Best Chromebooks of 2021

If you want to add a low-cost computer screen to your home, these models can replace a traditional laptop at a nice price

An HP Chromebook

If you’re looking for a low-cost way to add another computer screen to your home, a Chromebook might be the best way to go.

It’s not likely to have a high-end processor or robust storage capacity, but that won't stop it from handling remote learning or home office chores with ease. And with prices that often fall between $200 and $500, it should be reasonably affordable, too. Heck, in a pinch you can even turn an old laptop into a Chromebook, if you’re willing to follow a few simple steps.

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

Instead of Windows or macOS, Chromebooks use Chrome OS, developed by Google. Don’t let the thought of mastering another operating system intimidate you: If you know your way around the Chrome web browser, then Chrome OS will be relatively easy to understand.

Chromebooks rely heavily on web apps like Gmail and Google Docs, which lessens the need for the sorts of high-end specs you’d find on Mac or PC laptops. Those web apps are just as capable as their desktop counterparts, too, so you’ll be able to take Zoom calls, participate in Slack chats, or trudge through your email in Outlook without skipping a beat.

There are nearly 20 Chromebook models in our ratings, most of which are made by well-known companies like Acer and HP. You’ll also find a handful of models made by Google itself, including the highly rated Pixelbook Go released in late 2019. It’s still a solid pick, but now has more competition for your hard-earned dollar.

For more information, watch our laptop buying guide video.