Welcome to the T3 best Chromebooks guide for 2020, where our experts round up the top Chrome OS-powered laptops in the market right now.
There's brilliant budget Chromebooks in this guide that deliver astonishing value, and we hope that it's an indispensable guide for anyone trying to navigate the range of Chromebooks on offer at the moment to find the best one for their particular needs.
It's a great time to buy a Chromebook, as well – these lightweight, versatile laptops are attracting a growing number of fans for their simplicity of use, their speed, and their (mostly) low prices. There's no need to install additional software or any security packages, you won't notice any bloating or slowing down, and you can now run Android apps on Chrome OS as well.
The only difficulty is that there are so many models to pick from, it's hard to know where to start – and that's where we come in, with our best Chromebooks 2020 guide. From powerhouses to plucky 2-in-1s, we've got a lightweight Android device that's bound to meet your specs and aesthetic requirements.
And Chromebooks are, now more than ever, a great computing solution. With more of us than ever finding ourselves working from home and online, the streamlined and online-focused Chromebook is a cheap and robust solution that can transform your home office environment.
What follows are the best Chromebook laptops on the market today, as well as some handy information about the differences between a Chromebook and a laptop.
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The best Chromebooks you can buy today
1. Acer Chromebook 514 Touch
The best Chromebook for most people
Reasons to buy
There's been a trend for Chromebooks recently to pack in more powerful specs and a greater amount of storage than is strictly necessary, but the Acer Chromebook 514 manages to not only deliver a strong all-round hardware package, but does so for a price that isn't going to break the bank.
You get a 14-inch touchscreen panel, which has a Full HD 1080p resolution, and that is then partnered with a 1.1GHz Celeron CPU, Intel HD Graphics 500 GPU, and 4GB of RAM. Storage space sits at 64GB.
This Chromebook is also a looker too, with a luxe aluminium chassis radiating a mature, professional aesthetic.
Battery life is also good, at 12 hours on a single charge, and that's with a backlit keyboard as well, which makes using it in dark or low-light environments easy. Naturally, the laptop grants access to Google's suite of applications, as well as Chrome versions of popular apps like Skype.
Overall, a strong all-round Chromebook that will service most people's needs incredibly well.
2. HP X2 Chromebook
The best Premium Chromebook
Reasons to buy
There are fewer premium Chromebooks than there are budget Chromebooks, but the HP x2 Chromebook definitely appeals if you're happy to spend whatever it takes. With stylish looks and sound by Bang & Olufsen, plus a 2-in-1 form factor, it oozes sophistication.
In fact, the screen fully detaches – it's perfect if you want to swap between a tablet and a laptop, Microsoft Surface-style, and the Active Pen stylus is bundled with the package. For its power and versatility, if not its price, it's our favourite Chromebook at the moment.
3. HP Chromebook 14
The best Chromebook for people shopping on a budget
Reasons to buy
If you are looking for the best Chromebook in terms of value for money then the HP Chromebook 14 is the ideal sweet spot, as it does that while also delivering a very capable hardware spec.
It comes packing a strong 14-inch screen that is very crisp and bright, and sports an overall thin, light and stylish aesthetic. It doesn't skimp on the connectivity options, either, with the HP Chromebook 14 delivering a HDMI port, a USB 3.0 port, and a microSD card slot.
This is a system that can easily be slipped into a bag and then used in a coffee shop, friend's house or even on a train, before then being easily stashed away again and you not feel like you are lumbered with it.
Yes, there are higher-specced Chromebooks in this guide, but if you just need a streamlined laptop for work and entertainment, then you'll struggle to find a better option.
4. Asus Chromebook Flip C434
The best Chromebook for mixing style with power
Reasons to buy
With its elegant looks, a screen that you can 'flip' (to stand up or lie flat against the keyboard), and support for Android apps, the Flip C434 from Asus is undoubtedly one of the best Chromebooks money can buy in 2020. For some of you, it may even be the best.
The 87 percent screen-to-body ratio is worthy of a premium Windows laptop and looks great running Chrome OS, while the internal specs can be set to suit you: an m3, i5 or i7 processor, up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of internal storage give you lots of choice.
The best Chromebook from Google
Reasons to buy
The Pixelbook Go is the latest Chromebook direct from Google, and while we miss the taller screen of the original Pixelbook, there's no doubt that this newer, faster model gets a lot right. A variety of configuration options are available, up to an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB and a 4K display.
We've got yet more evidence that the Google hardware design team is hitting its stride with the Pixelbook Go, from the slim bezels around the display to the textured rubber underneath the laptop, which keeps it in place when it's on a firm surface (or on your actual lap).
Chrome OS flies along on the Pixelbook Go, and it's a fine example to other Chromebook manufacturers of just how good these laptops can be. You don't get the ability to fold the display over and use the device as a tablet, however.
For that extra bit of power and style
Reasons to buy
If you're in need of the very best components inside your Chromebook, and you have a decent budget to spend on one, then consider the Asus Chromebook Flip C436. It comes with a choice of the latest 10th-gen Intel Core processors, as well as either 8GB or 16GB of RAM.
