We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

Written By
Published Aug 5, 2022 4:00 PM

Chromebooks are an effective, often very affordable option for people who need an inexpensive laptop for checking email, word processing, and a little web browsing. They’re small, lightweight, and can handle everyday tasks, including most of the basics kids need for grade school. If you need a new computer for as little as possible, there are a fair number of Chromebooks that only cost a few hundred dollars. They may not run as smoothly or quickly as the PCs we’d usually recommend, but the best Chromebooks under $300 can handle today’s basic computing challenges with few hiccups.

What is a Chromebook?

A Chromebook is a laptop that runs Google’s Linux-based ChromeOS, rather than Microsoft Windows or Apple’s macOS. The operating system uses the Chrome web browser as its main interface and primarily runs web applications, including Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar. Chromebooks also support Android apps, giving you access to a wider array of programs that don’t require an internet connection.

While there are powerful Chromebooks, even the best of them are lightweight and built for office productivity. You wouldn’t want one for editing video, playing PC games, or other processor-intensive tasks. If you’re interested in something with more power, we encourage you to check out our picks for more processor-intensive activities, such as best laptops for photo editing or the best gaming laptops.

How we chose the best Chromebooks under $300

I’ve been writing about technology for over 10 years on sites like TechnoBuffalo, Popular Science, and CNN Underscored. During that time, I tested all types of laptops and operating systems, including multiple Chromebooks. Before purchasing a tablet, I used a 2-in-1 Chromebook for general tasks like checking email, browsing the web, and watching videos. To come up with this list, I researched the top Chromebooks available on sites like Amazon and Best Buy, read reviews from professionals, and scrolled through user impressions to find the best options for the lowest prices.

What to look for in a Chromebook on a budget

Finding a cheap Chromebook, like finding a cheap laptop, is an exercise in compromise. You can get a surprising amount of performance out of the best Chromebooks under $300, but you’re still getting a machine made for basic needs with a relatively short lifespan. The picks on this list are better starter laptops for students and younger users. Here’s what to look out for:

Processor

Your computer’s central processing unit, or CPU, is necessary to perform the computations your computer makes to run programs and various tasks, including browsing the web and word processing. While a laptop relies on multiple factors for smooth performance, you’ll want to pay attention to two things when choosing a processor: computing cores and clock speed.

Clock speed, shown in Hertz (Hz), measures the number of computations or “cycles” the processor can make each second. For example, a CPU with a clock speed of 2.8GHz executes 2.8 billion cycles per second. Meanwhile, compute cores give your processor the ability to handle multiple tasks at the same time. More cores mean better multitasking and are especially helpful if you’re someone who edits large RAW files or videos.

You’ll find Chromebooks featuring a wide range of processors, including models that feature Core i3 and Core i5 chips. However, our research found that budget models generally include older, dual-core Intel Celeron processors. A laptop with an Intel Celeron processor can perform basic tasks but may slow down when opening many tabs in Chrome, working with complex spreadsheets, or building graphics-intensive presentations.

Memory and storage

Random access memory, or RAM, provides applications with a place to temporarily store data and quickly access it again if necessary. Normally, we’d recommend a laptop with a minimum of 8GB of RAM (16GB if you can afford it), but the models on this list tend to top off at 4GB of RAM. That’s not a lot, so you will want to focus on individual tasks and avoid keeping programs open when they aren’t in use.

Meanwhile, budget Chromebooks typically offer 32GB or 64GB of onboard eMMC storage. Embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC) storage is typically soldered onto a device’s motherboard and consists of NAND flash memory, which is used in SD cards and USB thumb drives. 

Chromebooks generally rely on cloud storage for files and media, so even more expensive models tend to feature smaller hard drives. Google provides 100GB of free online storage through Google One for one year. After that, you’ll have to pay $2 per month or $20 per year for the 100GB. Many Chromebooks also feature a MicroSD card slot, allowing you to expand their internal storage.

Battery life

Chromebooks live on the road and away from outlets, so they must offer all-day battery life. For most people, that’s a full eight-hour day, including class, research at the library, and homework. A low-end device at this price should do the trick, but you may need to limit your usage to light web browsing and word processing, etc. Most models on this list promise over 12 hours of battery life, but your mileage will vary. Just be sure to top off your battery overnight, and you should be good to go the next day.

The best Chromebooks under $300: Reviews & Recommendations

It isn’t difficult to find a Chromebook for $300 or less but it is a challenge to find one that offers acceptable performance and good battery life. We’ve done our best to offer a wide array of options for different kinds of users.

