Despite the reputation of Chromebooks as budget-friendly laptops for students and grandparents, the latest models are actually quite powerful. The Asus CX1700, for example, has one of the best displays and a full keyboard that includes a numpad.
Its Intel Pentium Gold processor hits the performance sweet spot between the Celeron chips found in budget Chromebooks and the Core i3 that’s common on premium Windows laptops.
1. Acer Chromebook 515
Acer has been making a lot of Chromebooks recently, and the 515 is among its best. It offers a large 15.6-inch screen, some high-end specs, and a full-sized keyboard in a package that looks and feels pretty sturdy. It has a fingerprint reader built into the keyboard, a 720p webcam up on the display, and plenty of ports to handle all your cables. It also syncs with your Google account to keep all your bookmarks, browsing history, passwords and usernames all in one place.
Its CPU has up to an 11th generation Intel Core i7, and the RAM is quite a bit more than you’ll find on some of its competitors. The SSD storage makes it a snappy machine, and although the battery life estimates are a bit underwhelming compared to laptops with faster drives, the Acer still gets through a day of work just fine. It also looks really good, especially if you’re going for the black version.
2. HP Chromebook x360
It’s HP’s take on a fancy Chromebook, and it looks good. It’s the most expensive of the bunch, but it has an Intel-powered processor and a decent amount of RAM. It also has a nice detachable design and an attractive 3:2 screen.
The x360 14c is equipped with an 11th-generation dual-core Intel Core i3-1125G4 CPU that provides plenty of power for Chrome OS. You also get 8GB of RAM and a fast PCIe-NVMe 128GB SSD for storage.
The 2021 version of the x360 gets an update to the 11th-gen Intel Tiger Lake Core i3-8145U processor and adds 128GB of storage (that’s why you’ll notice the “11” at the beginning of its model number). It still has the same excellent keyboard, great touchpad and USI pen support, too. In our performance tests, it scored a single-core score of 1,209 and a multi-core one of 2,866. That puts it ahead of the Asus Chromebook Flip C536 but behind the more powerful Acer Chromebook Spin 713.
3. Lenovo Flex 5
With a gorgeous aluminum body and impressive specifications, the Lenovo Flex 5 slots into our top picks for best Chromebook for 2021. It’s not a gamer-focused machine, but it can easily handle light gaming (using apps like GeForce Now or Xbox Cloud Beta) and more demanding work. For this reason, we recommend getting a model with at least 4GB of RAM (8GB is better) and 64GB to 128GB of storage.
Asus’ Chromebook Flip line has been a workhorse for a while now and the 2022 version doesn’t disappoint. This model has an Intel Core i3 processor and a large screen that’s perfect for productive work.
The display is QHD with a 16:10 aspect ratio and 100 sRGB color reproduction. It’s also compatible with the USI 2.0 stylus for added productivity. You’ll get fast WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0 as well. This is one of the best Chromebooks for students and professionals. The only downside is that it’s a little heavier than most competitors.
4. HP Dragonfly Pro
HP listened to Chromebook users and built a premium machine with the Dragonfly Pro. From the moment you tear open the box and see the sleek, angular HP logo on the power brick, this is the kind of laptop that feels high-end.
This slim and light laptop weighs just under three pounds, and it’s packed with all the latest hardware. It runs a fast Intel Core i5 CPU and 16GB of RAM, so it’s ready for any task you throw at it. And it’s designed to look great, with a sleek aluminum and magnesium frame that uses 65% recycled materials and a bright, modern mirrored HP logo on the lid.
Unlike last year’s Elite Dragonfly, which offered several different configurations of memory and storage, the Dragonfly Pro comes in one well-equipped SKU for $999. That gets you a Core i5 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 14-inch HD display with thin bezels and a good screen to body ratio.