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Asus Chromebook C423 review: A good mid-range Chromebook for less

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
380
inc VAT

Nothing stellar, but a solid Chromebook at a reasonable price

Pros 
Strong specification
Capable screen
Slim and stylish design
Cons 
Not hugely speedy
Hit and miss keyboard
Disappointing battery life
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While the low-cost Chromebooks get all the sales and the premium models grab all the attention, it’s often the mid-range Chromebooks that deliver the best value for money. Take the Asus Chromebook C423. It looks and feels like a pretty good facsimile of a premium laptop with a Pentium N4200 processor and a 14in Full HD screen. Yet you can buy one for less than £400. Try that with a Windows laptop from a major brand.

Asus Chromebook C423 review: What you need to know

This one’s definitely a step up from your basic Chromebooks, thanks to the processor and large full HD touchscreen. It also has more RAM and 64GB of storage, giving you a bit more headroom to multitask and go mad with your browser tabs, or install Android and even Linux applications. No Chrome OS device is going to be as flexible or versatile as a conventional Windows laptop, but this one does more than most. And it still brings all the advantages of a Chromebook, including a start-up time you barely notice and hassle-free security and updates.

READ NEXT: Asus Chromebook C233 review

Asus Chromebook C423 review: Price and competition

The Chromebook C425 sits somewhere in between the basic budget Chromebooks and the more expensive mid-range models, giving you most of the features you’d expect from the latter, but at a slightly more accessible sub-£400 price.

There are some very attractive rivals out there, though, including Lenovo’s cheapest IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook and Acer’s entry level Chromebook Spin 513, both of which have flexible 2-in-1 convertible bodies and 13.3in Full HD screens.

If you’re on a tight budget, then Asus makes a cheaper version of the C423 with a Celeron N3350 processor and an HD screen. That said, we’d suggest avoiding it, as that CPU is horribly dated, and the screen won’t be in the same class.

Asus Chromebook C423 review: Design

Go hands-on with the Chromebook C423 and some of its mid-range magic drops away. What looks like an all-aluminium shell turns out to be a plastic body with an aluminium-finished lid. It doesn’t feel like a premium Chromebook, but that doesn’t mean that it feels creaky or poorly built. In fact, the body feels quite sturdy, while the lid is free from the unnerving flexing that mars some cheaper 14in devices.

Asus provides the same basic connections on each side of the unit: one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A and one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type C, with an audio port and a microSD slot on the left-hand side. You can charge it through either of the Type C ports, and Asus provides one of its usual lightweight cuboid chargers. For wireless connectivity you’re looking at an 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO setup. Hardly cutting edge but more than adequate.

READ NEXT: Acer Chromebook 314-H review

Asus Chromebook C423 review: Keyboard and touchpad

The keyboard is a little hit and miss. It has a good, well-spaced layout and the keys are large and flat, with a textured finish that makes it easier to touch type. However, while there’s plenty of travel, the feel is slightly loose and spongy, particularly in the centre of the keypad – one more sign that you’re not quite getting the premium Chromebook experience.

Still, we’ve no complaints about the touchpad. It’s plastic, but smooth and accurate, while the gloss touchscreen is difficult to fault. This isn’t one of Asus’s 360-degree Flip models, but the screen will push back and sit flat against the desk if you want to prod it, so the touchscreen shouldn’t go entirely to waste.

Asus Chromebook C423 review: Display and sound

More importantly, the quality of that display isn’t bad at all. It has its issues: viewing angles and colour accuracy aren’t what you’d get from a high-end IPS panel, and we measured brightness at just 221cdm2. Plus, with sRGB coverage of just 60.6%, you’re not getting Pixelbook image quality on a Chromebook half the price. Yet, subjectively, it’s perfectly usable and – as long as you’re not in sunlight - videos and Stadia games look great.

The Asus also punches above its weight on audio. There’s plenty of volume, some semblance of bass and even a more spacious presentation than most 14in Chromebooks can muster. If you’re looking for a little entertainment, you can find it here.

READ NEXT: Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review

Asus Chromebook C423 review: Performance and battery life

With the dual-core, four-thread Pentium N processor we expected to see some tangible improvements in performance over the cheaper, Celeron-based Chromebooks. In our rather basic Chrome benchmarks, this didn’t really happen, probably because while the Pentium brings more cores to the party, these run at a slightly slower 2.5GHz maximum clock speed, against 2.6 to 2.8GHz. However, the Geekbench 5 multi-core result shows a big uptick in speed from the Celeron Chromebooks, and in real-world use, the Asus feels much snappier as well, even when you have a Chrome browser loaded with eight to twelve open tabs.

The faster processor and Full HD screen do have an impact on battery life, though. Unlike other Chromebooks, the Asus couldn’t quite pass the ten-hour mark in our video-playback test, although nine hours isn’t anything to cry about. After all, that’s still more than the average working day.

Asus Chromebook C423 review: Verdict

There’s nothing truly stellar about the C423N, but it’s a great all-round Chromebook at an affordable price. Spending £100 to £200 more will bag you something even better, but if you’re looking for a decent Chromebook for around £400, this one’s fairly hard to beat.

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