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The best Chromebooks for work

Chromebooks offer fantastic features, such as touchscreens, fast processors, and decent storage, allowing you all the tools you need to knock out your work. Plus, you'll have some fun doing so.

Half of office staff either work in a remote or hybrid capacity. And many of them may have turned to Chromebooks for work. They're cheap and require almost no maintenance. 

Working from home has now become a mainstay for many, with a large part of the workforce never returning to in-office work. If this is your case, you can upgrade the old Chromebook you already have at home to a true business-class Chromebook.

With that goal in mind, I searched for the best Chromebooks available for work. These are not one-size-fits-all machines. Each has its strong points for different users.

Also: Best VPN services

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Fast processor
  • Generous battery life
  • Touchscreen functionality
Cons
  • 720p webcam
  • Heavy body
More Details

Features:

  • Fast processor
  • Touchscreen functionality
  • Battery lasts nine and a half hours on a single charge

This Chromebook may not look that special, but there's a lot of power hiding underneath its aluminum hide. It's also remarkably tough. It's MIL-SPEC Standard 810G tested, which means it can handle drops and other physical shocks. If you need to take a computer to a building site, this is the one I'd take. 

Powered by an 8th generation 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-1235U CPU, the Spin 714 delivers the performance you need. The model I tested also came with 8GB of RAM, with 256GB NVMe PCIe SSD memory. 

The graphic chip powered a decent 14-inch HDTV 1920 x 1080 touchscreen. It's on the dim side, but this is a Chromebook for work, not watching Avengers: Endgame. With a 720p webcam, you won't be making any movies yourself, but it works just fine for video conferencing. 

The keyboard is solid and works well with my press-hard typing style. The Corning glass trackpad also worked well. 

But, with weight and the screen aside, this is a sturdy, fast, and powerful Chromebook. And, for a price of $729, it's well worth the money. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Large touchscreen and keyboard
  • Wicked fast processor
  • Battery life of over 10 hours
Cons
  • Larger body might make it difficult to wield
  • Limited ports (must use one for charging)
More Details

Features:

  • Generous screen size
  • Larger than usual keyboard makes input a breeze
  • Faster than average processor

Don't let the close numbers fool you, this is an entirely different kind of Chromebook. The 715's target audience is accountants, spreadsheet mavens, and anyone else who spends their day pounding in numbers on a ten-key. This Chromebook is one of the few that comes with a ten-key dedicated numeric keypad. Or, as my significant other CPA says, "This, this is what I need." 

The first thing you'll notice when you unbox this bad boy is it's a big Chromebook. There are bigger ones, but weighing in at 3.8 pounds and with dimensions of 14.4 x 9.8 x 0.7 inches, this notebook is a laptop bag filler. 

That's to make room for its larger-than-usual keyboard. This keyboard also comes with an embedded fingerprint reader. The keyboard, as you'd expect for its intended users, has good play and a clicky feeling I quite liked. The Corning glass touchpad was always comfortable to use. 

Under the keyboard, on the Acer Chromebook 715 I tested, you'll find an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8350U processor running at 1.7GHz. On the CrXPRT benchmark, it registered a zippy score of 90. 

This model includes 16GB of RAM, 64GB of flash storage, and an Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU. 

The 620 GPU backs up a 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 display. While the screen real estate is ample for spreadsheets, like its 714 brother, the display's rather dull. The 720p webcam comes with a wide-angle lens, but it didn't work that well for me. This is not a Chromebook for video; it's for number-crunching. 

By Chromebook standards, it has a decent number of ports. Once more, on the left, there's a USB 3.1 Type-C port, a USB 3.1 Type-A port, and a headphone jack. The right side has a microSD card reader and another USB 3.1 Type-C port. Again, though, one of those Type-C ports must be used to power the laptop.

The 715's 56 watt-hour (Wh) 4-cell Lithium-ion battery proved good for just over ten hours. More than enough time to get that spreadsheet into the boss.

This Chromebook is dedicated to those who make their living from mastering numbers whether you're an Excel expert or a master of Quickbooks. For those users, it's worth its list price of $749.99. It's hard to find, but you may be able to find it for less. For serious number crunchers, it's worth the search. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Generous screen size and robust graphics
  • Lightweight
  • Fast processor
Cons
  • Mediocre audio
More Details

Features:

  • Ample ports
  • ENERGY STAR certified
  • Fast processor

The Dell Latitude 5400 Chromebook provides the perfect blend of performance and value. The 14-inch HD display ensures you'll be able to work without squinting. And when you take a break, you'll be able to enjoy the crystal clear resolution while streaming your favorite shows and movies.

