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15 November 2021

Best Chromebooks for 2021

Chromebooks have been around since 2011, but if you’ve never considered one before, it might be time to have a look. We run you through what you need to know about Chromebooks, then provide our own expert recommendations based on our extensive lab testing.
Michael Passingham
2018-laptop-cafe

Chromebooks are like normal laptops, but instead of running Microsoft Windows or Apple MacOS they run ChromeOS, which is made by Google. 

ChromeOS is a more basic operating system with fewer features and programs. What it lacks in applications it makes up for in speed and ease of use. ChromeOS, for the most part, feels pretty fast no matter what laptop you’re using.

ChromeOS works on the basis that much of what we do on a computer these days can be done via a web browser. This includes email, writing documents, spreadsheets, social media, and even more demanding tasks such as photo editing. These are accomplished using services such as Google Docs, Office Online, Google Photos and a host of smaller services.

If you’re not sure whether you can make the change to a Chromebook, just start using web apps on your current laptop and see how far you get. You might be surprised.


To find out which laptops we recommend above all others and for a range of budgets, check out our pick of the best laptops for 2021.


Best Chromebooks

These are the Chromebooks we recommend right now, based on the results of our tough, independent lab tests.

Only logged-in Which? members can access our recommendations. Not yet a member? Try Which? to unlock our best Chromebooks and to get access to all of our reviews, including laptops, desktops, computer monitors and electric cars.

  • 82%
    £629.00

    This is our new favourite Chromebook. It's thin, light, has a great screen and is reasonably fast, too. It's more expensive than most Chromebooks, but it's also substantially better.

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  • 75%
    £799.00

    This thin and light Chromebook comes with a stylus and can be flipped around and used like a tablet. It's fast, too, and the speakers are better than most.

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  • 74%
    £744.13

    This is an excellent all-round Chromebook that's cheaper than some other premium Windows and Mac devices. Battery life is good, and it's a fast laptop as well. The excellent screen is icing on the cake.

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  • 65%
    £249.99

    This is a fine Chromebook for the money, but there are shortcomings that mean it won’t be for everybody. As a device to take out and about, it could be a good choice thanks to its great battery life and light weight.

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  • 65%
    £299.00

    This laptop is a highly portable device that manages to offer a lot of versatility for your money. It's well worth a look.

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  • 62%
    £349.00

    If you’re buying a laptop as a homework helper for a child, this one's small size and versatile design make it a good choice. However, if it’s to be used by an adult with more specific demands, issues with its screen might be off-putting.

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  • 62%
    £329.00

    This laptop might not wow with its screen performance or its physical build quality, but it's low priced, with a big screen and good battery life. While it's far from perfect, for some people it could be a good compromise between price and quality.

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  • 60%
    £299.00

    You get a lot of laptop for your money with this large 15-incher, which is ideal to replace an ageing desktop. It runs on ChromeOS, so its slightly slow processor doesn't feel as clunky as it would on a Windows 10 machine. You get what you pay for, but the price is so low that it's worth considering purely on that basis.

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  • 60%
    £379.00

    This laptop doesn't work any miracles for a laptop at this price, but it's well worth a look if you want a cheap Chromebook with a big screen. It could be particularly good for home schooling thanks to its lightweight Chrome OS, big screen and keyboard.

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Table updated November 2021.

Can't see the model you're interested in or want to see more choice for your budget? Take a look at our expert laptop reviews.

How much do Chromebooks cost?

Chromebooks are generally inexpensive and have more modest components than their Windows or Apple counterparts. That’s because Chrome OS is a more streamlined operating system that doesn’t demand intensive processing power – which also means battery life tends to be good with Chromebooks, too.

As such, most Chromebooks are very cheap and not particularly fast. They’ll be fine for basic tasks, but not for editing huge photographs and videos. There are some more expensive devices around, such as the Google Pixelbook, but these are in the minority.

Chromebooks under £200

Budget Chromebooks can cost as little as £150 and are often the thinnest and lightest laptops on the market. They’re not powerful by any stretch and won’t be able to cope with doing more than one task at the same time. But they can be great value nonetheless.

Chromebooks under £500

Mid-range Chromebooks are becoming more and more common. These machines often come with 360-degree hinges so they can fold over and double as a tablet, more powerful processors and can be larger than their cheaper counterparts.

Premium Chromebooks

These are still quite rare, but offer the best Chromebook experience. With high-resolution screens, more powerful processor and great build-quality, they can be very tempting if you’re happy using web-based apps.


Looking to save money? We reveal the best cheap laptops from our tests.


