HP Chromebook 14 on sofa
HP

What to Look For in a Budget Chromebook in 2023

A budget Chromebook doesn’t have to be a bottom-tier product—far from it. You can find ChromeOS notebooks that pack IPS screens, four-core processors, and excellent keyboards priced at or below $300. Also, while you can’t get away from an all-plastic chassis, you can find many budget Chromebooks with great build quality.

A solid budget Chromebook should feature 4GB of memory, a two or four-core CPU, a 720p IPS or twisted nematic (TN) display, and 32GB or 64GB of storage. If you’re ready to spend over $300, you can find 1080p IPS screens, 8GB of RAM, and some extra features such as Wi-Fi 6 or multiple high-speed USB ports.

The two things found on every budget Chromebook that are less than ideal are embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC) storage and basic webcams. The good news is that while eMMC is slower than most SSDs overall, it’s more than a decent storage option for a budget notebook. And while the webcams found on budget Chromebooks are basic, they’re good enough for video conferencing.

Budget Chromebooks feature displays with peak brightness of around 300 nits or lower and slightly washed-out colors, as well as up to 8GB of memory and 64GB of storage. Luckily, almost every Chromebook comes with a MicroSD card slot allowing you to easily upgrade the storage.

But, with many of these Chromebooks, you wouldn’t have to deal with all of these sacrifices—you can pick what features are most important for you and find a Chromebook within your budget from there.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a Chromebook and a laptop?

A Chromebook is a laptop running ChromeOS made by Google, a web-focused OS limited to smartphone-optimized apps from the Play Store. Note that you can use Linux on most Chromebooks, and even install Windows. On the other hand, regular laptops run Windows or macOS and aren’t limited to apps made for smartphones.

How do I right-click on a Chromebook?
+

To right-click on a Chromebook, press the touchpad with two fingers simultaneously. Another method includes pressing and holding the Alt key and then clicking the touchpad with one finger.

How do I copy and paste on a Chromebook?
+

First, highlight the text you want to copy. Then right-click on the highlighted text and click “Copy.” The final step is copying the text inside a text editor or a text box by right-clicking and selecting “Paste” from the context menu. For a more detailed explanation, visit our guide.

How do I reset a Chromebook?
+

To factory reset your Chromebook, first, you must sign out of the device. Next, press CTRL + Alt + Shift + R, and select “Restart” once that option appears on the screen. The following box should contain an option called “Powerwash.” Select that option and press “Continue.” That’s it.

In case you’ve installed a different OS, we have a guide on restoring your Chromebook’s original BIOS.

Can I play games on a Chromebook?
+

Technically, you can. However, since Chromebooks are limited to apps and games found on the Play Store, you’ll have issues with controls since those games are optimized for touch screens. The good news is that you can play web-based games and use game streaming services that work inside a browser, such as GeForce NOW and Xbox Cloud Gaming.

Best Budget Chromebook Overall: Acer Chromebook 315

Person holding Acer Chromebook 315 in group
Acer

Pros

  • Fantastic hardware for the price
  • 15-inch 1080p IPS screen
  • Rich selection of ports
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Full-sized keyboard that's enjoyable to type on
  • Sleek design

Cons

  • Only 64GB of storage is too low for the price
  • The screen is not that bright

The Acer Chromebook 315 is a fantastic package selling for just above $300. This Chromebook is a clear step up from most budget Chromebooks on the market in all departments.

Acer packed a four-core Intel Celeron N5100 CPU, 8GB of LPDDR4X memory, and a large, 15.6-inch 1080p IPS screen into this Chromebook—an impressive combo. The only nitpick in this otherwise remarkable hardware offering is only 64GB of eMMC storage.

The goodies continue with Wi-Fi 6 support, a full-size keyboard that feels nice to type on, and a large trackpad that’s a massive upgrade over the last model’s rather cramped touchpad. When it comes to design, the Acer Chromebook 315 looks attractive thanks to its slim body and surprisingly thin screen bezels.

Another area where the Chromebook 315 shines is port selection. You’ve got two USB 3.2 5Gbps ports, one USB-C 3.2 10Gbps port, and one USB-C 3.2 5Gbps port. One of the USB-C ports supports power delivery up to 45W and DisplayPort over USB-C video output. Finally, the battery life is solid at around 10 hours, according to Acer.

We’re impressed by what the Acer Chromebook 315 brings to the table. Compared to other budget Chromebooks, this one’s a clear winner.

Best Budget Laptop Overall

Acer Chromebook 315

The Acer Chromebook 315 features powerful internals, large 1080p screen, and sleek design. It's by far the best budget Chromebook you can get.

