Are you in need of a laptop but you can’t afford a new one, or even a decent second hand one? Are you looking for something that’s as portable as a tablet but comes with better features and feels more like a laptop?
Welcome to the world of the Chromebooks.
Designed to run using apps, they can be as good as computers for some tasks, like word processing, browsing, social media and homework for example. A huge selling point is their price tag, and there are quite a few models out now
It can be a chore to dig through all the statistics yourself so to make it easier, here are 5 of the best Chromebooks for under $300.
Best Chromebook Under $300 Comparison Table
Top Rated Chromebooks Under $300
I was looking for a portable gadget that I could work on while traveling. The train journeys I take can take from 40 minutes to several hours long. I had an ASUS Nexus 7 before, which is perfect for gaming and bits and bats, but not much else. Then I stumbled across this!
The ASUS Chromebook is an excellent and compact piece of technology that lets you work seamlessly while on the go or while on breaks in a coffee shop and the like. It boasts a 360° Wifi antenna which gives you powerful reception no matter how poor the connection is.
Featuring a full QWERTY keyboard, the keys are somewhat spaced out to make it a bit easier and to prevent typing mistakes for those of us with big hands. There are no shutters or blinds on the trains, so I was impressed with the anti-glare feature which basically just stops the sun from being an annoying distraction preventing you from getting anything done.
The ASUS Chromebook comes with a solid 4GB of RAM and 16GB of Flash Storage, which is enough to store about 4 HD quality films, 7-14 SD quality films or thousands of documents. Perfect for when I want to get a head start on my research or when I just want to relax and watch Conan the Barbarian.
- 11.6” HD display with 1366 x 768 resolution and anti-glare
- 4GB DDR3 RAM / 16GB flash storage
- 1.6 GHz Intel Celeron N3060 processor
- Dimensions: 11.6” x 7.9” x 0.9” and weighs 2.2 lbs
- 10 hours battery life
- 2 USB ports
- Extremely sturdy design
- Easily edit Microsoft Office files right away
All in all, the ASUS Chromebook gives you a lot for the asking price. It’s cheap without being sub-standard, and it’s affordable without making you wish you’d spend more to get a “better” model.
If you’re looking for something that’s more laptop than tablet in size, then the HP Chromebook 14 would be a great purchase. I have a 17” laptop at home that is my main computer and to only lose 3 inches isn’t too much of a price to pay for something that’s more portable and weighs less.
My take on this product is that it’s perfect for a secondary laptop, bearing in mind it’s designed mainly for surfing the web and writing or schoolwork, for example. That said, depending on the type of games, it’s awesome for that too.
The HP Chromebook would make an excellent gift for someone in school or if you need something like a laptop but money is really tight.
The HP Chromebook utilizes SDRAM, which is an older version of the DDR memory circuits. This model has been out for a while, which is why it has the older RAM, but it’s still a very good laptop and will impress you with its value for the money.
It also comes with 3 USB ports which will allow you to connect multiple devices at once – e.g. mouse, a bigger keyboard and a USB memory stick at the same time. You can also use the USB ports for charging other devices.
- 14” HD display with 1366 x 768 resolution
- 4GB SDRAM / 16GB eMMC flash storage
- 1.4 GHz Intel Celeron 2955U Processor
- Dimensions: 13.56” x 9.52” x 0.81” and weighs 3.4 lbs
- 9 hours battery life
- 3 USB ports, 1 HDMI port
- Lightweight and durable
The HP Chromebook 14 is perfect for all ages without breaking the bank. It’s inexpensive and is a definite match for those on a budget but in need of a device that can be used like a laptop. It’s great for writing, streaming Netflix or YouTube or social media and surfing the web.
The battery life means you can take it with you without worrying about losing power after only a few hours.
If you’re willing to pay a little more, the Acer Chromebook bridges the gap between Chromebook and laptop even better with its long 15.6” screen width. The screen is bright, clear and vibrant and the anti-glare means you can leave your blinds open and let in that much-needed sunlight and fresh air.
The bigger size means the mousepad is larger and easier to use which makes it easier on your hands. The keyboard is a similar size to other notebooks, but with the extra room provided by the 15.6” dimensions, Acer has included speakers above the keyboard which give you a much more gratifying sound quality.
