The 8 Best Chromebooks to Buy in 2018

See our best budget-friendly alternatives to a PC or Mac

Samsung Chromebook 3
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Google’s launch of the Chromebook in 2011 marked the beginning of a PC revolution. Fast forward to today and Chromebooks have not only captured the hearts and minds of the education market, but they provide general computer users with a simplified computing experience that’s unmatched by any of their Windows or Mac rivals. Inexpensive and portable with great battery life, take a look at our choices for the best Chromebooks to buy right now.

Best Overall: Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA

Widely regarded as one of the best Chromebooks ever made, the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA is a 12.5-inch touchscreen machine that’s close to perfect. Sporting a 360-degree hinge and 12.5-inch Full-HD touchscreen, the C302CA is functional right out of the box for both laptop and tablet mode. The slick aluminum body is both attractive and sturdy, while the Intel Core m3 hardware with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage gives it plenty of horsepower. Like all Chromebook hardware, the C302CA starts up in seconds and lasts all day long, thanks to a real-world battery life of around 10 hours with average use. Add in Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac and a bright HD display and it’s easy to see why this Chromebook is an across-the-board winner. It weighs 2.65 pounds.

Best Budget: Samsung Chromebook 3

While Chromebooks tend to be more budget-friendly overall, few can match the value and performance of the Samsung Chromebook 3. With an 11.6-inch anti-reflective HD display, 4GB of RAM, 16GB of eMMC memory and a spill-resistant keyboard, this Chromebook offers quite a punch without breaking the piggy bank. Supported by 11 hours of battery life, it’s easy to see why the Chromebook 3 is so popular. For its price tag, the machine’s plastic build quality is surprisingly well put together and feels durable enough to stick in a bag and carry it with you all day, thanks to its 2.5-pound weight. An SD card adapter offers easy upgrading for more storage.

Best Splurge: Google Pixelbook

The reigning king of the Chromebook lineup, Google’s Pixelbook rivals more traditional PC and Apple computers in both performance and price. The first such Chromebook with Google Assistant built in, the Pixelbook enables users to hit the dedicated Assistant key on the keyboard and say “Ok Google” to ask a question. The 4-in-1 design explains the Pixelbook price point — it can be converted from laptop to tablet mode, as well as tent and entertainment mode, all in less than two seconds.

Powering all of the Pixelbook features is a 7th generation Intel Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. That's nearly four times the storage generally available on Chromebook models. The touchscreen is 12.3 inches across (made with Gorilla Glass for added durability) and the whole thing weighs only 2.45 pounds. Fortunately, the slim design doesn’t equate to mediocre battery life — the Pixelbook can hold its charge for up to 10 hours, and with its fast charging capabilities can get up to two hours of battery life with just 15 minutes on the charger. 

Best for Portability: Acer Chromebook R11

The minimalist design of the Acer Chromebook R11 may not be for everyone, but interested buyers should know that inside the R11 is an extremely capable computer. With an Intel quad-core N3160 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage, this Chromebook is a highly capable workhorse. It also has an SD card slot for expanded storage, which is perfect for accommodating all the apps you download from Google Play. The whole thing is just 0.8 inches thing and weighs 2.8 pounds, and with a smaller, 11.6-inch screen, this Chromebook is ultra-portable, ready to slip into a backpack or messenger bag.

The R11 is also extremely versatile, with a 2-in-1 design that gives it both laptop and tablet functionality. The display (with a sharp 1266 x 768 resolution) can fold back a full 360 degrees, so users have the option to fold the keyboard back and simply use the multi-touch screen like a tablet. It can also be propped up in "presentation mode," which is perfect for displaying photos or playing video from any of Google Play's many streaming app options. 

The exterior of the R11 has a textured finish with a somewhat "grippy" feel, making it that much easier to carry. And with up to nine hours of battery life, you can leave the house in the morning and come home with battery to spare. 

Best for School: Dell Chromebook 11 3189

Chromebooks have long been applauded as an ideal computer for education and the Dell Chromebook 11 3189 personifies that very reasoning. The kid-proof design includes a spill-resistant keyboard, rubberized edges and drop protection. Beyond its durability, it's powered by a Celeron N3060 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 16GB eMMC drive. The 2-in-1 design allows it to fold back completely flat to work as both tablet and laptop. All of this durability and functionality is helped by nearly 11 hours of battery life, more than enough to last for an entire school day. Weighing only 3.22 pounds, the Dell is equally compact enough to comfortably fit into a backpack and tote around school.

Best for Professionals: Acer Chromebook 15

When most people think of Chromebooks, they tend to think of something considerably smaller than a typical laptop. This model is out to dispel that notion. Acer’s largest Chromebook, the Chromebook 15 has a 15.6-inch full HD IPS touchscreen display (as big, or bigger, than many more expensive laptop models) and an Intel Pentium N4200 Quad-Core processor with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. This model is built to be a work companion, as well as the perfect device for streaming video or browsing the web.

Use Google Play to access and download thousands of different Android apps, including popular program suites like Microsoft Office that are perfect for the professional crowd. Do you often work remotely, or just need a quality Wi-Fi connection in your day-to-day job? The Chromebook 15's 802.11ac Wi-Fi helps this laptop operate at up to three times faster than competitive models. And if you forget your charger at home, it isn't the end of the world: The 3,220mAh battery helps the Chromebook 15 power through a workday with up to nine hours of battery life on a single charge.  It also comes with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 input.

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best business laptops can help you find what you're looking for.

Best 2-in-1: Samsung Chromebook Plus

There’s no shortage of 2-in-1 Chromebook options, but few offer the value and performance of the Samsung Chromebook Plus. The less expensive sibling of the Chromebook Pro, the Plus offers the same gorgeous 12.3-inch 2400 x 1600 WLED touchscreen, including the (stylus) pen. The pressure-sensitive pen allows for simplified options such as unlocking the display or more complex work (read: sketching or doodling full designs) on its best-in-class display. Powered by a 2GHz Hexacore OP1 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 32GB eMMC drive, the 360-degree profile offers three use cases (tent mode, laptop and tablet modes). It weighs 2.38 pounds, is just .5 inches thin and has eight hours of battery life.

If it’s battery life you’re after, Acer’s Chromebook 14 adds a slim package that’s complemented by a class-leading 12 hours of battery life. Powered by a 1.6GHz Intel N3160 quad-core processor, 4GB RAM and 32GB of drive space, the Chromebook 14 features a 14-inch HD ISP display (1920 x 1080) that's great for binge-watching videos. The 100 percent aluminum build feels both durable and lightweight enough at 3.42 pounds. The MIMO 2x2 802.11ac connectivity boosts Wi-Fi speeds nearly three times faster than previous generations.

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