Chromebooks used to be the afterthought when it came to laptops but they’ve grown over the years into fully fledged portable computers that do really anything a Windows or Mac laptop will do. They even come with some powerful components these days and you can play games on them. Not just Android games either. Full PC games from Steam and other PC clients.
Five years ago if you said Chromebooks would eventually be capable of accessing my Steam library and letting me play games from it, I’d have called you a liar. But that’s exactly what you can do with them these days. And they’re all the better for it. They also make excellent laptops for students of just about any age. So much so that many schools which provide laptops to their students use Chromebooks.
The point is, Chromebooks are great laptops no matter what you need a laptop for. Whether it’s coding, casual browsing, other work-related stuff, studying, and even gaming. And the best part is that many Chromebooks are actually quite affordable. They boot up in seconds and run fairly smooth too. With the holidays coming up and the shopping season in full swing, it might be time to think about what to get and if you’re looking at Chromebooks as an option, we’ve rounded up the best Chromebooks you can buy right now that you should consider. This is for a gift after all.
Best Chromebook Overall: ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5
A harmonious union of features, specs, build-quality, and reasonable pricing put this above all
Leave it to ASUS to create the best possible Chromebook you can currently buy right now. ASUS has a long history of quality computing products and it’s not surprising it creates the best overall Chromebook. Coincidentally ASUS is also our choice for the best overall gaming laptop. And it again comes down to a combination of reasonable pricing for the build quality and features you get.
That is just as true here with the Chromebook Flip CX5 and its smooth to the touch chassis. Which is also still durable and can hold up to the everyday abuse it might incur. We’re not saying it’s ok to beat this thing up. It’s still a regular consumer laptop and should be treated with care. But tossing it in your bag or onto the coffee table or night stand isn’t going to hurt it any. As long as you’re not actually tossing it. You get the idea.
Aside from build quality the Chromebook Flip CX5 is surprisingly quiet. Then again it is a Chromebook and it’s not like it’s packing a state of the art processor and graphics card that need noisy fans to keep the temperatures down. What most will probably appreciate with this Chromebook is its ability to be used in various different orientations. Use it like any other regular laptop. That’s what it’s for. But you can also flip the screen back to where the laptop sits in tent mode.
And this is going to be the perfect way to watch movies or TV shows if you’re taking a break while using it. Plus, it is a touchscreen so you won’t need to use the keyboard or trackpad for typing or clicking. You can even flip the screen all the way back until the laptop essentially becomes a tablet. Which is what you would want to do if you were browsing the web for some online shopping or maybe reading a book. ASUS has also packed this thing with 128GB of SSD storage and 8GB of RAM, along with two USB-C ports, one HDMI 2.1 port, and one USB-A port. There’s a headphone jack and a microSD card slot too. Plus Harman Kardon audio for decent sound.
All of that equals out to a pretty reasonable price of $649. Factor in the games like Minecraft which is now available on Chromebook, and access to Steam and other PC game stores through GeForce NOW which supports Chromebook as well, and you have yourself a great little machine. It’s not the most affordable Chromebook but it’s not extremely expensive either for what you get. And that’s why we picked it as our best overall Chromebook.
Honorable Mention: Acer Chromebook Spin 514
Acer has put together a laptop that’s available at a similar price point to the ASUS model above and it comes with mostly the same specs. Although it does use eMMc for storage instead of SSD. This isn’t really a major issue but it won’t exactly be as fast as the SSD method. That aside you do get the same amount of storage at 128GB and it has 8GB of RAM too. Acer also designed the chassis in this really nice Mist Green color.
Additionally you won’t have to give up the convertible features either. You can flip the screen around to the back and use it as a tablet or put it in tent mode to watch video. One unconventional use that you might find enjoyable as well is laying the screen flat. This allows you to share the content on screen with others who may be sitting with you while still having access to the keyboard and trackpad.