The Intel Processor is at the top end of the notebook market which means your Chromebook will spend less time working and more time delivering. If you’re the kind of person that likes to have a dozen browser tabs open with multiple videos and a whole range of things going on, the Acer won’t disappoint as it will run flawlessly due to the high power of the Intel Dual-Core.
- 15.6” HD display with 1366 x 768 resolution and anti-glare
- 2GB DDR3L SDRAM / 16GB SSD
- 9 hours battery life
- 1 USB port
- Stylish and Modern design
The Acer Chromebook 15 is a beautiful piece of machinery which can almost make you forget you’re using a notebook and are actually using a laptop. For the price tag, it’s a very attractive deal and will be something you can use for a number of years without feeling that it’s getting old.
Do you want something that extra bit special for your money? The Acer Chromebook R11 Convertible has touch-screen functionality, so it’s essentially a laptop, tablet and notebook rolled into one.
By changing the angle of the hinge you can convert it into 4 modes, hence the name.
The first mode is as a notebook. It’s not as wide as some of the other notebooks, but it still has a decent screen size.
All the usual things are there that you’d expect of a notebook. Keyboard, built-in mouse, powerful quad-core processor from Intel and anything else you can think of.
The second mode is as a display which basically moves the screen close to you so you can see the screen better. The screen is flipped, so you won’t be using the keyboard or mouse in this mode, but you can get your face right into the screen if that’s what you want to do!
Thirdly is the tent mode. This is similar to the display mode except really useful for when you don’t have a lot of space to rest it on. Think of a window ledge. That’s how much space you’d need.
Last of all is the tablet mode. In this mode, it acts just like an 11.6” tablet. Bigger screen, better processor – it’s a really cool feature and one you’ll find yourself using the most, along with the notebook mode.
- 11.6” HD display with 1366 x 768 resolution and anti-glare
- 4GB DDR3L / 32GB hard drive
- 10 hours battery life
- 1 USB port
- 360° hinge with 4 different modes
- Touch-screen enabled.
The Acer R11 Convertible Chromebook is a unique model in the market and a very competitive device. When you consider the price and what you’re getting, it’s easy to get excited about it! With the functionality and usefulness of a notebook and tablet combined into one, the Acer R11 Convertible Chromebook takes its rightful place among the best of the Chromebooks under $300.
The Samsung Series 3 offers the longest battery life from the 5 reviewed here. This is ideal for those long days or long flights.
12 free Gogo in-air passes are also included which give you Wifi while you fly. They are valid for 2 years from purchase, and you also receive 100GB of Google Drive storage.
Rather than saving your large files like photos to your hard drive, you can save them to the Google Drive and access them from any device you want to log in with. It’s worth bearing in mind that you get the 100 GB space with every Chromebook you purchase and it doesn’t go live until you activate it.
The 2 USB ports are enough for most people – it’s rare that I’ve used more than one on a laptop or notebook before and even though I have more than 1 USB port, I tend to swap out the mouse for things like a joystick controller or gamepad, etc.
With the HDMI port, you can connect to your big TV and stream movies or just do whatever you’re doing on your Chromebook on a bigger screen!
- 11.6” display
- 2GB DDR3L / 16GB SSD
- 1.6 GHz Intel Celeron N3050 Processor
- Dimensions: 8.21” x 11.4” x 0.69” and weighs 2.54 lbs
- 11 hours battery life
- 2 USB ports, 1 HDMI port
- 2 years free 100GB Google Drive storage
- 12 free Gogo in-air internet passes (Lasts 2 years)
The Samsung Series 3 is a great entry on our list, and just may be the best Chromebook under $300 for you. It’s lightweight and feels great to hold and carry around. It’s everything you’d want from a notebook, and it won’t break the bank.
Chromebooks are a really great buy in general for anyone looking for a device that’s better than a tablet and a lot more affordable than a decent laptop. They’ve grown in popularity over the years, and there’s quite a few to choose from now.
Picking the right one for you can be a daunting task, but the following guide should make things a bit easier, and after the 5 reviews you may already have an idea of which one is the best for you.
What’s Best for You?
Everyone has their own needs and expectations from a Chromebook. Luckily there’s a model out there for almost everyone. It’s important to think about the things you will be using it for and what you want your Chromebook to actually do.
