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Best Chromebook 2021: Black Friday deals on the top Chrome OS laptops from Asus, Acer, Google and Lenovo

Google Pixelbook Go

Built for the Internet and cloud-based apps, the best Chromebooks make brilliant, affordable, all-purpose computers

Need a lightweight, low-cost laptop that just works? The best Chromebooks are now nearly as practical to use on a day-to-day basis as a regular Windows laptop or MacBook and they tend to be much less fussy to use as well. The best Chromebooks are ideal as main laptops for kids and students, too, especially as everyone begins to study from home a lot more.

Below, you'll find our current pick of the best Chromebooks to buy, from the outstanding Google Pixelbook Go to cheaper options from HP and Acer. But first, a few tips on what you should look for when shopping for laptops based on Chrome OS because there are certain things you should bear in mind.

Save £100 on the Asus Chromebook Flip CX5500

The latest addition to our best Chromebooks page is already on offer this Black Friday with a chunky £100 of the asking price. It comes with a big 15.6in toushcreen, a bundled stylus and is equipped with the latest 11th gen Intel CPUs. Grab one while you can.

Acer Chromebook Spin 713: Now cheaper than ever this Black Friday

Our favourite 2-in-1 Chromebook is currently on offer for the first time since it landed on Amazon. The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 model with a 10th-gen Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD is now £650, down from its RRP of £800. That's the beefier version of the model we rate so highly below.
RRP £800
Now £650

Black Friday deal on the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet

The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet doesn't promise rip-roaring speeds but we still gave it five stars. That's because it's a great all-rounder that's portable and comfortable to use. It also has a crisp screen, surprisingly rich audio and great battery life. A great deal this Black Friday at only £199.
Was £280
Now £199

READ NEXT: These are the best Chromebook deals

How to choose the best Chromebook for you

What is a Chromebook and how does Chrome OS work?

Chromebooks run Chrome OS, which is a stripped-down operating system developed by Google. If you've used Google Chrome, you'll be mostly familiar with how Chrome OS works: Chrome OS is just like the Chrome web browser we’re all familiar with except with a few extra bells and whistles thrown in, such as a file browser, an apps menu and Google Assistant. Essentially, there’s no learning curve; Chrome OS is very simple to get to grips with.

Instead of using conventional desktop applications, you'll be using Google's excellent web-based suite of apps. This includes Docs for word processing, Sheets for spreadsheets and Slides for presentations. You'll be storing most of your stuff online, meaning every change you make is saved automatically. You will need a persistent internet connection to make the most of Chrome OS, but some features - all the aforementioned Google Apps, for instance - do work offline as well, which is handy in case of outages. Any changes you make are simply synchronised back to the online files when you reconnect.

READ NEXT: Save money with a refurbished laptop

What else can I do with a Chromebook?

These days the more appropriate question to ask would be what can't you run because there's a wealth of options available to today's Chromebook user. In terms of web-based apps, you can run all sorts of tools now on a Chromebook, even advanced stuff like RAW photo editing and compositing. Apps like Polarr or Pixlr Editor are both great choices and are surprisingly capable.

Chromebooks all have USB ports and some even have SD/microSD card slots, so you can transfer your media and documents around just like on a standard laptop.
Even if you can’t find a web-based app that fits your needs, there’s no need to worry. These days you can also run Android apps on a Chromebook. Just search the Google Play Store and you'll find a wealth of apps to install and run, including a number of games and all your favourite smartphone software.

If that isn’t enough, you can also install many Linux applications on a Chromebook using Crostini, Chrome OS’s built-in Linux development environment. While you can’t always run the latest versions, this opens up full-fat desktop applications including LibreOffice, GIMP, Inkscape and Audacity.

What do I need to look for when buying a Chromebook?

Chrome OS was 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. Faster processors and quad-core processors are usually worth a little extra, as some of the slower dual-core Celerons now struggle once you have a few apps or browser tabs open but you don’t need to go overboard unless you’re installing more demanding Android or Linux apps on your device. 8GB of RAM is a plus if you can manage it, as the Chrome browser and websites are themselves getting more demanding, and you’ll notice the difference if you’re running business or creative apps.

