The 9 Best Chromebooks for Every Budget (2021)

Chromebooks come with a confusing array of configurations. Sometimes even trying to decide what options a model has to offer can be stressful. As a product tester, I use a spreadsheet to correct everything. But you don’t have to do that, so here are some extensive details to keep in mind.

Processor: Chromebooks use half a dozen different processors, most of which you’ve probably never heard of. There’s a reason for that: These processors are slow, and they’re not found on Windows laptops. After testing many Intel Celeron-based machines (usually marked N4000), my recommendation is to go for something more powerful if you can. The next step from Celeron is the Core m3, which is the best option for most people. If you want a more powerful, future proof machine, get an i3 or i5 chip.

We started looking at a lot of ARM-based Chromebooks, like the Lenovo Duet above. I haven’t had any issues using the ARM Chromebook, but they’re not as fast as the Intel Core chips. There are a few new Chromebooks that use AMD’s latest Ryzen chips, and I’ve had good experiences with them.

RAM: Get 8 gigabytes of memory if you can, especially if you plan to run any Android applications. If I experience severe slowdowns and glitches, it’s almost always on a Chromebook with 4 gigs of RAM.

Screen: Get an IPS LCD display. There are still some low-end models out there that have crappier TN LCD displays, and you should avoid those. Your pixel resolution depends on the size of the screen. I have used (and recommend) some 11-inch Chromebooks with 720p displays. Since those screens are compressed in a small form factor, I find it acceptable to be sharp, but of course a 1080p screen would be even more nice.

Ports: Most of the things you do on a Chromebook are cloud-based, so you don’t have to worry too much about ports. You may want a computer that charges via the USB-C port if you want to power your Chromebook on a portable battery/charger, but USB-C charging is usually in the middle and higher priced models. It also helps to have a MicroSD slot for extended storage if you need to download multiple files in a typical day, but that option is also not available to most.

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