Chromebooks first arrived in 2011, but it’s only inside the beyond couple years that they have got received ground on traditional laptops. That’s specially because of considerable adoption via schools, but their typical simplicity and low cost are undeniably attractive for domestic and paintings use, too.

Despite the transportable design similarities, there are key differences between the Windows and Mac laptops you’re used to and Chromebooks, which use Google’s internet-based totally Chrome OS. To cut to the chase, the fundamental differences are indexed out within the chart underneath.

Still not sure that’s proper on your daily? Just maintain reading.

Simplicity vs. Versatility

I’ve been reviewing Chromebooks from the start and whilst the enjoy has greatly stepped forward over the years, the core concept stays the equal. Chrome OS is largely Google’s Chrome web browser, which makes the common Chromebook little greater than a pc that runs a web browser. Your gut response to that might be that a Chromebook just won’t be enough in your desires.

The reality is, even though, pretty loads can be performed absolutely at the net. Take inventory of the whole lot you do on a every day foundation and you may discover there’s nothing you can’t accomplish with Chrome. Also, Chromebook battery life is generally notable.

That said, a Windows laptop or MacBook can run the Chrome browser as properly whilst also letting you put in everyday applications. Even if you do not immediately want a specific piece of software program, it is pleasant to have the choice. Which brings us to the larger query.

Need Windows or Mac software? Skip Chrome

Chromebooks aren’t like minded with Windows or Mac software program. Instead, they use web apps which are to be had through Google’s Chrome Web Store. Newer models also can be used with Android apps, which could fill in some blanks, like if you need Microsoft Office get admission to. And, if you don’t thoughts poking round a chunk inside the OS, you may load Linux apps onto a few fashions, too.

But typically speaking, you’ll be managing substitutions, so if you need or need a selected Windows or Mac app — and there’s no suitable web, Android or Linux app replacement — don’t get a Chromebook.

Also, in case you need to do whatever greater than informal gaming or basic photo and video editing, you’ll need a ordinary laptop. Chromebooks just do not have the snap shots performance you want for annoying tasks or, again, the option to install Windows or Mac video games. The gaming photo may want to exchange later this 12 months when Google rolls out its Stadia streaming sport carrier, but for now a Chromebook might not cut it.

More choice or fewer decisions

Whether you are looking to play the modern-day games, edit massive photograph and video documents or actually want to multitask with out system slowdowns, there’s a pc to fulfill your performance wishes. On top of that, they’re to be had in endless sizes and patterns. The seemingly infinite alternatives method you can find the exact computer for you. It can also result in choice-making paralysis.

There are plenty fewer choices to make with Chromebooks, but. The small, lightweight OS has minimal hardware requirements and the same goes for web apps. Having a better-end processor and more memory will assist maintain stressful multitaskers transferring alongside but in any other case right here’s what I endorse once I’m requested what specs to get:

Intel Celeron or Pentium, Core m- or Core i-series processor
4GB of reminiscence or greater
32GB of garage
Full HD (1,920×1,080-pixel) display
There is flexibility with these guidelines. You can get a 1,366×768-decision show, as an instance, but the reasonably-priced ones used in low-stop Chromebooks appearance in particular smooth subsequent to full HD models. And you could get by means of with 16GB of onboard garage so long as there’s a microSD card slot to supplement it. Unlike a regular pc, a Chromebook is based greater on cloud garage for documents and no longer neighborhood garage.

Connection troubles

The problem with a web-based totally working system becomes obviously apparent whilst you do not have a dependable internet connection. When Chromebooks first launched they essentially became paperweights when they were offline — a actual issue in case you have been within the middle of editing an important document you abruptly couldn’t keep.

Things have fortunately gotten better as Google and others have progressed offline capabilities. Still, you need constant internet get entry to to get the most from a Chromebook.

For a ordinary laptop, being offline is a lot much less a trouble because you’re the usage of mounted software program that saves to internal storage. Or at least that state of affairs is a opportunity.


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Price high quality
Because of the low hardware requirements of Chrome OS, not only can Chromebooks be lighter and smaller than the common laptop, they’re cheaper, too.

New Windows laptops for $200 are few and far among and, frankly, are not often well worth shopping for. Finding a very good $200 Chromebook, alternatively, is quite smooth to do. And whilst spending more will get you higher build exceptional, greater capabilities or faster overall performance, even these top class Chromebooks usually start among $400 and $500.

With Windows laptops, you generally want to spend $seven-hundred or greater to get a thin, light-weight version with first rate overall performance and battery life. Note CNET can also acquire a share of revenue from the sale of the goods featured on this page.


The simplicity of a Chromebook can’t be beat. If everything you do can be finished in a web browser or with web or Android apps, there’s little cause no longer to go with a Chrome tool. And even a top class version like the all-aluminum two-in-one Asus Chromebook Flip is less than $500 with a 1,920×1,080 12.5-inch show, twin-middle Intel Core M3 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD.