Chromebook vs. laptop
What’s the difference between a Chromebook and a laptop?
If you’re searching for a new computer, you've likely heard the name Chromebook and are wondering how one differs from a laptop. Even if you’re not the most tech-savvy individual, recognizing the differences and similarities between the two is simple.
Chromebooks are technically laptops, but a few key distinctions separate them from traditional laptops — primarily size, functionality and price. Still, it’s crucial to consider which features and functions are most valuable to you to get a computer that suits your needs and budget.
Chromebooks are laptop computers designed by Google and were first released in 2011. Several top electronics brands manufacture them, but unlike traditional laptops, they don’t run the Windows operating system. Instead, Chromebooks run Chrome OS, which you’ll find familiar if you’ve used the Google Chrome web browser.
Chromebooks are notably much more affordable than traditional laptops; you can find one for less than $300. Because they don’t deliver as much processing power and don’t have the same hardware components as traditional laptops, Chromebooks usually have a lightweight design and a sleek build. This makes them more portable and suitable for traveling.
Chromebooks are ideal for those looking for a fast computer to carry out basic tasks. Chrome OS also has a built-in security system, meaning you don’t have to worry about viruses and other malware.
Most Chromebooks have a better battery life than other laptops and usually take less time to charge. You can expect a Chromebook to run for 8-10 hours, compared to a laptop which runs on average for just 3-5 hours.
Chromebooks are more affordable than laptops, so they typically don’t have the same build quality or durability. They also usually don’t have the same displays as higher-end laptops and don’t have as much random-access memory, meaning multitasking is less-than-ideal.
You’ll also want to look elsewhere if you’re a gamer or graphic designer. Their processes aren't powerful enough to run those programs without significantly affecting the computer’s performance.
Chromebooks have minimal storage, so you’ll need to store most of your files using an online-based cloud storage service such as Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive.
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2
This Chromebook has a crisp 13.3-inch Quantum LED display and a fast Intel Core i3 processor. It supports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 6 GIG+, which is three times faster than a standard Wi-Fi connection. Plus, it has 8 gigabytes of RAM and 128GB of built-in storage. Sold by Amazon
Lenovo Chromebook S330
If you’re looking for a sleek, affordable Chromebook with excellent battery life, look no further. This Chromebook has a full HD display, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of integrated flash memory storage and a fast MediaTek MT8173C processor. Sold by Amazon
Google PixelBook Go
Take your work and games with you anywhere you go with this lightweight Chromebook. It lasts up to 12 hours on a full charge, and 20 minutes of charging gives you 2 hours of battery life. The keyboard is backlit, and the HD touch screen display is 13.3 inches wide. Sold by Amazon
As with Chromebooks, laptops are manufactured by several electronics brands and vary in specs, features and price. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can get one for $200-$1,000, but the more high-end models with premium features can cost up to $2,000.
Laptops are excellent for running all kinds of tasks and programs. Unlike Chromebooks, they usually have enough built-in storage to use them offline. Laptops also have fast processors that let them run high-powered applications without lag.
The specs on the average laptop are typically superior to that of a Chromebook, as many have high-resolution light-emitting diode displays and more RAM so you can multitask without experiencing a decrease in performance.
If you want premium features such as a 4K ultra-high-definition display, a superfast processor and 16 gigabytes of RAM or more, you can expect to pay well over $1,000. Laptops have poor battery life, and because they run Windows, they’re more susceptible to viruses and malware than Chromebooks.
Laptops have a relatively short life span, most lasting no more than five years before they start to decrease in speed and performance significantly. Also, there’s a learning curve with Windows, so it’s not the most user-friendly operating system.
ASUS Vivobook 17.3-inch HD Plus Business and Family Laptop
This laptop is ideal for office work and streaming HD TV shows and movies, thanks to its wide display. It has 512GB of memory storage and an Intel i7 Core processor so that you can run several high-powered apps. Sold by Amazon
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
If you want the processing power of a laptop and the versatility of a tablet, the Surface laptop is for you. It has a 13-inch touch screen, a built-in kickstand, a detachable keyboard and widgets for efficient multitasking. Sold by Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Book Ion
This laptop has a clean, stylish design and a QLED screen that delivers stunning visuals. Thanks to an Intel i7 processor, it’s super fast, and the fast-charging battery lasts up to 22 hours on a full charge. Sold by Amazon
Should you get a Chromebook or a laptop?
If you don’t mind spending the money, a laptop is superior in almost every way and is suitable for those who need to run high-powered tasks. However, Chromebooks are an excellent alternative if you’re working with a budget and want something fast for simple tasks such as web browsing.
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Kevin Luna is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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