Are you going to be taking it to school or work? Is it just going to be used for word processing and some browsing or did you want to use it as more of a multimedia device and perhaps stream videos on your 4K TV via the Chromebook?
Are you looking for something with more internal storage because you won’t need near Wifi as often as you’ll need to access the files?
The next topic will explore the pros and cons of the different features and attributes on offer.
Why the Differences Matter
Screen Width/Chromebook Weight
The width of the screens varies wildly in the 5 I’ve reviewed. The size of the screen tends to become important if you want to experience videos or pictures in all their glory, or are you happy with a smaller screen for that kind of thing?
The bigger they are, the heavier they tend to weigh too – this is important if you’re going to be taking it with you. The smaller devices are easier to store and carry around, and you won’t feel like you’ve been lifting weights when you get home!
The largest of the screens can be ok for split screening but only really recommended for 2 open documents/windows at once as you don’t want to have to scroll too much.
All of the Chromebooks are pretty slim. You ought to get the smallest, slimmest one you can, so that it’s easier to move about and store. If you’re mobile, you won’t need a large bag for it, and it will make your day more enjoyable and less painful due to carrying it around.
Why would you want a larger, bigger device? Mainly if you’re looking to get something as close to a laptop as you can but more affordable. If you’re just using it mainly at home, why not have a larger screen so you can see things easier and have a better experience?
The battery life of each of the Chromebooks also differ, and if you’re not going to be able to charge it at all, the length of battery life is a significant factor to consider. You can also use your Chromebook as a charger for your mobile or tablet which can be incredibly useful.
If you are going to be in places where you can usually charge your Chromebook, the battery life becomes irrelevant, naturally. They all have batteries that will last a good few hours.
In case you’ve got some general questions about laptop battery life, here’s a quick video from Dell that will go over 8 FAQs about laptop batteries:
If you wanted to stream anything onto your TV or just use your TV as a bigger screen, having an HDMI port is a must. If you’re going to be using your TV all the time, you can even go with a smaller Chromebook as the width of the screen then becomes unimportant.
Personally, I don’t like built-in touchpads. I’ve come from a mainly PC background, so I prefer those kinds of mice. I’d always use a wired or wireless one whenever I can as I like the precision I can get with them.
People often say my mouse moves too quickly for them, but that’s what I’m used to.
If you’re like me in that respect, having multiple USB ports can be a blessing. With the mouse usually taking up 1 port, you’ll need at least one or two more to minimize the time you spend messing around swapping all of your different USB-powered devices in and out of the USB port.
If you want to use USB memory sticks, an external keyboard, a gamepad or use it as a charging port, the extra USB slots can become very handy.
This can sometimes be the more confusing statistic for people to get their head round. You’ve probably noticed that every Chromebook listed here is using an Intel Celeron processor, but the model differs, and some are dual core, and some are quad core.
It’s easy to assume that a dual core is better than a single core and a quad core is better than a dual core, and you’d be right in thinking that for some cases.
Basically the more “cores,” the faster the processor can work – BUT – that’s only relevant if you’re doing things that are processor intensive like high-quality games, editing photos, or you just like having a lot of social media and other websites open all at the same time.
Having a quad core vs. a single core tends to mean it will last you longer as you won’t feel that it’s too slow with newer apps that come out.
With the internal memory, the Chromebooks are as good as a tablet but don’t compete with laptops or PCs. The Chromebooks were designed with consumers using Google Drive to store their files.
It’s a “Storage Cloud” which allows you to login and access the same stored files from any device. Every Chromebook comes with 100GB free for 2 years. You’ll have to pay a subscription if you want to keep that much storage after the 2 years is up.
If you don’t plan on saving any high memory files, Google Drive isn’t really something you need to think about though – the internal memory will be fine. Several Chromebooks also come with slots for extra memory cards you can insert, if you really need more space without relying on clouds.
And that wraps everything up. I hope by now you’re feeling more confident in what you want from your Chromebook under $300. There are quite a few different specifications to sink your teeth into, and it’s easy to worry about which one is the best to buy.
All the ones listed here are an awesome product, that’s why I reviewed them. They’re all affordable, and because they’re all Chromebooks, the actual operation of the system will be mainly the same. It’s just down to your own personal tastes now!
Whichever one you buy, it’s something to get excited about, and I hope you can survive until you get to unwrap it!