Built for the Internet and cloud-based apps, Chromebooks are ready for anything – and often give you more for less
Would you like a lightweight, low-cost laptop that just works? Where you’re ready to go in seconds and you’re never left waiting half an hour for an update to install? If so, you might want to think about a Chromebook. While Google-powered laptops used to be thought of as weird, slow and limiting, they’ve become powerful, practical and flexible computers, capable of handling a wide range of tasks. What’s more, they’re perfect as a secondary laptop for travelling or as a device for homework and study, particularly if the students concerned spend more time using web-based apps over traditional applications.
Below, you will find our current pick of the best Chromebooks to buy, from cool 2-in-1 convertibles to the best big-screen options. We also offer some top tips on what you should look for in a Chromebook, to ensure you’re not just picking up a bargain, but a laptop that’s going to meet your needs.
READ NEXT: The best Chromebook deals
Best Chromebooks: At a glance
|Best overall||Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (~699)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best for gaming||Asus Chromebook Vibe CX34 Flip (~699)||Check price at Very|
|Best compact||Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 (~379)||Check price at Argos|
|Best value||Acer Chromebook Plus 514 (~399)||Check price at Very|
|Best for performance||Acer Chromebook 516GE (~699)||Check price at Currys|
How to choose the best Chromebook for you
What do I need to look for when buying a Chromebook?
ChromeOS is designed to run on relatively low-powered hardware, so you don’t need a super-fast Core i7 or Ryzen 7 processor to get a smooth experience; even a lowly Pentium or Core i3 processor will do the job. Some of the best ChromeOS devices run on ARM-based processors, and these are becoming faster while also offering improved battery life.
You will find that most Chromebooks ship in two or more configurations and, as a rule, we would avoid older low-end models with budget Intel Celeron or Pentium Silver processors, not to mention dual-core AMD Athlon Gold or Silver CPUs.
Instead, head up the range to the Chromebooks with more modern Intel N100, Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 processors. These will run web-based apps smoothly and function with a dozen browser tabs open at once without breaking a sweat. Meanwhile, the faster Core i5 and Core i7 Chromebooks deliver greater flexibility, running Linux and Android apps at lightning speeds. The latest Chromebooks with 12th and 13th Gen Intel Core CPUs are pretty speedy, even by the standards of Windows laptops, and can handle just about any application you can throw at them.
Instead, head up the range to the Chromebooks with quad-core Intel Pentium, Core i3 or AMD Ryzen processors. These will run web-based apps smoothly, functioning with a dozen browser tabs open at once without breaking much of a sweat. Meanwhile, the faster Core i5 and Core i7 Chromebooks deliver greater flexibility, running Linux and Android apps at lightning speeds. The latest Chromebooks with 12th-generation Intel Core CPUs are pretty speedy, even by Windows laptops standards, and can handle just about any application you can throw at them.
What about RAM and storage?
When it comes to RAM, 4GB is now the baseline standard and still fine for everyday browsing and running Google apps. However, if your chosen Chromebook has an 8GB option, then it’s worth paying the extra for. The Chrome browser and many websites are steadily becoming more demanding, and you will notice the difference. What’s more, you will have scope to run Linux or Android apps.
With that in mind, you might also want to think about storage. The cheapest Chromebooks still come with 64GB of eMMC storage, which won’t be a problem if you stick to web-based apps but could hold you back if you want to install Android apps or, say, work with photos or video stored locally on your laptop. A 128GB SSD will bring greater flexibility, while 256GB gives you plenty of space for media, apps and games.
Should I buy a Chromebook Plus?
“Chromebook Plus” is a new Google initiative that allows Chromebooks meeting a higher-than-normal specification to be designated as such. Chromebook Plus laptops also come with software enhancements and perks designed to showcase what today’s high-performance Chromebooks can do. Chromebook Plus units must have an Intel Core i3 or equivalent processor, 8GB of RAM and at least 128GB of storage, along with a 1080p screen and a Full HD webcam. These Chromebooks then run a special version of the Chrome OS operating system with enhanced, AI-powered wallpaper and screensavers, some useful AI features to improve video calls and meetings, plus a special version of the Google Photos app with the magic eraser tool from Google’s Pixel phones built in.
