Thanks to their ease of use and the speedy performance they offer at budget prices, Chromebook sales have blown up in recent years.
They have become a favorite among students and anyone else who wants a secure and robust device that can last around two to three times longer than a traditional laptop on a single charge.
But does all this mean that Chromebooks are better than Windows and Mac laptops?
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Are Chromebooks Better Than Laptops?
In general, Chromebooks are not better than regular laptops because they don’t feature technology as advanced as what you find in the latest laptop models and they cannot install and run the latest AAA game titles or fully-featured desktop applications like Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop.
If someone was to offer you either the very best Chromebook on the market or the very best laptop on the market, there would be very few – if any – viable reasons why you would opt for the Chromebook over the laptop.
If you are asking which one is better? Then it is only fair to look at the very best Chrome OS devices VS. the very best that Windows and Mac OS has to offer.
And when comparing these devices at the highest end of their price ranges, Chromebooks are almost always going to be less versatile and come with far fewer premium features.
Brand new, high-end business and gaming laptops are going to feature the fastest and most powerful processors, graphics cards, and memory.
Many will also feature full HD webcams with facial recognition, second tablet-sized screens, customizable RGB lighting, more dedicated media buttons, haptic touchpads, integrated soundbars, and brighter, higher resolution screens.
If you attempted to add these features to a Chromebook, it would quickly begin to lose its main selling point – performance at an affordable price.
Chromebooks also lack the advantage of being able to install third-party applications for when you need to do more serious design or office work.
While many lite versions applications are now making their way to the Google Play Store and Chrome Web Store, there is no doubt that Windows and Mac OS enjoy much better support for third-party applications.
And even if you own a newer Chromebook that can access the Google Play Store, don’t expect it to be able to smoothly run apps and games in the same way an Android smartphone can.
Many apps and games may not be optimized for your Chromebook’s screen size and many mightn’t work as you’d expect, if at all.
However, many Play Store apps and games do work perfectly on Chromebooks (especially if you can use them in tablet mode) and it’s fun trying different ones out.
But these criticisms of Chromebooks aren’t to say that there will never be a situation where it makes more sense to buy a Chromebook over a laptop.
When Is A Chromebook Better Than A Laptop?
A Chromebook may be better for you to buy than a laptop if budget and security are your main concerns and you won’t be needing to install any third-party software like Microsoft Office or Adobe’s Creative Suite.
Once you’re not in the design profession and expecting a Chromebook to be your main device, you’ll find that web-based platforms and apps like Canva and Google Docs will cater to your work and creative needs.
If you don’t need any fully-featured desktop apps for your work or study and can usually accomplish everything you have to get done through the Chrome Web Browser, then a Chromebook may be better for you than a laptop.
A Chromebook May Be Better Than A Laptop If You Are On A Tight Budget
The best thing about budget Chromebooks is that they offer fast performance.
Because Chrome OS doesn’t run third-party apps and has been built from the ground up to be light and streamlined for speed and efficiency within the Chrome ecosystem, even the very cheapest Chromebooks for under $200 can multitask and run fast on minimalist hardware and with minimum memory and internal storage.
Windows, on the other hand, is constantly updating with various patches and has to have support for lots of libraries so that it can run many different types of software and be backward compatible.
And all this does not bode well for a weak laptop on minimalist hardware.
Most Windows laptops for under $200 are going to provide a painful experience for the user.
They will be very slow, always out of storage and memory, and multitasking or even working efficiently on them will be difficult.
So if you’re looking for a cheap device that offers speed and efficiency, you may find a Chromebook to be better than a laptop.
A Chromebook May Be Better Than A Laptop If You Need A Very Secure Device
If security is one of your biggest concerns around getting online, a Chromebook may be a better option for you than a regular laptop.
Chromebooks automatically use the Linux command-line firewall iptables to block dangerous traffic, without any need for you to install or configure any software.
Chromebooks also have far fewer vulnerabilities than Windows or Mac operating systems.
They use verified boot to ensure that the code they execute is coming from a trusted source and they use Control-flow integrity (CFI) which is used to prevent many types of malware attacks.
Chromebooks also make great use of sandboxing which limits the damage that malware can do if you do become exposed to it.
Once you take certain precautions like using two-factor authentication when possible, using strong, unique passwords for each account, and not clicking popups on shady websites or opening dodgy email attachments, then a Chromebook will be one of the most secure devices you could use.
To use a real-world example of how secure Chromebooks can be compared to other devices, in early 2022, having suffered a ransomware attack, Nordic Choice Hotels decided to change their work devices from Windows machines to Chromebooks.
All in all, the Scandinavian hotel chain converted 2,000 laptops to Chrome OS via CloudReady.
So, if online security is a big concern for you then you may find a Chromebook to be better than a laptop.
Related Article: Are Chromebooks Good For Working From Home? (What You Need To Know)
When Is A Chromebook Not Better Than A Laptop?
A Chromebook is not a better option than a regular laptop once your budget starts extending beyond $1,000.
Once you hit the $1,000 mark, you’ll find a Windows or Mac laptop that offers powerful performance, lots of storage, a great screen, respectable battery life, a decent keyboard, and solid build quality.
Plus, you’ll have the advantage of being able to install all kinds of powerful third-party applications, like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop.
Once you start heading from midrange to high-end, a Windows or Mac laptop will start to make a Chromebook look like a second-rate alternative.
For example, the Asus Zenbook UX305 that comes in for around $1,000 offers a QHD+ display, a built-in infrared camera with facial recognition, silent fanless cooling, SonicMaster technology for superior sound, Asus IceCool technology to keep your palms cool for a more comfortable typing experience and about three or four times the storage of most Chromebooks on the market right now.
It also has an incredible battery life of up to 10 hours.
And if you were to spend your thousand bucks on a high-end laptop that was on sale you’d probably get even more features.
Many features like these you won’t find in even the most expensive Chromebooks because they aren’t generally sold for all their bells and whistles.
They sell because they are fast, affordable, and robust.
I recently bought a high-end Chromebook – the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 – that was on sale from $1,300 down to $800.
It has an 8th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 Processor, 16 GB RAM, 128 GB storage, and a 15.6″ 4K touchscreen.
It really is an awesome machine and being able to fold it over into a massive 4K tablet is a pretty nice feature.
I think it was a great buy and I honestly couldn’t be any happier with it.
But if my budget had been $1,000+ instead of $700, I would have seriously started looking at Windows laptops.
Because as great as this device is, it could do more on Mac or Windows OS.
In conclusion, if budget is your main concern and you can accomplish what you need through the Google Chrome Web Browser, a Chromebook may be better than a laptop for you.
But once you get beyond $1,000, it’s time to start looking at Windows or Mac laptops if you want a device that’s more versatile and comes with more features.