Best 2-in-1 Chromebook: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3
A portable yet capable Chromebook that’s perfect for travel
The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 is in a slightly weird space that’s not quite tablet and not quite Chromebook. It’s both, but also neither at the same time. Like we said it’s a little weird but ultimately this is also an awesome little device. Rest assured this is a full-fledged Chromebook with Chrome OS so it does everything any other Chromebook will. But it also has a few really neat tricks that you won’t find on any other Chromebook on this list. Let alone any other Chromebook on the market (unless it’s another version of Lenovo’s Duet).
The big thing here with the Duet 3 is that it comes with a keyboard cover. This solution is what turns this into a Chromebook and it also keeps both the screen and the back of the tablet protected. The Duet 3 will magnetically connect to the keyboard cover via some contact pins and it fits nice and snug but is also easy to pull away when you want to use it as a tablet. It has a built-in kickstand too.
Which you’ll need for propping this up like a laptop if you want to use it as such. Worth noting is that the kickstand isn’t built into the back of the tablet itself but rather it’s a separate cover that magnetically attaches to the back. You can then snap the kickstand part away to lean the Duet 3 screen back like you would a laptop.
What makes this such a nice device to use as a tablet compared to the other two Chromebooks we’ve listed above is its size. It has an 11-inch screen which is infinitely more portable and definitely easier to hold in the hand. And because you can detach both the keyboard and the kickstand cover it weighs less too. This makes it great for reading or browsing or even watching movies.
And just as good for playing games from the Play Store if games are your thing. Now it’s only got 4GB of RAM and it has a less powerful Snapdragon processor compared to the Intel and AMD processors used in the laptops above. So it will ultimately be a less powerful Chromebook. But it should be plenty powerful for most users anyway.
One nice little bonus if you like games is that it comes with one free month of access to Xbox Game Pass. But not just any tier of the service, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Which is normally a $14.99 per month subscription fee. You can use this to play Xbox console games in the cloud including newer titles like Starfield while you’re on the go. As long as the tablet stays connected to the internet while you want to play.
You will of course also need a compatible controller like the Xbox wireless controller. Which is what we’d recommend if you plan to use that Game Pass trial. Now for the best part, the price. The Duet 3 is only $269 right now because it’s on sale for Best Buy’s early Black Friday sale. And this is really kind of a steal. Normally it costs $379 which is still good for this kind of hybrid device. But $269 really makes it stand out.
Honorable Mention: ASUS Chromebook Flip CM3
This is still a 2-in-1 Chromebook but it loses a little bit of what makes the Duet 3 such a compelling device. Namely the ability to be used as a standalone tablet without the keyboard attached. This is going to impact the weight if you’re looking for something extra portable and lightweight. But overall it can still be used in a tablet orientation.
Another thing to consider is that this only comes with 32GB of eMMc storage. It bumps up to a 12-inch screen as well. Although this can play to its advantage since you end up with more screen real estate for taking notes or really anything else. That being said, it’s also on sale for $269 when it’s normally $329. So unless you really want the larger 12-inch display, the IdeaPad Duet 3 is the better option for a 2-in1 Chromebook device while it’s still available at the $269 discount.
Best Premium Chromebook: HP Dragonfly Chromebook Pro
The Chromebook for those who want everything
Chromebooks aren’t usually sold as premium laptops but HP is trying to change that with the Dragonfly Chromebook Pro. This isn’t the first premium Chromebook that was ever released but it is the current option that has all the fancy and extra luxurious features you won’t find elsewhere. Top-notch screen? Check. Powerful speakers for music and video? Check. Performance that surpasses every other Chromebook on the market? Double check.
This thing even has an RGB backlit keyboard if that’s your thing. Though we suspect most might not be looking to buy this Chromebook for the RGB. Since that’s more of a gamer aesthetic and gamers looking to spend this kind of money are looking at proper gaming laptops. Still, it’s nice that it’s there because you can keep the keys backlit and certain colors might be easier for you to see in different light sources.
