Chromebooks vs. laptops: What is the distinction?

Many individuals take into account the Chromebook to be the sleeker, faster, and even less complicated cousin of the normal laptop computer. In contrast to a Mac or Home windows system, a Chromebook largely depends closely on the web for on a regular basis duties. 

Since they’re additionally usually cheaper, you could be questioning how a Chromebook compares to a daily laptop computer, together with the most effective laptops round. Are they a waste of cash or an inexpensive diamond within the tough? Learn on to seek out out!

What’s a Chromebook?

Acer Chromebook 13 sat on a desk.
Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

When Chromebooks first appeared in 2011, they had been light-weight, low-cost laptops based mostly on Google’s new Chrome OS platform. These laptops primarily relied on cloud-based functions fairly than conventional software program. Through the years, their extra inexpensive nature has modified, however the worth continues to be on the coronary heart of what a Chromebook provides.

Acer, Asus, HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Samsung promote Chromebooks in numerous sizes starting from the ultrabook-type design to 2-in-1 hybrids to the normal clamshell laptop computer.

The cheaper fashions are typically bigger and fewer highly effective than the slimmer, sleeker premium fashions. These lower-end Chromebooks are most frequently seen in faculties or as first-time private laptops. Larger-end Chromebooks like Google’s personal Pixelbook Go characteristic premium aluminum our bodies, quick Intel Core processors, and, in some instances, 4K and OLED screens — the latter of which you’ll discover on the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook, the primary removable pill with an OLED show.

Though you may’t purchase a $2,000 Chromebook like you may a Home windows 10 laptop computer or MacBook, there may be now a variety of choices relying in your wants.

What can a Chromebook do?

Chromebook sat on a desk, open on the desktop.

Chromebooks ship with their very own working system referred to as Chrome OS, which is predicated on Linux and makes use of the Chrome browser as an interface. It has fundamental computing parts, reminiscent of a file supervisor and an app launcher, however most of what you employ are web-based apps that require no downloading.

That may sound limiting at first, however many common apps already supply web-based variations like Spotify, Netflix, Slack, and Evernote. Because of the prevalence of net functions, many individuals spend most of their time in an online browser anyway. In case your typical workflow resembles this situation, transitioning to a Chromebook will probably be comparatively clean. Simply hook up with Wi-Fi and proceed along with your looking as regular.

Nevertheless, with the addition of the Google Play Retailer, you may as well obtain Android apps to fill in any software program gaps. Their implementation in a laptop computer setting could be a little bit funky in some instances — some increase full-screen whereas others stay locked in smartphone display mode — however Android apps can be found if you really want them.

Chromebooks additionally help Linux software program. For those who completely want desktop functions, organising Linux is definitely an choice. There are Linux variations of Audacity, Firefox, GIMP, OBS Studio, Steam, VirtualBox, and lots of extra, however your favourite software could not supply a Linux-based variant. Examine the developer’s web site first earlier than ruling out a Chromebook.

Lastly, should you’re a gamer, there are many choices, however you’re additionally restricted. For instance, your greatest wager is to put in Android video games or subscribe to Google’s new Stadia streaming service. Putting in Steam by way of Linux is viable, however the typical low-end {hardware} and minimal storage will restrict what you may obtain and play.

What can’t a Chromebook do?

Using a Chromebook in front of a window.

The constraints of Chrome OS imply you may’t set up some necessary software program that you simply may in any other case want. Some notable examples embody sure Adobe functions or any type of proprietary software program that’s restricted to Home windows or Mac OS. For those who depend on comparable functions, you’ll both must discover a Linux-based different or keep away from Chromebooks altogether.

Limitations additionally lengthen to efficiency typically. Chromebooks do are inclined to run quick, however usually that’s as a result of light-weight nature of Chrome OS — it’s not service-heavy within the background like Home windows. Nevertheless, in some instances, you’ll be restricted by the elements inside. Decrease-end Chromebooks have a tendency to make use of older or low-end processors that may’t compete with what you get within the Home windows and Mac area, particularly when it comes to multitasking. Then once more, should you’re taking a look at spending $200, a Chromebook is a much better choice.

