Chromebooks aren’t going anywhere, but they are most certainly changing. In 2015 we saw Chromebooks take a big step forward in quality—these are no longer just underpowered, plastic, cheap, disposable laptops. They are becoming a serious choice for those looking for a light, easy-to-use laptop that only does what you really need it to do.
A lot of new Chromebooks were released late last year and early this year, so we decided it’s a good time to do a countdown of the 10 best Chromebooks you can buy right now.
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10. HP Chromebook 14 (2015)
This is the only 14-inch Chromebook on the list and it's probably the best-looking big Chromebook out there (as in, over 13 inches). It's got three different bright color variations for the back and though it's still all plastic, it plays up the playfulness of it rather than faking the premium look. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the 1080p display, excellent battery life, or additional RAM (it only has 2GB) that has become a standard on most Chromebooks these days. We'll probably be getting an HD update later this year, but as of now this is the one we've got from HP.
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9. Dell Chromebook 11 (2015) - $259
With its 2015 version, it's clear that Dell decided to change up its strategy on Chromebooks. That's a real shame for those of us who loved the 2014 Dell Chromebook 11, which featured a sleeker design and the high-performing Intel Core i3 processor inside. With this new iteration, Dell has aimed squarely at the education market—and for those purposes, it's done a pretty good job. Though it's chunky and has a pretty large footprint for how small the screen is, the Dell Chromebook 11 will be handle being used in a classroom and tossed in bags. It even has a fully waterproof keyboard and trackpad for use in science labs and kitchen.
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8. Acer Chromebook 15 C910 - $299
If you're looking for a bigger Chromebook, the Acer Chromebook 15 is still your best option. The better points about this machine are the specifications (on the $299 configuration, which we recommend): a beautiful 1080p display, great battery life, loud speakers, and impressive performance. The downside is that it's not exactly a looker. It's got a huge footprint on the table and is pretty unwieldy all around.
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7. Asus Chromebook Flip (2015) - $249
The idea of a Chromebook with a 360 degree hinge feels tacky, but once you feel the build quality of this tiny Chromebook, it'll change your mind. The chassis is all metal, giving the the Asus Chromebook Flip a premium feel, which is pretty great considering the price point. Performance isn't stellar and the keyboard is a bit small, but if you're looking for something that is mobile and well-constructed, the Asus Chromebook Flip is still a solid choice. There's one convertible Chromebook higher up on this list, but don't pass up considering the Asus Chromebook Flip as well.
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6. Toshiba Chromebook 2 (2014) - $269
When it comes to Chromebooks, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is still the one I find myself constantly recommending to people. Even though it was released late last year, it's still the most well-rounded Chromebook you can get. With its 1080p HD display, clicky keyboard, decent performance, and great battery life, the 13-inch Toshiba Chromebook 2 is the best Chromebook you can buy at this price point—that is, until Toshiba updates it later this year. Although the Dell Chromebook 11 (2014) wins out on performance, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 takes the cake because of its thin design and 1080p display. The best part? It's actually a pretty nice looking laptop that isn't totally embarrassing to use in public.
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5. Acer Chromebook C720 - $179
Acer has been a big supporter of Chromebooks for the past couple of years, putting out numerous different Chromebooks each year with different designs, sizes, and configurations. This year, Acer is going in a slightly different direction with its budget Chromebook, the C720. The new C720 is even cheaper than it was before at just $179, which already shoots it up on the list. It still doesn't have that all-important HD screen, but for a Chromebook under $200, it's hard to beat.
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4. Toshiba Chromebook 2 (2015) - $330
The Toshiba Chromebook has for a long time been my go-to recommendation for Chromebooks. It was affordable, had a nice light design, and even a great HD display. The late 2015 model, however, doesn't rank quite as high due to the increase in quality of the competition. In addition, this model got a drop in battery life due to the focus on performance, which isn't a great compromise to have. Even still though, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is a great Chromebook that comes in one of the best-looking packages you'll find.
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3. Acer Chromebook R11 (2015) - $279
The Acer Chromebook to beat is the new R11, which is the company's first Chromebook with a 360 degree hinge, meaning in can be flipped to be used in a few different modes. More than that, the R11 is just a really solid Chromebook that is lightweight, portable, and sleek. The HD screen is impressive and vibrant, as well as being touch-friendly. Despite the plastic materials and overly clicky trackpad, it's still one of the very best Chromebooks you can buy right now, especially at this price point.
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2. Chromebook Pixel (2015) - $999
When there's a $700 difference between this machine and the others on this list, it's hard to really put them in the same category. However, Google is doing something very specific with the Pixel this year that paves the way for the future of the platform.
If you still don't think there's a market for a high-end laptop with limited functionality, just look at what Apple is doing with its new MacBook. Did we mention that this thing has an awe-inspiring design and one of the best displays we've ever seen? Now that $999 isn't feeling nearly so undeserved. So while for most people we'd recommend something else in this list, the Pixel simply can't be ignored when it looks, feels, and performs like this. We'll probably see an update to the Chromebook Pixel this year, but if you've got the extra dough, it's hard to beat the Chromebook Pixel.
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1. Dell Chromebook (2015) - $429
The Dell Chromebook 13 is at least a hundred dollars more than most Chromebooks—even the very excellent 2015 Toshiba Chromebook 2 ($330). When we're talking about inexpensive laptops, I don't take that one hundred dollars lightly.
The Dell Chromebook 13 has the better touchpad, the more premium build quality, and the better design, but for some that still isn't going to be worth the heavier pricetag. For me, the touchpad and premium build quality alone make it worth the extra cash, elevating the computing experience to well beyond the territory of "cheap laptop". It's one of the best laptops under $500 ever made and has me more excited for both Dell laptops and Chrome OS than ever before.