Or maybe you just prefer a certain color for the backlighting. Either way you have backlit keys here and not all Chromebooks will offer that. And really, at the price of this thing, RGB backlighting should be there. The HP Dragonfly Chromebook Pro runs at a cost of $999 so it’s anything but inexpensive. However, it’s most certainly worth if you want a Chromebook but also want one with exceptional performance and lots of extras.
The standout feature of this laptop really should be the high resolution display, and that’s what stands out for us the most. It comes with a 14-inch display so it rides that line between being just big enough to enjoy for consuming media and getting some work done on. But it’s not so big that it won’t fit in your backpack or be too heavy to carry around. It’s slim and sleek to boot. More important than the size though is the high resolution and brightness.
The resolution is 2,560 x 1,600 so colors and picture quality are going to be vivid, crisp, and vibrant. And the peak brightness is 1,200 nits which is far above what many other Chromebooks offer. This alone is really what helps colors pop off the screen. Which trust us, will matter if you’re watching content where color is important. It’s even more important if you’re using this for work and need something as color accurate as possible.
Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that glare will be nothing but an afterthought for you. When it comes to performance, the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook lives up to its price tag. Showing no signs of stutter or hiccups even with more demanding projects or activities.
That being said, the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook isn’t perfect. While it’s still excellent and the best premium Chromebook you can buy, it does miss the mark a little bit. For instance, you only have four USB-C ports to work with. There’s no HDMI and no USB-A. Furthermore there’s no ethernet or 3.5mm headphone jack. Ethernet aside, the other ports are almost standard across most other cheaper Chromebooks. At least when it comes to the headphone jack and USB-A. Then again these missing ports might not matter to you. And in the end you can always pick up adapters to use devices that need those ports if you really plan to use them.
Honorable Mention: Dell Latitude Chromebook
While the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is a better overall premium Chromebook, Dell’s Latitude Chromebook is a close second. It has an Intel Core i5 CPU inside with a large amount of storage at 256GB. It does lose half the RAM since it dumps down to 8GB and the screen isn’t as high resolution. It’s not quite as bright either. But it still carries a more sleek design than most and what it lacks from the HP laptop it makes up for with stuff the HP is missing. Like all those missing ports. And at a full price of $720 you save a little bit of money too.
Best OLED Chromebook: Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5
The portability with an OLED display is just a little bit magical
Take all of the goodness of the IdeaPad Duet 3 and cram an OLED display in it for some vibrant, immersive viewing, and you have the IdeaPad Duet 5. The Duet 3’s older, more mature sibling with just a little bit extra. While we still prefer the Duet 3 for a slightly more portable experience thanks to its smaller display and lighter build, the difference of those two factors isn’t much. So if the added size and weight don’t bother you, it’s definitely worth going for the Duet 5 to get the OLED panel. Because it’ll definitely make for a more enjoyable experience.
Games, movies, TV, and even browsing the web or scrolling through socials will be noticeably better. And because this is still part of the Duet family, it comes with those awesome keyboard and kickstand attachments. Both of which attach magnetically for a secure grip but can also be easy to detach quickly. Another thing that makes this more enjoyable than the Duet 3 is the fact the display is 13.3-inches. So there’s just a bit more screen real estate to work with. Having said that, the Duet 3 has a 2K display for some additional sharpness. Whereas the Duet 5 is Full HD.
Even as good as the display is though, the best part we think is the battery life. The Duet 3 is up to 10 hours which is already pretty good. But the Duet 5 pumps the battery life up to 12 hours at maximum. Even with a larger display the Duet 5 skates by with more time on the clock from a single charge. And there’s a good chance that’s going to make a big difference if this is your tablet/laptop for basically everything. Students or professionals for example will definitely benefit from having a couple extra hours of use.
Whether it’s late-night cramming for a test or pure entertainment at the end of a long day. Speaking of work, you should be able to do more tasks at once with the Duet 5 since it has 8GB of RAM instead of 4GB like on the Duet 3. And as any long-time user of the Chrome browser will know, the more RAM the better.
