The guys over at Laptop Mag have decided to brutally test 11 different Chromebooks from across the spectrum of price to see which one holds up the best. The results are actually quite surprising and the test itself is not only pretty scientific: it is actually a good replication of real world drops and fumbles.
The test itself consisted of putting 11 different Chromebooks through the exact same drops onto two surfaces from two specific heights. From 2.5 feet each device was pushed off a table onto both a carpeted floor and concrete floor. Additionally, the team dropped the devices onto both surfaces from a standing height of 4.5 feet and finished up by dropping each device – lid opened and on their sides – onto the concrete from the same 4.5 feet. Ouch.
They’ve highlighted most of the carnage in a video that you’ll have to hop over to their site to enjoy (endure?), but I can tell you from watching it that it isn’t the most cringe-worthy drop test video I’ve ever forced myself to sit through. After all the drops, the team then tallied up a score for each device based on the functionality of the laptop after enduring all the bumps and bruises of the test.
On a scale of 1 to 5, each Chromebook got a rating from each of two rounds of torture and the scores were totaled up for a single overall score. At the best, a Chromebook could get a 10 and, at worst, a 1. Here’s the full scoring system breakdown:
- 5 points – No discernible damage.
- 4 points – Light scratches and scuff marks; generally normal “light” wear and tear.
- 3 points – Heavy scratches; light structural damage (if any).
- 2 points – Significant structural damage; system operates, but doesn’t look good doing it.
- 1 point – System does not turn on.
Some Shocking Results
I’d advise you head over to the full drop test results if you’d like to know how each Chromebook fared, but there are three very interesting results I’d like to highlight from the test. These results show very clearly that: a Chromebook doesn’t have to be ruggedized to be durable, durability and price are not mutually exclusive, and great feel doesn’t equate to great strength. So, before we talk about specifics, here is the final scores of the 11 tested Chromebooks by rank:
- Google Pixelbook (10 points)
- Samsung Chromebook 3 (9 points)
- Lenovo 330e Chromebook (8 points)
- Dell Chromebook 11 3180 (7 points)
- HP Chromebook 11 (7 points)
- Asus C202SA (7 points)
- Acer Chromebook 11 N7 (6 points)
- Samsung Chromebook Plus 2-in-1 (5 points)
- Acer Chromebook R 13 (4 points)
- Lenovo Chromebook C330 2-in-1 (4 points)
- Asus Chromebook Flip C434 (3 points)
If you’re looking at that list, you are likely surprised by a few of those results. I know I was. So, let’s talk about a few of those conclusions I mentioned above. A Chromebook doesn’t have to be ruggedized to be durable. The winning device in this test is a Chromebook I would have expected to finish solidly in the middle: the Pixelbook. Thin, light, and glass, I would have expected the Pixelbook to fail pretty hard on smacking the concrete, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, this non-rugged Chromebook came out on top, proving that there are durable Chromebooks that can still look like a million bucks.
Second, durability and price are not mutually exclusive. You’d expect to pay more for durability and ruggedness, but that doesn’t seem to be the case either. Sure, the winner is a $999 Pixelbook, but the second place Chromebook only lost by a point and it is the cheapest device on the list. Oh, and it isn’t sold or marketed as rugged, either. This is Samsung’s entry-level, bargain basement device, and it is as durable as anything you can buy. Color me surprised.
Finally, great feel doesn’t equal great strength. With most electronic devices, you almost feel like you can get a sense of their durability just by picking them up. A solid build, handsome lines, and premium materials make us feel like a device will last through all the bumps and drops that are sure to come. That thinking proves false here, however, as the well-liked ASUS Flip C434 fails hard in this durability test. The drops proved too much for the C434 and it failed in nearly every way to stand up to the same assault the Pixelbook escaped with only nicks and scrapes. It turns out good looks don’t always deliver internal strength.
If you’re like me, you don’t routinely drop laptops. I’ll fumble my phone a few times per year, but I can only remember a single laptop fumble in the past 5 years. With their size and general use on a desk, laptops aren’t as drop prone as a phone or tablet, but it is interesting to see which Chromebook fares better in a test like this. In general, I’d say keeping your Chromebook in a sleeve and in a bag is the best way to keep from putting your own device through an unintentional drop test.