How we test Chromebooks
How we test chromebooks in a nutshell
Our reviews answer common laptop questions such as:
- What’s the Chromebook's screen and sound quality like?
- What’s it like to use day-to-day?
- How long does the battery last?
- How fast is it to start up and run?
- Should I buy it?
What makes a Best Buy Chromebook?
Which? reviews Chromebooks of all types, sizes and price levels, from budget Chromebooks right up to premium models. We speak to manufacturers and scour the market to make sure we test all the most popular Chromebooks that you'll find on the shelves, in stores or offered online. And because we buy every machine we test, you can be confident that our reviews are completely independent.
If you're not entirely sure what a Chromebook is or whether it's the best purchse for you, then you can find out more and see our recommended Best Buy models by heading to our dedicated guide to Chromebooks.
Which? doesn't just recommend Best Buy Chromebooks - we also tell you the models that are so poor that they're Don't Buys. If we find a very serious fault, we purchase another model and retest it. If we find the problem again, we speak to the manufacturer and ask them what they plan to do about it.
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Screen and sound - what's the quality like?
- Screen quality Each Chromebook is rated by three industry experts under the same controlled conditions. Brightness levels are controlled and all models on test display the same images and videos for comparative testing.
- Light conditions To find out how easy the laptop screen is to view in various scenarios, we test screen quality in a mid-lit room, a brightly lit-room and with external reflections.
- Sound quality Speakers on a Chromebook can be a mixed bag. Some speakers can be located on the underside, facing downward, producing muffled and clipped sound. Other models position the speakers underneath the keyboard, creating sound that is much clearer. We also test the sound quality with a pair of headphones.
Ease of use - what's it like to use every day?
- Everyday tasks From opening the Chromebook and setting it up, to browsing the web, typing documents, playing a movie file and listening to music, our testers try out each Chromebook to see how easy they are to use for everyday tasks.
- The feel of the Chromebook We assess the feel of typing on the keyboard and the spacing of the keys, to the responsiveness of the trackpad, and multi-touch gestures. We check the spacing of the connections and ports, which can sometimes be too close to fit in two USB memory sticks side-by-side.
- On the move Chromebook manufacturers often make a big deal about how portable their products are, so we weigh every one, as well as the cables and charger, so you can easily see the total travel weight for each model.
How long does the Chromebook battery last?
- Better than laptops Generally speaking, Chromebook battery's last hours longer than those in laptops. We run two testing scenarios, to get an accurate picture of how the battery performs.
- Web browsing The first test consists of timing how long the battery lasts while browsing the web with multiple browser tabs open.
- Video playback The second test involves playing back HD video that is being streaming online (BBC iPlayer) or played via a USB thumb drive.
Performance - how fast is it?
- Boot speed We time how long each model takes to start up and reboot to the main screen if the Chromebook's gone to sleep while you were off doing something else.
- Copying data If you're copying a lot of photos to your Chromebook, you don't want it to take forever. We test the speed that each model can copy files over wi-fi, from USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, importing photos from an SD card or from an external USB drive.
- Technical tests We run a number of technical tests to assess the performance of each Chromebook's core components. These tests push the limits of the processor, memory, hard drive and graphics, ensuring we receive an accurate picture of how each model copes with the different workloads.
Should I buy it?
We give the laptops we test a total test score, so you can easily see which are the best and worst and directly compare models to each other.
The score we give each laptop is made up of a combination of the elements of our tests, ignoring price and broken down as follows:
- Ease of use .........................30%
- Performance ...................... 20%
- Portability ........................... 20%
- Screen & sound quality ..... 15%
- Battery ............................... 10%
- Features ............................. 5%
Best Buys must score 73% or above.
Convinced by Chromebooks? Now see which one you should buy - head to our Chromebook reviews.