Chromebooks come in a stunning array of configurations. Sometimes even trying to decide which options to choose for one model can be overwhelming. As a product tester, I have to use a spreadsheet to keep everything flat. But you shouldn’t do that, so here are a few broad specifications that you need to keep in mind when choosing.
Processor: Chromebooks use half a dozen different processors, which you’ve probably never heard of. There is a reason for this: these processors are slow and do not appear on Windows laptops. After trying out a number of Intel Celeron-based machines (usually labeled N4000), my recommendation is to start with something more powerful if you can afford it. The next step from Celeron is Core m3, which is the best choice for most people. If you want a more powerful machine, safe in the future, get an i3 or i5 chip.
We’re starting to see more and more ARM-based Chromebooks, like the Lenovo Duet above. I haven’t had any issues using ARM Chromebooks, but they’re not quite as fast as Intel Core chips. There are some newer Chromebooks that use AMD’s new Ryzen chips, and I’ve had good experiences with them.
RAM: Get 8 gigabytes of memory if you can afford it, especially if you plan to run any Android app. When I’ve experienced serious slowdowns and crashes, it’s almost always on a Chromebook with only 4 gigs of RAM.
Screen: Get an IPS LCD screen. There are still a few cheaper models with inferior TN LCD screens, and you should avoid them. The resolution of your pixels depends on the screen size. I’ve used (and recommend) some 11-inch Chromebooks that have 720p screens. Since these screens are compressed into a small shape, I find them acceptably sharp, but of course, a 1080p screen will be much nicer.
Connections: Most of the things you do on your Chromebook are cloud-based, so you don’t have to worry too much about ports. You might want a computer that charges via USB-C if you want to boot your Chromebook from a portable battery / charger, but unfortunately, USB-C is only really available in mid-range and high-end models. . It also helps to have a MicroSD slot for extended storage if you need to download a lot of files during a typical day, but this option is also not widely available.