School is nearly back in session and that means it’s time to sift through the top available Chromebooks to find a great new device, whether for students or educators.
Under ordinary circumstances, that’s going to be a fairly straightforward process. But with ongoing work- and learn-from-home trends, finding a Chromebook that’s worth the cash can be a challenge. Not only are OEMs continuing to release new devices at a relatively rapid clip. Those that are released are also selling out quickly.
Chrome OS itself doesn’t necessarily make matters easier either. To begin with, advancements in the operating system have created a divergence among top Chromebooks — for school, students, or otherwise. Summarily, there are more choices across more form factors than ever before. So choosing the best device is going to depend quite a lot on what it will be used for.
To help with that decision, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten choices for consideration. This list includes everything from devices that are a bit more expensive to those that should fit just about any budget and from standard clamshell laptops to tablets.
Top 10 Best Chromebooks for Back to School 2020 Summary
Now, there is a wealth of Chromebooks to choose from for school, especially when it comes to top devices for students and educators. Chrome OS has continued to evolve and so have devices available. Choosing the ‘best’ devices among those can be and often is a challenge. And some of the best available devices are going to be specifically available through educator-only platforms and storefronts.
Moreover, the term best can be extremely subjective. There are a lot of gadgets for purchase fitting into just a handful of easily-discernable categories. When it comes to schooling, power isn’t going to be the biggest determining factor for most of the devices on this list. For obvious reasons, neither students nor educators will likely need the latest, top-tier processors. Or the most RAM. Far more important are the form factor, battery life, durability, reliability, and the like.
That doesn’t immediately reduce the options buyers have to choose from either. But it does provide a focus for the decision-making process. And, fortunately, here at Android Headlines, as a matter of course, we spend a lot of time conducting reviews and engaged in research regarding Chromebooks. And that provides a deeper insight to provide a list of to Chromebooks that should be better suited to a school environment for students and others.
So, without further regress, here’s our take on the best Chromebooks currently available to that end.
|Google Pixelbook Go||From $649||Up to 16GB/256GB||Up to Intel Core i7|
|ASUS Chromebook Flip C434||From $561.66||Amazon||Up to 8GB/64GB||Up to Intel Core i7-8500Y|
|Google Pixel Slate||From $799||Up to 16GB/256GB||Up to Intel Core i7|
|Samsung Chromebook 4||From $229||Amazon||Up to 6GB/64GB||Intel Celeron N4000|
|ASUS Chromebook C523||From $338.49||Amazon||Up to 8GB/64GB||Intel Pentium N4200|
|Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook||From $409.99||Amazon||4GB/64GB||Up to Intel Core i3-10q10U|
|Acer Chromebook Spin 713||From $629.99||Amazon||Up to 16GB/256GB||Up to Intel Core i7-10610U|
|Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 2-in-1 (7486)||From $494.99||Amazon||4GB/128GB||Intel Core i3-8130U|
|Acer Chromebook Spin 512||From $499||Acer||Up to 8GB/64GB||Intel Pentium Silver N5000|
|Lenovo Chromebook Duet||From $279||Best Buy||Up to 4GB/128GB||MediaTek P60T|
Best Chromebook overall for educators
Google Pixelbook Go
- Price: From $649
- Where to buy: Google
Google’s Pixelbook Go is an obvious shoo-in for anybody in need of a reliable Chromebook. Comprised of a series of different but similar Chromebooks, this device is not only powerful enough for instructors overseeing students at school. It’s powerful enough for just about anybody.
There are two base models for Pixelbook Go. Those ship with 8GB RAM but there’s split between one device with 64GB or 128GB storage. The former, like the Google Pixel Slate above, utilizes a more-than-capable Intel Core m3 processor while the later is an Intel Core i5. Stepping up from there, Google also sells a Core i5 model with double the storage at 256GB. And that model ships with 16GB RAM.
The top model for Google’s best Chromebook ships with an Intel Core i7 processor backed by 16GB RAM and 256GB storage. It also bumps things forward in terms of its 13.3-inch display. The top model goes replaces the Full HD display panel found in more budget-friendly variants with a 4K screen.
The Pixelbook Go from Google features a grippy, rugged magnesium alloy design in Just Black or Not Pink. And all of the screens, regardless of the model chosen, are topped with Corning Concore Glass for more durability. So it should better survive long-term, long-session use, in addition to being capable.
