We’re getting to the point with Chromebooks where there are so many new ones hitting the market that new models simply pop up out of nowhere and are on sale before we even know they exist. That’s the case for the ASUS C425 as it simply appeared a few weeks ago in an Amazon listing without as much as a warning from ASUS. We’ve since seen ASUS announce an additional Chromebook to their growing family in the Flip C433, so with that device and the excellent Flip C434 available, where does this device fit in? And is it worth your consideration? Let’s find out.
From the Amazon listing alone, it is pretty easy to look at this new Chromebook and think that you are getting something very similar to the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 and, while that is partially true, there are some serious trade-offs you need to know about with the C425 before you go and make a purchase. That’s not to say the C425 is a bad Chromebook or it’s not worth your consideration. You just need to know what you are sacrificing to save some money.
Overall, this Chromebook feels nice and looks nice on a desk or your lap. It shares a great deal of aesthetic design language as the Flip C434, and that’s a great thing. Honestly, the C425 is a very attractive device. The aluminum used on the lid feels much like the C434 and does a great job at resisting fingerprints. The rest of the Chromebook is all plastic, however, and that move comes with benefits and downfalls. While it makes the overall Chromebook light at 2.8 pounds, it also does a good job of making things feel cheap. I’m not a plastic hater, but there are price brackets I equate to plastics being used, and at MSRP $499, I don’t expect a mostly-plastic build. While there isn’t a ton of flex and wobbliness with this chassis, there’s no getting around the way plastic feels under your palms as you actually use a Chromebook.
You also need to know that, unlike the Flip C434, there is not 360-degree hinge here. This is a clamshell device through and through, though it does come equipped with a 180-degree, fold-flat lid if you are into that sort of thing. I don’t see a ton of practical use in fold-flat hinges if I’m being perfectly honest, but I know there are some folks out there who find them useful, so it is nice that ASUS at least made the C425 with those users in mind.
With a fold-flat screen, I would imagine the use case would involve sharing your display to a group of some sort and interacting with it. With that in mind, the absence of a touch screen on this model is just baffling. It has been a long time since I’ve reviewed a non-bargain Chromebook that didn’t have a touch screen. Sure, you get an Full HD IPS, matte-finish, anti-glare panel with very minimal bezels, 85% screen-to-body ratio, decent colors, but it is painfully dim at 170 nits max brightness and the lack of touch went from questionable to extremely aggravating pretty quickly for me.
In the current climate of Chrome OS, I just can’t understand any device shipping without touch functionality unless it is a sub-$250 Chromebook. I understand it saves money, but losing this function still cripples quite a few Android apps and simply short-circuits what has become many users’ normal workflow on a Chromebook up to this point. Additionally, the surround around this screen is plastic and slightly creates an inset for the screen that only adds to the budget, cheap feeling of the C425.
Keyboard & Trackpad
So far, not so good. Rest assured it is all much better moving forward as we start to consider the C425’s strengths. First up is the fantastic backlit keyboard. I said this about the Flip C434 when I reviewed it, but I’m even more on board now: I love this keyboard. It has the same keys and keyframe as the C434, and though I praised that device’s keyboard, I wasn’t ready to call it my favorite. That changed with the C425. Multiple times with this device I’ve had it shelved only to pull it out right in the middle of writing a long article just to feel the accuracy and comfort of this keyboard. As a matter of fact, in the middle of this paragraph I put the Lenovo Yoga C630 away to get this keyboard back under my fingertips. It is so good that I did the exact same with the Pixelbook earlier this week. I’m ready to finally move my vote for favorite Chromebook keyboard to the ASUS Flip C434 and C425.
The trackpad isn’t as amazing, but it is very good. Though being made of plastic, it is much larger than the Flip C434 trackpad and larger than most others on the market. For a device without a touchscreen, this is a small but appreciated consolation. More room for multi-finger gestures is always welcome, and this trackpad handled everything with aplomb and the click mechanism inside is tight, assuring and satisfying. Though I wish the trackpad was glass, I can’t say that it bothered me at all while using this Chromebook.
Ports & Speakers
In another solid category, the ASUS C425 does very well with its port selection and layout. Though many Chromebooks carry this same selection these days, it is always welcome and always useful. With a USB Type C port on both sides for charging, docking, display out or audio, you get plenty of setup versatility with the C425. Add to that a single USB Type A port for legacy connections, a headphone/mic jack, and a microSD card slot and you have a solid I/O collection that will fit most users’ needs.
Another place the C425 shines is in the speaker category. With what sound like the same fantastic speakers as the Flip C434, this Chromebook puts out some pretty loud, full and ear-pleasing sounds. I really enjoyed watching YouTube videos and listening to a bit of music on this Chromebook. I don’t forsee ever getting to a place where I listen to music on any laptop speaker as my primary audio source, but having a decent set of speakers makes sharing video or audio content a lot more enjoyable for everyone involved. Also, you won’t completely hate the experience of catching up on a show or series if you don’t have headphones on you at the moment, and that is saying something.
Just like with port selection and keyboard, we’re dealing with a pretty familiar internal setup on the C425. Only one configuration is shipping right now and it comes equipped with an 8th-gen Core m3, 8GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. A few months into the C434’s life, we finally got an 8GB RAM upgrade option, but the C425 looks to be shipping with this configuration by default and I’m glad for it. I personally don’t like seeing 4GB RAM options in any device over $399, so I’m glad to see ASUS opting to just start at 8GB of RAM. While I’d like to see a 128GB storage option, 64GB does fine for most users with Chrome OS’ stellar ability to leverage the cloud for most things.
Overall, I never once thought about performance or processors when using this Chromebook. Whether in my lap or connected to a large, high-res monitor, speed was never a concern. With this Core m3 chip, heat was never a problem and you don’t even have to worry about a fan in the mix, either. These Y-series chips almost feel like they are made with Chromebooks in mind and I hope we keep seeing them as the years go on. I love a fanless laptop that doesn’t feel like a step backwards in performance, and that is exactly what the ASUS C425 delivers.
So, in the end, who is the ASUS Chromebook C425 for? Well, at its MSRP, I’d contend it isn’t for anyone. $499 is simply too much to pay for a mostly-plastic device that lacks a touch screen. With deals left and right on the ASUS Flip C434 putting the 8GB version at only $559, there’s simply no way for me to tell you to buy the C425 over that model.
However, since launch, the C425 hasn’t been at full MSRP for more than a week or so. Instead, it has dropped down to $399 and stayed put. As of the writing of the article, the Flip C434 base model with only 4GB of RAM is back up to about $550 with the 8GB model back up to $625. At those prices, the C425 starts to make a bit of sense. To get the same 8GB of RAM, you would now need to spend $225 more than what you would on the C425, and that’s a sizable chunk of change.
My point is, do your homework. If you are OK with not having a touch screen and with good-looking plastic in your device, then saving $225 might feel like an absolute win. You’re still getting a very attractive Chromebook with the best possible keyboard available and it all fits a 14-inch display into a 13-inch frame.
I’ve actually loved using this Chromebook despite its shortcomings, and there’s something to be said for that. A Chromebook doesn’t have to be perfect to be enjoyable to use, and the price you pay for that experience matters a whole lot in determining what you’ll feel each time you reach for it. If the prices are what they are right now and you are in the market for a device, this might be the one for you. However, if the C434 drops back to the $559 price for the 8GB model again and the C425 is back to $499, I’d have to point you back at the Flip C434 as the better option. Pricing is volatile and will stay that way. As a matter of fact, it will probably only get crazier, so make sure you keep yourself informed by staying in touch with everything happening here at Chrome Unboxed by signing up for email alerts below.