Believe it or not, the best Chromebooks can be excellent tools for digital creatives. While you may dismiss Chromebooks as budget devices, and prefer the idea of working on a Windows 10 laptop or a MacBook, modern Chromebooks are stylish and slim, with fantastic screens and offer plenty of performance for many tasks.
So, we’ve picked the best Chromebooks 2021 has to offer for creatives in mind. While Chromebooks have come a long way, and though they still aren’t suitable for intensive tasks such as ultra high resolution video editing or 3D animations (as they don’t come with dedicated graphics cards), each device on this list will enable you to edit photos, work on documents and create websites with ease.
They offer phenomenal battery lives and value for money, so if you’re on the hunt for a laptop for day-to-day use and a spot of creative work, but you’re on a budget, or you’re looking for a steady, sturdy secondary laptop on the go, then picking one of the best Chromebooks in 2021 could be a wise move.
The Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook is the best Chromebook 2021 has to offer for creative professionals. It’s pricey compared to other Chromebooks, but it offers excellent performance and design, with some features cheaper Chromebooks simply lack.
Its industry-leading performance is thanks to the powerful components included within, such as the new AMD 3000C mobile processors, which offers a level of power that you don’t find on budget Chromebooks.
The powerful components do come at a price, however. For a start, it means that battery life isn’t quite as long as lower-powered Chromebooks, due to the fact that the hardware is more demanding. It also means the price of this Chromebook is a bit higher than usual, though it remains a fair bit cheaper than standard laptops or MacBooks.
The HP Chromebook 14 is our pick for the best value Chromebook for creatives. It’s one of the cheapest Chromebooks you’ll find in 2021, but that doesn’t mean it feels – or looks – cheap.
In fact, HP’s build quality is clearly evident here. This is a laptop you can comfortably carry around with you all day, safe in the knowledge that it’ll withstand any knocks and bumps as you travel.
It also proves that you don’t have to compromise when buying a budget Chromebook. Sure, it’s cheap, but it has a stunning screen, and while the battery life isn’t the longest when it comes to Chromebooks, it’ll still outlast many more expensive laptops, and it’ll easily go a whole work or school day without needing a charge.
The HP Chromebook 14 also comes with plenty of ports, including HDMI-out, USB 3.0 and a microSD card slot, making this a brilliantly versatile Chromebook for the price.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 311 is a great all-round Chromebook, offering fantastic value for money, good build quality and a handy 2-in-1 design that lets you use it as both a traditional laptop, as well as a tablet-like device. This gives it a flexibility that other Chromebooks lack, and now that you can run Android apps in Chrome OS, it means this could actually save you from buying two separate devices.
Build quality is excellent, so you can happily chuck this in a bag and carry it around with you without worrying about breaking it, and it’s small enough that you’ll hardly notice it’s there. Battery life is also very good, which means it’s a great choice for people who want to work for long periods of time away from a desk or power source.
The compact size does mean that some people may find it uncomfortable to use for long periods of time, however, and the screen isn’t as bright or vibrant as other Chromebooks out there. However, for the price, this is a great value Chromebook.
Google, the company behind Chrome OS, is – perhaps unsurprisingly – a dab hand when it comes to building Chromebooks as well, as the Pixelbook Go shows. Google has packed in some brilliant hardware into this device, so while it’s more expensive than many other Chromebooks out there, it offers a level of performance that others cannot match.
This includes a fantastic screen and brilliant battery life that powers the Pixelbook Go throughout an entire work day. It also has one of the best keyboards we’ve used on any laptop, not just Chromebooks. If you want a device for writing on, then this is a brilliant choice.
However, we should point out that Google launched the Pixelbook Go in 2019, so it’s beginning to show its age. While it still performs brilliantly, there are newer, more future-proof, Chromebooks out there, some of them are cheaper as well. Hopefully Google is gearing up to unleash a new Pixelbook soon.
Don’t just think Chromebooks are low-powered budget devices, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 comes packed with seriously powerful components, including an 11th gen i5 CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, and 8GB of RAM.
It’s also incredibly thin and light, and its high resolution 13.5-inch screen is easily one of the best we’ve ever seen in a Chromebook. This is a seriously impressive Chromebook that’s ideal for creative work, and it’ll rival many laptops and MacBooks when it comes to style and performance.
However, it’s worth noting that this all means that it’s one of the most expensive Chromebooks you can buy in 2021. For many people, paying this kind of money for a Chromebook may seem silly, when you can buy a MacBook Air for less.
The brilliant Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook is a brilliant 2-in-1 Chromebook. As its name suggests, this is a device that comes in two forms; a traditional laptop, or a tablet. Unlike some 2-in-1 Chromebooks, the keyboard is actually detached from the screen to turn it into a tablet, rather than flipping the keyboard back behind the screen.
This means it’s much thinner than other 2-in-1 Chromebooks, and lighter as well. It also has a huge battery life that far outlasts many of its competitors – you can squeeze around 22 hours out of this thing.
Not only that, but it’s also one of the cheapest Chromebooks you can buy as well, making it a brilliant investment for many people.
If you’re after the best Chromebook for students, then the Acer Chromebook 314 is a fantastic choice. It’s affordable, has a great battery life for lasting throughout an entire school day, and its build quality means students can lug it around without too much concern for its wellbeing.
When it comes to performance, it’s fine for most standard schoolwork, but with a 1.1GHz Celeron CPU and 4GB of RAM, it’ll start lagging if you want to do too much with this thing. In our Acer Chromebook 314 review, during Mozilla’s Kraken benchmarking, we found this was laptop scored 2349.8ms, while the older Google Pixelbook scored 1378.9ms (the lower the score the better in this test of browser speed).
The 1080p screen is good, giving you plenty of workspace for your homework. However, it’s not touchscreen, which will affect anyone looking for a cheap digital art tablet or even its compatibility with many Android apps.
In its favour the Acer Chromebook 314 has a great battery life (our review found it easily hit the boasted 12.5 hours) and has a good keyboard and its use of Google docs and cloud-based storage ensures it starts and save in seconds. This is a good, cheap laptop for school and college.
The new HP Chromebook 11 G7 is the best Chromebook you can buy for under £300 in our view. HP makes some fantastic Chromebooks, and this new model comes with a good display and military-grade IP41 protection.
This means it’s a rugged Chromebook that’s perfect for taking out and about with you, especially if you do a lot of travelling. Battery life is decent at 12 hours, and while storage space isn’t great – you may need to use Google Drive cloud storage, for example, the fact that it has an ultra-low price means this is a great choice for people on a tight budget.
That rugged design also means it’ll last a lot longer than many other more expensive Chromebooks out there.
The Acer Chromebook 311 is a cheap laptop that may lack processing power but its 1990s design notes and solid build make it a great option for school or taking on your travels. It’s a refreshing design decision to wrap this laptop in a rubberised shock-resistant plastic.
In our Acer Chromebook 311 review we found this laptop wasn’t great for detailed or intensive video work, and gaming on this device isn’t an option. Yet if you need a cheap laptop for basic editorial tasks and web browsing, the Acer Chromebook 311 coupled with Google’s own apps – Docs, Sheets and Google Drive – is a good option.
A plus point is you can hook up the Acer Chromebook 311 to a 4K monitor and the Intel CPU does a great job of running the video – you won’t find too many Windows PCs in this price range that can handle 4K video. It’s just a shame the actual screen of this Chromebook is basic HD, and its matt finish masks details.