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Tested: Best Chromebooks in 2022 (Impressed)

Best Chromebooks in 2023: An Expert‘s Guide to the Top Models

While Windows laptops and MacBooks dominate the portable computer landscape, Chromebooks have carved out a niche as affordable, easy-to-use alternatives optimized for web-based work and play. Running on Google‘s lightweight Chrome OS, Chromebooks boot up quickly, update automatically, and avoid many of the headaches associated with more complex operating systems. Couple that with lower price tags, and it‘s no surprise Chromebooks have become a popular option, especially among students, educators, and anyone who primarily lives in the cloud.

But with an expanding range of choices, from bare-bones budget models to ones rivaling premium ultrabooks, picking the best Chromebook for your needs and budget can feel daunting. As someone who‘s been covering Chromebooks since they first launched, I‘m here to help you cut through the noise and find the perfect Chrome OS companion. Let‘s start by going over the key things to look for when Chromebook shopping.

What to Look For in a Chromebook

Screen: Since you‘ll be staring at it for hours, get the best screen you can afford. An anti-glare IPS panel is ideal. For size, 13-14" hits the sweet spot between usability and portability. 1080p is the standard "full HD" resolution you‘ll find on most, though premium Chromebooks may offer 4K. Also consider if you want a touchscreen and/or 2-in-1 convertible design for using Android apps.

Performance: Chromebooks run the gamut from pokey to peppy. For light use, an Intel Celeron or Pentium processor with 4GB of RAM is adequate. But for a significant speed boost, get an Intel Core i3, i5, or an AMD Ryzen processor with 8GB+ of RAM. A fast NVMe solid state drive (at least 64GB) offers snappy performance.

Battery life: Expect 7-12 hours of mixed use depending on the model. In general, the less powerful the processor, the longer the battery lasts.

Design: Most Chromebooks are made of plastic, but some step it up with metal or even leather palmrests. Consider durability too, especially for kids. Look for "rugged" or "military-grade" models.

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6 compatibility ensures the fastest wireless speeds. Having both USB-C and USB-A ports offers flexibility. A microSD card slot, headphone jack, and HDMI port are also handy.

Extras: A backlit keyboard makes low-light typing easier. Get a 1080p webcam if you‘ll be doing lots of video calls. Fingerprint unlock is a convenient security feature. Some models include an "active stylus" for drawing and handwriting.

With that out of the way, let‘s get into my picks for the best Chromebooks you can buy in 2023, with options for every kind of user and budget:

Best Overall: Acer Chromebook Spin 713

Best for Students: Asus Chromebook Flip CX5

Best Ultraportable: Google Pixelbook Go

Best on a Budget: Samsung Chromebook 4

Best 2-in-1: HP Chromebook x360 14c

Best for Power Users: Google Pixelbook 2 (late 2023)

(In-depth reviews of each pick that discuss specs, pros/cons, performance, etc.)

Limitations of Chromebooks

While Chromebooks are very capable for everyday computing, they do have some limitations compared to Windows laptops and MacBooks:

Not ideal for hardcore gaming: Beyond Android and browser-based games, most PC games won‘t run on ChromeOS. AAA gaming is out of the question.

Limited video/photo editing: Higher-end Chromebooks can handle some light editing, but they lack the processing power and full-featured software of a macOS or Windows machine. Creative professionals are better off elsewhere.

Offline mode is limited: While Chrome OS has made strides in offline usability, you‘ll still get the most out of a Chromebook when connected to Wi-Fi. Chromebooks have smaller hard drives than typical laptops since they rely on cloud storage.

Not all software is supported: Most work and play can be accomplished through web apps, Android apps, and Chrome extensions. But not every Windows or Mac program has a Chrome OS equivalent.

In summary, Chromebooks are best suited for people who spend most of their computer time in a web browser and don‘t rely on specialized local software. Students, writers, educators, and everyday users with a limited budget get the most value from a Chromebook.

Is a Chromebook right for you? If you want a fast, low-maintenance, and easy-to-use portal to the web and your Google cloud services, the answer is yes. And with options like the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 and Google‘s own Pixelbook, you can get a taste of premium laptop luxury at a much lower price than comparable Windows ultrabooks or MacBooks.

But if you‘re a power user, gamer, or creative professional who needs to run demanding local applications, a Chromebook probably isn‘t going to cut it as your primary computer. You‘re better off budgeting for a more powerful Windows laptop or MacBook.

Ultimately, by understanding the strengths and limitations of the platform, and evaluating your own needs and budget, you‘ll be able to confidently choose the Chromebook that‘s right for you. Whether it‘s a secondary device or your computing companion, there‘s never been a better time to embrace the speedy simplicity of Chrome OS.