Buying Guide: 10 best Chromebooks 2016: top Chromebooks reviewed

Buying Guide: 10 best Chromebooks 2016: top Chromebooks reviewed

Best Chromebooks

Unlike computers donning the more rigorous Windows 10 or macOS, a great-performing Chromebook doesn’t have to cost much. In fact, Google’s browser-based computers somehow manage to be quirky and smart, and both low impact and capable without breaking the bank.

Also making them distinct from the competition, Chromebooks run Chrome OS, an operating system that represents what computing has been all about since the late ’90s: the Internet and your web browser. Moreover, thanks to the introduction of Android apps to Chrome OS, you can reap the benefits of two different platforms in one incredible piece of kit.

Though most ship with low-power processors and substandard HD screens starting at a mere 1,366 x 768 pixel count, Chromebooks are designed to last. Almost every Chromebook claims between 7 and 9 hours of battery life, and the vast majority even deliver on that promise, based on our testing.

  • Why do Chromebooks look better than Windows laptops now?

However, if you’re urging for accessibility paired with the high-end specs of a MacBook, the emerging premium Chromebook market exhibits just that. Google’s Chromebook Pixel 2, for instance, may boast a whopping $999 price tag, but it’s well worth the price of admission for the attractive design alone.

Any question of a Chromebook’s quality can easily be refuted by commercial reception, which speaks for itself. In fact, IDC reported as late as May 2016 that – for the first time ever – Chromebook sales were outpacing the Mac likely due to their low price points and striking versatility. That said, even with their growing popularity, Chromebooks have remained an affordable staple of the computing landscape, meaning there’s always something out there to suit your budgetary needs.

As far as size goes, Chromebook displays range from anywhere between 11.6 to 15 inches. Better yet, there are even a handful of 2-in-1 Chromebooks available to take you from the comfort of a tablet to the concentration demanded by a laptop. In this guide, we’ve handpicked our top ranking Chromebook reviews, from the pixel-dense Toshiba Chromebook 2 to the high-performing Lenovo N20p.

best Chromebook

1. Toshiba Chromebook 2

Full HD on a Chromebook just got better

CPU: 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-5015U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 | Storage: 16GB eMMC | Connectivity: Intel Dual-Band Wireless-AC 7260; Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HD webcam | Weight: 2.97 pounds | Dimensions: 12.6 x 8.4 x 0.76 inches (W x D x H)

See more Toshiba Chromebook 2 deals

Gorgeous 1080p screen
Intel Core i3 power
Screen glare
Can’t purchase new

Though we previously criticized it for clinging to a price tag comparable to an entry-level Windows 10 laptop, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 now sells for a significantly lower price on Amazon. Included in the package is more memory than the original along with a 1080p display, lining it up with rival, (pseudo-) premium models on the market like the Dell Chromebook 13 and Chromebook Pixel.

However, note: this low price only applies to Toshiba Chromebook 2 models that have been certified refurbished. That said, Toshiba has since released a 2016 model complete with a 2.16GHz Celeron processor that you can still buy new.

Read the full review: Toshiba Chromebook 2

Best Chromebook

2. Dell Chromebook 11 (2015)

Dell’s updated Chromebook is a star in almost every regard

CPU: 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Celeron Bay Trail-M N2840 | Graphics: Intel HD for Intel Celeron processors | RAM: 4GB RAM (DDR3L, 1,600Mhz) | Screen: 11.6-inch HD, 1366 x 768 touchscreen |Storage: 16GB SSD | Optical drive: none | Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0; 802.11ac (B/G/N), dual-band Wi-Fi | Camera: 720p webcam | Weight: 2.91 pounds Dimensions: 12.6 x 8.4 x 0.76 inches

See more Dell Chromebook 11 deals

Rugged design
180-degree barrel hinge
Touchscreen not standard
Small keyboard

Don’t let the subtle looks deceive you. With the Chromebook 11, Dell stuffed in features that are typically reserved for more premium business notebooks in an effort to create a durable device for schools.

On the Chromebook 11, you’ll find a 180-degree reinforced hinge, rugged design, sealed keyboard and trackpad and a punchy typing experience accompanying a portable package. In addition to using the Chromebook for school work, bass-happy students will appreciate the loud stereo speakers for music and videos.

There’s a new version of this Chromebook available, too. We’ve jotted down our first impressions here.

