It’s that time of year where we get a little bit reflective and sentimental about the year that has passed. 2019 has been a good one for Chromebooks and Chrome OS with a ton of great devices making their debuts along the way. We did something like this back in the middle of the year and we wanted to cap off 2019 by giving you the definitive list of Chromebooks that were our favorites through the year.
To do so, we kept with the same pattern as last time, grouping our favorite devices by price bracket. In the end, most people want to know what the best Chromebook is for thier money and they want to make a purchase either for themselves or for a loved one. We’ve found there are three main categories Chromebooks fall into for consumers, and we’ve split our list accordingly. We have bargain Chromebooks in the $0 – $299 category, mid to upper range devices in the $300 – $599 category, and our top-tier devices that sit in the $599 and up price bracket. Our breakdown takes regular sale prices into consideration, so you need to know that there may be times a budget Chromebook slips into the $300 – $599 range, for instance, but it will come back down.
$0 – $299
This category is for the deal seekers. I know there are tons of you out there because one of the most common requests I get is for a good Chromebook under $300. There are a ton of devices to choose from in this price range, but there are only a few I actually recommend on a regular basis. Just remember that in this price range, you’re going to be dealing with slight amounts of RAM and storage, plastic builds, and questionable screens. We tried to pick the Chromebooks that make the most out of their materials, so here they are.
In the honorable mentions for this category, we had to go with the Samsung Chromebook 4/4+ and the Acer Chromebook 15. The newest budget devices from Samsung bring a lot of what made the Chromebook 3 so popular: decent looks and performance for a very low MSRP. These Chromebooks start at $299 but rarely are ever sold at that price. It’s no big deal to see the 11.6-inch version dip below $200 on a regular basis. The screens are decent, the looks are modern, and the build quality is good enough to get by on for a budget machine.
The Acer Chromebook 15 was our winner in this category back in the summer and it was close to taking it again. With an all-aluminum chassis, nice screen, backlit keys, great speakers and decent performance, its hard not to like this Chromebook for the money. If Acer releases a new version of this one with an updated N4000 or N5000 chip, I think they could easily have the best big Chromebook around for sure.
WINNER: The edge has to go to the Lenovo Chromebook C340, though, for its overall enjoyablility. With a much faster internal processor than the excellent C330 from last year paired up with a solid aluminum lid, this Chromebook only improves on what was easily one of the best deals in the Chromebook ecosystem. We haven’t put out our review yet, but I’ve used this thing for days on end and pushed it just as hard as my Pixelbook Go and, in general, it held up. Simply put: I loved using this diminutive little Chromebook.
$300 – $599
This category is really the meat and potatoes of the Chromebook world. These devices have become the best representation of where Chromebooks are right now: well built, reasonably priced, and generally very fast. With speedy internals, much better screens than the lower-end models, and a lot of aluminum, glass trackpads, and thoughtful design, the $300 – $599 Chromebooks are the best of both worlds, giving users great expereinces with enjoyable hardware and not breaking the bank on the way.
The honorable mentions in this category include the ASUS Chromebook C425, the Acer Chromebook 714/715 and the HP Chromebook x360. The ASUS Chromebook C425 was a surprise entry that showed up in the fall and ended up being one of my favorite devices once the price dropped. At the $499 it debuted at, this Chromebook made no sense, but as time has passed and the price has dropped, I really like where this one positions itself. It has a fantastic keyboard, tiny bezels, and speedy internals. It isn’t trying to be anything fancy and simply sticks to being a solid clamshell Chromebook that can now be had for around $350 most days.
The Acer Chromebook 714 and 715 are very good devices in this range as well, combining all-aluminum builds, decent keyboards, Gorilla Glass trackpads, 1080p screens, and built-in fingerprint scanners. Again, they aren’t trying to be tablets or convertibles and simply stick to the clamshell mode and they both do a great job at it. As a matter of fact, there was version of the 715 that ditched the fingerprint scanner but held onto the Core m3, 4GB of RAM, and a whopping 128GB of storage for only $350. While the internals and prices fluctuate for both of these models, they stay inside the category price range and either one is a great Chromebook for the money.
The HP Chromebook x360 has been a go-to recommendation for about a year at this point. Solid, mostly-aluminum build, fantastic backlit keyboard, glass trackpad, convertible form factor, speedy internals (Core i3/8GB RAM) and a 14-inch 1080p screen make for a very likeable device. We’ve had them around the office off and on and I’ve instructed many interested buyers to get one and they’ve universally been pleased. This is simply a great Chromebook that I can’t wait to see an official sequel to.
WINNER: The winner in this category is likely not a surprise to anyone: the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434. This device debuted at CES in 2019, launched in March, and has been arguably the best Chromebook on the market ever since. The all-aluminum build, tiny bezels, convertible form factor, excellent keyboard, bright 1080p screen and speedy internals (Core m3,4/8GB RAM) come together in a beautiful, functional, and well-rounded package. Regularly on sale for a little over $500, this is such an easy device recommendation and most times you can get the 8GB RAM version for under $599. If you are looking for the absolute best in this price range right now, this is undeniably it.
$600 & Up
Finally, we come to the top-end of the spectrum. Though many consider these Chromebooks to be a bit overpriced, I like the fact that an “expensive” Chromebook is still south of $1000 most times. When you look at premium Windows or Mac laptops, $1000 usually won’t get you in the door. Sure these devices are expensive in the Chrome OS world, but you are also getting much more premium builds and materials for your money, so if a Chrome OS is your OS of choice and you want a nicer device, its great that there is an option or two for you now.
The honorable mentions in this category go to the Pixelbook, Pixel Slate, and the Acer Chromebook Spin 13. The Acer Spin 13 is a glorious Frankenstein of a device, giving you almost everything you could ask for in a premium Chromebook in 2019. Included is a stowable pen, 3:2 high-res bright display, backlit keyboard, glass trackpad, all-aluminum build, massive internals (up to a Core i5 and 16GB of RAM), and a convertible form factor. If performance and features are your jam, this is your Chromebook. Other than feeling a tad clunky, it checks most boxes but can get a bit pricey on the higher-spec models.
The Pixelbook and Pixel Slate have lived in this price bracket since their launch and though we saw some crazy deals on the Slate towards the end of the year, they both stay firmly in the $600+ category. I still prefer the Pixelbook over the Pixel Slate, but when the Slate dropped in price I know quite a few people who snagged one and are really loving it. Both are undeniably premium in their build materials and provide a better aesthetic than nearly any other hardware you’ll ever use.
WINNER: Finally, a device has unseated the Pixelbook in my eyes and that is the Pixelbook Go. Sure, it’s just a clamshell, but the build quality of this Chromebook cannot be overstated. It feels solid, looks amazing, and performs like a champ. The keyboard is hands-down the best in the business, the trackpad is fantastic, the screen is bright and vivid at 1080p, and the battery is absolutely killer. Instead of trying to do everything, the Pixelbook Go shines in all the right ways and makes using it an absolute joy on a daily basis. Oh, and the speakers are legitamately insane. I love listening to just about anything on them with their loud, rich, and full sound. This is my favorite Chromebook on the list by a long shot, and I think Google simply nailed it with the Pixelbook Go.
That’s it for 2019! It’s been a big year for Chromebooks and Chrome OS, but this is just the beginning. There are so many great devices on the horizon and I feel like 2020 will be an even bigger step forward for Chromebooks and Chrome OS as a whole. With updates coming to most of the big players in the space, I can’t wait to get my hands on all the new hardware coming our way in the next 12 months and I believe this will be a radically different list this time next year.