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These top Chromebooks choices for students do it all

The best Chromebooks are great for note-taking, Zoom-attending, essay-writing, and more. We've rounded up our top picks for students.

Why you can trust ZDNET

ZDNET's reviewers spend weeks to months testing each laptop on this list, using it for both everyday tasks like browsing, streaming, and gaming, to more performance-intensive work like photo and video editing. We aim to give you a view into how each laptop could actually fit into your life and workflow, and the pros and cons of their various features like performance, display, and battery life.

What to Consider

+

Design

+

Performance

+

Storage and RAM

+

Purpose

+

Value

HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook | Best Chromebook for students overall
The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook on a colored background.
HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook
Best Chromebook for students overall
View now View at HP
Lenovo Flex 3i | Best compact Chromebook for students
The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3i in tent mode
Lenovo Flex 3i
Best compact Chromebook for students
View now View at Best Buy
Framework Chromebook | Best sustainable Chromebook for students
Framework Chromebook Disassembled
Framework Chromebook
Best sustainable Chromebook for students
View now View at Frame
Acer Chromebook 516 GE | Best Chromebook for entertainment
Chromebook with a game controller and a wireless mouse next to it
Acer Chromebook 516 GE
Best Chromebook for entertainment
View now View at Best Buy
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 | Best Chromebook for students for battery life
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 tablet with an attached keyboard
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5
Best Chromebook for students for battery life
View now View at Best Buy

If that five-year-old laptop that runs at a turtle's speed is killing your back-to-school mood, it might be time for an upgrade. Students have tons of options when it comes to how to study and get their work done with affordable laptop options that include Windows and ChromeOS and cost significantly less than Apple's Mac offerings.

Also: The best Chromebooks for work

The streamlined Chrome OS makes it easy to navigate to popular apps like Google Docs, Google Drive, and email so students can stay on task and in touch with teachers and classmates. Chromebooks also have tons of security features, too, like mic mute, camera shutters, and data encryption to keep students safe from digital spying and to prevent theft or misuse of their personal information or classwork. 

ZDNET went hands on with many of our top choices, including our pick for best Chromebook overall -- the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook -- to help you decide which laptop ranks supreme. Find out how each model from brands like Lenovo, HP, and more stack up to decide which Chromebook is best for your classroom needs. 

The best Chromebooks for students in 2024

HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook

Best Chromebook for students overall

HP Draongfly Pro Chromebook specs: Display size: 14 inches | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Resolution: 2560 x 1600 | Touchscreen: Yes | RAM: 16GB| GPU: Intel Iris X Graphics | CPU: Intel Core i5-1235U | Storage: 256GB SSD | Battery life: Up to 11 hours and 30 minutes

Chromebooks have come a long way since the early years of prioritizing value above all else. That's not to say that the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook doesn't pack a lot of value; it's just built differently than any other Google-powered laptop we've tested to date...in a good way. 

Instead of focusing on compromises, HP partnered with Google to create the best, premium-tier Chromebook available on the market, and that shows through the industrial design of the Dragonfly Pro, the fantastic dual-firing speakers, RGB keyboard, and display that's best described as pure eye candy. 

In fact, if you often find yourself working outdoors -- maybe on the campus quad or at a local coffee shop -- the Dragonfly Pro has the brightest touchscreen display out of all Chromebooks. It's also the first to feature an 8MP front-facing camera that's been tuned by the team behind Google's own Pixel cameras.

Review: HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook

As quoted from ZDNET's full review, "With 16GB of RAM and a 12th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, there's little to worry about when it comes to performance and day-to-day operations. Not to mention, consistent updates over the past years have given ChromeOS a more leveled playing field between it and competing operating systems. Thanks to that maturity, HP had every opportunity to capitalize on the Dragonfly Pro's hardware -- and it most certainly did."

The HP Dragonfly Chromebook costs $999, which doesn't make it a bargain of a laptop by Chromebook means, but it still undercuts alternatives like Apple's MacBooks and does so with some superior (and flashy) features.

The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook on a colored background.
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Lenovo Flex 3i

Best compact Chromebook for students

Lenovo Flex 3i specs: Display size: 12.2 inches | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Resolution: 1920 x 1200 | Touchscreen: Yes | RAM: 4GB | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics  | CPU: Intel Processor N100 | Storage: 64GB eMMC  | Battery life: 12 hours

If you're often moving from building to building, floor to floor, then an ultraportable, lightweight Chromebook may serve you best. To be clear, most of the Chromebooks on this buying list make the cut as far as portability is concerned, but the Lenovo Flex 3i arguably gives you the most functionality for its size.