Read the full review: Dell Chromebook 11 (2015)

Best Chromebook

3. Asus Chromebook Flip

A flipping premium Chromebook for almost nothing

CPU: 1.8GHz Rockchip 3288-C (quad-core, 1MB cache) | Graphics: ARM Mali T624 | RAM: 2GB LPDDR3 SDRAM | Screen: 10.1-inch, WXGA (1,280 x 800) IPS multi-touch display | Storage: 16GB eMMC | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 | Camera: 720p HD webcam | Weight: 1.96 pounds | Dimensions: 10.6 x 7.2 x 0.60 inches (W x D x H)

See more Asus Chromebook Flip deals

Fully metal construction
Excessive battery life
Occasional crashes
Large screen bezels

The Asus Chromebook Flip isn’t perfect, but it’s an impressive little piece of kit. Plus, it’s so affordable that you might want to pick one up just to have a Chromebook on hand – even if you already own a MacBook or Windows laptop.

Aside from the budget price tag, the Flip is one of the best-built Chromebooks to blaze the trail onward for more convertibles. Touchscreen functionality feels slightly more logical, with a screen that actually rotates for once.

All the while, the Flip meets all the core tenants of an ideal Chrome OS device, including stellar battery life. If you’ve been ho hum on Chromebooks before, this is definitely one to … flip out about. (Sorry.)

Read the full review: Asus Chromebook Flip

best chromebook

4. HP Chromebook 14

A well balanced Chromebook

CPU: 1.83GHz Intel Celeron N2940 processor | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 2GB | Screen: 14-inch, 1,366 x 768 BrightView LED-backlit | Storage: 16GB eMMC| Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2×2); Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HP TrueVision HD webcam with integrated digital microphone| Weight: 3.74 pounds (1.69kg) | Dimensions: 13.54 x 9.45 x 0.7 inches (344mm x 240mm x 18mm) (W x D x H)

See more HP Chromebook 14 deals

Excellent keyboard, trackpad
Crisp, vivid screen
Slower than some rivals
Average battery life

With a rock-bottom starting price, this is an excellent value for those seeking a basic web browsing machine. It’s cheaper than the Toshiba Chromebook 2 while offering a bigger screen.

And, while Acer’s Chromebook 15 serves up equal components behind a larger screen for the same amount of scratch, HPs’ 14-incher is a bit more compact and better looking to boot, if coffee shop appeal is crucial.

For a modest investment, you’ll get a responsive, friendly-looking notebook that’s actually fun to use despite some minor shortcomings.

Read the full review: HP Chromebook 14

best chromebook

5. Acer Chromebook 15 C910

The colossus of Chromebooks

CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200 dual-core processor | Graphics: Intel HD 5500 Graphics with shared memory | RAM: 4 GB, DDR3L SDRAM | Screen: 15.6-inch full HD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 32GB SSD | Optical drive: none | Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi | Camera: 720p HD webcam |Weight: 4.85 pounds Dimensions: 1.0 x 15.1 x 10.1 inches (H x W x D)

See more Acer Chromebook 15 deals

Fast processing speed
Long battery life
Very heavy
Awkward keyboard

If you’re mulling over the Acer Chromebook 15 C910 for your next notebook, then you’d better have big ideas. Compared to most other Chromebooks, the C910 has more screen real estate, more processing power and unsurprisingly costs more as a result.

The C910 took this series of laptops to two new places, as the first with a 15.6-inch screen and the first to introduce the fifth-generation Broadwell CPUs to Chromebooks.

Specifically geared toward students and teachers – thanks to its durable frame and gorgeous visuals – the C910 is fine for any consumer who doesn’t mind the extra weight slash inches.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 15 C910

best chromebook

6. Google Chromebook Pixel 2015

The end all, be all of Chromebooks.

CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.7GHz with turbo boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB DDR3 | Screen: 12.85-inch 2,560 x 1,700 IPS touchscreen display | Storage: 32GB SSD | Optical drive: none | Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260; Bluetooth 4.0 LE | Camera: 720p HD wide angle camera with blue glass | Weight: 3.3 pounds Dimensions: 11.7 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches (W x D x H)

See more Google Chromebook Pixel 2 deals

Inter Core i5 or i7 processor
Long, long battery life
Very expensive
3:2 screen hurts multitasking

Outfitted with a Core i5 processor, USB 3.1 (and USB-C) ports, a beyond-HD display and more RAM than it will ever need, the Chromebook Pixel sets a high bar for Chrome OS machines.

Hardware and performance aside, the Pixel is one of the few Chromebooks that seems like it has itself completely figured out. The build quality of this machine is superb, with a design that’s nailed down to a science. A vibrant screen – plus the tactile keyboard and trackpad – helps round out the Pixel as one pretty, premium package.

That said, this one’s quite an investment. At this price, you could buy several Chromebooks or a far more powerful Windows laptop. So, before you buy, we suggest you consider all the much more affordable (or better) options out there before plunking down so much money into the best Chrome machine.

