Best Chromebooks of 2020

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 or a roomy solid-state drive, but that won’t prevent you from doing everyday “computer-y” things—and often at a reasonable price compared with traditional laptops.

“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. While unique, it’s not all that difficult to master—especially if you’re familiar with the Chrome web browser, by far the most popular browser in the world.

Unlike traditional laptops, Chromebooks rely heavily on web apps like 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 of your computing.

In recent years, Chromebooks have also learned to run Android apps. That has opened the door to the wide world of software available on the Google Play Store, including Microsoft Word, Excel, Adobe Lightroom (for light photo editing), and “Dota Underlords,” a chesslike game that can definitely help you kill a few hours.

As with traditional macOS and Windows laptops, we put Chromebooks through a variety of tests, measuring aspects including size, weight, and battery life to determine how easy they are to carry around.

We also take into certain 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.

And of course we measure how well they actually perform.

Here in early 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 see a handful of models designed by Google itself, including the Pixelbook Go released late last year, which is among the better performers in our testing. Even better: It’s roughly half the price of the Google Pixelbook, the best-rated Chromebook when it was released more than two years ago.

We expect to see a slate of new models released this spring, too, including the Samsung Galaxy Book, which has a 4K display, and the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet, a diminutive 10.1-inch 2-in-1 detachable that could give the Microsoft Surface Go a run for its money.

The following Chromebooks are among the best in our current ratings.