Chromebook sitting on a desk with Google's website on-screen
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What to Look For in a Chromebook in 2021

Chromebooks have risen in popularity due to their simplicity and affordable price tag. They’re popular in school settings and for people who don’t need full-fledged computers and are great lightweight secondary devices. What should you look for when buying one?

Just like with Android phones, there’s a laptop out there for everyone. Should your laptop be a Chromebook? That depends on how you use computers. For productivity, a Chromebook can be the perfect device.

If you mainly browse the web, write emails, stream music, and watch movies on your computer, a Chromebook can easily handle those tasks and more. You’ll likely get better battery life at a more affordable price than a Windows PC or Mac as well.

However, those looking at a heavier workload may want to look into what other laptops are on offer, in addition to Chromebooks. Due to the price, Chromebooks typically cannot handle gaming or resource-heavy applications, such as those for 3D modeling.

We’ve compiled a list of Chromebooks that hit a few key categories. Whether you’re a student who needs something portable, a parent looking for something durable, or you just want the best Chromebook money can buy, we’ve got you covered.

Best Chromebook Overall: Acer Chromebook Spin 713

Acer Chromebook Spin
Acer

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Big, beautiful touch screen
  • Solid build quality

Cons

  • Pricier than most laptops

It’s no surprise that our Chromebook pick in the Best Laptops guide is the best overall Chromebook here. The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is pricier than most Chromebooks, but you definitely get what you pay for.

That premium price tag—which hovers around $550—gets you a high-quality keyboard and touchpad. Solid build quality and high-end input devices can be hard to find in Chromebooks, but you’re getting just that with the Spin 713.

This Chromebook has a 2256×1504 display with a 3:2 aspect ratio. That means it’s taller and narrower than a typical laptop screen, which is perfect for web browsing. The display is also a touch screen and it can be flipped around into a tablet mode. The Spin 713 is just extremely versatile.

Chromebooks generally run fine on even low-end specifications, but the Spin 713 has plenty of power. It has an 11th-gen Intel processor and you can get the i5 or i7 if you want, so you’ll be able to handle productivity as well as Android apps. This is just a very solid laptop, let alone a Chromebook, and it’ll get the job done.

Best Chromebook Overall

Acer Chromebook Spin 713

The Chromebook Spin 713 is more than a solid Chromebook, it's a solid laptop that will complete most productivity tasks with ease.

Best Budget Chromebook: Dell Chromebook 3100 11

Dell Chromebook 3100
Dell

Pros

  • Super affordable
  • Splash and impact-resistant
  • Good keyboard for the price

Cons

  • Performance is lacking
  • Plastic build

To be honest, most Chromebooks aren’t expensive, especially when compared to something like a MacBook. Chrome OS laptops usually are far more affordable than others by design. That doesn’t mean the price can’t go lower, though, and we like the Dell Chromebook 3100 for a budget Chromebook option.

First of all, the 3100 costs close to $300. That’s extremely affordable for a computer, but there are some obvious sacrifices to get to that point. The plastic build quality is definitely not “premium” feeling, but it is still durable so it doesn’t feel cheap. This device is also splashproof and impact-resistant, so you won’t be getting a fragile Chromebook.

The 11-inch display is solid and the keyboard is surprisingly good for this price point. Performance struggles with Android apps but is perfectly fine for web browsing. This is a Chromebook you can be happy with and not mind if it eventually breaks down, due to the low price.

Best Budget Chromebook

Dell Chromebook 11 3100

Most people looking for a Chromebook are looking for a device that's cost-friendly, and the Dell Chromebook 11 3100 does the job. It's not a powerhouse, but this device will handle most basic tasks.

Best Chromebook for Kids: Lenovo Flex 3

Lenovo Flex 3
Lenovo

Pros

  • Durable and lightweight
  • Good battery life and fast charging
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Performance is lacking

The Dell 3100, our budget recommendation, would be a good choice for kids, but the Lenovo Flex 3 is another solid option. It’s cheap, lightweight, durable, has solid battery life, and charges quickly—all important things for young children that need a device to do homework on.

Beyond the obvious kid-friendly features, the Flex 3 has a nice keyboard too. Your kids might not notice, but you will! Connectivity is also a big plus with this Chromebook, as it has four USB ports and a microSD card slot. If they need extra gadgets or storage for classes, the Flex 3 has it covered.

