So you heard of Chromebooks and how they’re great for students. But what are the best Chromebooks for students? With hundreds of Chromebooks on the market, choosing which one to buy is a challenge.
If you’re struggling to find a Chromebook that is not only budget-friendly but also offers decent performance, continue reading this article.
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How to Choose a Chromebook:
Before I get into my list of personally-selected Chromebooks for students, I’ll share the criteria I used to choose those models.
P.S. If you’re not sure if Chromebooks are worth it, read this.
For starters, I think we all can agree that students, usually, don’t have a lot of money to throw around. The broke-college student is a meme for a reason.
So budget-friendly Chromebooks are preferred, I’m not going to recommend Chromebooks that cost thousands of dollars.
Google Play Support:
Secondly, I think having a Chromebook that supports Google Play apps is important, too. With that function, you’re not limited to Google Docs and other online-based web extensions and websites. While those can work fine, offline versions are preferred.
The Internet can be unstable at times, and it would suck if you couldn’t save your notes! I compared each of my recommendations to this list of Chrome OS Systems Supporting Android apps.
Note: Most modern Chromebooks, at least models released in the last year or two, support Google Play and Android apps.
Specs & RAM:
Finally, specs and hardware. Since the Chrome OS is very lite and not resource-intensive, you don’t usually need very powerful hardware under the hood. Still, Chrome tabs can take up a lot of RAM, and you want your device to be responsive.
How much RAM does a Chromebook need? In my opinion, 16GB for a Chromebook is a bit overkill, I would settle for 8GB (ideal) or 4GB for the bare minimum.
You can install Chrome Extensions like The Great Suspender that will disable unused Chrome tabs which will save you a lot of RAM.
Best Chromebooks for Students:
Now that we’re on the same page, let’s dive into my carefully selected list of best Chromebooks for students, starting with our super-budget options.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5 – Sleek all-white design, under $400
If you’re on a really tight budget, then the C330 Chromebook is worth a look. For the price, it’s actually rather impressive. The most notable feature is that it’s a 2-in-1 one, which means it converts into tablet mode, and it has a touchscreen. Very cool.
The C330 has a wide variety of ports too; USB-C, SD Card, HDMI (regular, not Mini or Micro!), and USB 3.0.
- 4GB of RAM
- 2.1 GHz CPU
- Resolution: 1366×768
- Storage: 64 GB SSD
- Weight: 2.65 lbs
And yes, it does support Google Play apps. As of today, it’s marked as “Stable Channel” for Google Play. Overall, a really nice, small, lightweight, budget-friendly Chromebook that’s perfect for students.
What did I like? I liked the 2-in-1 touchscreen and the fact that it has a regular HDMI port. It makes it very easy to use this Chromebook as a media station, either watching Netflix on your lap or connect it to a TV via HDMI.
The downsides? You can’t really nit-pick on such a budget-model, but I would prefer if the supported resolution was a little higher, at least 1080p.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5 – Nice 2-in-1 Chromebook, but it could use an HDMI port. Under $400.
Yeah, another 2-in-1 one Chromebook, I’m sorry! They’re just so cool.
The Acer Spin 11 has a 360 degree-hinge with a touchscreen, allowing you to use it a number of positions; notebook, tent, tablet, and others. Once again, the 2-in-1 is the most notable feature of this Chromebook.
After that, it has a decent number of ports:
- 1xUSB 3.1
- 2xUSB 3.0
As you might have noticed, this Chromebook doesn’t have an HDMI port, which is a downside. It does have a lot of USB ports, though. To connect his Chromebook to an external display you’ll need something like what I recommend for Samsung Dex, a USB-C to HDMI adapter or hub.
Other than that, the Spin 11 has some nice specs:
- 4GB of RAM
- 2.4 GHz CPU (Intel N3350 Dual-core)
- Resolution: 1366×768
- Storage: 32 GB SSD
- Weight: 2.7 lbs
Compatible with Google Play? Yeah, in the Stable Channel.
What did I like? The 2-in-1 360 hinges and touchscreen, again. It’s very handy!
What I didn’t like? The fact that it doesn’t have an HDMI port. You’re forced to buy an external adapter, a bit of a nuisance.
Other than that, if you’re using it for studying and you don’t need to connect it a display, then it’s a great, lightweight, and budget Chromebook.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5 – Super-budget option, under $300.