Best Budget Chromebook for Kids: Acer Chromebook 512

Acer Chromebook 512 on purple background
Acer

Pros

  • Rugged, kid-friendly design
  • Excellent port selection
  • IPS screen on such an affordable device
  • Solid battery life

Cons

  • Chunky screen bezels
  • Dim screen with washed colors

If you’re looking for an affordable Chromebook for a child, the Acer Chromebook 512 is the one we recommend checking out. This isn’t a powerhouse as our best overall pick, but it does come with solid hardware specs, a good keyboard, and the MIL-STD 810G military standard.

In other words, the Acer Chromebook 512 can survive drops from up to 4ft, it’s spill-resistant, and you can apply up to 132 lbs of pressure without damaging it. If there’s a kid-friendly budget Chromebook, this is it.

The dual-core Intel Celeron N4020 CPU is powerful enough for light use, like watching videos or browsing the web. 4GB of memory is the standard at this price point and plenty for keeping multiple Chrome tabs open without hitches. 32GB of eMMC storage is fine for a device made for the cloud. You can expand memory thanks to the presence of a MicroSD card slot.

The 12-inch screen is perfect for web browsing thanks to its 3:2 aspect ratio. The 1366 x 912 resolution is acceptable at this size, and while the display’s dim with slightly washed-out colors, it’s an IPS panel with wide viewing angles. We’re always glad to see an IPS screen on such an affordable device.

As for the battery life, Acer claims the Chromebook 512 can last 12 hours, but that may be an overstatement. If we use similar Chromebooks as a comparison, you should get about 10 hours away from the charger, which is still solid.

We like the design despite the chunky screen bezels. The keyboard and the touchpad won’t amaze you but are more than fine for kids who likely won’t notice the difference in keyboard quality.

Regarding ports, the Chromebook 512 impresses thanks to its dual USB-A 3.2 5Gbps ports and a pair of USB-C 3.2 5Gbps ports that support USB-C charging and DisplayPort over USB-C protocol.

The Lenovo Chromebook 3, which features a weaker screen and comes without the rugged design, is a more affordable alternative if the 512 is out of your budget range.

Best Budget Chromebook for Kids

Acer Chromebook 512

The Chromebook 512 isn't a powerhouse but is very affordable and can take a beating while also packing an IPS display and more than decent hardware. It's a kid-friendly Chromebook that packs everything a child might need in their first laptop.

Best Budget Chromebook for Students: HP Chromebook 14

HP Chromebook 14 on watery background
HP

Pros

  • Large, 14-inch display
  • Excellent keyboard and touchpad
  • Four-core CPU
  • Compact and portable

Cons

  • TN panel is less than ideal in a world where lots of budget Chromebooks pack IPS displays
  • Another USB-A port would have been ideal

The HP Chromebook 14 includes a large, 14-inch display, an excellent keyboard for the price, a four-core Intel Celeron N4120 CPU, 4GB of memory, and 64GB of eMMC storage.

Generally speaking, the hardware here is solid for a budget Chromebook, with the only downside being the 720p TN panel with narrow viewing angles. While the screen can be grainy, you’ll love the keyboard and the large and responsive touchpad.

As for the design, the HP Chromebook 14 is another Chromebook that follows the thin & light philosophy. It’s portable, compact, and doesn’t have thick bezels around the display.

Moving on to ports, you’ve got one USB-A 3.2 5Gbps port and two USB-C 3.2 5Gbps ports. One of the USB-C ports comes with DisplayPort video output support, while you can use both USB-C ports for charging the device. There’s also a MicroSD card slot.

If you got the cash, our best overall pick offers a clear upgrade. If a 17-inch screen and worse portability don’t dissuade you, the Acer Chromebook 317 featured below should also be on your shortlist.

Finally, if you’re strapped for cash and are looking for something for less than $200, the basic version of the Acer Chromebook 315 matches the HP Chromebook 14 in everything sans the CPU.

Best Budget Chromebook for Students

HP Chromebook 14

Thin and light while packing a 14-inch screen and a brilliant keyboard and touchpad combo, the HP Chromebook 14 is an excellent budget Chromebook for every student out there.

Best Budget Chromebook for Productivity: Acer Chromebook 317

Acer Chromebook 317 on blue background
Acer

Pros

  • Massive, 17-inch 1080p IPS screen's perfect for productivity
  • Excellent hardware for the price
  • Tons of ports
  • Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1
  • Full-sized keyboard that's great for long typing sessions
  • Sturdy build quality

Cons

  • The screen's not adequate for outdoor use
  • Not the most portable Chromebook on the market

If you’re looking for a budget Chromebook device for work, the Acer Chromebook 317 is hands-down the best choice. We recommend it mainly because of its huge, 17-inch 1080p IPS screen.