Read the full review: Google Chromebook Pixel 2

Acer Chromebook R11

7. Acer Chromebook R11

360-degree flips for days

CPU: 1.6 GHz Intel Braswell Quad-Core Celeron N3150 Processor | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 4GB DDR3L | Screen: 11.6" 16:9 HD (1366×768) | Storage: 32GB | Optical drive: none | Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11ac; Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HD Web Camera | Weight: 2.76 lbs | Dimensions: 11.57 x 8.03 x 0.76 inches (WxDxH)

See more Acer Chromebook R11 deals

Good battery life
HD-only display
Terrible trackpad

The Acer Chromebook R11’s minimalist design may not be the most enticing, but behind that shell is a surprisingly ready laptop that will last all day. Oh, and did we mention it can flip 360 degrees into a tablet? But nevermind the small details.

Acer’s R11 packs in day-long battery life, punchy performance and a 360-degree hinge with touchscreen into a subdued design at a price that won’t break the bank, thereby making flaws, like an iffy trackpad and barely-HD touch display, a little easier to swallow.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook R11

Best Chromebook

8. Acer Chromebook 13

With incredible battery life, the Chromebook 13 is a winner

CPU: 2.1GHz Nvidia Tegra K1 CD570M-A1 (quad-core) | Graphics: Nvidia Keplar | RAM: 2GB DDR3 (1,333MHz) | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1.920 x 1.080 | Storage: 16GB SSD | Optical drive: None | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p HD webcam | Weight: 3.31 pounds Dimensions: 12.9 x 9 x 0.71 inches (W x D x H)

See more Acer Chromebook 13 deals

Battery life
Great speakers
Strange port locations
Lackluster visuals

Powered by Nvidia’s powerful Tegra K1 chip, this Chromebook packs a lot of punch in a tiny frame. You’re bound to fall in love with its 13.3-inch, 1080p resolution screen, as well as its portability. At 3.31 pounds, the Acer Chromebook 13 is a relatively feathery notebook.

This Chromebook does have some minor issues: it doesn’t multitask very well, and the laptop itself only comes in one color. But, hey, for the price, you’re likely to enjoy the simplicity and productivity as you learn to overcome its limitations.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 13

Best Chromebook

9. Asus Chromebook C300

A long-lasting Chromebook that just won’t quit

CPU: 2.16GHz dual-core Intel Celeron N2830 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 2GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1366 x 768 HD display | Storage: 32GB SSD | Connectivity: Integrated 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HD webcam | Weight: 3.08 pounds | Dimensions: 13.0 x 9.1 x 0.9 inches

See more Asus Chromebook C300 deals

Great performance under pressure
Battery life goes on and on
Divisive bright colors
Narrow viewing angles

After years of refinement, we’re finally at the point of seeing bigger, better and bolder Chrome OS devices like the Asus Chromebook C300. This 13-inch Chromebook comes with a slightly faster processor than the rest of its cloud-based flock – all while ditching the fan simultaneously.

The TN screen unfortunately is awash, but this Chromebook simply goes on and on with its nigh excessive battery life.

Read the full review: Asus Chromebook C300

Best Chromebook

10. Lenovo N20p Chromebook

A versatile Chromebook experience for a reasonable price

CPU: 1.83 GHZ Intel Celeron Processor N2930 | Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 2GB PC3-10600 DDR3L 1333 MHz | Screen: 11.6" HD (1366 x 768) dsplay with 10-point multitouch | Storage: 16GB eMMC storage | Optical drive: none | Connectivity: Bluetooth® 4.0, 802.11 a/c WiFi | Camera: 720p webcam | Weight: 2.86 lbs Dimensions: 11.6" x 8.34" x 0.70"

See more Lenovo N20p deals

Gorgeous design
Super fast
Poor viewing angles
Bad speakers

This is one of the "sexier" Chromebooks around, showcasing Lenovo’s lust for style. However, the best feature is the N20p’s 300-degree hinge, bending the N20p’s display backward all the way into stand mode (or "tent" mode), which lends itself rather well to watching films or showing presentations.

The touchscreen controls also work in a snap for, say, watching shows on HBO Go or lurking around Pinterest. Still, there’s some struggle when using it as a tablet, as Chrome isn’t entirely made for touch as an almost exclusively browser-based interface.

It might lack fine-tuning for work use, but the Lenovo N20p offers great versatility best suited for leisure. Moreover, with two USB ports (one 3.0), an HDMI port and an SD card reader, this Chromebook delivers an excellent overall value.

Read the full review: Lenovo N20p Chromebook

Juan Martinez and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article.

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