As we approach the holidays, HP has followed the lead of other Chromebook manufacturers in making multiple models of essentially the same Chromebook to offer different pricing structures for consumers. With different internal hardware, swapped out build materials, multiple screen variations, and overall distinctly-different user experiences, the HP Chromebook x360 is not the simple recommendation it once was.
Instead, we now have all sorts of variations that look enough alike that you may find yourself a bit dizzied by the options on what looks to be just a single Chromebook. Don’t be fooled, however, as the end result of all these variations may be more choice that only causes consumer confusion. We want to help a bit, especially because the HP Chromebook x360 is a great device that we easily recommend. You just need to be sure you fully understand what it is you are getting when you spot that next great deal.
For example, there is a ‘new’ HP Chromebook x360 in a new colorway available at Best Buy and Amazon that is literally the exact same x360 we reviewed last year and still like a whole lot. As a matter of fact, I’d wager most people would prefer this champagne gold finish over the dark blue from last year’s model, but that is really the only change. You get the same 1080p 14-inch IPS display, same great keyboard/trackpad, same solid build and form factor. It’s a great Chromebook!
Then we have all the truly new versions of the HP Chromebook x360. These models use all sorts of different parts, but look extremely similar to the flagship x360 in most ways. These devices have the same basic form factor, same white lid, same aluminum keyboard deck, same keyboard and unless you know what you are looking at, could easily be mistaken for the flagship x360. The only way to tell them apart on the outside is the color of the keys on the keyboard. White keys denote you are looking at the Celeron or Pentium models.
That’s where the problem arises, honestly. These new versions of the x360 use very different internals, a very different screen (in some versions), and a different trackpad surface. Don’t get me wrong: these aren’t bad Chromebooks, but you need to know what it is you are buying if you choose to go with one of them. Inside, they either leverage Intel’s Celeron N4000 or the Pentium N5000, and both of these are good chips for Chromebooks. They are more affordable, fanless, and for the first time actually are fast enough to not cause a ton of performance issues. I never could say that about last year’s Apollo Lake chips.
Where the Core i3 x360 comes in one variation with 8GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, these new x360 models vary quite widely. There are versions with and without keyboard backlighting. There are versions with the 1080p panel that is in the flagship, but many come instead with a 1366×768 panel that simply looks bad. Paired up with the two different processor choices, you can get anything from 4GB to 8GB of RAM paired up with 32GB to 128GB of internal storage.
While a version of the new x360 with the Pentium N5000, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage with the 1080p screen and a backlit keyboard would be a really solid machine, it will also cost you just about as much as the Core i3 model. And that is where all this gets real tricky. Holidays aside, these Chromebooks have a tendency towards being on sale. As a matter of fact, the Core i3 model in the video above was purchased for only $349. At that price, choosing any of the N4000 or N5000 models makes no sense whatsoever. At MSRP, the same thing happens. The fully tricked-out version of the Pentium model creeps up in price near the Core i3 model, and it simply makes no sense to buy it.
We say all of that to say this: do your homework. Take the time to look at the spec sheet for the model you choose to buy. Don’t just go on price. Comparison shop and make sure you are getting the best deal for your dollar. The last thing you want to do is pay $399 for a device with a poor screen and the N4000 chip with 4GB of RAM when you could have snagged the Core i3 model with 8GB of RAM and 64GB of storage for the same price.
When comparing different devices made by different manufacturers, specs aren’t always the end-all-be-all. But when you are shopping what amounts to the same Chromebook in different variations, specs and price matter a whole lot. Be aware of the differences and make sure you make a purchase based on facts, not just money.