Best overall: Lenovo Chromebook C340 15-inch

A Better Baseline

SEE IT

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: With a 2-in-1 design, 15.6-inch touchscreen, and Core i3 processor, the Lenovo Chromebook C340 gives you a lot of functionality for its price.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 14.2 x 9.8 x 0.75 inches (LWH)
  • Screen size: 15.6-inch 
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (1080p)
  • Processor: Core i3-8130U
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32GB eMMC
  • Weight: 4.37 pounds
  • Battery life: 10 hours
  • Connectivity: USB-C x 2, USB-A, HDMI, microSD card reader, 3.5mm headphone jack

Pros

  • Sleek 2-in-1 design
  • Large 15.6-inch touchscreen
  • MicroSD card support

Cons

  • Size could offer better battery life

When trying to find a bargain PC, sometimes it makes sense to look at older models, rather than the newest budget options. Even though it first launched in 2020, the 15-inch Lenovo Chromebook C340 gives you a foldable 2-in-1 clamshell, an Intel Core i3 processor, and a 15.6-inch Full HD (1080p) display, all of which exceed our expectations for a PC at this price.

A 3.4GHz Intel Core i3-8130U processor and 4GB of RAM provide plenty of power for multitasking, while the laptop supports 32GB of onboard eMMC storage and a 128GB MicroSD card. The 15.6-inch display also supports touch input, giving users the flexibility to switch between laptop and tablet modes. And the C340 promises 10 hours of battery life, so you should get through a busy day of email, presentations, and note-taking without issue.

Best touchscreen: Acer Chromebook 315

Touch of Excellence

SEE IT

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The Acer Chromebook 315 offers excellent battery life, plenty of ports, and a large touchscreen display.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 13.6 x 9.6 x 0.7 inches (LWH)
  • Screen size: 15.6-inch 
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (1080p)
  • Processor: Intel Celeron N4000
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB eMMC
  • Weight: 2.76 pounds
  • Battery life: 12 hours
  • Connectivity: USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 x 2, DisplayPort, USB-A 3.0 x 2, 3.5mm headphone jack

Pros

  • 15.6-inch touchscreen
  • Great battery life
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Slower processor

The Acer Chromebook 315 features the familiar form factor of a laptop and adds touch capabilities to the 15.6-inch Full HD display. For simple lesson plans and significant assignments, touch brings a new level of interactivity a non-touch laptop doesn’t offer. The Acer Chromebook 315 also features a 1.1GHz Intel Celeron N4020 dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage. The laptop also features two USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 ports, a MicroSD card slot to expand your storage, and a DisplayPort so that you can connect it to an external monitor. Finally, the Acer Chromebook 315 features an HD webcam, so it’s ready to go for video calls. 

Best 2-in-1: Acer Chromebook Spin 311

Transform Your Flow

SEE IT

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The Chromebook Spin 311 makes the 2-in-1 form factor very affordable.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 11.65 x 8.11 x 0.79 inches (LWH)
  • Screen size: 11.6-inch 
  • Resolution: 1366 x 768 pixels (720p)
  • Processor: Intel Celeron N4000
  • RAM: 4GB 
  • Storage: 64GB eMMC 
  • Weight: 2.62 pounds
  • Battery life: 10 hours
  • Connectivity: USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 x 2, DisplayPort, USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 x 2, 3.5mm headphone jack

Pros

  • 2-in-1 design
  • Very portable form factor
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • May be too small for some
  • Low-resolution display

For those who want the flexibility of a 2-in-1, the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 features an 11.6-inch, HD display, an Intel Celeron processor, and 4GB of RAM—or enough power to serve as an easy word processor and streaming video player. The device also features 64GB of eMMC storage and a few ports to connect peripherals, like a portable hard drive. While the 11.6-inch form factor is a little small for everyday tasks, the size makes the 2-in-1 form factor more manageable in tablet mode. 

Best 14-inch: Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Go

Grab a Chromebook to Go

SEE IT

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook Go is thin and portable in a 14-inch form factor.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 12.88 x 8.88 x 0.63 inches (LWH)
  • Screen size: 14-inch
  • Resolution:  1366 x 768 pixels (720p)
  • Processor: Intel Celeron N4500
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32GB eMMC
  • Weight: 3.20 pounds
  • Battery life: 12 hours
  • Connectivity: USB-C x 2, USB-A, 3.5mm headphone jack

Pros

  • Great keyboard and trackpad
  • Balance of size and power
  • Excellent battery life

Cons

  • Low-resolution display

Featuring a 14-inch HD display and Intel Celeron processor, the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Go strikes a fine balance between size and power. With a lightweight chassis and strong battery life—up to 12 hours on a single charge—it’s a great fit for students and professionals who are always out and about. At the same time, the 14-inch form factor creates room for a comfortably spaced keyboard and a big trackpad, making it much more comfortable than smaller, “netbook”-style machines. If you don’t want something too big or too small, Samsung’s device is ideally in the middle.