Yes, it’s dim, and its colors aren’t great, but you won’t find a screen this big on any other Chromebook. It’s perfect for working in a text editor on one side of the screen while having multiple Chrome tabs on the other for editing massive spreadsheets.

The Intel Celeron N4500 CPU isn’t the fastest you can find in a budget Chromebook, but it’s got four cores and is powerful enough for basic multitasking.

This Chromebook’s design is plain, but the device is sturdy and feels nice—and a loud design isn’t the best for a professional setting anyway. What also feels nice is the full-sized keyboard and a massive touchpad that, while made of plastic, is precise, responsive, and very smooth.

Port selection includes dual USB-A 3.2 5Gbps ports and a couple of USB-C 3.2 10Gbps ports, one of which supports video output—a generous package for a budget Chromebook device. You’ve also got a MicroSD card slot for expanding storage.

Connectivity-wise, you’ve got Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, which is great to see on a budget device. The battery life is also surprisingly strong for a 17-inch device. You can expect around eight and a half hours while doing light work or watching videos.

If your workflow includes a bunch of Chrome tabs, or if you require a more portable device, the Acer Chromebook 315 has mostly the same specs as the 317, but in a smaller package while doubling the amount of memory.

Best Budget Chromebook for Productivity

Acer Chromebook 317

The Acer Chromebook 317 is a unicorn among Chromebooks with its massive 17-inch screen. Add a superb keyboard, powerful hardware, and a rich selection of ports, and you’ve got an outstanding budget Chromebook for productivity.

Best Budget Touch Screen Chromebook: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3i

Lenovo Flex 31 on dark background
Lenovo

Pros

  • Highly affordable
  • Excellent touch screen experience
  • Great build quality
  • Lots of ports
  • Highly portable

Cons

  • The screen could've been brighter
  • Meek CPU
  • A bit too thick for a 2-in-1 device

If you need a Chromebook with a touch screen, the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3i is a fantastic budget option. This is a fairly affordable Chromebook that costs less than $200. The highly affordable price comes with some compromises, the most significant being the dual-core Intel Celeron N4020 CPU.

The processor is too meek for multitasking, but it’s an okay choice for casual use, such as watching YouTube, Netflix, or light web browsing. And since this is a 2-in-1 touchscreen Chromebook, you likely don’t plan to use it as a workhorse anyway.

As for the screen, the 11.6-inch 768p unit here has decent brightness for a budget device and wide viewing angles thanks to Lenovo using an IPS panel. The colors are slightly washed-out, and you’ve got thick bezels around them, but those bezels come in handy in tablet mode.

The touchscreen capability is excellent—the screen is snappy and immediately responds to every touch, with the hinge having a satisfying amount of resistance, allowing the screen to stay in place no matter the angle you set it at.

Using the Flex 3i in tablet mode can be slightly cumbersome due to the increased thickness of the body. As for the battery life, Lenovo promises 10 hours under light loads such as watching videos or browsing the web.

Ports-wise, you’ve got two USB-A 3.2 5Gbps ports, one USB-C 3.2 5Gbps port with power delivery, and one regular USB-C port. There’s also a MicroSD card slot and physical power and volume buttons for more comfortable use while in tablet mode.

If you want a better screen and more performance, there’s the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3. The Duet 3 features a fantastic touch screen, a detachable keyboard, weighs half as much as the Flex 3i and features a snappier CPU. However, it also costs twice as much as the Flex 3i.

Best Budget Touch Screen Chromebook

Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3i

This affordable 2-in-1 device is the right choice for everyone looking for a budget touch screen Chromebook. The touch screen experience is snappy and precise, and you’ve also got an IPS screen and great build quality.

The Best Chromebooks of 2023

Acer Chromebook 315 (2022)
Best Budget Chromebook
Acer Chromebook 315 (2022)
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i
Best Chromebook for Kids
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i
Samsung Chromebook 4
Best Chromebook for Students
Samsung Chromebook 4
Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga
Best 2-in-1 Chromebook
Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga
Profile Photo for Goran Damnjanovic Goran Damnjanovic
Goran Damnjanovic is a freelance writer specializing in PC hardware, gaming hardware in general, and video games. He has over seven years of experience writing for various online publications, including Levvvel and EsportsHeadlines.
Read Full Bio »