The Acer Chromebook 15 is a great choice for students on a tight budget. For under $400, it’s a pretty decent machine with a touchscreen display.
Note: The Acer Chromebook 14 was a best-seller too, but now it’s not available, at least, on Amazon. You might be able to find it in other online stores.
The Acer Chromebook 15 is not a 2-in-1, so don’t try bending that screen!
- 2x USB Type C Ports
- 2x USB 3.0 Ports
- 1 HDMI
- Intel Celeron N3350 clocked at 2.4 GHz.
- 4 GB DDR4 RAM
- Resolution: 1920×1080
- Storage: 32 GB
Is the Acer Chromebook 15 compatible with Google Play apps? As of today, it’s marked in the Stable Channel for Google Play support.
What I liked most about this Chromebook is the display is large (15.6″) and it’s a touchscreen, making it very easy to take notes and whatnot. If you want a Chromebook with a touchscreen but not a 2-in-1 then this one is worth checking out.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5 – Cheap with one USB-C port, another budget choice, under $400.
Lenovo makes a lot of nice Chromebooks too, the S330 is worth checking out. I noticed this Chromebook is quite similar to the previous model, it doesn’t have many additional ports, and the price is about the same.
It’s another entry-level Chromebook that I only recommend to people on a really tight budget or someone who just needs a cheap laptop for quick trips.
- 1xUSB 3.0
- Micro SD
At least you get a USB-C port, which is nice. I wish there were more regular USB ports though.
- MediaTek MT8173C Processor 2.1 GHz
- 14-inch Screen
- 1920×1080 Resolution
- 4 GB of RAM
- 64 GB Storage
Overall, a decent model for the price. The good news is that it’s cheap and compatible with Google Play (stable channel) so you can download other apps. Good for browsing the internet and watching Netflix.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5 – Great all-around Chromebook, most powerful but in the higher budget range ($600 – 700)
If you have some extra money to throw around, the HP Chromebook X360 is perfect for college students. It’s one of the most powerful Chromebooks on our list. Let’s run through the specs and features.
- 2xUSB-C (Charging possible!)
- 1x USB 3.0
- SD Card
The fact that the HP Chromebook x360 has two USB-c ports (both with the charging function) makes it extremely versatile. You can use your Samsung chargers or USB HDMI hubs with this Chromebook!
On the other hand, it does lack an HDMI port, which is a bummer.
- Intel i3-8130U 2.2 GHz
- 8GB RAM
- 64 GB eMMc Memory
- Backlit keyboard
Overall, a nice modern and sleek Chromebook, with a decent touchscreen, and a responsive keyboard. The specs are pretty good too – you’re pretty much guaranteed a snappy and almost instant performance. Perfect for working with documents, and the touchscreen is nice for taking notes. If you have the cash, consider checking the x360 out.
Notable mention: HP Chromebook 15
If I had to choose a new Chromebook (and I probably will soon) I would go with the HP Chromebook 15.
Why? Because it has a lot of features that students will benefit from, within a reasonable price range (under $400).
Here are some of the HP Chromebook’s best features:
- It has a Numpad (students need to calculate things!)
- Good resolution, 1080P
- Decent processor (Intel Pentium 4417U 2.3 GHz)
- 4 GB of RAM
- 64 GB of eMMC Storage
- Awesome Battery Life (13 hours+)
- 2x USB C Ports
- 1x USB 3.0
- SD Card Reader
Should I Buy a Chromebook for Studying?
It is a good idea to buy a Chromebook for studying because they’re very portable, budget-friendly, have decent battery life, great for taking notes, and you won’t be distracted with games.
The downside? You might find yourself in a class that requires certain programs that are only compatible with Windows. Most of the popular programs, such as Microsoft Office, have online versions (Microsoft Office 365) and you can use those on a Chromebook with no problem.
If you’re looking for a Windows machine, might I suggest some budget 2-in-1 Windows laptops?
To wrap things up, if you’re on a tight budget and want a portable laptop for your classes, Chromebooks are definitely worth it. I hope you enjoyed our list of best Chromebooks for students, and if you have any other suggestions, feel free to share them in the comment section.
Make sure your classes don’t require any random Windows programs though! If you need one for note-taking and office work, Google Docs and Microsoft 360 should be more than enough. In fact, Google Docs is pretty much all you need for documents.