Best for students: HP Chromebook 14 (2021)

School Spirit

SEE IT

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The 2021 HP Chromebook 14 features a sleek design, an excellent trackpad and keyboard, and long-lasting battery life.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 12.82 x 8.6 x 0.7 inches (LWH)
  • Screen size: 14-inch 
  • Resolution: 1366 x 768 (720p)
  • Processor: Intel Celeron N4020
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32GB eMMC
  • Weight: 3.24 pounds
  • Battery life: 13 hours and 30 minutes
  • Connectivity: USB-C x 2, USB-A, 3.5mm headphone jack

Pros

  • Great keyboard and trackpad
  • Sleep design
  • Excellent battery life

Cons

  • Limited port selection
  • Low-resolution display

The HP Chromebook 14a-na0023nr, a 2021 spin on HP’s Chromebook 14, can be a useful workhorse laptop for students who just need a machine to get through the school day. With up to 13 hours and 30 minutes of battery life, you can get through an entire day of classes on a single charge, plus some library time after school. A large trackpad and keyboard make for comfortable writing and web browsing compared to other Chromebooks. And, while its internals don’t offer much beyond the basics, its sleek ceramic white design and Bang & Olufsen-tuned speakers give it a little extra flair.

Best budget: Lenovo IdeaPad 3

Save Space, Save Money

SEE IT

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The 11.6-inch Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is a very small computer but costs less than most of the very price-conscious picks on our list.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 10.1 x 5.6 x 0.71 inches (LWH)
  • Screen size: 11.6-inch 
  • Resolution: 1366 x 768 pixels (720p)
  • Processor: Intel Celeron N4020
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB of eMMC
  • Weight: 2.42 pounds
  • Battery life: 10 hours
  • Connectivity: USB-C x 2, USB-A x 2, 3.5mm headphone jack

Pros

  • More affordable than other options on this list
  • 64GB of eMMC storage and microSD card support
  • Decent port selection

Cons

  • Might be too small for some
  • Low-resolution display

The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is a very small Chromebook, which you can buy for a very small price. It features similar specs to many of our picks, including a 1366 x 768-pixel display, an Intel Celeron N4020 processor, 64GB of eMMC storage, and 4GB of RAM. The 11.6-inch form factor is small, arguably to the point where you may feel uncomfortable typing on it for long stretches, but that compact screen and form factor brings the IdeaPad 3’s price down to around $200, well below our budget. You also get up to 10 hours of battery life and a 720p webcam. Somehow, even among these very inexpensive machines, there’s still room for a bargain.

FAQs

Q: Are Chromebooks worth buying in 2022?

Depending on your budget and computing needs, a Chromebook may be the perfect computer for your day-to-day computing needs. They’re excellent starter machines, especially for young students and anyone who does very little on their PC beyond web browsing. While it still isn’t as robust as macOS or Windows, you will have access to all the essential utilities the average person needs through ChromeOS. Plus, Chromebooks tend to be very light and are often quite affordable.

Q: What is the most reliable Chromebook?

Most Chromebooks from major manufacturers like Acer, Asus, HP, and Samsung are perfectly reliable. Like any computer, you should expect to see performance decline over time. We recommend purchasing something from a reputable company and a retailer that offers a good return policy and warranty.

Google guarantees eight years of software updates for every Chromebook released after 2020, so users will continue to get new features and security fixes, extending the life of their device well beyond the sell date.

Q: What is the lowest price for a Chromebook?

You can find refurbished Chromebooks on Amazon for less than $100 if you need to spend as little as possible. As prices drop, expect to see older models with slower processors, less onboard storage, and lower resolution displays. Keep in mind that, in many cases, the cheapest possible computer is often less of a bargain than it seems as it will not have the power to run modern apps well, including Google Chrome. If you spend less than $100 on a Chromebook today, there’s a real chance you may find yourself looking for a new one within a year.

Q: What Chromebooks do schools use?

There is no universal Chromebook for schools. Different schools or school districts may buy different models to fit their needs. They may also change what computers they buy year to year. We recommend contacting your school’s IT department if you’d like an official recommendation.

Google offers a shortlist of Chromebooks for students on its Google for Education site, including the Acer Chromebook Spin 713. It also has a more detailed guide to help schools purchase Chromebooks, which features laptops from Asus, Lenovo, Dell, HP, and Samsung.

Final thoughts on the best Chromebooks under $300

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a Chromebook for everyday digital life. While we would probably direct you to more powerful, more expensive laptops in most cases, if a computer is simply a means to an end for email and occasional web research, the best Chromebooks under $300 will probably get the job done in the short term.

Load more...