Chromebooks come in a dizzying array of configurations. Sometimes even trying to decide which options to get on a single model can be overwhelming. As a product tester, I use spreadsheets to keep everything organized. But you shouldn’t, so here are some broad specs to keep in mind.
processor: Chromebooks use six different processors, most of which you’ve probably never heard of. There’s a reason for that: These processors are slow, and they don’t appear in Windows laptops. After trying a lot of Intel Celeron-based machines, my advice is to use a more powerful machine if you can afford it. The next step up from the Celeron is the Core m3, which is the sweet spot for most people. If you want a more powerful, future-proof machine, get an i3 or i5 chip.
We’re starting to see more ARM-based Chromebooks, like the Lenovo Duet above. I haven’t had any problems with ARM Chromebooks, but they aren’t as fast as Intel Core chips. There are some newer Chromebooks that use AMD’s latest Ryzen chips, and I’ve had good experiences with them.
Memory: If you can afford it, get 8 GB of RAM, especially if you plan to run any Android apps. When I experience severe slowdowns and glitches, it’s almost always on a Chromebook with only 4 GB of RAM.
Screen: Get an IPS LCD display. There are still some low-end models with worse TN LCD displays that you should avoid. Your pixel resolution depends on the size of your screen. I’ve used (and recommend) a few 11-inch Chromebooks with 720p displays. Because these screens are squeezed into a small size, I found their clarity to be acceptable, but a 1080p screen would be better.
port: Most of what you do on your Chromebook is cloud-based, so you really don’t have to worry too much about ports. If you want to be able to run your Chromebook off a portable battery/charger, you’ll likely need a computer that charges via a USB-C port, but USB-C charging is mostly available on mid-range and higher-priced models. Having a MicroSD slot for expanded storage is also helpful if you typically need to download a lot of files throughout the day, but that option isn’t widely available either.
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