Best Chromebooks of 2019

If your computing needs are modest, these models can replace a traditional laptop at a nice price

An HP Chromebook

If you’re looking to purchase a low-cost laptop, a Chromebook might be the best way to go.

It’s not likely to come with a high-end processor, a roomy solid-state drive, or a gamer-friendly graphics card. But that won’t prevent you from browsing the web, streaming video, and producing office documents—and at a price that frequently falls between $200 and $600.

“Chromebooks will run word-processing and spreadsheet programs, and you can browse the web, and if they break, nobody’s going to cry too much because they don’t break the budget,” says Richard Fisco, who oversees electronics testing at Consumer Reports.

Instead of using Windows or macOS, Chromebooks use Google’s Chrome OS operating system, which is fairly easy to master, especially for someone familiar with the Chrome web browser. They rely heavily on web-based apps, reducing the need for onboard storage and processing power. In recent years, they’ve even gained the ability to run Android apps, opening the door to software such as Word, Excel, and Adobe Lightroom (for editing photos), all of which can be downloaded from the Google Play app store on a Chromebook.

As with traditional laptops, we put Chromebooks through a variety of tests, measuring things such as size, weight, and battery life to determine how easy they are to carry around. We also take into account quality-of-life aspects, such as the presence or absence of built-in USB ports (who wants to walk around with a dongle if they don’t have to?) and how comfortable the keyboard is to use.

There are currently 23 Chromebook models in our ratings from companies such as Acer, Asus, Dell, and HP. You’ll even find a $1,000 Google Chromebook Pixelbook, which is indeed expensive—especially for a model that’s almost two years old—but it performed well in our labs.

Before you buy that one, though, you should know that recent reports suggest Google may be unveiling a new model later this month. If they do, we’ll be sure to test it once it’s released.

The following roundup highlights some of our favorite models that are available now.