We recently published a list of the best Chromebooks under $400—a price point that’s more than reasonable for virtually anyone who wants to have a workhorse computer that can carry out everyday tasks like emailing and web-surfing like a pro. It just so happened, however, that most of the Chromebooks on that list fell within the $300-$400 range, which isn’t quite representative of a group of laptops that can oftentimes be even cheaper. Indeed, many of you will likely invest so little creative capital into your Chromebooks that spending even $350 can seem like a stretch.
To those of you who don’t want to break the $300 mark when it comes to buying a laptop that you can use for work or play: We salute you. For there are indeed several incredibly competent and impressively powerful Chromebook laptops that can be found for under $300, and we’ve listed the best of the best below.
For those of you who are somewhat unfamiliar with the idea of a Chromebook, these suspiciously cheap laptops need not be treated with suspicion at all. Unlike the mega-expensive MacBook Pros and their PC equivalents, Chromebooks were not designed to carry out pro-level tasks like audio production or video editing. Instead, they were built as large web browsers with keyboards—meaning they act somewhat like a more powerful extension of your smartphone and can dutifully carry out tasks like emailing and web browsing with ease.
The laptops on this list are more than capable of getting you through the average workday (and perhaps even a little Netflix binging when you’re done), and you won’t need to worry about taking out a second mortgage on your home in order to buy one. Let’s take a look at your best options for 2020.
Finally replacing the aging Chromebook 3, Samsung’s newest Chromebook is a must-have for anyone looking for a small, cheap Chromebook to carry for day to day. If you’re shopping for a Chromebook under $300, you absolutely cannot beat the power and performance of this specific Chromebook 4 model, which carries 64GB of storage and, more importantly, 6GB of RAM. This additional memory gives it the space to run more tabs and programs without slowing it down, making it one of the most powerful Chromebooks on this round-up.
That’s not the only thing that makes this a great laptop though. Although one should never judge a piece of tech by its appearance, this sleek and ultra-compact Chromebook sure does look the part. It’s minimalist and rugged design is ideal for frequent travelers who need to keep up with work on the go but don’t want to be weighed down by cumbersome gadgets, and with its 11.6″ screen, it’s perfect for sliding right into your bag.
This tiny-yet-mighty machine is outfitted with an LED backlight that’s easy on the eyes. In addition to the 6GB of RAM, the Chromebook 4 is powered by a new Intel Celeron Processor N4000 processor that can carry out an impressive number of tasks without draining your battery and an Intel HD graphics card, which does the trick for most streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu. The battery life manages to hit 12 hours despite fitting in a slim frame, so you can go all day without having to carry a charger.
You also get a USB port that can be used to attach a virtually limitless number of peripheral devices, and Bluetooth 4.0 compatibility means that you’ll be able to stay mostly wireless when you’re on the move. As with any Chromebook purchase, you get a suite of Google Apps and features that make it easy to maintain continuity with your work in the cloud. Whether you’re interested in converting and editing Microsoft Word files, managing spreadsheets or building presentations, this little powerhouse of a laptop has you covered.
If you need a larger laptop, the Chromebook 4 also comes in a Plus version, offering a 15″ display in lieu of the 11.6″ display. Just make sure you still opt for the 6GB version rather than the 4GB version.
- 6GB of RAM for under $300
- Clean build
- Large bezels
- Low resolution display
Let’s be honest: Up until very recently, Acer didn’t enjoy a very great reputation among true tech fans. Often associated with cheap products that broke down after only a few months of use, Acer was a brand to be avoid at all costs. But those days are long gone, and now Acer is churning out some of the best and most reliable laptops on the market—thanks to streamlined technologies and increasingly small and powerful microchips. This 2018 Acer Chromebook is a testament to Acer’s newfound ingenuity, and it more than deserves its rightful place at out runner-up spot.
This laptop’s 15.6” HD display makes it better for viewing shows and movies than the Samsung at our number-one spot, and it even features a slightly higher resolution (although we doubt you’ll notice the difference unless you happen to be watching an HD film).
The Intel Celeron Dual-Core Processor N3060 processor (which comes standard at 1.6GHz but can be boosted up to 2.48GHz) is a surprisingly speedy little chip that is more than capable of carrying out a wide range of Internet-based tasks. You get 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM and 2 USB 3.0 ports alongside an HDMI port. There’s also a headphone jack, an HD webcam, and Bluetooth 4.2 functionality built in. And of course you get the expected suite of apps that one can always expect from a Chromebook that runs the famed Google OS.