The laptop weighs about 2.75 pounds, has a sizable 12.2-inch display that supports touchscreen input, and can be folded all around to transform itself into a tented display or tablet. Lenovo equipped the new Flex 3i with an Intel Processor N100, too, which, when paired with the 4GB of RAM, should be more than capable of powering most student tasks.

Review: Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook

ZDNET tested the Chromebook and found it both performant and efficient enough to stream hours of content, write and edit documents, and have multiple tabs open at once. The cherry on top is the lack of hissing noises typically found in fan-powered laptops. That makes this a distraction-free Chromebook, especially if you're churning out last-second papers in the library.

The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3i in tent mode
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Framework Chromebook

Best sustainable Chromebook for students

Framework Chromebook specs: Display size: 13.5 inches | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Resolution: 2256 x 1504 | Touchscreen: No | RAM: 8GB | GPU: Iris Xe Graphics | CPU: Intel 12th Gen Core i5-1240P | Storage: Up to 1TB  | Battery life: 7 hours

Picture this: You use your laptop for a couple of years and notice that the battery has degraded significantly, the chassis is worn out, and the ports you once thought you'd need now exist to collect dust. That doesn't sound like a good investment, does it?

Framework, the company behind the fully modular and sustainable laptop, launched its first Chromebook variant late last year. Since then, it remains the most planet-friendly Chromebook money can buy right now, and if you're up for a device that's completely customizable to your needs, this is the one.

Review: Framework Chromebook

From the choice of ports to the color of the display bezel to how much memory you want on board, virtually every aspect of the Framework Chromebook can be tweaked, modified, and updated. That way, the laptop doesn't fall behind on specs and functionality as time passes. 

Naturally, operating on ChromeOS also gives the device software support for years down the road. If you bought one today, you can expect frequent software and security patches until 2030.

Framework Chromebook Disassembled
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Acer Chromebook 516 GE

Best Chromebook for entertainment

Acer Chromebook 516 GE specs: Display size: 16 inches | Refresh rate: 120Hz | Resolution: 2560 x 1600 | Touchscreen: No | RAM: 8 GB | GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics | CPU: Intel 12th Generation Core i5 | Storage: 256GB SSD  | Battery life: 9 hours

Acer's gaming Chromebook is equipped with all the tools for studying and cloud gaming. The 516 GE, in the words of ZDNET's Michael Gariffo, "puts most high-end laptops to shame" with a port selection that includes a USB-C, Ethernet, 3.5mm combo port, a USB-A, HDMI, and USB-C port, as well as a Kensington lock hole.

Review: Acer Chromebook 516 GE

The Chromebook has a wide display that's perfect for productivity, plus, it's a great gaming device that is relatively affordable for the hardware that's packed inside. The 516 GE is perfect for the students who need a little bit of entertainment in between exam-cramming. 

Chromebook with a game controller and a wireless mouse next to it
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Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5

Best Chromebook for students for battery life

Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 specs: Display size: 13.3 inches  | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Touchscreen: Yes  | RAM: 8GB | GPU: Qualcomm Adreno 618 | CPU: ‎Snapdragon SC7180 | Storage: 128GB eMMC SSD |  Battery life: 12 hours

Lenovo's Chromebook Duet 5 is a perfect option for someone who lives and works inside Google's ecosystem of services and products. It's a full-fledged ChromeOS device, but instead of having a permanently attached keyboard, it's a tablet that docks into the keyboard that comes in the box. Finally, there's a tablet that comes with a keyboard. 

When it's docked, you'll get a standard Chromebook layout and interface. You can access all of your Chrome apps, visit websites, and the like. You can also install Android apps directly from the Google Play Store. These are the same apps you can install on your phone, some of which are optimized for tablets. 

Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5: Great Chromebook, great tablet

When you disconnect the keyboard from the Duet 5, the interface will slightly adjust and adapt to a touch-first approach, ideal for a tablet. If you live and work in Google's ecosystem, then the Chromebook Duet 5 makes a lot of sense. 

Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 tablet with an attached keyboard
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What is the best Chromebook for students?

The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is the best Chromebook for students, because of its adequate processor, sleek design, and great battery life.

Chromebook

Price

Storage

Display

Camera

Battery life

HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook

$999

256GB

14-inch touchscreen

8MP

11.5 hours

Lenovo Flex 3i

$279

64GB

12.2-inch touchscreen

720p

12 hours

Framework Chromebook

Starting at $999

Up to 1TB

13.5-inch

720p

7 hours

Acer Chromebook 516 GE

$649

256GB

16-inch touchscreen

1080p

9 hours

Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5

Starting at $369

128GB

13.3-inch  touchscreen

5MP

12 hours

Which Chromebook is right for you?

