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Best Chromebooks for students 2020: top picks for back to school season

Best Chromebooks for students
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google-designed Chromebooks have taken the US education sector by storm and for good reason – they’re low cost, easy to maintain, lightweight, secure and can run all day on a single charge, all the while delivering the education tools students need to help boost their class scores.

It now seems Google has its sights set on expanding its education empire around the world, that means you’ll be hearing much more about Chromebooks and Chrome OS in schools and colleges, especially with remote learning more important than ever with Covid-19 around, and the back to school season starting.

So, to get ahead of the game we’ve run down the best Chromebooks for students on the market in 2020.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook

(Image credit: Lenovo)

1. Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook

A tablet and a Chromebook!

CPU: MediaTek Helio P60T Processor | Graphics: ARM G72 MP3 800GHz | RAM: 4 GB LPDDR4X | Screen: 10.1" FHD (1920 x 1200) IPS, glossy, touchscreen, 400 nits | Storage: 64 GB eMMC

Lightweight and portable
Long battery life
Very affordable
Design can be a faff

Remember when tablets were going to take over the world? With the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook that might still happen! 

Using a hybrid tablet/snap-on keyboard design this is ideal for the classroom and students - combining easy tablet browsing for researching, easy Netflix fun when you kickback at home, but still offers a keyboard when you need one. 

With a powerful ARM processor that goes for 21 hours (yes you read that right) it’s an awesome computer package. The keyboard and trackpad let it down somewhat, but then you get that delicious Full HD+ display. Best of all it all comes in at a price that’s as low as you could hope for.

Read the full review: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook

Acer Chromebook 314

(Image credit: Acer)

2. Acer Chromebook 314

It’ll run all through the school day

CPU: Intel Celeron N4000 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 600 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 14-inch LED (1366 x 768) high definition | Storage: 32GB eMMC

Excellent battery life and performance
Bright, crisp screen
No touchscreen
Average power

Picture your perfect school Chromebook, and if it’s not the Acer Chromebook 314 then it’s pretty damn close, especially at this price. It’s not surprising if there’s one thing Acer knows, it’s how to build a solid student Chromebook. 

The only weak point – considering the price – is the processor, but for general school work and research the 1.1GHz Celeron is fine. It’ll struggle with lots of Chrome tabs but things are helped by the 4GB of memory.

We’re amazed there’s a Full HD 1080p display at this price, but the 314 range doesn’t offer touch, which can limit Android app use if that’s important. Another key student feature is the long battery life. Acer claims up to 14 hours and we recorded 13 hours of video playback making this a strong choice for school.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 314

HP Chromebook x360 12

(Image credit: HP)

3. HP Chromebook x360 12

A Chromebook too cool for school

CPU: Intel Celeron N4000 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 600 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: : 12-inch HD (1366 x 921 3:2) touchscreen | Storage: 32GB SSD

3:2 aspect ratio is good for productivity
Excellent value
Average battery life
Just HD display

Designed for the education market, the HP Chromebook x360 range is tougher than it might at first look, it’s also aimed at students on a budget. 

So this won’t eat into your pencil fund too much either. Costs are kept low with the affordable but dependable 1.1GHz Intel N4000 processor and 4GB of RAM. The balance extends to the 12-inch touchscreen that makes it portable, light but still perfectly usable. 

The main downside here is the HD-level 1366x921 resolution, but that’s offset interestingly with a 3:2 ratio that makes browsing and writing a more relaxed experience. It folds back into a tablet, offers a good range of ports and includes as an extra a dedicated stylus. While at this price still manages to look pretty funky.

Read the full review: HP Chromebook x360 12b

Acer Chromebook Spin 311

(Image credit: Acer)

4. Acer Chromebook Spin 311

Study hard, play hard

CPU: Intel Celeron N4000 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 600 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11.6" HD (1366 x 768) 16:9 IPS touchscreen | Storage: 64GB Flash Memory

More capable AMD APU
Fabulous flip design
Dim screen
Average battery

Unusually for Chromebooks, the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 opts for an AMD APU, that utilises the well-known Radeon graphics technology for better 3D capabilities - if you have time out of your studies to game! 

The dual-core AMD processor does offer Celeron beating abilities, by a little at least and so Chrome is going to remain more responsive. But importantly the Acer Spin 311 feels well made, it’s highly portable and though the screen disappoints a little by being a touch dull is perfectly usable. At just over eight hours the battery isn’t that strong for a Chromebook, but balancing that against the great price this is a strong choice. 

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook Spin 311 

HP Chromebook 11 G7

(Image credit: HP)

5. HP Chromebook 14 G5

Full HD on a student’s budget

CPU: Intel Celeron N3350 1.1GHz | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 500 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 14-inch HD (1920x1080) screen (non-touch) | Storage: 32GB SSD

Full HD screen
Decent battery life
Average performance

Sometimes HP’s sheer range of laptops can be overwhelming, so for once the HP Chromebook 14 G5 stands out, as not only a well named but well designed budget Chromebook for students.