The only reason this impressive Acer unit was bumped to our runner-up spot behind the Samsung is that it lacks the 32GB of flash memory that makes the Samsung stand out from the crowd. Instead, this Acer laptop packs 16GB of eMMC memory, which, although still impressive, may be a bit too small for some users who are averse to working entirely in the cloud. If, on the other hand, you gravitate toward larger screens and don’t intend on storing a great deal of data on the machine itself, this Acer workhorse may indeed be the right choice for you.
- Large display
- Very cheap
- Small amount of memory
- Less RAM than Chromebook 4 above
It seems as though convertible “two-in-one” laptops are all the rage these days, and with good reason. Businesspeople and creative professionals alike crave flexibility when it comes to drafting everything from presentations to cover designs, and the tablet revolution has put pressure on tech companies to build laptops that can mimic the slim nature of a tablet while still offering all the bells and whistles that come with a laptop.
In many ways, Lenovo has led the charge when it comes to innovative convertible laptops, and this 11.6” HD Chromebook is no exception—thanks to a uniquely slim and aesthetically pleasing design and powerful components that make it ideal for creative professionals. Although the screen is relatively small at just over 11”, a 1366 x 768 HD resolution makes up for the difference by providing a truly rich color pallet that makes watching everything from YouTube clips to Netflix movies far more enjoyable.
There’s an energy-efficient LED backlight, a MediaTek MT8173C Quad-Core processor that runs around 1.3GHz (with a maximum boost speed of up to 2.16 GHz), and 4GB of LPDDR3 SDRAM that can be used to toggle between various low-energy apps with ease. Another impressive feature of this laptop is its integrated 32GB eMMC memory, which is ideal for anyone who’s wary of working mostly in the cloud.
You also get a 720p HD webcam, two USB ports, an HDMI port that can be used to attach an endless number of external displays, a headphone/microphone combination jack, an integrated microphone, and a speaker that’s surprisingly crisp for something its size. We were also impressed with the battery life of this machine, which can last for up to ten hours on a single charge (depending on how many apps you’re running).
- 32GB of storage
- Two-in-one design
- MediaTek processor
- Poor quality from Webcam
Where would a truly great list of tech gear be without at least one Dell machine? As one of the world’s most beloved manufacturers of quality gear that’s becoming increasingly affordable and powerful, Dell has earned its renowned place in the ever-expanding Chromebook market.
This Dell 3189 convertible laptop brings to the table everything you’d expect from a Dell machine, and it’s more than capable of functioning as your go-to work computer either when you’re traveling or at home. It comes loaded with an Intel Dual-Core Celeron N3060 that can be boosted to up to 2.48GHz, a more-than-respectable 4GB of DDR3L memory, 32GB of SSD storage that’s far more reliable than spinning-disk hard drives, an a series of helpful outputs—including two USB ports, an HDMI port, and a headphone/microphone combination jack. There’s even an SD card reader to round out your connectivity options.
With all these great features and processing power that’s comparable to the other laptops on our list at similar price points, you may well be wondering why this do-it-all laptop didn’t rank higher on our list. Honestly, it was a tough call, and the only reason why it ended up ranking at the number-four spot was because we found its battery life to be relatively lacking. Still, if you do most of your work at a desk and don’t require your laptop to be on during those endlessly long flights, this may be the Chromebook for you.
- Two-in-one design
- Decent storage
- Lacking battery life
- Older design
Rounding out our list is another Acer laptop, although this one sports convertible tablet functionality for a slightly elevated price. In addition to getting all the perks that come with the Google OS, you’ll enjoy an incredibly fast boot time, additional virus protections that are built-in, and automatic updates that make it easy to stay on top of the latest features that Google has to offer. This portable powerhouse is outfitted with an Intel Celeron N3150 processor that gives its competitors a run for their money, a brilliant convertible 11.6” HD touch display that’s ideal for creative professionals who want to work with their hands as opposed to a trackpad, 4GB of memory, and 32GB of internal storage—which once again is handy if you prefer saving your data to the machine as opposed to the cloud.
This laptop also has one of the best battery lives of all the Chromebooks we tested, coming in at a 10-hour lifespan on a single charge. Another selling point for this machine is that it features the latest MIMO 802.11ac wireless technology, which translates into an extraordinarily smooth and reliable Internet and video streaming experience that’s up to three times faster than previous generations.
Given these added features (and the fact that this Chromebook sports one of the best HD screens on the market), the only reason this 360-degree rotating laptop didn’t rank higher on our list was because of its relatively high price. But if you’ve set your spending limit around $300 and want a bit more processing power alongside a crystal-clear display and super-fast wireless connectivity, we would definitely recommend giving this intrepid Chromebook a shot.
- Good keyboard
- Decent processor
- Older design
- 4GB of RAM