In terms of comfort and security, Google includes a Titan C security chip, ambient light sensors, a backlit keyboard with Hush Keys, a 1080p 60fps webcam, and an etched glass trackpad.
Two USB-C ports and a headphone jack round out the package.
Best 2-in-1 Chromebook for educators
ASUS Chromebook Flip C434
- Price: From $463.91
- Where to buy: Amazon
Now, the Google Pixelbook Go is a pricier, clamshell-style offering that can readily fill the role of a standard laptop. But sometimes, a 2-in-1 device that can be used as a tablet or laptop is needed. And similarly, sometimes more ports are needed. That’s where the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 comes in.
ASUS’s Chromebook Flip lineup has been among the most popular device series in the Chrome OS category. In large part, that comes down to the above-mentioned 2-in-1 design. The ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 packs a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution display at a 14-inch panel too. So buyers get a bit more screen real-estate. That’s despite a similarly-sized design centered around an ultra-slim-bezel all-metal package.
This laptop also comes with up to an Intel Core i7-8500Y chipset. So there’s plenty of power to spare. And that doesn’t necessarily disappear with the base model, packed with an Intel Core M3-8100Y processor. Those models ship with 8GB or 4GB RAM, respectively, and 128GB or 64GB storage.
Dual speakers are included to make video chatting with the built-in webcam or recording a bit better too. And, for long typing sessions, ASUS includes its unique ergonomic-lift backlit keyboard. That’s raised at the back when the lid is opened in clamshell mode. The keys are set at a travel distance of 1.4mm as well. All of that equates to one of the best typing experiences in the business.
Aside from ports, this laptop also features a microSD card slot for more storage and storage that can be easily moved around on-the-go.
Best of all, pricing is as low as $463.91 for the base model, as of this writing. So all of that can be had at a better value than some other Chromebooks on the market.
Best Chromebook tablet for educators
Google Pixel Slate
- Price: From $799
- Where to buy: Google
Tablets, of course, tend to cost a bit more than laptops. But, when it comes to the top Chromebooks or other electronics that are meant for use in school — by students or educators — sometimes a tablet is needed. Fortunately, Google also has a Chromebook that skirts both worlds seamlessly, taking the form of the Pixel Slate.
Sold alone as a dedicated tablet starting at $799, Google packed its Pixel Slate with up to an Intel Core i7 processor. Behind that, the company includes up to 16GB RAM at the upper end and 256GB storage. The base model features 32GB storage and 4GB RAM with an Intel Core m3 chip. But specs aren’t everything and a Molecular LCD 3,000 x 2,000 LTPS display is packed into the all-metal frame for better viewing despite the diminutive 12.3-inch size.
There’s also an 8-megapixel camera sensor at both the front and back. So web chats and meetings aren’t the only use for cameras on this device. Meanwhile, a magnetically mounted full-size keyboard and a pressure-sensitive stylus can be had for an additional $199 and $99, respectively. So this device isn’t limited to use as a tablet either. And its USB-C charging port does deliver with video-out capabilities, just in case that’s needed.
Best small budget Chromebook for students
Samsung Chromebook 4
- Price: From $229
- Where to buy: Amazon
Shifting over to school-specific Chromebooks for students, the top devices aren’t necessarily going to be centered on performance. Because Chrome OS is so capable and efficient, even budget-friendly devices are going to perform more like a mid-range windows machine. That’s one of many perks, in addition to Android and Linux apps that set these devices apart.
Perhaps nowhere does that concept shine better as a real-world example than in the Samsung Chromebook 4. At least in the small-form-factor segment of the market. Priced to move at just $229 to start and maxing out at $279, this device eschews fancy bells and whistles. Instead, Samsung’s Chromebook 4 packs an 11.6-inch display. And it’s intended to deliver a lot of functionality, performance, durability, and portability.
Samsung built the Chromebook 4 around a platform that’s MIL-STD-810G certified for transit drop, vibration, high temperature, freezing, temperature shocks, humidity, and low pressure. Of course, as is the case with most laptops, there’s no water-resistance rating to be found here. But that certification does ensure this Samsung gadget will survive abuse much better than a large swath of the competition.
There are no fewer than three configurations for the Samsung Chromebook 4 on Amazon as of this writing. Each features an Intel Celeron N4000 processor but users can choose between 4GB and 6GB RAM. 64GB of storage is packed into the 6GB model. Samsung packs the 4GB model with 32GB storage.
