When we reviewed the new HP Chromebook x360 14c back in July of this year, we praised the build quality, feel and overall speed of HP’s latest consumer-focused Chromebook. In many ways, it is one of the best Chromebooks on the market at this point and would be our top pick for 2020 aside from the fact that the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 exists. With both of these Chromebooks sharing the same MSRP of $629, it is tough to recommend the HP over the Acer. We expect to see a lot of sale prices going into the end of the year, but it looks like HP is preemptively taking things a step further by shipping a far more competitive version of their already-great flagship Chromebook.
Meet HP’s $399 x360 14c
Out of nowhere, the new $399 HP Chromebook x360 14c has shown up on HP’s website and at Walmart, and there’s not much of a drop off versus the far more expensive version we tested this summer. From what we can tell, HP chose to swap the 10th-gen Core i3 with the 10th-gen Pentium Gold processor and removed 4GB of RAM. Apart from those two changes, this looks to be the exact same Chromebook as the $629 model.
For reference, the Pentium Gold is one of Intel’s entry-level, large core processors. It won’t be quite as fast as the Core i3 and won’t handle massive multitasking quite as well, but that doens’t mean it is a slouch, either. Instead, I’d presume this chip will perform quite well for the vast majority of Chromebook users and at the end of the day most won’t be able to discern much difference between the two.
The other change – 4GB of RAM down from 8GB on the pricier model – is likely one that many users won’t bristle against, either. We’re all fans of more RAM for future proofing, but the truth is general use cases for Chromebooks rarely push the need for 8GB of RAM. This will change over time and just as we once had lots of entry level devices with what is now a completely unacceptable 2GB of RAM, we now have many with 4GB. For now, it is fine. That may not hold for the duration of this Chromebook’s life cycle, however, and by June of 2028 when this device stops getting updates, you may be really feeling constrained by only having 4GB of RAM available.
Apart from these changes, it seems HP has left the rest of the x360 14c equation intact and that is a massive win. At $399, users are getting an all-aluminum build, great screen, superb keyboard/trackpad, solid speakers, and USI pen input. This Chromebook feels anything but entry-level, so $399 is a very attractive price point to start the conversation with this one. Additionally, the official spec sheet from HP lists this model with a biometric fingerprint scanner, so there’s actually a possibility for an upgrade with the more-affordable model. I expect this is a misprint, but we can’t be sure until we get one in the office to try out.
Either way, at $399, this could be the new mid-range Chromebook to beat. It has stiff competition in the Lenovo Flex 5, however, since that device boasts the same convertible form factor, USI pen input, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, 250 nits of brightness, and backlit keyboard. At $409, Lenovo’s mid-ranger also packs in the more-powerful Core i3. HP’s $399 offering does give users a better overall build quality and classier aesthetic, however, so it does feel like a pretty even trade. If HP’s new x360 14c does end up coming with the fingerprint scanner, I’d have to give the win to HP here as long as the Pentium Gold performs the way we expect it to.