As with all of these devices, the Duet 5 is great but that doesn’t mean perfect. Its strengths can also work against it depending on your own personal needs or desires for a Chromebook. For instance, the larger 13.3-inch display being an OLED panel is great for school and/or work. And if you decide to play games on this bad boy (it comes with a one-month trial of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate too by the way), you’ll be happy for the size. But some might find it just a smidge too big for tablet use.
Though we suppose that really all depends on personal preference. Like we mentioned earlier, we prefer the Duet 3 because the 11-inch screen is still pretty nice for school and work, and it’s more portable. But you might want the larger screen. Either however, is a great option. Especially if ultra portability is one of your main goals. It’s a pretty good value at $500 but because Best Buy has started its Black Friday deals early, the Duet 5 is currently down to $329 and that price makes this a really good buy.
Best Chromebook for Gaming: ASUS Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip
A 144Hz display makes this unmatched for all your cloud gaming needs
Gaming on Chromebooks is starting to make some headway beyond the slate of Android games you can pick up from the Play Store. And NVIDIA GeForce NOW has a big part in driving this sector of Chromebooks forward. Sitting at the top of the heap for gaming is the 15-inch Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip from ASUS. Its larger 16-inch variation (the Chromebook Flip CX5) is our pick for best overall Chromebook. But this model is tailored more towards gaming and those gaming-centric features are definitely going to make a difference. While mostly aesthetic, the backlit WASD keys can be a nice touch.
Personally this makes it easier to identify the keys if I ever happen to look down at the keyboard. Which admittedly isn’t often but it does happen from time to time. And as I play games late a lot it’s often dark and this can help keep them easy to find. Though rest assured the entire keyboard is backlit with RGB and not just the WASD keys. Of course, the RGB backlit keyboard isn’t what really makes this the best Chromebook for gaming. Because really most modern Chromebooks can play games as they should all be compatible with GeForce NOW.
The reason this is the best one is because of the fast refresh rate and the ethernet port. This is hardly the only Chromebook with an ethernet port but it’s the pairing with the fast refresh rate that set ASUS’s Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip apart from the pack.
With a refresh rate of 144Hz, the CX5 is faster than competing gaming Chromebooks. Both Acer’s Chromebook 516 GE and Lenovo’s IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook have 120Hz displays. Which doesn’t sound like much but it definitely can make a difference in the heat of the moment. Worth noting is that GeForce NOW will support the 144Hz refresh rate too if you’re subscribed to the Ultimate tier membership. Speaking of which, buyers of this Chromebook also get free access to the top tier membership for three months. The offer is only valid through January 2024 though. So that means you’ll want to claim the offer before then so you don’t miss out.
And if you’re worried about gaming in the cloud on a laptop, you shouldn’t be as long as your connection is fast and reliable enough. Some key features that will help this are this laptop’s support for WiFi 6E and the included ethernet port. That way you can game over fast WiFi and then jack in with an ethernet cable when it’s available. One thing I’ve noticed that most Chromebook’s won’t offer is an anti-ghosting keyboard. This allows for faster multi-key input so you can make quick reactions in whatever game you’re playing.
At a price of $699 it’s not the least expensive Chromebook out there. But compared to actual gaming laptops you’ll save potentially hundreds of dollars. What’s nice is that since this relies mostly on playing games in the cloud, you’ll get a lot more battery life out of this than you would a regular gaming laptop. About 9 to 10 hours on a single charge. Which is enough to game all day before having to plug this thing in.
That being said, we wouldn’t leave the charger at home if you plan to be out all day. All of that aside, there’s currently no better option for gaming when it comes to Chromebooks. So if gaming is your ultimate goal when choosing a Chromebook, the Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip is your absolute best option. Although if you can forfeit the high refresh rate and the anti-ghosting backlit keyboard, you have some other solid choices for less money.