Unlike many Chromebooks, the Chromebook 4 can last all day too, ensuring students aren’t every left looking around their school for a plug. Samsung says it tested its battery to last up to 12-hours.
Best full-size budget Chromebook for students
ASUS Chromebook C523
- Price: From $338.49
- Where to buy: Amazon
Moving up to devices that are still affordable but come with a larger screen is the ASUS Chromebook C523. With an MSRP of just $379.99, and often sold for less, this device centers its design around a 15.6-inch display. What’s more, that’s not a cheap 1,366 x 768 display panel either. It’s a 1080p touchscreen. Although, there is an even more budget-friendly variant that does ship with that resolution.
The more budget-friendly version also packs a less capable Intel Celeron processor and just 32GB storage. So it will make more sense for most users to go with the Intel Pentium N4200 processor configuration, which packs in 64GB of storage alongside the standard 4GB RAM. Or, for even more power, this device can be had with up to 8GB RAM.
Setting that aside, battery life from this ASUS-branded device, like many of our top Chromebooks listed here for students or school, is going to be more than acceptable. ASUS claims up to 10-hours on a single charge. And that should be easily attainable with the use we’re talking about here.
Despite being a relatively inexpensive Chromebook, ASUS built this gadget’s lid from metal. That’s linked up in a clamshell configuration to a plastic keyboard deck that is, nonetheless, comfortable to type on. And the same goes for the touchpad.
As a budget Chromebook, this should be a great device for any student to work with.
Best mid-range Chromebook for students
Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Flex 5
- Price: From $409.99
- Where to buy: Amazon
When it comes to stepping up a notch to the mid-range in performance, this gadget is going to be difficult to argue against. In fact, it’s going to be difficult to argue that the Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Flex 5 isn’t one of the best options for any user. With pricing starting at just $409.99, this Chrome OS 2-in-1 packs a 13.3-inch display panel with a 1080p resolution. It lasts well over 7-hours on a single charge, taking under 2-hours to charge.
But that’s not all this device has to offer at that low cost. Aside from featuring an extremely comfortable design with a great keyboard and mylar-coated touchpad, this Chromebook is spill-resistant. And that same keyboard is backlit, as a standard. The touchscreen, conversely, is a 10-point touch display with support for a — not-included — USI universal active stylus.
Carrying forward with what makes this a great mid-range option, the company sells this gadget at its lowest cost with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, backing up an Intel Core i3-10110U tenth-gen processor. But it can be purchased, when available, with up to 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. Variants are also expected with up to an i5 processor instead.
That’s great, to begin with, but there’s no shortage of ports either. Lenovo gives users 2 USB-C ports and an additional USB-A port. Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6 compatibility are built right in. So this is a Chromebook that’s not just going to last a year or two through abuse at school. It’s going to last and be usable for years, with plenty of power for use outside of school.
Best premium Chromebook for students
Acer Chromebook Spin 713
- Price: From $629.99
- Where to buy: Amazon
The only direction to go from the brilliantly-built Lenovo above is up. That means building up to a gadget that will not only last throughout the school year. But also well beyond, with care. For a device that’s built to offer the best experience available with a reasonable value and without going too overboard for a student, we’re looking at Acer’s Chromebook Spin 713.
As noted above, this isn’t the most powerful premium laptop around. And it’s pricing is going to fall in line with that. Acer starts this laptop at a respectable $629.99. That price nets buyers a 10th-gen Intel Core i5-10210U processor with 8GB DDR4 SDRAM and 128GB of SSD storage. It also nets them a 13.5-inch 2,256 x 1,504 3:2 aspect ratio touch-enhanced display.
All of that means that buyers can simply buy the base model — for school, at any rate — and ignore just how powerful this device can be for a lot more money.
Stacking atop those top-level specs, Acer designed this Chromebook to meet third-party certified MIL-STD-810G standards for durability. That’ includes the use of a Gorilla Glass display and touchpad. And it’s without consideration for the fact that there are two USB-C ports, a USB-A port, microSD card reader, and a full-sized HDMI port.
The comfortable-to-type-on keyboard is backlit. WiFi 6 is part of the bundle. And the battery lasts over 10-hours despite the power under the hood.
One caveat here is that there’s no stylus and no USI stylus support for this screen. But all of that is packed into a stylish design that’s meant to last and still somehow measures just over a half-inch thick. With the weight at just a smidge over 3lbs, it’s not going to be too difficult to lug around in a backpack either.
