Product Reviews

Welcome to Consumer Reports.

We’re so glad to have you as a member. You now have access to benefits that can help you choose right, be safe and stay informed.

Best Chromebooks of the Year

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 run 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 like 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 like battery life, size, and weight 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 19 Chromebook models in our ratings from companies like Acer, Asus, Dell, and HP. You'll even find a Google Chromebook Pixelbook, $1,000, which is indeed expensive—especially for a model that’s more than a year old—but it did well in our labs.

The following roundup highlights some of our favorite models.