On the upper finish, there are alternatives just like the HP Chromebook x2 11 or the HP Chromebook x360 14c, and also you’ll discover acquainted processors like quad-core/eight-thread Eleventh-generation Intel Core CPUs and much more unique choices like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 7c — Chromebooks are inclined to fly with these quicker choices, get phenomenal battery life, or each. When you nonetheless can’t get absolutely the quickest CPUs in Chromebooks, you don’t want them to maintain up with Home windows and Mac OS.

Who’re Chromebooks for?

Friends sitting with their laptops open.

Chromebooks are designed with a number of particular individuals in thoughts. On the forefront are college students, as college administrations are inclined to favor Chromebooks as a result of their safety advantages, sturdy construct high quality, and software program limitations. Meaning you’ll discover low cost Chromebooks in public faculties throughout the nation.

Chromebooks transcend simply low cost, plastic laptops for teenagers. There are additionally higher-end choices for professionals and faculty college students. As a result of they are typically light-weight with lengthy battery life, they’re nice choices for individuals who must take their work on the go, whether or not that’s from class to class or on lengthy flights. A few of these embody the business-oriented HP Elite Chromebook C1030 and the Asus Chromebook Flip C536.

There are definitely those self same choices within the Home windows 10 laptop computer world. Nevertheless, within the cheaper worth vary, Chromebooks can typically present a greater worth. For instance, roughly $500 is the place Chromebooks thrive, however Home windows 10 laptops at this worth are inclined to get slowed down with a thick chassis and clunky efficiency.

What Chromebook choices can be found?

Google Pixelbook running Adobe Lightroom CC.

Among the many most costly Chromebooks you should purchase is HP’s Elite Chromebook C1030, which begins at $1,624. It represents the excessive finish not solely in premium supplies and construct high quality but in addition in efficiency.

Total, you’ll discover Chromebooks starting from 11-inch 2-in-1s as much as 15-inch choices for added display actual property. HD decision is the usual, whereas Full HD, touchscreen, and 4K choices have gotten extra frequent. Intel Celeron processors are a well-liked alternative for immediately’s Chromebooks — usually, dual-core variations that hardly ever rise above the two.0GHz mark — though you’ll discover Core i5 and i7 chips as the costs climb.

Most Chromebooks supply 2GB to 4GB of RAM, which is sufficient for common laptop computer duties however low in comparison with conventional laptop computer fashions that frequently supply 8GB or 16GB of RAM. As for storage, Chromebooks don’t have massive disk drives, as they rely on the web for many knowledge functions. Storage can often be augmented with an SD card or a USB drive if crucial.

For ports, most Chromebooks are largely similar to laptops, although fewer in quantity. USB-A, USB-C, and headphone jacks are frequent connections.

Most Chromebooks have higher battery life than the standard laptop computer. Though about 10 hours is most typical, newer fashions usually tend to have 12-hour battery life relying on the workflow. Home windows 10 laptops are slowly closing the hole, however on common, Chromebooks last more.

The actually high-end a part of the laptop computer vary, nevertheless, doesn’t embody Chromebooks. You gained’t discover Intel Twelfth-gen, AMD Ryzen 5000, or Apple M1 processors such as you get on a laptop computer just like the MacBook Professional 16, Razer Blade 17, or Dell XPS 15. These content-creation machines and gaming laptops will outclass any Chromebook when it comes to efficiency.

Lastly, Chrome OS tablets reminiscent of HP’s Chromebook X2 11 can be found, however we wouldn’t suggest these and not using a keyboard.


Regardless of how costly Chromebooks grow to be, they’re nonetheless a extra cheap choice than most different manufacturers. As an example, you might purchase multiple Chromebook and nonetheless have some remaining funds fairly than buying just one Microsoft laptop computer for a hefty $3,100

Lenovo’s Chromebook Flex 5 is available in at simply $425, for instance. For $225, you should purchase a well known and beloved Samsung Chromebook 4+ mannequin. Chromebooks are so widespread due to their affordability, which makes them accessible to a wider buyer base.

A Chromebook’s options won’t ever have the ability to evaluate with dearer laptops, however they carry out nearly each activity you’d want them to do. They’re reliable, reliable merchandise that meet spontaneous, budget-friendly wants and wishes. Their simplistic design additionally makes them astonishingly user-friendly, which is at all times an excellent factor, as many individuals are technologically challenged and will not be fully comfy once they need to work with laptops or computer systems.

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