It’s worth mentioning that some of the most powerful premium Chromebooks came out before this scheme kicked in, so you don’t have to buy a Chromebook Plus to get a great mid-range or high-end Chromebook. What’s more, some of these Chromebooks are also due to get the various software enhancements. In the future, though, the “Chromebook Plus” label will be worth looking out for if you want to make sure you’re getting good performance, a decent spec and a better screen.
Does size matter?
It’s important to think about size and weight. Chromebooks work brilliantly as a secondary device that you can use when darting in and out of the office, or as a basic computer for browsing, homework and learning. You don’t need to spend much to pick up a cracking thin and light model, and the build quality is pretty good these days, too, with manufacturers moving away from cheap, plasticky efforts to more luxurious aluminium designs as you move up the price range. However, you can also get larger Chromebooks to cover working from home or everyday office use, in which case you’re wiser taking on some extra weight to get a bigger screen and keyboard.
If you’re taking the slim and light route, 2-in-1 convertibles are also worth a look. Chrome OS is steadily improving as an OS for touchscreen use, with more flexible on-screen keyboards and some interface improvements, and it’s particularly good if you get a model with a stylus or a pen. It’s also great to have a laptop you can use as a tablet for entertainment, or that you can pop on a table in Tent mode for streaming Netflix or playing a Stadia game.
Finally, a decent display is crucial. If there’s a Full HD IPS screen option then it’s always worth paying extra for, and we’re even seeing some models with high-quality QHD or 4K/UHD displays. Kick into some serious multi-tasking, and you will be glad you invested in the extra resolution – or in a larger screen.
How we test Chromebooks
Chromebooks run quite different software to Windows and macOS laptops so we can’t run our usual suite of benchmark software on them. However, the principles remain the same.
We aim to test the performance, battery life and display quality of Chromebooks in order to give our reviewers the tools they need to deliver objective and unbiased recommendations and comparisons.
We test performance and speed using a selection of browser-based benchmarking tools, and test storage performance using an app-based tool. We test battery life using our usual video rundown methodology, by playing a low-resolution video in Chrome OS’ native video player, setting the screen at a brightness level of 170cd/m2 and turning off all wireless communications to ensure a level playing field.
And, most importantly, we also bring our many years of experience to bear in assessing the usability, ergonomics and build quality of each and every machine we review.
The best Chromebooks you can buy in 2023
1. Acer Chromebook Spin 714: The best chromebook overall
Price when reviewed: £699 | Check price at Amazon
If you’re a Chromebook aficionado, this is the laptop you want to buy this year. It pairs a top-quality display with a nice touchscreen and support for a stylus, too. It also delivers impressive battery life (it lasted 13hrs 19mins in our battery test) and general performance was also great.
It might be a touch more expensive than you might be used to, but this 2-in-1 makes a great case for Chromebooks as genuine Windows or macOS alternatives. As a laptop for work or for watching video and media consumption, it’s a brilliant device, and it’s our favourite overall Chromebook.
Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 714 review for more details
|Processor: Intel Core i3-1315U or i5-1335U||Screen resolution: 2,256 x 1,504|
|RAM: 8GB||Weight: 1.37kg|
|Total storage: 256GB or 512GB SSD|
2. Asus Chromebook Vibe CX34: The best Chromebook for gaming
Price when reviewed: £699 | Check price at Amazon
The Asus Vibe CX34 Flip is a fantastically capable Chromebook – another of the cohort targeted at gamers looking to take advantage of services such as GeForce Now and Xbox Could Gaming but who don’t want to go to the expense of purchasing a true gaming laptop.