That means it should be more than capable of coping with any web browser tabs and Android apps you want to throw at it. We like the form factor too – as with other Asus Flip models, you can bend the screen right back and set it up in tent mode or use it as a tablet (albeit a thick tablet).
Battery life could be better, and it is expensive, but this is a Chromebook that really looks the part and that's going to last you for years and years. We're big fans of the gorgeous 14-inch screen as well, which makes webpages and apps crisp and bright, and features very little in the way of bezels.
7. Acer Chromebook R13
A great Chromebook all-rounder
Reasons to buy
The Acer Chromebook R13 is not the best looking Chromebook, or the most powerful, or the most versatile – but it does enough stuff well to make it worth an entry on our best Chromebooks of 2020 list, including offering an impressive 12 hours of battery life.
The 2-in-1 form factor means you can use it in tent or tablet configurations too, and the 13.3-inch screen is bigger than you would normally get at this sort of price. Like all modern Chromebooks, it supports Android apps, so you can use it like a big Android phone too.
8. Acer Spin 11
The best Chromebook for portable versatility
Reasons to buy
If you want a Chromebook that's very portable but also very versatile – and which comes with a stylus too – then the Acer Spin 11 fits the bill very nicely. It reminds you that Chromebooks are supposed to be fun, and runs Android apps very well at the same time.
Okay you don't get the best specs out there, with the screen resolution and internal storage the lowlights, but this is still very usable and is going to give you several years of good service. A true alternative to what Windows and macOS laptops have to offer.
9. HP Chromebook 11
One of the best Chromebooks for budget buyers
Reasons to buy
One of the main reasons why you might think about buying a Chromebook rather than something running Windows or macOS is the price: and the HP Chromebook 11 gets you up and running with your web computing for not very much money at all.
Of course there are compromises here – you're not going to get a juggernaut of a laptop for around the £200 mark – but the HP Chromebook 11 is sturdy, and easy to use, and the perfect size for using on a train or stuffing into a rucksack. Chrome OS is Chrome OS no matter what Chromebook you're using.
Despite the chunk bezels and the plastic chassis, we'd be more than happy to have this as our regular computing companion. If you feel you need a bit more screen space, HP offers more expensive Chromebooks with bigger displays further up the food chain too.
10. Lenovo C340 Chromebook
Style meets substance in a Chromebook
Reasons to buy
Who says Chromebooks have to look ordinary and dull? That's not the case with the Lenovo C340, which gives off the impression of costing a lot more money than it actually does. It's all grey plastic and aluminium, with a large, bright screen and a nicely laid out keyboard that gives a satisfying typing experience.
The 15.6-inch display flips right over, so the laptop doubles over as a tablet, and you can prop it up in a 'tent' position if you want to sit back and enjoy some movies. It's not the thinnest or lightest Chromebook we've ever seen, but you do get a good selection of ports and buttons around the edges.
With an excellent build quality, impressive battery life, and plenty of flexibility, it's a Chromebook worth considering, and definitely worth a place on our list of the best Chromebooks of 2020. Add in the price, which is fantastic value, and it's a very appealing option overall.
How to choose the best Chromebook for you
These days, the majority of our daily computing happens in a browser. Most apps can be replicated online, through a browser, and so cloud-based Chromebooks make a lot more sense than they might do at first glance.
The Chromebooks of 2020 have learned a few tricks from Windows laptops too: some fold over to double as tablets, some sport all-day battery life, and some have upgraded internals on a par with a Windows 10 machine, for example.
What's more, most new Chromebooks that appear on the scene now come with support for Android's huge library of apps as well. If there's something you need to do that can't be done through the browser, maybe you can find an Android app to help.
When it comes to specs, these aren't quite as important as they are for Windows or MacBook laptops, but you'll still want a generous serving of processor speed and RAM, particularly if Android apps are involved.
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One of the key specs to look out for is screen size, as this will determine how much room you've got for webpages and apps, and how easy (or otherwise) it is to lug your Chromebook around.
Ultimately the reasons to buy a Chromebook are that they offer secure, lightweight systems that are always kept right up to date. Say your Chromebook gets stolen – replace it with another, log in, and everything will still be where you left it in the cloud.
Chromebooks have also become hugely important for education. Long battery life, low costs, and a decent suite of office apps mean that for cash-strapped students in need of a reliable work computer, they're absolutely ideal.
Is a Chromebook and laptop the same thing?
In almost all respects, yes they are. They deliver a portable computing experience that allows people to work and be creative wherever they might be, and often for significantly less money.
Where Chromebooks differ to laptops is in their operating system, apps, and internal components. The operating system, for example, is Google's Chrome OS not Windows, Linux or macOS, while the apps that Chromebooks use are from Google's G-Suite of software.
And, as Google's software pretty much all runs off the cloud, that means that Chromebook apps are designed to be online at all times. This is an important point to consider when buying a Chromebook. You really need to have an internet connection available to make using a Chromebook worth while.
Lastly, the internal hardware on Chromebook's tends to be (although not always) lighter than on a laptop. This is because Chromebooks use web apps and remote hardware to do their work for them. They still have CPUs and hard drives, but they just tend to be more basic as they don't need to do as much local processing and storing.
It is this lack of need in terms of internal hardware components that often leads to Chromebooks to ring in cheaper than a budget laptop, for example.