Best Chromebooks of 2020

If you're looking 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 come with a high-end processor or a roomy solid-state drive, but that won’t hinder your ability to complete remote learning tasks and home office chores—and often at a price as reasonable as $300 to $500. In a pinch, you can even turn an old laptop into a Chromebook. (Here’s how.)

“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 using macOS or Windows, Chromebooks use Chrome OS, an operating system developed by Google. It’s not all that difficult to master—especially if you’re familiar with the Chrome web browser, by far the most widely used browser in the world.

Unlike traditional laptops, Chromebooks rely heavily on web apps such as Gmail and Google Docs. This helps reduce the need for built-in storage and powerful processors because you’re effectively using a web browser for all your computing.

That’s less of a “problem” in mid-2020 than it was even just a few years ago, now that popular services such as Apple TV+ and Zoom are accessible via Chrome.

Chromebooks can run many Android mobile apps, too, which may come in handy if you have a child who enjoys creating drawings in Adobe Photoshop Sketch or quick videos in TikTok.

As with traditional macOS and Windows laptops, we put Chromebooks through a variety of tests, measuring size, weight, and battery life to determine how easy they are to carry around, even if nowadays that merely means going from your bedroom to your living room.

We also take into account certain quality-of-life aspects, such as the number of built-in USB ports and the comfort of the keyboard layout. 

And of course we measure how well the model performs. Why settle for a slow Chromebook if you don’t have to?

Here in mid-2020, there are more than two dozen Chromebook models in our ratings, made by well-known companies like Asus, Dell, and HP. You’ll also find a handful of models designed by Google itself, including the Pixelbook Go that was  released late last year, which is among the better performers in our testing.

The following Chromebooks are among the best in our ratings.