One of the good things about Chromebooks is that almost any Chromebook will work for you. Yes, there are real differences between them when it comes to speed and memory, which is another aspect of speed, screen size, brightness, and resolution for practical purposes. But, for sheer functionality, they all do pretty much the same job. 

Generally speaking, the older the student, the more power they can use. On the other side of the age gap, so long as a Chromebook can take a beating and keep on running, it's fine for a younger kid. 

Personally, just like with any computer, I'll take all the power and screen real estate I can get. But, for the students in your home, you don't need to spend a lot of money for them to go to school virtually. 

Choose this Chromebook...

If you want or are...

HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook

The best overall option that money can buy. Scoring a 4/5 on ZDNET's official review, the HP Dragonfly Pro capitalizes on the ChromeOS platform by pairing the clean software with premium hardware, including the best webcam and brightest touchscreen display on the market.

Lenovo Flex 3i

A Chromebook that delivers the most features for the money. It also supports touch inputs, and the 2-in-1 form factor lets you streamline your workflow by eliminating the need for a separate tablet. 

Framework Chromebook

A Chromebook that can adapt to your ever-changing needs, from port options to exterior design to storage size. The modular form factor lets you easily modify the laptop for a more sustainable investment.

Acer Chromebook 516 GE

A Chromebook that's ideal for classwork and cloud gaming. It's packed with hardware and a wide display that works well with the usual responsibilities of school while also catering to entertainment and after-school gaming needs. 

Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5

Extended battery life for your Chromebook. Its 12-hour battery life is more than enough time for classes and a study session.

How did I choose these Chromebooks?

Along with selecting based on hands-on, expert testing, ZDNET selected these Chromebooks for students based on CrXRPT 2.0 benchmarks. This test tells you how fast a Chromebook handles things you do every day, including playing video games, watching movies, and editing photos and provides an overall score. The higher the score, the better. 

This benchmark consists of six scenario tests: photo effects, face detection, offline notes, stock portfolio dashboard, DNA sequence analysis, 3D shapes with WebGL and three additional video, music, and game player tests. 

  • Photo Effects: Applies three effects (Sharpen, Emboss, and Glow) to two photos each, a set of six photos total.
  • Face Detection: Checks for human faces in a set of five photos (low resolution).
  • Offline Notes: Measures the time to encrypt, store, and display notes from local storage.
  • Stock Portfolio Dashboard: Calculates and displays different graphical views of a stock portfolio.
  • DNA Sequence Analysis: Measures the time it takes to process eight DNA sequences for open reading frames and amino acids.
  • 3D Shapes with WebGL: Generates equation-based 3D shapes and displays them with WebGL.
  • Video Player: Plays a two-minute 1080p H.264 video clip in a browser from the local system.
  • Music Player: Plays an audio clip for three minutes.
  • HTML5-based game: Runs an impact.js-based game for about two minutes.

All tests were run using ChromeOS 89. Wi-Fi was on, but Bluetooth was disabled during the benchmarking. The screens were set to 80% brightness.

Why use a Chromebook?

Chromebooks are good for almost any job. But they're great for students. If a student can use a web browser, they can use a Chromebook. 

For teachers and school administrators, Google also provides G Suite for Education and Google Classroom to help them make remote learning as easy as possible.

How secure are Chromebooks?

You can argue that thanks to ChromeOS's built-in security, even out-of-support Chromebooks are safer than a newer macOS or Windows laptop. Don't believe me? In Chromebook's 10-year history, only 45 ChromeOS security exploits have been documented.

The main point is that if you're short on cash, a cheap used or older model Chromebook will work just fine. And, since it's trivial to erase a Chromebook and then reset it to your account, it's much safer than buying a used Windows laptop.

Are Chromebooks good for students?

A Chromebook can be a great laptop choice for students of all ages. They're more basic than their Windows-based counterparts, which means even very young children will be able to use them. They also have less powerful processors and graphics capabilities, reducing the temptation to play games all night rather than finish up homework. 

A Chromebook's battery life is its biggest selling point, with many models sporting at least 10 hours of use on a full charge. This means your kids won't have to keep track of charging cables in order to use their Chromebook throughout the school day.

Are there alternative Chromebooks for students worth considering?

There are lots of options out there if you're looking for a Chromebook geared towards students of all ages. Here's a short list of alternate Chromebooks I thought were great choices for students:

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