Which Lenovo Chromebook is best?
Lenovo makes some of the most iconic laptops on the market, with their ThinkPad line remaining one of the highest-performing on the planet. At the clear other end of the spectrum, they also design and manufacture a good number of budget-minded Chromebooks, using the ultra-lightweight Chrome OS.
The best Lenovo Chromebook for most people is the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5, which measures 13 inches and is packed with some of the most powerful hardware in its class.
What to know before you buy a Lenovo Chromebook
Well-made with reasonable costs
With premium Windows laptops like the ThinkPad X1 Yoga 2-in-1 in their stable, it’s no surprise that even Lenovo’s low-cost machines perform well and are definitely worth it for the price. In fact, their Chromebooks mimic their mid-range laptops effectively and many users have nothing but praise when it comes to consistency, build quality and operating system performance.
The Chrome OS operating system is designed to be nearly as streamlined and user-friendly as the Android smartphone and tablet operating system, and in many ways, it does its job admirably. Keep in mind, of course, that Chrome OS is a far cry from Windows and macOS, both of which are full-fledged PC operating systems.
While Chromebooks aren’t suitable for high-level tasks like photo and video editing or gaming, they have plenty of great uses. Students and travelers often love them because they’re relatively small and lightweight, more durable than many full-featured laptops and, above all, they don’t cost very much. This makes them especially worthwhile in classrooms or abroad, where you may be a bit more likely to encounter theft or damage than you are in an office setting.
What to look for in a quality Lenovo Chromebook
Display size and resolution
Chromebooks don’t usually have the most premium display panels found in the world of laptops. In fact, there are only a few rare models with a 1440p resolution or bold OLED screen, and these are awfully pricey. That’s not the point of these efficient machines, though. While premium laptops often boast higher resolutions, 1080p looks just fine on 13- and 15-inch screens. Some lower-cost Chromebooks may offer a resolution of 1366 x 768, and as long as the screen is around 11 inches, these should look OK. Beware of Chromebooks measuring 14 inches or more with a 720p or 768p resolution, though, as you’ll start to notice some slightly blocky text.
You really don’t need much firepower to run Chrome OS, but you will notice a difference between the low- and high-end processors. While there are some CPUs from mobile component manufacturers like MediaTek, there are also quite a few with Intel Core APUs, which not only have great multi-core CPU abilities but also reasonably powerfully integrated GPUs. If you don’t demand that every action taken on your Chromebook resolves in a split second, though, you can certainly get something functional while saving a bit of money.
Realistically, you should be able to use your Chromebook effectively for years, at least according to the hardware included in the most recent models. One thing to keep in mind is that, unlike Windows and macOS computers, Chromebooks are usually only supported for a set length of time. Manufacturers differ on how long they offer security and functionality updates, but most offer several years. It’s important to remember that once your Chromebook stops receiving updates, it’s no longer safe to use for anything that uses a password — even your Google account. There are too many security holes constantly popping up to risk having your bank details or other sensitive information stolen.
To determine how long you’ll have until your new Chromebooks End of Life, find the exact model number of the one you’re considering and look at the manufacturer’s website, where you should find EOL information for each version.
How much you can expect to spend on a Lenovo Chromebook
The most affordable Lenovo Chromebooks start off right around $200. The most expensive options come in as high as $700, but most users won’t see a noticeable benefit from spending so much on a Chromebook.
Lenovo Chromebook FAQ
Can I install Windows on a Lenovo Chromebook?
A. Technically, it is possible to install Windows 10 on some Chromebooks, but there’s a decent number of hurdles to overcome in the process. For starters, you’d have to select a Chromebook with an Intel Core CPU and, at the very minimum, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage, although 8GB and 128GB would deliver a significantly better experience. The task also usually calls for the removal of a special screw on the mainboard that write-protects the Chromebook’s drive and BIOS. Finally, a decent amount of tech experience is highly recommended, as messing with a BIOS, firmware and non-manufacturer-approved installations can be a messy business for the inexperienced.
If there are some Windows programs that you just can’t live without, there are some alternatives that work with Chrome OS. For one thing, Microsoft has made some of its most popular apps available on the Google Play Store. You can also use the Remote Desktop to connect to another of your Windows PCs and stream it to your desktop. There are even programs such as CrossOver that let you run some Windows programs on Chrome OS, essentially using a virtual machine, as long as you have an Intel-powered Chromebook.
Does a Chromebook need the absolute latest and greatest hardware?
A. Generally speaking, no. While full-on Windows laptops tend to get refreshed every year or so, Chromebooks don’t usually see the same regular updates, which is OK. Chrome OS doesn’t use many resources on its own, so even Chromebooks that are a few years old will still work fine. It’s still important to consider which Lenovo Chromebooks are built with the most recent components, but you won’t run into any performance issues just because the CPU happens to be more than a year old.
What’s the best Lenovo Chromebook to buy?
Top Lenovo Chromebook
What you need to know: On paper, it’s hardly distinguishable from a regular laptop and provides nearly the performance.
What you’ll love: The Intel Core CPU inside this one, along with 4GB of RAM, ensures peak performance and even decent compatibility with Windows programs if you decide to use any of the available workarounds. It measures 13 inches, has a durable 360-degree hinge so you can use it as a tablet and sports an all-around high build quality that should satisfy just about anyone.
What you should consider: It’s slightly more expensive than the average Chromebook, but otherwise, there are few complaints about this well-made device.
Top Lenovo Chromebook for the money
What you need to know: This basic and affordable Chromebook can take advantage of the entire Chrome OS operating system without any major issues.
What you’ll love: Behind this high-efficiency machine is an 8-core mobile CPU from MediaTek that’s engineered to use its efficiency cores for most tasks and kick its four high-powered cores into gear to quickly boot up, load programs and perform the occasional resource-intensive task. It doesn’t really have any fancy features but does have all the standards, such as WiFi 5, Bluetooth 4.2 and a 720p webcam.
What you should consider: It may get a little bogged down from time to time, especially if you tend to multitask or keep a lot of tabs open.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This is a budget-friendly tablet that’s equipped with just enough firepower to run Chrome OS smoothly.
What you’ll love: The biggest selling point of the Duet is its 10.5-inch form factor, which is perfect for anyone who needs to email family or coworkers, check their social media or even write web content while working remotely. It’s the smallest reliable Chromebook on the market, and its touchscreen offers decent palm rejection and works great with any digital pens that adhere to the Universal Stylus Initiative stylus guidelines.
What you should consider: There’s not much screen or keyboard real estate, and it’s not suitable for high-intensity tasks.
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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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