It’s just as important to think about size and weight. Chromebooks often work best as a secondary device you can use when darting in and out of the office, or as a basic computer for homework and learning. You don’t need to spend a lot to get a cracking thin and light model, and the build quality is pretty good these days, with manufacturers moving away from cheap, plasticky efforts to more luxurious aluminium designs as you move up the price range.

2-in-1 convertibles are worth a look, as well. Chrome OS has improved 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 and stream Netflix or play a Stadia game.

Finally, a decent display is crucial. If there’s a full HD IPS screen option then it’s worth paying extra for, and we’re even seeing some models with QHD or 4K/UHD displays.

READ NEXT: How to convert an old laptop into a Chromebook

The best Chromebooks to buy

1. Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook: The best all-round Chromebook

Price: £550 | Buy now from Currys

This isn’t the most stylish, the lightest or the most powerful Chromebook but it’s the one with the best overall balance of performance, features and value for money. It has an excellent 13.3in full HD screen, a lightweight, convertible form factor and superb connectivity, including 802.11ax Wi-Fi. The keyboard is fantastic, and it’s a great device for everyday use.

Lenovo has updated the Flex 5’s spec since we tested it and renamed it the Flex 5i, and with a faster 11th-gen Core i5 processor performance should be even better; and the original was one of the fastest Chromebooks we’d seen when we reviewed it. Even the entry-level Core i3/4GB version will be fast enough for many users. With great battery life on top, this is a Chromebook with few weaknesses at a price you’ll struggle to beat.

Read our original IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook review

Key specs

Processor: 11th gen Intel Core i5-1135G7Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
RAM: 8GB DDR4Weight:1.35kg
Total storage: 256GB SSD

Buy now from Lenovo

2. Google Pixelbook Go: Simply the best Chromebook there is

Price: £629 | Buy now from John Lewis

Google smashed it out of the park when it made the first Pixelbook, but the follow-up is even more impressive. Although it’s getting a little long in the tooth, it’s still one of the best-designed, super-slim Chromebooks out there, with one of the best laptop keyboards ever. Couple that with a decent 13.3in 1080p touchscreen and supreme battery life and you have one of the best laptops it's possible to buy for around £600.

In fact, the only serious problem with its age is that it doesn’t use Intel’s latest 10th or 11th generation CPUs. Instead, you’re stuck with the old eighth-generation Core i5, i7 or M3 processors, and even with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage you won’t get quite the same performance you’ll get with the latest models. However, it's still perfectly quick and responsive for anything you're likely to want to use it for and, with Chrome OS maturing nicely, it's capable enough to be used as your main machine. If you want something more powerful and luxurious you can opt for the Core i7 model, which comes with an even sharper 4K display.

If you've already tried Chrome OS and want to stick with it, the Pixelbook Go is still a natural step up from the entry-level models. We just hope that Google gives it the update it so richly deserves.

Read our full Google Pixelbook Go review for more details

Key specs

Processor: Dual-core 1.3GHz Intel Core i5-8200Y (other options available)Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
RAM: 8GB (other options available)Weight: 1.06kg
Total storage: 128GB SSD (other options available)

Buy now from John Lewis

3. Asus Chromebook Flip C436F: The best high-end Chromebook

Price: £749 | Buy now from Currys

If the Google Pixelbook Go is our favourite Chromebook of all time, the Asus Chromebook Flip C436F runs it pretty close. With a 10th-gen Intel Core i5 CPU at the helm, coupled with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, it was for a while the fastest Chromebook that we’ve ever tested, and even now it’s pretty speedy. Better still, it’s a lovely thing to use.

It has an incredibly slim and light chassis and a large 14in 1,920 x 1,080 display, weighs a mere 1.2kg and, like Like Asus’ other Flip devices, it has a 360-degree hinge that lets you fold the display all the way around. This means you can use the laptop as a tablet, or simply tuck the keyboard under and out of the way, bringing the screen closer to your eyes when you’re watching films and TV.
It is, quite simply, a brilliant Chromebook and well worth considering over a similarly priced Windows 10 machine. 