Like other Chromebooks of this ilk we’ve reviewed it has a fantastic display and it pairs that with a 360-degree, 2-in-1 design and comes with a stylus in the box. It comes with either an Intel Core i5-1235U or i7-1255U CPU, 8GB of RAM and either a 256GB or 512GB SSD.
It has slightly inferior battery life and a chunkier, heavier design than the very best Chromebooks around right now, but otherwise it’s a brilliant all-round Chromebook that’s perfect for work, study and play.
Read our full Asus Chromebook Vibe CX34 Flip review
|Processor: 12th gen Intel Core i5-1235U or Core i7-1255U||Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,200|
|RAM: 8GB||Weight: 1.7kg|
|Total storage: 256GB or 512GB SSD|
3. Lenovo Ideapad Slim 3i 14in Chromebook Plus: The best compact Chromebook
Price when reviewed: £379 | Check price at Argos
Lenovo’s cheap and cheerful Chromebook is about as compact as 14in Chromebooks get, with a 324 x 216mm footprint and a weight of only 1.5kg. Despite this, it meets all the requirements for a Chromebook Plus and is now being sold as such, so you can be sure it’s giving you decent bang for your buck. With no performance cores and only eight efficiency cores, its Intel Core i3-N305 CPU isn’t as speedy as a ‘proper’ Core i3 but it’s still fast enough to keep Chrome OS and your Web or Android apps running at a decent lick, particularly with 8GB of RAM onboard.
True, the keyboard isn’t one of Lenovo’s finest; there’s plenty of travel but the action is soft and inconsistent. Yet the Full HD screen puts many more expensive Chromebooks to shame, thanks to a high 329cd/m2 peak brightness level and a reasonable contrast ratio. You also get Wi-Fi 6E wireless networking and excellent 13-hour battery life. Looking for a cut-price Chromebook you can lug around all day? You won’t do much better than this.
Read our full Lenovo Ideapad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 review for more details
|Processor: 11th gen Intel Core i3-N305||Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080|
|RAM: 8GB DDR4||Weight: 1.5kg|
|Total storage: 256GB eMMC|
4. Acer Chromebook Plus 514: The best value Chromebook
Price when reviewed: £399 | Buy now from Very
The Acer Chromebook Plus 514 doesn’t have the 2-in-1 convertible form factor of the old Chromebook Spin 514, but it makes up for it with its Chromebook Plus enhancements and a slightly more powerful specification. This is the first Chromebook we’ve seen using AMD’s Ryzen 5 7320C processor and it’s more than capable of handling more demanding apps, including any Android or Linux apps you’re looking to install. It also has a good screen and responsive touchpad, plus a slim and light design that’s great for working on the go.
This Chromebook Plus isn’t perfect across the board, with a disappointingly dim screen, harsh sound and mediocre battery life – though it should still see you through the average day. But if you look at what you’re getting for your money, it’s hard to grumble, giving you all the goodness of Chromebook Plus with what’s still very much a budget price tag.
Read our full Acer Chromebook Plus 514 review for more details
|Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 7230C||Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080|
|RAM: 8GB DDR4||Weight: 1.45kg|
|Total storage: 128GB eMMC|
5. Acer Chromebook Spin 513: The best Chromebook for life on the move
Price when reviewed: £340 | Check price at Amazon
ARM-based Chromebooks are nothing new, but the Spin 513 is the first we’ve looked at to use Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 7c chipset. This sees the leading manufacturer of smartphone and tablet CPUs trying to break into the laptop market, and a combination of respectable speeds and a ten-hour battery life make the Chromebook Spin 513 a great choice for life on the go.
This is one of Acer’s 2-in-1 convertible models, so you can fold the screen all the way back and use it as a big tablet, or keep the screen propped up in “tent” mode for playing games or watching movies. It’s slim and weighs less than 1.3kg as well, so it won’t give you an aching back or shoulders if you need to lug it around all day.
