If you spend all day in a web browser, use Google apps, and don’t need all the rest of the stuff that comes with Apple’s macOS or Microsoft Windows, Google’s Chrome OS operating system offers a sleek, all-you-need, nothing-you-don’t computing experience. Throw in the ability to run both Android and Linux apps and you just might be able to replace your old laptop with a Chromebook.
Chromebooks have a reputation as cheap, low-end devices. And, while they can be that—offering exceptional bargains in many cases—that’s not the end of the story. Just because you strip away the software fluff doesn’t mean you have to strip away the hardware power. There are high-end Chromebooks that are mighty capable machines. In many ways, they’re the best of all worlds, with good hardware, lightweight software, and everything you need for web-based work.
WIRED’s Gear team has tested Chromebooks for almost a decade now. For this guide, I pulled in and tested more than a dozen over the past year. If you’re looking for a Chromebook, these are our top picks. Be sure to also read through our Best Cheap Laptops, Best Laptops, and Best MacBooks guides for more.
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Updated December 2020: We’ve added the Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook.