Best Chromebook 2016 - all our top-scoring reviews

On a tight budget? Nothing beats a Chromebook for simple tasks. We rate the best

Computing has moved ever further into the cloud, with many people's everyday tasks now taking place entirely inside a web browser. Why pay for a full desktop operating system such as Windows when you're only going to be using a browser? If that sounds like you, then this list of the best Chromebooks will be right up your street.

What is a Chromebook and how does Chrome OS work?

Chromebooks run Chrome OS, an operating system developed by Google. If you've used Google Chrome, you'll be mostly familiar with how Chrome OS works. It differs slightly in that it has a file browser, a desktop and an apps menu that also displays Google Now, but it's all simple stuff.

Instead of using conventional desktop applications, you'll be using Google's excellent web-based suite of apps that includes Docs for word processing, Sheets for spreadsheets and Slides for presentations. Everything is stored in the cloud, meaning every change you make is saved automatically. You will need a persistent internet connection for this to work, but if you're going to be offline - such as when travelling - there is an official Chrome OS tool that lets you work on your documents while you're offline.

Even better, if you're feeling confident, you can easily install Linux on your Chromebook, meaning you can buy a super-cheap laptop and run Linux applications on it. For more on how to do this, read our Chromebook Linux installation guide

Best Chromebooks to buy in 2016

Acer Chromebook R11

Acer's 360-degree hinge Chromebook R11 jumped straight to the top of our list of best Chromebooks. Despite costing just £230 it has the build quality of a much more expensive laptop, not to mention its ubiquitous, flexible hinge and excellent touch screen. Coated in gleaming white, the chassis feels expensive and doesn't feel like it'll break the first tume you bump it up aginst something. Performance is middling, but for the money you can't ask for much more. Battery life is fantastic at over 8 hours, which is more than good enough for a full day of work. 

It also weighs just 1.2kg, making it a great companion on the road. There's very little not to like about it; our only genuine concern was a rather laboured physical click action on the touchpad, but that's something you can get used to or avoid altogether if you choose to tap - rather than press - the touchpad. It's a great buy and Acer's best budget laptop in years. 

Price when reviewed: £230. Read our Acer Chromebook R11 review.

Processor: Dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3050, RAM: 2GB,Dimensions: 20x295x203mm,Weight: 1.2kg, Screen size: 11.6in, Screen resolution: 1,366x768, Graphics adaptor: Intel HD Graphics, Total storage: 16GB eMMC

Dell Chromebook 11 (2015)

Dell's Chromebook 11 is a chunky device that's intended for use in educational environments but there's no reason why you couldn't buy it for use at home. It's powered by a 2,16GHz dual-core Intel Celeron N2840 processor, so it's not exactly powerful, but thanks to Chrome OS's lightweight architecture you probably won't notice its shortcomings in normal use, although if you open lots of media-heavy tabs, you will definitely notice. It lasted over 10 hours of normal usage, too, which is better than most Windows laptops.

Price when reviewed: £231. Read the Dell Chromebook 11 review on our sister site IT Pro

Processor: Dual-core 2.16GHz Intel Celeron N2840, RAM: 4GB,Size: 297x218x20mm, Weight: 1.3kg, Screen size: 11.6in, Screen resolution: 1,366x768, Graphics adaptor: Intel HD Graphics, Total storage: 16GB SSD

Toshiba Chromebook 2 CB30-B-104

Toshiba Chromebook 2

One of our favourite budget laptops, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is the best budget Chromebook you can buy if you like to multitask. Its best feature is its Full HD screen, which lets you put two windows comfortably side-by-side without having to squash either of them. It's also slightly larger than the cheapest Chromebooks, with a 13.3in chassis meaning everything is more comfortable and usable than on a more conventional 11in Chromebook. Powerful it ain't, but the screen is a huge selling point for us.

Price when reviewed: £270. Read our full Toshiba Chromebook 2 review

Processor: Dual-core 2.16GHz Intel Celeron N2840, RAM: 4GB,Size: 320x214x19mm, Weight: 1.35kg, Screen size: 13.3in,Screen resolution: 1,920x1,080,Graphics adaptor: Intel HD Graphics, Total storage: 16GB SSD

Acer Chromebook 15 C910

The headline feature of the Chromebook 15 is its 15.6in screen, making it the largest Chromebook you can buy today. This will put to bed any naysayers who refuse to buy a Chromebook due to their normally fairly dinky size. Sadly the screen isn't Full HD and the processor hasn't been ramped up despite the extra real estate, but it does make for one of the cheapest 15.6in laptops you can buy today.

Price when reviewed: £200. Read the Acer Chromebook 15 C910 review on our sister site IT Pro

Processor: Dual-core 1.5GHz Intel Celeron 3205U, RAM: 4GB,Size: 383x245x25mm, Weight: 1.35kg, Screen size: 13.3in,Screen resolution: 1,366x768, Graphics adaptor: Intel HD Graphics, Total storage: 16GB SSD

Google Chromebook Pixel 2015

The Pixel line of Chromebooks is supposed to demonstrate the best possible Chromebook experience. At £799 for the base model, you'd accept nothing less. It's silly to say that the Pixel is too powerful for Chrome OS, because with lots of tabs open and media-heavy webpages on the up, the more powerful, the better. It's a superbly designed 12.9in device that weighs just 1.5kg and lasted nearly 11 hours in our battery benchmarking test. It's powerful, too. Web pages load in a snap and we never found the Pixel chugging along. If you're a power user but stick to web browser-based tasks, this is the ultimate Chromebook.

Price when reviewed: £799. Read our full Chromebook Pixel review

Processor: Dual-core 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5500u, RAM: 8GB,Size: 297.7x224.6x15.3mm,Weight: 2.2kg, Screen size: 15.6in, Screen resolution: 2,560x1,700, Graphics adaptor: Intel HD Graphics 5500, Total storage: 16GB SSD

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