasting laptops for working in the browser and tackling everyday productivity tasks.

For more options, CR members can compare over 50 models in our Chromebook ratings. We buy everything we test, from 4K TVs to zero-turn lawn mowers, at retail, so the models that pass through our labs are no different from the ones you purchase.

Best Chromebook Under $250: HP Chromebook 14B-NA0010WM

This budget-friendly 14-inch notebook has an AMD Ryzen 3 processor, 4 gigabytes of memory, and 128GB of solid-state storage, which is faster than the flash storage found on more entry-level Chromebooks.

In addition to the long battery life (almost 14 hours for web browsing) and light weight for the model’s size (around 3 pounds), our testers also highlighted the HP Chromebook 14B’s display. It gets bright enough to use outdoors and offers wide viewing angles, so it can easily be shared by multiple people or viewed off-center without washing out.

HP Chromebook 14B-NA0010WM

Best Chromebook with a Touchscreen and Colorful Appeal: Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

This is a 13.3-inch convertible, which means the touchscreen can be folded flat behind the keyboard to be used like a tablet or propped up in “tent” mode. The model also has a bright red design. Though we don’t take that sort of thing into account when rating computers, there’s no denying that it helps the Chromebook stand out from the crowd. CR testers say this model has a sturdy build and a comfortable, backlit keyboard.

The specs and performance provide a good balance for the price. The Chromebook has an Intel Celeron processor, 4 gigabytes of memory, 64GB of flash storage, and a battery that delivers almost 13 hours of web browsing in CR testing. Weighing in at 2.7 pounds, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 should be light enough to tote around campus or while commuting.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

Best Chromebook for Long Battery Life: Acer Chromebook 511

If you’d prefer an even more portable laptop, this 11.6-inch Chromebook is worth a look. It weighs 2.7 pounds and has an above-average 16.25-hour battery life for web browsing (9.25 hours for video playback), making this model travel-friendly and less reliant on proximity to a wall outlet than many other laptops.

In terms of specs, you’re looking at a reasonably capable mix: an Intel Celeron processor, 8 gigabytes of memory, and 32GB of flash storage. That might not seem like a lot of storage space, but if most of your work is in the cloud or stowed on an external hard drive, you might not mind.

If you want a Chromebook with a touchscreen and similar specs, Acer makes another Chromebook 511 model that costs about $150 more.

Acer Chromebook 511 C734-C3V5

Best Chromebook with a Large Screen: Asus Chromebook CXB170CKA-BCL64N6

This 17.3-inch Asus CXB170CKA-BCL64N6 doesn’t have a name that rolls off the tongue, but it has the largest screen of any Chromebook we recommend. And you can usually find it for around $250 or less.

CR testers give the model top marks for the bright screen and large, comfortable keyboard and touchpad. Battery life is about average, lasting just under 12 hours for web browsing on one charge. 

The main trade-off? The model weighs 5.3 pounds, but that’s reasonable for a notebook of this size and with as much screen real estate.

Asus Chromebook CXB170CKA-BCL64N6

Best Chromebook for Playing Online Games: Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Gaming Chromebook

“Gaming Chromebook” might sound like an oxymoron, but Lenovo’s 16-inch Chromebook offers a few special features that may appeal to gamers, especially at this price. The RGB backlighting makes the keys easier to see in the dark, and the high 120Hz refresh rate of the display helps you respond quickly in fast-paced play. Though it lacks a dedicated graphics card like typical gaming laptops, this Chromebook is set up to run PC and console games on Chrome OS via online services such as Amazon Luna and Nvida GeForce Now.

The IdeaPad 5i comes with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8 gigabytes of memory, and a 256GB solid-state drive. CR testers praise the fast performance for both online game play and productivity tasks like word processing. The model weighs 4 pounds and delivers 14.25 hours’ worth of battery life for web browsing. It features a full number pad—nice for those who work with spreadsheets or play role-playing games where that comes in handy—and a microSD memory card reader.

Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Gaming Chromebook 16

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2023, Consumer Reports, Inc.

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