Best Chromebook 2-in-1 for students
Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 2-in-1 (7486)
- Price: From $494.99
- Where to buy: Amazon
For a great convertible design that won’t break the bank but doesn’t skimp on features, Dell’s latest Inspiron Chromebook 14 2-in-1 is going to be a great device to turn to.
Listed as model designation 7486 and found on Best Buy for just $494.99, this Chromebook strives to land on the middle-ground. It’s not ruggedized, doesn’t feature the latest in networking, and it doesn’t have the most brilliant display around. The RAM, conversely, is only at 4GB. Although that won’t be an issue at all for Chrome OS, especially with schoolwork.
On the other hand, Dell built this Chromebook with 128GB of storage. So there’s plenty of room, even without the cloud, to store all of the files and documents. There’s a stylus packed into the backlit keyboard deck, on the bottom, and the display itself is a healthy 14-inches. The resolution of that IPS panel, placed on a 360-degree hinge, is set at 1,920 x 1,080. And Dell built the internals to work with an 8th-gen Intel Core i3-8130U processor.
Rounding out connectivity, Dell includes a full-size HDMI port. Dell has connected that up to the Intel-branded UHD capable graphics chip. A MicroSD card slot is part of the package too, along with two USB-C and a USB-A port.
There’s simply very little to dislike about this Chromebook at its cost. Especially where performance and reliability are concerned in a 2-in-1 form factor.
Best Chromebook for students who need something rugged
Acer Chromebook Spin 512
- Price: From $499
- Where to buy: Acer
Acer’s second entry in this list of back-to-school Chromebooks for students and teachers is explicitly built with students in mind. It’s also a bit more expensive with its $499 starting price. But the Acer Chromebook Spin 512, on the student-friendly side of things, is a 12-inch 2-in-1 convertible laptop that features a microbe-resistant display coating. And that’s leaving alone entirely the fact that it delivers spill protection thanks to drain-through slots positioned over the keyboard.
Acer also says that this students-first device can take a beating that most Chromebooks can’t withstand, even at the top. The OEM includes a rubber trim and extra reinforcement with this gadget. So it’s going to survive falls from a reasonable height, well beyond the day-to-day jostle of a backpack.
Despite those extra measures, the protective trim doesn’t take away from the aesthetics either. The ruggedization is melded into the build itself, fitting tightly in a similar fashion to an ultra-slim-fit phone case. And Acer doesn’t stop their either. The company includes an EMR stylus with this gadget to take advantage of the flip-around 2-in-1 1,366 x 912 resolution touch screen.
Backing up that hardware and delivering a more-than-usable Chrome OS experience is up to 8GB RAM and 64GB storage. Those two components back up an Intel Pentium Silver N5000 processor.
Best detachable tablet Chromebook for students
Lenovo Chromebook Duet
- Price: From $249
- Where to buy: Best Buy
The last of the Chromebooks to slip into our list for school and students is a top-gadget in its own right. It’s also not the most powerful device around but what it lacks in oomph, it more than makes up for in portability, value, and features. Dubbed the Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Duet, this device starts out at just $429 direct from Lenovo or around $279 on Amazon.
The biggest drawback involved when buying this particularly well-priced Chrome OS tablet is its MediaTek P60T processor. For power, users typically look to Intel and even AMD has some competitive devices. But this is effectively a brand new chip from MediaTek and it’s not quite like its predecessors. Rather than being underpowered and lag-ridden, this chipset helps push Chrome OS to new heights in this Chromebook.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet’s 4GB RAM and either 64GB or 128GB storage is nothing to smirk at either. To begin with, the difference in cost between the two models, as of this writing, is only around $20. And the hardware is more than enough to run dozens of tabs alongside Android apps for photo editing and documents. Multitasking across those is absolutely not an issue for this tablet.
A second caveat could very well be its 10.1-inch display. But it’s blue-and-gray design is meant to withstand a beating too. And users don’t need to go out and buy a new keyboard for this gadget either. Instead, Lenovo ships the device with its own keyboard, attached via pogo pins to the 1,920 x 1200 resolution display panel. The frame also houses a single USB-C port for charging, listening via the included 3.5mm adapter, or display output.
There’s no stylus included but for those who need one, any active universal USI stylus will work with this display panel.
All of that, combined with a better-than-average speaker experience, the availability of cases for added protection, and ultra-portability stack up to equal a device that’s going to be almost without equal. And certainly without equal on the value front, if a Chrome OS tablet is what’s needed.