I’ve had a soft spot for Chromebooks since Google released the first one 10 years ago.
Chromebooks are feature packed low cost laptops which make them perfect for students.
Now-a-days Chromebooks come in a huge range of form factors, some cheap and flimsy and others that easily compete with Macbook. So, choosing the right one for school, college, or university can be a challenge, and getting to the store to try one out can be difficult at the moment.
To help out I’ve put together a guide on some of the best Chromebooks available for students. We’ll look at some of the low-cost options, which I’m still amazed that are still excellent devices, all the way up to some of the more expensive laptops.
If you’ve never used one before, Chromebooks don’t use Windows or MacOS, instead they run an operating system created by Google called Chrome OS. So, while you can’t use some of the apps you might be familiar with on your current laptop, you can still use anything that runs on the web.
Chromebooks might work best with web apps, but you can still use Microsoft 365 — including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint — Google G Suite, and any apps in the Chrome App Store or Google Play Store.
All the Google apps you might use at school come on every Chromebook, which means you can edit, download, and convert Microsoft Office files in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.
Your Chromebook also includes built-in virus protection, so you want have to buy separate software, and starts up in seconds.
The storage on the Chromebooks come with built-in storage for offline access to your most important files and an additional 100GB of Google Drive space to ensure that all of your files are backed up automatically.
You just need an internet connection and you’re good to go.
So, let’s take a look at some of the top Chromebooks for students this year.
Top Chromebooks for Students
- Acer Chromebook 514 – top pick!
- Acer Chromebook Spin 311
- HP Chromebook 11 – lowest price!
- Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5
- Google Pixelbook Go – highest spec!
1. Acer Chromebook 514 – top pick!
The big brother of the Acer 314, the 514 features much of the same hardware but includes an improved screen and a much more robust metal chasis.
You get a 14″ HD screen, which is the perfect size for working on school documents but still keeps the Chromebook the perfect size to fit in a school bag.
The battery life will get you through a full school day with more left over for homework but if you find yourself running low, you can charge it using the USB-C port as well as with a regular charger.
- Intel Celeron N3350 Dual-Core Processor (Up to 2.4GHz)
- 14″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) ComfyView Widescreen IPS LED-backlit Display
- 4GB LPDDR4 SDRAM Memory & 32GB eMMC
- 802.11ac WiFi featuring MIMO technology (Dual-Band 2.4GHz and 5GHz)
- 2 – USB Type-C ports USB 3.1 Gen 1 (up to 5 Gbps)
- DisplayPort over USB Type-C
- USB Charging
- DC-in Port & 2 – USB 3.0 Ports
- Up to 12 Hour Battery Life
- Backlit Keyboard & Aluminium Chassis
The Acer Spin has a smaller screen that some of the other Chromebooks on this list, but has a few tricks up its sleeve to compensate.
This Chromebook features a screen that can flip completely flat, meaning that it can be used as a touchscreen tablet as well as a traditional laptop.
The screen is smaller at 11.6″. but it still has a high resolution and can display crisp, clear images.
The battery life is around 10 hours, but this Chromebooks has a killer feature. You can charge it by the USB-C port as well as with a regular charger. This means that if you’re running low on power, you can charge it using a standard USB-C smartphone charging cable or from a smartphone power bank.
- Intel Celeron N4020 Dual-Core Processor 1.1GHz up to 2.8GHz
- 11.6″ HD 1366 x 768 resolution, high-brightness touchscreen
- Antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass multi-touch
- Intel UHD Graphics 600
- 4GB On-Board LPDDR4 Memory, 32GB eMMC
- Intel Gigabit Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 5.0
- HD Webcam (1280 x 720) with 88-degree wide-angle lens
- 2 x USB Type-C ports USB 3.1 Gen 1 (up to 5 Gbps)
- DisplayPort over USB Type-C
- USB Charging & DC-in
- 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, Lithium-Ion Battery
- Up to 10-hours Battery Life, 2.62 lbs. | 1.19 kg (system unit only) (NX.HKKAA.005).
3. HP Chromebook 11 – lowest price!
The HP Chromebook is the lowest price Chromebook on this list.
It’s standard laptop design with an 11.6″ HD screen. There are no bells and whistles here, you just get a solid HP laptop.
The HP is compact and sturdy, so it’s less likely to get damaged being carried around in a schoolbag.
It may be low-priced but the HP has everything you need for school work.
- 11.6″ display with 1366 x 768 HD resolution
- Intel® Celeron® processor N3350
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB hard drive
The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 offers a neat compromise between the larger 14″ Chromebooks and the smaller 11″.
The Lenovo is one of the few lower-cost Chromebooks which features an Intel Core i3 processors, which is perfect if you need just a bit more power running applications. It also features a touchscreen and screen which can be folded over to turn it into a tablet.
- 13.3″ display 1920 x 1080 Pixels
- Intel Core i3 processor
- Intel Integrated Graphics
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB SSD hard disk
- Built-in webcam
- 2 USB Type-C ports
- USB Type-A port
5. Google Pixelbook Go – highest spec!
The Pixelbook Go is Google’s take on the Macbook Air.
This is a high-end, feature rich laptop, and the price reflects it.
The Pixelbook Go is incredibly thin, fast, and lightweight. If you can afford the additional cost, this is the best student Chromebook that your money can buy.
The Pixelbook Go is quiet and comfortable laptop with a backlit keyboard, ultra quiet keys, and and a spacious touchpad.
And if the baseline specification doesn’t meet your requirements, you can upgrade the Pixelbook Go with some of the fastest Intel processors available.
- Intel core M3 processor – can upgrade to i5 or i7
- Full HD touchscreen display
- 8GB RAM
- 64GB SDD hard disk
- Intel Wireless-AC Gigabit WiFi & Bluetooth 5.0
- HD webcam
- Battery with up to 12 Hours Battery Life
School Chromebook FAQ
When buying your school Chromebook keep in mind some of the suggestions below.
Front and rear facing cameras
Most laptops come with just a front facing camera. That’s great for online lessons and video conferencing over Zoom, but if you want to take a photo of a piece of work it can be more difficult. You can always use your smartphone for snapping documents but sometimes it’s useful to have a rear facing camera on your laptop as well.
If you’re using a Google account provided by your school or college, storage won’t be a concern. Chromebooks work by storing most of your documents online in Google Drive, rather than on the hard disk of the laptop.
Do Chromebooks work with Microsoft 365 apps?
Surprisingly, yes! Most Microsoft 356 apps — like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams — have an web version available which at no additional cost. I’ve tested these and they all work perfectly on Chromebook.
If you really need an installed app, however, you can install Android apps from the Google Play Store on most Chromebooks. This means you can install and use the official Microsoft 365 mobile apps as well.
Most of the Chromebooks above include a charger in the package. But did you also know that on many new Chromebooks you can also use a standard USB-C phone charger to power your Chromebook? This is really convenient because if you forget your laptops’ charger you can just use your phone cable or borrow a friends.
You can also charge Chromebooks with a USB-C charging feature from a standard smartphone power bank, which is all kit you might already be carrying with you.
Chromebooks are amazing laptops for students. The low price and good hardware make them good value for most, especially when compared to the competition.
But Chromebooks do come with some compromises, so make sure you review all of the features first before purchasing.