It is no secret that I love the Pixelbook Go. I’ve tried two of the configurations and though I’d say most people would be fine with the entry-level m3 model that retails for $649, there are some perks to doubling the storage and bumping up performance in the $849 Core i5 model. And even though I don’t think most people need it, there’s even more to love in the i5 model that doubles the RAM to 16GB for $999. But the two lower models – the $649 and $849 versions – seem to be the sweet spot for this Chromebook.
For the money, you are getting best-in-class build quality, keyboard, trackpad, and speakers. Simply put, the Pixelbook Go is an absolute joy to use every day and with the $649 or $849 models, the pricing is a tad high but still makes sense when we compare the build quality and user experience to other Chromebooks in a similar space.
But then there’s that $1399 4K model, too. Though I’d say the $999 model is overpriced, the 4K version is simply egregious. Sure, it bumps everything up: 256GB of storage, 16GB of RAM, and an 8th-gen Core i7 Y-series processor are all included to push around this 4K display. If you look at all the hardware upgrades over the $849 model, I suppose you could make a case for the drastic price hike, but I’d quickly argue that few people need all this in a Chromebook to have a fantastic experience. As a matter of fact, due to all those Pixels in the 4K screen, the Core i7 doesn’t actually perform or feel much faster than the Core i5.
So, you are then left to decide if 16GB or RAM and 256GB of storage are worth it to you – for many, the answer there is a clear ‘no’ – and whether or not having a 4K display is important on a 13.3″ screen. If the RAM is your main sticking point and you are sold on the idea of the Pixelbook Go, I think the souped-up Core i5 model at $999 is the way to go. If you must have 256GB of internal storage, the 4K model is your only choice. For many of you, however, the real question comes down to wanting that 4K screen, so let’s talk about it.
To 4K or not to 4K
First and foremost, I have say that 4K feels like complete overkill in a 13.3-inch display. The standard 1080p we get in the far-more-affordable versions of the Pixelbook Go have great colors, viewing angles, and the pixel density is actually quite good. At a usable distance, it is nearly impossible to spot pixels on the screen. Sure, if I get my nose close to the glass, I can see some jagged edges on things, but I rarely want or need to use my clamshell-only Chromebook in this fashion.
I was under the impression that part of the 4K Pixelbook’s equation wasn’t just more pixels on screen, but a higher quality display as well. I expected it to be far brighter and far more color accurate than the 1080p version, but that just isn’t the case at all. To our measure, both displays come in right around 300 nits, so you aren’t getting an improvement in brightness. As for the colors, while I feel the 1080p Pixelbook Go is a tad warm in the color temperature, the 4K version felt wildly blue and overly-cool. I tend to actually prefer a slightly cooler temperature in my displays, but I could sense the blue on the screen almost all the time with this 4K screen to the point that it was actually off-puting.
Taking this into consideration, I was left with a pretty empty feeling when using the 4K Pixelbook Go. Whereas every single time I picked up the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook I drooled on the display, marveled over the aesthetic, and loved the whole experience, the 4K Pixelbook Go simply felt like I’d wasted money. It felt no different in practice than the Core i5 model I use regularly, and that only served to constantly remind me that when it comes to this version of the Pixelbook Go, I simply can’t recommend anyone actually buy it.
If you love the look, feel, and performance of the Pixelbook Go, you aren’t alone. It is a great Chromebook that I recommend to people quite often. You simply don’t need what the top-end version is offering 99.9% of the time. Save yourself a bunch of money, buy the $649 or $849 version, and you’ll feel way more satisfied with your purchase.