Key specs

Processor: 10th gen Intel Core i5-10210UScreen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
RAM: 8GB DDR4Weight:1.2kg
Total storage: 256GB SSD

Buy now from Currys PC World

4. Lenovo IdeaPad Duet: The best budget Chromebook

Price: £230 | Buy now from Lenovo

It might be a 2-in-1 hybrid with a clip-on keyboard and a 10.1in screen, but the IdeaPad Duet is the best budget Chromebook you can buy right now. Why? Well, where most cheap Chromebooks have dishwater-dull 11in or 14in HD displays, the Duet has a bright full HD screen that’s pin-sharp with excellent colour. The keyboard, which is attached by a magnet, is surprisingly good, and even the shrunk-down touchpad is perfectly usable. It works effectively either as a tablet or as a pint-sized laptop.

In fact, if you can live with the screen size, the only big issue is performance. The quad-core MediaTek Helio processor isn’t exactly speedy, and with 4GB of RAM this is one of the slower Chromebooks we’ve tested recently. Yet, in actual use for browsing, watching videos and writing document drafts, the Duet doesn’t feel tired or unresponsive, and its battery life is phenomenal. There’s really nothing else out there that is this cheap and this good.

Read our full IdeaPad Duet review

Key specs

Processor: MediaTek Helio P60TScreen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
RAM: 4GB DDR4Weight: 920g
Total storage: 64GB eMCP

Buy now from Lenovo

5. Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 (5500): The best big-screen Chromebook

Price: £599 | Buy now from Amazon

With a large screen and a full-sized keyboard, this 15.6in convertible Chromebook makes a great everyday workhorse. It’s also the first Chromebook we’ve tested with an 11th gen Intel CPU, and even the 8GB Core i3 version has enough power to run demanding web-based apps. The full HD screen doesn’t have the best brightness or richest colours but it’s fine for work, study and some light entertainment, and Asus’s audio system does a passable impression of surround sound.

What makes this computer so great, though, is that it’s so versatile. It’s still just about small and light enough to be portable, but the excellent full-sized keyboard and trackpad make it usable at your desk all-day-long. It works brilliantly sitting on your lap, or you can turn it into a tablet and make notes and sketches with the bundled stylus. Throw in surprisingly good battery life, and you’ve got the best big-screen Chromebook around.

Read our full Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 (CX5500) review for more details

Key specs

Processor: Intel Core i3-1115G4 (other models available)Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
RAM: 8GB DDR4Weight: 1.95kgg
Total storage: 128GB NVMe SSD

6. Acer Chromebook Spin 713: The best Chromebook convertible

Price: £599 | Buy now from Amazon

If you miss the old Chromebook Pixel and Pixelbook, the Chromebook Spin 713 is the next best thing. Like them it’s a premium convertible with a superb all-metal, thin-and-light design and a square 3:2 aspect ratio screen. That screen also happens to be bright, with good colour reproduction and a fantastic 2,256 x 1,504 resolution. Add the excellent keyboard, responsive touchpad and impressive connectivity – complete with Bluetooth 5 and Wi-Fi 6 – and this is an impressively feature-packed machine for £600. Even the audio is great.

It’s also very good on the performance front; with a 10th-generation Core i3 processor and 8GB of RAM, you won’t have any problems running multiple browser tabs and apps at the same time. There’s also more than enough battery life to get you through a working day. It’s not quite as cheap as the Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook or as speedy as the Asus Chromebook Flip C436F, but the Acer trumps both on screen quality. This is a brilliant 2-in-1 hybrid that’s as happy to handle some hard work as it is to entertain.

Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review

Key specs

Processor: 10th gen Intel Core i3-10110UScreen resolution: 2,256 x 1,504
RAM: 8GB DDR4Weight:1.45kg
Total storage: 128GB SSD

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