The Intel Celeron processor isn’t a beast, so don’t expect your kids to be playing a bunch of high-end Android games on it. However, it’s more than enough power for Chrome and web apps. For around $300, that’s a nice package for something that might not last long in the hands of young children.

Best Chromebook for Kids

Lenovo Flex 3

An electronic device for kids needs to be durable, have a long battery life, and actually be useful. The Lenovo Flex 3 is all of these things!

Best Chromebook for Students: Samsung Chromebook 3

Samsung Chromebook 3
Samsung

Pros

  • Very portable and lightweight
  • Good 11.6-inch display
  • Affordable for students
  • Solid battery life

Cons

  • Not a performance beast

Students need bright screens, good battery life, and portability. That’s what the Samsung Chromebook 3 is all about, so it’s perfect for them. Plus, it only costs around $300, which is great for students buying their own gear and parents.

The Chromebook 3 has an 11.6-inch display and comes in at only 2.5 lbs. The plastic build also contributes to its portability and adds some durability as well. You don’t have to feel bad about carelessly tossing this laptop in a backpack—it won’t break easily.

Performance is one area where the Samsung Chromebook 3 can struggle. It has only 4GB of RAM and an Intel Celeron processor. That’s fine for web browsing and note-taking, but don’t expect to kill time with heavy Android games. This is a solid laptop for just studying and web browsing.

Best Chromebook for Students

Samsung Chromebook 3

The Samsung Chromebook 3 is easy to take anywhere, has a battery life that'll last, and is inexpensive. Perfect for older kids that need a laptop for school or college.

Best Touchscreen Chromebook: Lenovo Duet

Lenovo Duet
Lenovo

Pros

  • 10-inch touchscreen is comfortable
  • Keyboard can be removed
  • Very good battery life
  • Super affordable

Cons

  • Keyboard cover is a bit cramped

The Lenovo Duet is one of the most popular Chromebooks in general but stands out with the touchscreen. It’s super lightweight and the keyboard cover can come completely off, making the Duet even lighter.

The touchscreen shines on this Chromebook because you may actually want to use it more than the keyboard. The keyboard cover is a bit cramped and the touchpad could be better. On the other hand, the 10-inch touchscreen is very nice to use.

The Duet is powered by a MediaTek processor and 4GB of RAM, which provides middle-of-the-road performance. Battery life is very good and can easily get through an entire day of web browsing and Netflix binging.

Finally, the Lenovo Duet is pretty low priced. Coming in around $300, it’s another Chromebook that would be great for the budget-conscious. It just goes to show that Chromebooks are affordable no matter what you’re looking for.

Best Touchscreen Chromebook

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

With a great touch screen and a detachable keyboard, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a perfect choice for someone planning to use their Chromebook primarily like a tablet.

Best 2-in-1 Chromebook: Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga C13
Lenovo

Pros

  • Very premium feel
  • Hardware features usually reserved for high-end PCs
  • Great performance
  • Beautiful display

Cons

  • Battery life could be better
  • Expensive for a Chromebook

The Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga could be an alternative to our top overall pick. It’s unabashedly a “premium” Chromebook, and it demonstrates the 2-in-1 form factor perfectly.

Many Chromebooks make sacrifices to keep the price down, but the ThinkPad C13 Yoga is aiming to be a high-quality laptop that just so happens to run Chrome OS. It has the red Trackpoint in the middle of the keyboard, a fingerprint sensor, a webcam shutter, and many features you’d find on Lenovo’s Windows laptops.

The ThinkPad C13 Yoga is powered by the Ryzen 3000 Mobile C-Series processors. Performance is very good, but battery life suffers a bit compared to other Chromebooks. You can get it with 4 or 16 GB of RAM and up to 256 GB of storage. The C13 Yoga is perfect for productivity as well as running Android apps.

The 13.3-inch display is a touchscreen and it can flip all the way back into tablet mode. That also allows you to prop up the laptop in several different ways. Depending on the configuration, the ThinkPad C13 Yoga costs between $450 and $950. That’s pricey for a Chromebook, but you’re getting top-notch quality if you’re willing to pay extra.

Best 2-in-1 Chromebook

Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga

The ThinkPad C13 Yoga is more than just a Chromebook, it’s a laptop that runs on Chrome OS. You’ll get all the features you’d expect from a productivity laptop for a premium price.

Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has close to a decade of experience covering consumer technology and previously worked as a News Editor at XDA Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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