Under the hood, it features Intel Celeron4305U processor and an integrated Intel UHD graphics 610 with Displayport over Type-C. Sure, it's probably a mouthful to say, but this baby delivers stunning graphics to make work a little more fun.

It also has capable memory with 4GB and a hard drive containing 64GB. And if you need ample ports, this Chromebook delivers with eight different options, including a USB Type-C, HDMI, audio jack, and much more. 

Meanwhile, its light weight at 3.24lbs makes it the perfect traveling companion. Overall, the Dell Latitude 5400 is an excellent option to consider. 

Google Pixelbook Go

Best work Chromebook for light weight

google-pixelbook-go
Google
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Generous battery life
  • Durable glass screen
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Processor is mediocre
  • Lack of ports
More Details

Features:

  • Lightweight body makes for easy travel
  • Features Corning Concore Glass Screen 
  •  Exceptional battery life

Until Dell came along, Google pretty much held the monopoly on high-end Chromebooks such as the i7-powered Pixelbook. While Google is still selling Pixelbooks for those who want all the power they can get, Google's newest Chromebooks are the lower-powered and lower-priced Pixelbook Go series.  

While fast enough for most work, the Google Pixelbook Go I reviewed with its low-wattage 1.3GHz Core i5-8200Y processor came in with the lowest CrXPRT score of the four I tested with 83.

The body of my black Pixelbook Go has a magnesium-alloy lid with the underside base featuring a ribbed easy-to-grip design. This makes the Go difficult to drop. And, speaking as someone who busted a laptop or two due to falls, this is a good thing. At 2.3 pounds and 12.2 x 8.1 x 0.5 inches, it's also very light.

The model I tested came with 16GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a 13.3-inch touch display of 1920 x 1080 pixels. To power the display, it uses Intel UHD 615 graphics. 

The Corning Concore Glass screen is very nice. With the 615 powering it, It's bright and renders colors much better than its rivals. This is the one Chromebook I looked at that I'd enjoy watching a movie on. The Pixelbook Go's 1080p webcam is also superior. I'd have no qualms about Zooming with co-workers with this setup.  

The keyboard, on the other hand, doesn't have a lot of travel. I could work on it, but I'd prefer pounding on the keys on one of the other models. The touchpad, though, worked just fine for me. 

The ports, or rather the lack of them, is another matter. All you get is a single USB Type-C port and headphone jack on the left and another USB-C port on the right. That's it. To charge up your Pixelbook Go, you'll also need to use one of those USB-C ports.

Still, when it comes to battery life, the Go's a champ. With a four-cell, 47Wh battery it delivered eleven and a half hours of useful life.  It beat the others easily. That's not just a benchmark result. Back when I was still flying to Europe on business before the pandemic, I could work all the way from Atlanta to Barcelona without a charge. 

So, for me, the Go is the ideal road-warrior Chromebook. Fast enough to be useful and with a great screen, it just keeps going and going and going. The Pixelbook Go model I looked at isn't cheap at $999. But, since I used to do a lot of business travel -- and eventually will again -- I bought this Chromebook for my personal and professional use. 

What is the best Chromebook for work?

We chose the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 due to its fast processor and generous screen size. The table below compares the best work Chromebooks based on screen size, CPU, and battery life: 

Best Chromebooks for work

Screen size

CPU

Battery life

Acer Chromebook Spin 714

14 inches

8th Gen 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-1235U

9.5 hours

Acer Chromebook 715

14.4 inches

8th Gen Intel Core i5-8350U

10 hours

Dell Latitude 5400 Chromebook

14 inches

Intel Celeron4305U 

13 hours

Google Pixelbook Go

13.3 inches

1.3GHz Core i5-8200Y

12 hours

Which is the right work Chromebook for you?

It all depends on your budget and purposes. If you input numbers regularly, the Acer Chromebook 715 is a fantastic choice, as its larger screen size and keyboard make typing simple. Meanwhile, if you travel often for work, the Google Pixelbook Go's lightweight makes it the perfect travel buddy. 

Choose this best Chromebook for work...

If you want…

Acer Chromebook Spin 714

The best overall Chromebook for work

Acer Chromebook 715

The best device for spreadsheet wizards

Dell Latitude 5400 Chromebook

The best value laptop with excellent performance features 

Google Pixelbook Go

The best Chromebook for those on the go

How did we chose the best Chromebooks for work?

