July 26, 2021
What You Should Know Before Buying a Chromebook
Looking for a new Chromebook for school? This Chromebook buying guide can help you make the right choice. Learn more about Chromebooks for Education here.
Basic Classroom Use Chromebooks
For everyday use, such as web browsing, email, Google Workspace apps, assignments or testing, “Basic Classroom Use” Chromebooks with 4GB of RAM and a less powerful CPU should suffice. Budget Chromebooks typically won’t have full HD screen resolution (1366x768/720p).
In fact, most models have screen with widths of 14” and under, and eMMC-based onboard storage at 32GB or less (This may not be a deal breaker if you plan on storing your files in the cloud). eMMC storage is like the SSD storage of most modern laptops, except slower read/write speeds and decreased capacity.
Typical CPUs for this tier:
- AMD: A4, A6
- Helio: P60T
- Intel: N-Series Celeron, Pentium
These Chrome OS devices can be used effectively with Google Meet, Zoom and other videoconferencing apps by following a few recommended guidelines to conserve CPU utilization:
- Video conferencing with fewer than 15 individuals
- Streaming a lesson instead of having students join live, or recording a lesson and sending it out later
- Turning off virtual backgrounds to conserve CPU utilization
- Updating Chrome OS firmware
- Closing excess browser tabs
- Turning off Chrome Extensions
These Chromebooks are an excellent choice if you don’t need much horsepower out of your device. They can handle essential tasks for teachers and students alike and at an exceptional price point.
Chromebooks for Learning Anywhere
If you plan on having several browser tabs open at once (more than 2-3 browser tabs simultaneously), while running Google Workspace or other apps and videoconferencing with 15 or more individuals, you will need a stronger CPU. In Google’s Chromebook selection guide (PDF), they recommend 4GB of RAM at a minimum for these applications, as well as the following Chromebook CPU makes and models for adequate distance-learning performance:
- AMD: 3015Ce/Athlon Silver 3050C/Athlon Gold 3150C
- Intel: Celeron N4020/4100/4120/4500/5000/5100/6000
- MediaTek: 8183, 8192
- Qualcomm: Snapdragon 7c
In addition to smoother videoconferencing, web browsing and app experiences, added benefits of Chromebooks within this grouping are: 1080p resolution for most devices, screens of 14” or larger, and 2-in-1 options with 360-degree hinges weighing in at under 3 pounds for some models.
Chromebooks in this category also often have 64GB of eMMC storage and some models even have 128GB SSD storage so you can store more files locally, rather than on the cloud or within an external hard drive.
Advanced Use Chromebooks
If you’re a teacher, professor, or high school/college student, you’ll typically run heavier workloads and need a Chromebook to accommodate your needs. This includes editing and creating content, running apps in virtualized environments, and large video conferences with video and voice chat. For these use cases, Google recommends 8GB of RAM minimum and Chrome OS devices containing the following selection of the latest CPU models:
- AMD: Ryzen 3,5,7
- Intel: 8th-10th Generation i3,i5,i7
Several of these models have 256 GB solid state drives and CPUs clocking in at 2.1GHz or more, military-grade durability, aluminum/magnesium chassis, and battery life in excess of 10 hours. Also, some models like the ASUS Chromebook Flip have fingerprint security for an additional layer of personal protection.
If you’re looking for a device to do research, word processing, stream shows and music, and browse the web, a Chromebook may be just the device for you.