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Best student Chromebook in 2021

Best student Chromebook: Samsung Chromebook 4
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The best student Chromebook offers those in education an affordable alternative to a Windows PC or Apple MacBook. For this reason, Chromebooks are hugely popular with students, especially with the rise of at-home learning over the last year. 

Most Chromebooks offer a similar feature set and all of them make use of Google's Chrome OS, which is extremely lightweight and easy to use compared to Windows 10 or macOS. Don't think that Chromebooks aren't versatile machines though; thanks to Google Play Store integration they can run a variety of apps and are ideal for users who are always online. 

Chromebooks are much simpler to use than a PC or Mac primarily because the device is built around the Chrome browser. Almost everything you do on a Chromebook, outside of using third-party apps, will happen in a Chrome window. So while they're not suitable machines for heavy software users, they're extremely useful for researching, writing and presenting. 

Strong battery life is another feature offered by most Chromebooks. This is handy for students especially as a single charge can usually get you through a full day of school or college classes. Some even sport a touch screen display or the ability to fold the screen back into a tablet-style mode.

Chromebooks are easy on the wallet as well — a key feature for students. Whereas even the most entry-level MacBook will run you around $900 on sale, a midrange Chromebook can be purchased for as little as $300. Plus, for older students with an income or even teachers there are premium options in the $500 to $700 range. 

What are the best student Chromebooks?

Students on a strict budget should consider the Samsung Chromebook 4. It offers a premium metal lid, snappy performance from its Cereon processor and long battery life, all for under $250. It's also extremely portable due to its lightweight frame. 

The Samsung Chromebook 2 is a solid option for those looking to take the next step up — yes, the 2 being better than the 4 is confusing. The Samsung Chromebook 2 is thin, offers a lengthy eight hours of battery life, sports a vibrant QLED display and has fantastic speakers. It'll cost $500 for a base model, and up to $700 for a top-of-the-line configuration.

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is another great pick for young students just getting to grips with learning on a laptop. It offers decent performance, nearly 13 hours of battery life, and a tablet-style design but with an included keyboard for typing. All for only $300. 

The best student Chromebook you can buy today

Best Chromebooks: Samsung Chromebook 4

Samsung Chromebook 4 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

1. Samsung Chromebook 4

The best budget Chromebook for students

Specifications
CPU: Intel Celeron N4000
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 32GB
Display: 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768-pixel
Dimensions: 11.3 x 8 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 2.6 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Long battery life+Thinner and lighter than competitors+Decent performance
Reasons to avoid
-Dim display without touch-Mediocre audio

The best student Chromebook for those on a budget, the Samsung Chromebook 4 really impresses with its battery life. This laptop lasted for more than 10 and a half hours of web browsing on a single charge. The Chromebook 4’s aluminum top makes it look like a much more expensive computer — though it has a plastic base. This Chromebook’s performance is another highlight, enabling much faster multitasking than expect at this price point. 

The Chromebook 4 is also lighter and thinner than competing 11.6-inch Chromebooks, though we wish its display supported touch input. Its screen is acceptable for plowing through work, but don't expect to see colors pop or a lot of detail when watching movies or bingeing on YouTube. The speakers are okay, but you may want to supply your own headphones.

For students that have a limited budget, this Chromebook offers plenty for a relatively small price tag. It's ideal for learning at home, while also offering some features that you can make use of when your work is complete. 

Best Chromebooks: Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Lenovo Chromebook Duet (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

2. Lenovo Chromebook Duet

The best budget 2-in-1 Chromebook

Specifications
CPU: 2.0GHz octa-core MediaTek Helio P60T
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB eMMC, 128GB eMMC
Display: 10.1 inches, 1920 x 1200 pixels
Dimensions: 9.64 x 6.66 x 0.71 inches (docked)
Weight: 2 pounds (docked)
Reasons to buy
+Lengthy battery life+Excellent screen for its price+Affordable, plus keyboard included
Reasons to avoid
-Keyboard is best for small hands-Hinge could be stronger

Sometimes, it's amazing how much you can get for $300 or less. The Lenovo Chromebook Duet, for example, is a 2-in-1 Chromebook that offers something Microsoft's Surfaces and Apple's iPads won't: an included keyboard. Not only do you get that value, but the Chromebook Duet's tablet display is excellent in its own right, with a surprising amount of color output and a crisp 1920 x 1200-pixel resolution. It's so good it won the award for best budget laptop in our Tom's Guide Awards 2021.