When selecting the best choices, several features came to mind. The first was performance. After all, if it offered plodding processing speeds, it will slow down your productivity. With this in mind, we chose options that delivered excellent performance.

The next consideration was value. Our aim was to provide options that were budget-friendly while giving you the performance and other tools needed. 

Finally, we examined other features, such as touchscreen capabilities, port offerings, and customer reviews. That way, we gained insight into those using the Chromebooks and offered solutions others would recommend too. 

What are the advantages of using Chromebooks?

Chromebook laptops are very flexible. They are not just a web browser in a box. Sure, you need the internet to get the most from a Chromebook. But, tell me, when was the last time you did any serious work with a Mac or Windows PC without an internet connection? Back in the 2000s. Sure, if you're doing video editing, you need a powerful PC. But, for most of us, our work lives and dies with the internet.

Modern high-end Chromebooks, as tech expert Mike Elgan points out, "run more apps without dual- or multi-booting than any other computing platform. Chromebooks can run apps from Android, Linux, and Windows concurrently in the same session."

Most of you may never need those alternatives. Google's G Suite may be all the office you need. If you're wedded to Microsoft Office, Microsoft now supports Office and Microsoft 365 on Chromebook. Need Quickbooks? Run Quickbooks Online. It's 2020; the vast majority of office applications are now available on the cloud as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

I also like that Chromebooks update frequently and transparently. Unlike Windows 10 PCs, where lately it seems like every upgrade is an adventure, Chromebooks just take their patches and, when you want them to, reboot in a few seconds and just keep on working.  

Another advantage is that if something goes wrong with your Windows PC, restoring your data to a new PC can be a real pain. It's especially annoying when you're stuck at home and your backup is somewhere at the office. With a Chromebook, if you pour a cup of coffee on its keyboard and it goes to that great bityard in the sky, who cares? You just buy a new Chromebook, enter your ID and password and you're back in business again. No fuss, no muss. 

If you need IT help Google offers Chrome Enterprise. With it, for $50 a device per year, your IT crew gets access to Managed Google Play via an approved Enterprise Mobility Manager EMM for Cisco Meraki; Citrix XenMobile; IBM MaaS360; ManageEngine Mobile Device Manager Plus; or VMware Workspace ONE. It also includes Active Directory (AD) integration.

You can also use Chromebooks with Citrix Workplace. If you're a VMware shopper, VMware's equivalent offerings are Horizon Client for Chrome OS and Horizon 7.

How to choose the right Chromebook?

Yes, you can use any old Chromebook to get work done. But, for business purposes, you want more than an adequate machine. You want one that will fit your needs. Here's your decision tree:

  • Construction and factory workers: If you want a strong machine for a reasonable price that you can take to the factory floor or a construction site, I recommend Acer's Chromebook Spin 714.
  • Data geeks and math pros: Make your living from number crunching? Then track down an Acer Chromebook 715. You won't be sorry.
  • Power users: If you're a power-user, then the Dell Latitude 5400 Chromebook Enterprise may be worth your money. You might also want to consider the older, but still fast, Google Pixelbook.
  • On-the-go workers: Finally, for those of us who hope to spend a lot of time working from the road rather than from the home, I highly recommend Google's Pixelbook Go. 

Chromebooks are not just for schools. They're for serious work as well. 

How do you test Chromebooks for work?

Besides using Chromebooks for my own work, I benchmark them using Principled Technologies' Chromebook-specific, second-generation CrXRPT benchmark. Principled Technologies, a descendant of Ziff-Davis Benchmark Operations, is one of the best private benchmarking and testing companies on the planet. 

This test tells you how fast a Chromebook handles things you do every day. This includes doing work and more fun activities such as playing video games, watching movies, and editing pictures. 

This benchmark consists of six scenario 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 (that are 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.

The performance test gives you an overall score. With this benchmark, the higher the score, the better. 

CrXPRT includes a battery test. In this test, all six workloads from the performance benchmarks are run, plus realistic periods of wait time and three additional scenarios:

  • Video Player: Plays a two-minute 1,080p 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 on the above enterprise Chromebook laptop using the latest version of ChromeOS (ChromeOS 83). Wi-Fi was on, but Bluetooth was disabled during the benchmarking. 

Are there alternative work Chromebooks to consider?

We chose a variety of options based on functionality, performance, and pricing. However, if these don't work for you, here is a worthy alternative: 


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