How long do Chromebooks get updates?

All Chromebooks come with an expiry date. When this day comes, the device will no longer receive any security or feature updates and, over time, your Chromebook will become less secure as it will no longer have protection against the latest viruses and other threats. 

All Chromebooks released since 2020 start their life with at least eight years of update support, but those released before then are much more patchy. As such, it pays to check when the Chromebook you're thinking of buying is due to expire.

We found that up to 20% of the best-selling Chromebooks on some websites were either due to expire within three years, or had already expired. Read our investigation into ChromeOS updates for more.

All of our Chromebook reviews tell you when the device will stop getting updates, so you can make your own decision. All Chromebooks that are within three years of expiry will have an extra note added to the review, and those that are no longer receiving updates will be given a Security Notice warning so you can easily see if a device is out of support.

Chromebook update checking tool

Below, we have listed all the Chromebooks from major brands due to expire before the year 2025, including those that have already expired. 

Use the search bar to look for the model name of the Chromebook you're interested in. Try to be as specific as possible and start your search with the model code (for instance, C374) to ensure you get the most accurate results.

 This list was last updated in November 2021. Based on data from Google's Chromebook Auto Update Policy page.

Does a Chromebook need to be online all the time?

Almost everything you’ll do on a Chromebook will be done in a web browser using what’s called a ‘web app’. This includes Google Docs (word processing), Google Sheets (spreadsheets) and Pixlr (image editing). You can also access Microsoft Office Online software if you prefer it.

It used to be the case that a Chromebook had to be online all the time for all web apps, but there’s plenty you can do without an internet connection. All the Google apps – Docs, Sheets, Slides, Files and Mail – have an offline mode (that needs to be activated first). This means you can work on spreadsheets and presentations or write documents and emails without being online. 

The next time you do go online, all your work will be synchronised with the cloud. Offline editing should be enough to keep you going on a plane or train journey without a wi-fi connection.

Modern Chromebooks come with a surprising amount of storage, too: most come with at least 64GB, and some come with more. While that would be tight for Windows, the Chrome OS doesn’t take up much hard drive space, leaving more room for your files. That means you could easily download a few films to watch offline, for example. 

Cheaper models might only come with 16GB - so if you need more than this, check the specification sheet carefully before you buy.

Some Chromebooks support apps from the Google Play Store. This is the same app store as you’d find on an Android phone. However, you’ll need to check the model you’re buying to see if it’s compatible – only some newer Chromebooks have Google Play.

Wi-fi at home a bit dodgy? Find out how you can improve it - see how to buy the best wi-fi router or extender.

Are Chromebooks good for students?

If you're heading to college, university or are looking for a new device for school, all the pros and cons of Chromebooks mentioned above apply to you. Below, we've listed four more perks that students might find particularly attractive. 

1. They need next to no maintenance 

Chromebooks don’t slow down over time because software and files aren’t stored on the device. This means you won’t be waiting half an hour for an update to install, and your device shouldn’t slow down to the point that you have to make a cup of tea while waiting for your computer to boot up. 

What’s more, Chromebooks are less of a target for viruses and malware, although you should still watch your step if you visit dodgy websites.

2. Free cloud storage 

When you buy a brand-new Chromebook, Google will offer you 100GB of free Google Drive storage, which will be applied to your Google account for life. That’s a lot of space for your documents and other files. 

3. Feels faster than equivalent Windows laptops 

When you don’t spend much on a laptop, the lack of speed is normally fairly obvious. And while a cheap Chromebook will never be fast, its slimmed down software means it feels more perky than many equivalent Windows laptops.   

4. Great battery life 

Chromebooks tend to have a better battery life than laptops in general, based on our independent tests. Here are our average battery life star ratings:

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars for Chromebooks
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars for all laptops 

In real terms, this works out to Chromebooks frequently topping 10 hours of battery life. Individual models differ, however, so it’s always worth checking the battery test results in our Chromebook reviews.   

Two reasons why you might not want a Chromebook

1. If you’re doing a course that requires specialist applications 

Chromebooks can’t run the full-fat versions of most industry-standard software, such as graphics, 3D computer-aided design (CAD, video editing, audio and photo editing). So it’s unlikely you’d be able to do all your coursework on a Chromebook.  

2. If you have a particular aversion to Google services

Chromebooks require a Google account. While you don’t have to use products like Google Drive and Gmail, everything works just a little bit more simply if you do. So if you don't want to use Google services, then a Chromebook definitely isn't for you.

Instead, take a look at our best laptops for students to see what other models we recommend.