The Chromebook Duet's keyboard is definitely a little on the tight side, but at this price, any keyboard is a surprise and a steal. Making things even better, the Chromebook Duet features ChromeOS tablet optimizations that are long overdue to take advantage of all of its screen space. On top of all of that? It lasted for 12 hours and 47 minutes on our battery test, nearly 13 hours

Read our full Lenovo Chromebook Duet review.

Best Chromebooks: Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

3. Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

The best premium Chromebook for students

Specifications
CPU: Intel Celeron | Core i3 processors
RAM: 4GB, 8GB
Storage: 64GB, 128GB
Display: 13.3-inch QLED (1080p)
Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 2.7 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful design+Gorgeous QLED display+Improved battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Key travel could be better-Touchscreen input can be inconsistent

Taking away the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook's 4K display was probably the best thing Samsung could have done to make this Chromebook a hit. Now it's way more affordable even for students, but still sports a great QLED display and longer battery life — 7 hours 50 minutes vs the previous gen's 5 hours 55 minutes. It's also going to sound great, plus its Core i3 configuration provides a ton of speed for Chrome OS.

We weren't as happy with the vertical travel in its keyboard, which is a bit shallow. This creates a slight learning curve you'll adapt to over time. Plus, at $549 (Celeron) or $699 (Core i3), the Galaxy Chromebook 2 is a pretty good value. We like it so much that we awarded it best Chromebook in our Tom's Guide Awards 2021.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 review.

Best Chromebooks: Acer Chromebook Spin 713

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

4. Acer Chromebook Spin 713

The best 2-in-1 student Chromebook

Specifications
Display: 13.5-inch, 2256x1504
CPU: Intel Core i5-10210U
GPU: Intel UHD
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB SSD
Size: 11.8 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 3.0 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Great battery life+Bright and colorful display+Amazing performance
Reasons to avoid
-Mediocre speakers-Small-sized keyboard

When shopping for a great student Chromebook, you'll want to look for a machine that's affordable, offers solid performance, a stylish design, and endurance. The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 nails that combination. 

That's due in part to its Intel Core i5-10210U CPU, which provides a ton of speed for Chrome OS (anything more would be overkill), and 8GB of RAM for managing all the Chrome tabs you can throw at it. 

Plus, its sharp 2256 x 1504-pixel screen provides bright and vibrant picture output. On top of that, it lasted 11 hours and 54 minutes on our web-browsing based battery test. The only major issue you could have with the Spin 713 is its size makes it less portable than some alternatives. Granted, that's an issue for all 13-inch laptops. 

Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review.

Best Chromebooks: Acer Chromebook Spin 311 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

5. Acer Chromebook Spin 311

The best Chromebook for writing on the go

Specifications
CPU: 2.0GHz octa-core MediaTek MT8183
Graphics: ARM Mali-G72 MP3
Display: 11.6 inches, 1366 x 768
Memory: 4GB
Storage: 32GB eMMC, 64GB eMMC
Size: 11.7 x 8.1 x 0.74 inches
Weight: 2.65 pounds
Ports: USB-C, USB-A
Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11ac
Reasons to buy
+Solid battery life+Exceptional keyboard+Tough Gorilla Glass screen
Reasons to avoid
-Dim, low-resolution screen-No USB 3.0 Type-A port

The Acer Chromebook Spin 311's solid battery life and great keyboard help it stand out in a student Chromebook field overflowing with small, budget-friendly options. It's good enough to win a recommendation for best budget laptop in our Tom's Guide Awards 2021.

With 1.6mm of travel distance, the Spin 311's keys are surprisingly comfortable to type on for extended periods, and the battery held up for 12 twelve hours in our tests, making this a great choice for students looking to get some writing done while on the move. 

Just don't expect a great display, as the Acer Chromebook Spin 311's 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 display tends to leave videos looking washed-out and dim. 

Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 311 review here.