At this point in 2020, the high-end Chromebook segment has really struggled. Other than a couple enterprise Chromebooks that almost no one should buy outside of corporate deployment, the high end of the Chromebook market has not had a great year. The two flagship consumer Chromebooks up in that category (Samsung Galaxy Chromebook and ASUS Flip C436) both had a host of issues that made them tough to recommend and the mid-range Chromebooks have been so good that they continue to be the easy recommendation as we close out 2020. Just take a look at our Best Chromebooks of 2020 video to see this in action.
Back in May, one last top-tier Chromebook was announced that we were incredibly excited for, and we finally have it in the office: the HP Elite c1030 Chromebook. You can append ‘Enterprise’ onto that name if you go that route and customize it for a workforce, but there is also a consumer-facing model available that brings much of the high-end formula to the masses for a respectable $999.
At that price, we’re playing with devices like the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook and ASUS Flip C436, so HP can’t mess around with dim screens, plastic bottoms, and slow storage. As it stands, none of those things are issues and the HP Elite c1030 delivers a holistic package that, so far, is very impressive.
While we have the $1600 souped-up version of the device with the upgraded anti-glare screen, a Core i7 processor, 256GB of NVMe storage and 16GB of RAM, I have no doubt that the entry-level Core i3, 128GB NVMe storage and 8GB of RAM will be a powerhouse as well. All of the other bits and pieces of this device remain the same across the other models, too, and that’s honestly what you are paying the premium for, here.
The build is all-aluminum, firm, well constructed, and the same material from top to bottom. No creaks, wobbles, or plastic bottoms on this one. The convertible hinge feels solid, the chassis has a great texture, the keyboard is quiet, clicky, and not-surprisingly great to type on while the trackpad is wide, smooth, and registers a satisfying click. Speakers are decent thus far and the tiny bezels around the 13.5-inch screen scream modernity while also giving the Elite c1030 the same screen size I love in the Acer Spin 713 while making the overall device size much smaller.
So far, I’m loving this Chromebook. It looks and feels premium, and that’s a big part of pulling off the $999 Chromebook. Think Pixelbook-level fit and finish and you start to understand what this Chromebook feels like under your palms. With USI support, a decent port selection (2x USB-C, 1 USB-A, headphone/mic and microSD slot), a dedicated camera switch on the side and a fingerprint scanner, this convertible has all the tricks up its sleeve and puts them all together in a package that looks and feels the part.
Obviously, we’ll be spending quite a bit of time with this Chromebook and really putting it through the paces to test things like battery life, performance with Windows apps in Parallels (it came with a free trial), and overall heat dissipation, but for now you can color me impressed. There’s a lot to like with this one and other than the step down to a Core i3, I think the $999 price is warranted for all you are getting in this package. My mind could change over the review period, but right now this one is impressive for sure.