Once upon a time, Chromebook hardware traveled a very narrow path. Most devices were powered by either a small or big core Intel processor and either 2GB or 4GB of RAM. With the exception of a couple of ARM-based outliers and the expensive Pixel Chromebooks, there wasn’t a ton of variation in specs. Generally speaking, you had one major group of Intel-powered Chromebooks that rolled out once every year or so with a little bit of overlap when the subsequent chipset arrived on the Chrome OS platform. Those days are long gone.
It’s 2020 and today, users can choose from 8th-gen Kaby Lake or 10th-gen Comet Lake. You have current small-core devices on the market that range three generations from Apollo Lake to Gemini Lake-R and let’s not forget, AMD is now in the mix and there are more-powerful AMD APUs on the way. Oh, there’s also the MediaTek 8183 that powers the Lenovo Chromebook Duet and it will begin showing up in more devices over the coming months. Throw in the overdue Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and you’ve got a list of CPUs a mile long. Then there’s RAM and storage. 4GB, 8GB and 16GB. DDR3 or DDR4. Solid-state storage? eMMC or NVMe? It all gets very confusing very quickly and a lot of Chromebook makers aren’t real clear on what’s inside each device. Walking into a local Best Buy and trying to buy a Chromebook based solely on what’s on the side of the box can be a daunting and frustrating experience. Don’t even get me started on Amazon. Most third-party Chromebook sellers have no idea themselves what’s inside the devices they are peddling. They just list the specs, as best they can, and the buyer gets what they get.
If you own a Chromebook and you’re not sure what hardware you’re rocking, we have a couple of simple methods to help you identify what’s inside your Chrome OS device. If you bought it new, you probably have a rough idea of which processor you have and how much RAM and storage you’re sporting but maybe you got a used one off of a friend or maybe it’s a device you were loaned from your school or place of business and you want to know a little more about the internals. No worries. The first place we recommend checking involves heading to the Chrome Web Store and grabbing a little Chrome app called Cog – System Info Viewer.
What is Cog?
Well, as the name implies, it is a system info viewer. The lightweight Chrome app will give you information on your devices such as CPU (you can see the actual model of the CPU so you can tell which generation it is), RAM(memory), storage size and even system temperature. Cog will even show you each core of your CPU and that includes virtual cores if you have an Intel Core processor that supports hyperthreading. At the bottom of the app, you will see information on the battery level, display output, keyboard language and even the preinstalled plugins that ship with Chrome OS. Cog is not only a great way to take a look at the hardware you have but it will also give you a peek at how much CPU and RAM usage your device is currently consuming. If your Chromebook appears to be struggling, you can open Cog and see if the CPU or memory is being tapped out. From there, you can open the Chrome OS task manager to see what’s causing the problem. You can find Cog in the Web Store here.
If you’re like us and like to dig a little deeper into your device, Chrome OS actually has an “about system” info page. You can access every bit of your Chromebooks specs and more by pointing your browser to
chrome://system. Don’t worry, you can’t break anything on this page. It’s simply for reference but it contains a truckload of system information on your hardware and your specific account-level settings. When you open the page, which could take a minute or so, you will see a long list of collapsed buttons. Each one contains info on the corresponding item to the left of the page. You can search for specific items by clicking Ctrl+F and typing in your query. For example, if you type “meminfo,” it will take you to the line where the devices RAM is listed. On my Chromebook, it lists 8027704 kB which happens to be 8GB of RAM.
On this page, you can see the channel your device is in or what version of Chrome OS you’re on along with your devices “codename” and whether or not the Chromebook is managed. There is a ton of nerdy specs on this page and we visit it frequently when we’re looking for hidden gems inside a device. Again, this is probably more than most users will ever want to know but it’s a great way to find out the more specific details about your device. Cog is still the cleanest and easiest way to find your device’s information if you just want the basics. Either way, these are two good methods with which you can learn a little more about your Chromebook. Until next time.