When you review devices, being picky is part of the job. I tend to look for the best parts of any Chromebook, but that way of looking at things isn’t always the most helpful for prospective buyers. While I don’t see the need to incessantly bash devices just for kicks and giggles, I do see great value in taking the time to put each and every Chromebook under a microscope to pick out all the potential issues future users may run into.
This is usually a pretty simple job, honestly. It is normally pretty easy to find issues with gadgets, but with the ASUS C434, finding fault was more of a task than it usually is. And, for someone in the market for a Chromebook under $600, that is really good news. So, let’s get into what makes this latest offering from ASUS one of my favorite Chromebooks on the market.
Put simply, the build on the ASUS C434 is top-notch. Encased in a completely aluminum frame, the C434 both feels and looks the high-end part. Similar to the Pixelbook’s finish, the C434 barely picks up fingerprints and gives the device an overall fit and finish that rivals any laptop I’ve ever used.
Small touches like the chamfered edges and chrome-covered hinges make for a beautiful aesthetic at every angle. Those same hinges work to give the C434 solidity when in clamshell mode and unique angle for the keyboard when opened that not only hides some of the bottom bezel, but also gives the keyboard a subtle angle that makes typing a tad bit comfier. They also serve to convert the ASUS C434 into all the usual convertible modes with just the right firmness in any orientation.
While the aluminum keeps things firm and stable, the device is still quite thin and light at 15mm and just over 3 pounds. ASUS has managed to cram a 14-inch Chromebook into the frame belonging to a much smaller 13-inch device thanks to the very small bezels on 3 sides of the display, giving this Chromebook a feel quite unlike any before it.
Those small bezels surround a screen that isn’t class leading, but still quite good in its own right. At 14-inches, this 16:9, FHD (1920×1080) IPS panel delivers great colors, wide viewing angles, and good brightness at 300 nits. If you’ve seen any of the Chromebooks from late 2018, you have an idea what we’re dealing with. It is a very good display, but not on the level of the Pixelbook, HP x2, Samsung Pro, etc.
When taking that sort of display and draping those tiny bezels around it, though, you end up with a Chromebook that is more inviting to use than anything I’ve ever tested. There’s just something so compelling and immersive about thin bezels, and ASUS has simply killed it on the C434 with the 87% screen-to-body ratio. And don’t forget, even though this device feels like it is 13-inches, it is every bit of a 14-inch device and the extra screen real estate comes in real handy when out and about with only your Chromebook.
Keyboard & Trackpad
The input methods, for me, can make or break an experience on a Chromebook. The ASUS Flip C434 was one I had to adapt to just a bit, but after I did, I loved using it. The travel on the keys is quite deep and the click is good, but not great. However, after about a day of typing on it I really found my groove and was knocking out articles as well as any keyboard I’ve ever used. I routinely put keyboards up against the Pixelbook and HP x360 and I ended up enjoying the typing experience on the C434 just as well as those devices, if not a bit more.
The trackpad, while not glass, performs quite well. Whether it is metal or plastic is beside the point: it remained smooth for long periods and had a solid, assuring click mechanism. As long as a trackpad knocks those two things out, I’m usually good to go. I do wish ASUS had put a glass trackpad on this device as the one they used feels a tad thin, but overall I can’t exactly find much to fault in the execution of whatever material they went with.
Ports & Speakers
The port selection is similar to many other Chromebooks that came out late in 2018 with a USB-C flanking either side, a USB-A port, headphone/mic jack, and SD card slot. I’ve said it before and will continue saying it: this port selection works, is versatile, and can be achieved on thin Chromebooks.
During our review process, we needed to record just a bit of audio and didn’t have the right dongles for our phones or the Macbook, but the ASUS Flip C434 didn’t need any adapters or dongles to achieve what we needed. We simply plugged in the accessories and got down to work. There is still use found in USB-A ports and headphone/mic jacks, and I hope manufacturers keep putting them in devices for the foreseeable future.
ASUS touts the speakers on this Chromebook as a selling feature, and I think they are right to do so. Sounds are rich and full with plenty of volume for watching shows, YouTube, or listening to some music. I still think the Pixel Slate houses the best pair of speakers on any Chromebook, but this one comes close. I really liked the speakers on this one!
Internals & Performance
Internally, our review unit had an 8th-gen Core m3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. For $569, I’d personally like 8GB of RAM, but our review unit only showed signs of lesser RAM one time with a tab reload. Admittedly, I’m not too heavy on tab usage, so if 4GB of RAM has been a sore spot for you in the past, it likely will still be here as well.
The rest of the internal setup performed perfectly, however, with the Core m3 powering through anything I threw at it and 64GB of storage being enough for my personal needs. Luckily, you can just drop in an SD card for expanding that storage if you need.
This won’t be the most powerful Chromebook on the market with devices like the HP x360, Dell Inspiron, and Lenovo Yoga out there with their U-series Core processors, but this is easily close enough in performance not to matter, and you don’t have to ever hear a fan kick on. I was able to eek out a 30,000 on Octane, so that tells me there’s enough raw power here to keep you moving along swiftly for many years to come.
[As we’re putting together this review, a version of this Chromebook with 8GB of RAM has appeared on Amazon, but it isn’t fully available to order just yet.]
What else can I say? This Chromebook is impressive. We just sent back our review unit and I already miss it dearly. I loved the screen, the keyboard, the tiny bezels, the build and the speakers. I miss writing on it and working on it daily. And, if you like all the stuff I’ve said about it and are looking for the absolute best device you can buy for less than $600, this is it.
It may go on sale in the months ahead, but I can say with 100% confidence that if you purchase this device at it’s full MSRP of $569, you will love it. I’d be even more ready to snag the $599 8GB version if it was shipping already. That time will be here soon, though, and it is still technically under $600, so my advice would stand: get this Chromebook and you won’t regret it. I know I plan on it.Buy The ASUS Flip C434 4GB from Amazon Buy The ASUS Flip C434 8GB from Amazon