Justifying $1000 on a Chromebook is a tough sell to many, and rightfully so. But there’s more to Google’s Pixelbook than just a high price tag—there’s something about this laptop that can’t be described just by looking at the spec sheet.

The Pixelbook: More Than Just a Premium Chromebook, A Truly Incredible Laptop

The Pixelbook isn’t just “a really expensive Chromebook.” It’s a useful, versatile, and powerful laptop. The distinction has to be made here, because Chromebooks have always sat in this weird place where many people don’t consider them to be “real” laptops, but more like casual-use toys or throwaway devices.

Still, the argument we often see is “why would I spend $1000 on the Pixelbook when I could spend half of that on the Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro or ASUS C302?” And that’s an excellent point—one that I couldn’t personally address until I actually got a Pixelbook. Owning this device has blown my mind in multiple ways, as I’ve realized how much of what makes this computer special can’t be justified by looking at its spec sheet.

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And, for reference, I’ve been using the ASUS Flip C302 as my main laptop for over a year. It’s what many consider to be the best Chromebook you can buy, which was the main thing that kept me away from the Pixelbook for nearly half a year—was it really worth the extra $500 over what I paid for the C302? Could it really be that much better?

The short answer: Absolutely. Here’s why.

You Won’t Find Comparable Finish at this Price

I’ve owned a lot of laptops. Dozens of Windows laptops, half a dozen (or more) Chromebooks. I’ve paid as little as $200 for the cheapest of Chromebooks, and upwards of $1500 for Windows laptops. Out of every laptop I’ve ever owned, the Pixelbook is easily the nicest.

You can read about the materials it’s made of and think you have an idea of what it’s going to feel like, but you’d be wrong. There’s something about this laptop that just has to be felt—something that’s so hard to put into words that do it justice. From the second you take it out of the box, the Pixelbook just screams “premium.”

And it’s just as much about feel as it is about looks. Don’t get me wrong—it’s beautiful aesthetically, but even putting eyes on it isn’t a fair assessment. It doesn’t become really apparent until you start using it. The fit and finish on the Pixelbook is pristine.

The entire thing is rock solid—not a creak or flex to be found. The aluminum frame is buttery smooth with a pleasant texture. The glass panel at the top gives it a bit of sophistication and matches nicely with the Pixel phone. The overall feel is incredible—but the real value is found in the details.

For example, the soft touch material found on either side of the trackpad is one of the nicest features I’ve found on any laptop—it really makes typing a pleasure. The material itself is comfortable when resting your hands on it, but it’s also nice and tacky when you flip the laptop into “stand” mode. The same material is found on the bottom of the unit, which does a great job of preventing the laptop from moving during use, while also mirroring the glass top panel—it gives it a very sleek, balanced look. It also protects the glass when the laptop is flipped into tablet mode.

The keyboard is also something that really has to be felt. It has a super short 0.8mm key travel, which generally isn’t tactile enough for many people who type a lot (I personally prefer around 1.4mm of travel, for example). But this is one of the best-feeling keyboards I’ve ever had the pleasure of typing on. It feel “faster” than most other keyboards, but still provides a very tactile feel. Clearly, a lot of thought went into the design of this keyboard.

Like I said earlier, I’ve owned laptops at nearly twice the cost of the Pixelbook, but I don’t recall ever owning anything that felt quite this good. And that’s not something you can tell about the Pixelbook by reading reviews or even watching videos. It’s a feeling that you get when you use it—the sleek lines and thoughtful touches throughout are truly inspiring.

It’s A Google “Developer” Device

When it comes time for new features to show up, guess where Google starts? With its own devices. Case in point: Linux apps. This is the newest thing smoking on Chromebooks, and for now it’s only available on the Pixelbook (in the developer channel, mind you, so it’s not for everyone).

Now, maybe living on the bleeding edge isn’t that important to you, which is fine. But if you’re interested in seeing what’s happening or excited about new features, there’s no better device to do that on than Google’s own, just like the Pixel phones.

There’s a parallel here: the Pixel phones are great for all types of users, but they’re equally as great for developers or tinkerers. Why? Because out of the box they’re locked down, secure, and they just work. But with a couple of commands, you can unlock them for full access, rooted, and all other sorts of fun stuff.

The Pixelbook is very similar. Out of the box, it’s on the stable channel and locked up. But enterprising users can easily put it in developer mode (which does break security features) to allow for advanced tweaks—or switch to the beta or developer channels to get early access to new features.

Now, the same can be said for all Chromebooks, but like I said earlier: the Pixelbook will be the first to get new experimental features, which is a big selling point for those who care about this. Truth be told, Linux app support in the developer channel was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.

It’s Insanely Fast, Even Compared to the Fastest Chromebooks

Like I said earlier, I’ve been using the ASUS Flip C302 as my primary laptop for more than a year, and I was vocal about how much I loved it during that time.

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Given its Intel Core m3 processor, I assumed it offered one of the best (and snappiest) Chrome OS experiences. And it probably does, but I didn’t realize how slow it really was until I got the Pixelbook. There was very little waiting on the C302, but I could start to tell when it got bogged down. I’m a heavy multitasker, and given the nature of my work, will often have lots of Chrome tabs open. As a result, I would keep a close eye on everything that was running in order to keep things as snappy as possible.

With the Pixelbook, that practice is a thing of the past. Not only is is significantly faster than the C302, but I’ve yet to bog it down. I’m able to use the Pixelbook in a very similar way to my desktop without fear of it slowing down.

I just didn’t realize how much of a difference the additional 4GB of RAM and better processor was going to make. What would normally be a marginal upgrade for a Windows machine makes a monstrous difference in a Chromebook.

And the Pixelbook is the best performing Chromebook on the market.

All this is to say one thing: the Pixelbook is a $1000 laptop, but it feels like even a pricier experience than that. To get this level of detail and performance in a Windows laptop or Macbook, you’d have to spend significantly more money—to say “yeah, but it’s just a Chromebook” is an absolute injustice to what an amazing piece of hardware the Pixelbook truly is.

Profile Photo for Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is ex-Editor-in-Chief of Review Geek and served as an Editorial Advisor for How-To Geek and LifeSavvy. He covered technology for a decade and wrote over 4,000 articles and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times.
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