It might not be the most exciting Chromebook here but it’s one of the best balanced. Take the Full HD 1080p display, there’s no sexy touch here, but it’s going help you work better. The battery is well positioned offering a solid 11 hours of work time. It’s also a sturdy build and the keyboard is spill resistance, something you know any school child is going to put to the test.

HP Chromebook 11 G7

(Image credit: HP)

6. HP Chromebook 11 G7

Small, but perfect for little students

CPU: Intel Celeron N4000 1.1GHz | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 600 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11-inch HD (1366x768) touchscreen | Storage: 16-64GB SSD

Excellent price
Good battery life
Average performance

We had to include the new HP Chromebook 11 G7, as it's effectively a rugged and lower cost version of the HP Chromebook x360 12. While it has a similar and perfectly capable Intel Celeron processor with the 4GB of memory, the key change is to a standard HD 16:9 ratio display in a fixed laptop body. 

The rugged aspect comes in a military-grade build that offers IP41 dust and water resistance. Under testing we’d expect you to enjoy a good 12 hours of day-to-day use. The base model only offers 16GB of storage, but there are 32GB and 64GB options available.

Lenovo Chromebook C340-11

(Image credit: Lenovo)

7. Lenovo Chromebook C340-11

A Chromebook that’ll turn heads

CPU: Intel Celeron N4000 1.1GHz | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 600 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11-inch HD (1366x768) touchscreen | Storage: 64GB SSD

Solid convertible design
Good battery life
Wide bevels

With a large number of near-identical specified Intel Celeron Chromebooks you can’t blame Lenovo for offering a metallic pink Chromebook C340-11 as an option. If you want to standout in the classroom this is how to do it! To be fair, Lenovo have done a standup job of creating an excellent education-aimed Chromebook. 

At a budget price using the reliable Intel Celeron N4000 there’s enough power for your classroom needs. Importantly we measured 12 hours of runtime, so it’s going to keep you going all day. The toughscreen might just be HD but it’s touch, responsive and bright, the main downer is the wide bevel that feels dated now.

Dell Chromebook 3100

(Image credit: Dell)

8. Dell Chromebook 3100

It’s black, rugged and made by Dell

CPU: Intel Celeron N4020 1.1GHz | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11.6-inch HD (1366 x 768) screen (optional touch) | Storage: 16GB-32GB SSD

Solid and durable
Good battery life
Can be sluggish
Heavy for its size

Dell has a dedicated line of education Chromebooks and the lower-end is the Dell Chromebook 3100 series, the next step up being its Dell Chromebook 3400 line.

With this entry-level model, Dell has embraced functional design, which means this isn’t a Chromebook to excite, it’s a Chromebook to educate. Two big pros are its rugged design with solid hinges that offer it fold-back two-in-one design and a long battery life so nothing interrupts studies.

The latest 2020 model features an updated Intel Celeron N4020 at 1.1GHz processor, backed with a healthy 4GB of memory. Storage is poor at 16GB and the 1366x768 screen is nothing to write home about. Also, if you want to get the most from Android apps on this ensure you get a model with the touch screen.

Read the full review: Dell Chromebook 3100

Acer Chromebook 15

(Image credit: Acer)

9. Acer Chromebook 15

Bigger means better Chromebooks

CPU: Intel Pentium N4200 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 32GB eMMC

Amazing battery life
Lovely big screen
Maybe too big
Not the best touchpad

There’s a lot to love about the Acer Chromebook 15 and that’s not just because it’s using a larger 15.6-inch display! 

To start, that display is a delight being IPS, Full HD, touch enabled and a decent size, though you have to keep in mind the extra weight lugging this will bring. 

We were also impressed by the budget Intel Pentium processor as it did a solid job of keeping up with our demands, a step up from the Celeron models. But perhaps the thing that could give this student Chromebook top marks in your book is the 14-hour battery life we recorded.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 15

Asus Chromebook Flip

(Image credit: Asus)

4. Asus Chromebook Flip C436

Turn classroom heads with this Chromebook

CPU: Intel Core i3-10110U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 14-inch Full HD (1920x108) screen | Storage: 128GB SSD

Good performance
Premium build
Average battery life
Not very robust

The Asus Flip has been around almost as long as Chromebooks have, and each release has remained solid yet stylish workhorses. The latest Flip C436 updates the magnesium-clad chassis with the latest 10th-gen Intel processor, so this thing is fast. Backed with plenty of memory and storage this student Chromebook will crunch through classwork. The 14-inch display balances portability, size and weight perfectly.

It is expensive but you get a lot for your money, but is it the sort of thing you’d want to give to a young schoolchild? Probably not, but older students will get so much out of this and the extras like finger-print security.

Read the full review: Asus Chromebook Flip C436

Back to School 2020 is certainly going to be different, and we’re here to guide you through what you'll need. Whether you’re truly going back to school or remotely attending classes online, we’re rolling out a series of in-depth guides for students, teachers and parents to ensure you're buying the right technology and accessories.