While the keys on the keyboard don’t have much travel, it’s a very comfortable Chromebook to use, with a decent Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) screen and richer colours than you would usually find at this price point. Strapped for cash and in need of a thin, light laptop? Stop right here.
Read our full Acer Chromebook 513 review
|Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c||Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080|
|RAM: 4GB DDR4||Weight: 1.29kg|
|Total storage: 64GB eMMC|
6. Acer Chromebook Vero 514: Best Chromebook for work
Price when reviewed: £600 (Intel Core i5) | Check price at John Lewis
Acer sells the Chromebook Vero 514 on its green credentials, but beyond the post-consumer recycled plastics in the chassis and cardboard packaging, it’s also a brilliant business-ready option. We tested the enterprise version with a Core i7-1255U processor and it was the fastest Chromebook we’ve yet reviewed; but even the most affordable Core i3-1215U version will be fast enough for demanding web-based, Linux and Android applications, particularly with 8GB of RAM as standard.
What’s more, you get excellent connectivity, including Wi-Fi 6E support, not to mention a decent keyboard, a usable touchscreen and a superb, smooth recycled plastic touchpad. The display lets the side down slightly, with its limited brightness and subdued colours, but it’s still more than good enough for office work. If you’re looking for a Chromebook to run Google’s office apps or even one to use for study, this is a sensible, practical option with its own distinctive style – and a price you can afford.
|Processor: Intel Core i3-1215U to Core i7-1255U||Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080|
|RAM: 8GB to 16GB DDR4||Weight: 1.4kg|
|Total storage: 128GB to 256GB SSD|
Price when reviewed: £399 | Check price at Amazon
The bigger brother to the Acer Chromebook Plus 514, the Chromebook Plus 515 improves on it with a bigger screen and a faster CPU, giving you all the performance you could need from a high-end Chromebook at a thoroughly affordable, mid-range price. The 15.6in display looks massive and delivers a higher brightness level of 283cdm2 and slightly more contrast. What’s more, the audio is in a different league; this is one of the few budget Chromebooks you can use to stream games, video or music without wanting to immediately don some headphones.
Performance is easily good enough for more demanding creative and productivity apps, and while the nine-hour battery life isn’t anything to write home about, it should get you through most of a working day without a recharge. Head to the Acer Chromebook 516GE if you’re looking for a premium take on the big-screen Chromebook, but if you can compromise on the all-plastic construction and basic 1080p screen, the Chromebook Plus 515 is amazing value.
Read our full Acer Chromebook Plus 515 review for more details
|Processor: 11th gen Intel Core i5-1235U||Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080|
|RAM: 8GB DDR4||Weight: 1.7kg|
|Total storage: 256GB eMMC|
8. Acer Chromebook 516GE: Best Chromebook for performance
Price when reviewed: £699 | Check price at Currys
While it isn’t the lightest or most portable of Chromebooks, it’s hard to beat the Chromebook 516GE for its performance or spec – at least not without spending north of £1000. Featuring a 12th-generation Intel Core i5 CPU and 16GB of RAM, it’s a formidably speedy Chromebook that can cope with anything from the usual web-based apps to full-on Linux applications and Android games. You can even install the beta Chrome OS version of Steam and play a range of PC classics, although more modern games may suffer compatibility issues and a lack of dedicated graphics hardware.
What’s more, the 516GE has a spectacular 16-inch screen, with a 1600p QHD resolution and 120Hz refresh that make games and video look fantastic. Throw in Wi-Fi 6E connectivity, and you have a machine that’s almost unbeatable for streaming games from GeForce Now or Xbox Game Pass. Factor in the good keyboard and excellent trackpad, and you have a must-have Chromebook, whether you’re interested in games or not.
|Processor: 11th gen Intel Core i5-1240P||Screen resolution: 2560 x 1600|
|RAM: 8GB DDR4||Weight: 1.7kg|
|Total storage: 256GB SSD|