TECHNOLOGY

9 Best Chromebooks for Every Budget (2021)


Chromebooks come in a bewildering array of configurations. Sometimes trying to make choices for a single model can be overwhelming. As a product tester, I use a spreadsheet to keep it straight. But you shouldn’t, so here are some general specs to keep in mind.

Healer: Chromebooks use six different processors, most of which you may not have heard of before. There is a reason for this: these processors are slow and do not appear in Windows laptops. After trying a lot of Intel Celeron based hardware (usually called the N4000), my recommendation is to use something more powerful if you can afford it. The next step up from Celeron is Core m3, which is the best choice for most people. If you want a more powerful and futuristic device, get an i3 or i5 chip.

We’re starting to see more ARM-based Chromebooks, like the Lenovo Duet above. I haven’t had any issues using ARM Chromebooks, but they aren’t quite as fast as Intel Core chips. There are some newer Chromebooks that use AMD’s latest Ryzen chipset, and I’ve had good experiences with them.

RAM: Get 8GB of memory if you can afford it, especially if you plan to run any of the Android apps. When I run into severe slowdowns and bugs, it’s almost always on a Chromebook with only 4GB of RAM.

Monitor: Get an IPS LCD screen. There are still a few low-end models with dimmer TN LCD screens, and you should avoid them. Pixel resolution depends on screen size. I’ve used (and recommended) some 11″ Chromebooks that have 720p screens. Since these screens are compressed into a small form factor, I find them acceptably sharp, but of course a 1080p screen would be much nicer.

Ports: Most of the things you do on your Chromebook are cloud-based, so you don’t have to worry too much about ports. You may need a computer that charges through a USB-C port if you want to be able to power your Chromebook from a portable battery/charger, but USB-C charging is mostly available on mid- and higher-priced models. It’s also useful to have a MicroSD slot for extended storage if you need to download a lot of files during a typical day, but this option is also not widely available.



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