Chromebook vs. Laptop – What’s the difference?

Can’t decide between a Chromebook or a laptop? Read our guide to find out which one is right for you.

Chromebooks vs. Laptop (Laptops). It is a battle that has been fought in the last five years, with many points in favor of each of the arguments in one sense or another. But which laptop is right for you, and which one might not be? Read on to find out.

Operating systems

The Chrome operating system is limited to Android-type apps, which means that third-party apps are not allowed.

The top three laptop operating systems are OS X on Macbooks, Windows 10 on third-party laptops (Toshiba, Asus, Microsoft, etc.), and Linux.

Chrome OS, or in this case Chromebooks, which joined the fray not too long ago and is similar to Android, is certainly not for everyone. However, it still works for its (limited) purpose pretty well overall. I have personally used a Chromebook for two years as my travel laptop, and the operating system has never failed me. It may have suffered some jerk on a 1080p video on YouTube, but aside from that, Chrome OS’s design prevents you from experiencing any significant hangs.

Windows is the exact opposite of this, of course. At this point, the word “Windows” has basically become a synonym for “hair pulling,” and while OS X enjoyed a few years of happy and smooth experience when Macbooks were gaining popularity, its reliability has been reduced. pretty. That said, one of the main reasons both OS X and Windows have problems is because they support third-party programs and apps, which Chrome OS doesn’t.

Apps and Software

Of all the complaints you’ll hear about why Chromebooks don’t measure up, the lack of available software and apps is the most real.

The fact is, Chrome OS is such an extremely closed ecosystem, that it only allows you to select a few features and not much else. Google keeps its operating systems safe by restricting what can be “installed” on a Chromebook, if it can be called that.

Almost none of the apps that you “install” on your computer do not actually run locally. Instead, Chrome places an icon in your start menu that is just a link to a web page that supports the “program” in Flash or HTML5. The only apps truly installed on the computer are the Chrome web browser and the offline versions of Docs, Sheets, and Google’s PowerPoint competitor, Slides.

Macbooks and PCs, at the other extreme, are made to be personalized, and they come with the option of installing literally hundreds of thousands of programs and different types of software at once. If you need something that can work with Photoshop, run your favorite games, or even play a .FLV video file, then a Windows laptop or Macbook is the obvious choice.


Currently, all Chromebooks carry Intel processors.

Due to the agreement between Google and Intel, almost all Chromebooks released last year (and what is to come in 2017) are equipped with Intel processors. For AMD loyalists this can be a problem, but for most, Intel’s mobile lineup and fifth-generation Core processors can power Chrome OS flawlessly.

It’s difficult to make a direct comparison of how much “power” you get from a Chromebook compared to a standard Windows laptop or Apple Macbook, mainly because each comes with an operating system that uses its resources differently. Crome OS is lightweight, so it works well on worse (less powerful) hardware. So the comparison is questionable.

If you were to install Windows on a laptop that has identical specs, it would run slower, simply due to the fact that Windows has lots of superfluous processes and tasks running in the background while nothing else is happening. Ultimately, Windows requires more power to run, something like a big truck needs a bigger engine than a smaller car.


One section in which Chromebooks still have an advantage is that of built-in storage. Being designed to be lightweight and cheap, almost all Chromebooks come with an SSD instead of a standard HDD, which increases the cost of manufacturing. As such, it is rare to find a Chromebook model with more than 32GB of available internal storage.

To compensate, most Chromebooks come with 100GB of free cloud storage, provided by Google’s own Drive service. If the idea of ​​having all your data in the cloud is not to your liking, it may be better to simply go for a standard laptop.

For their part, laptops come with many more configuration options for storage than you might think. Do you want your operating system on an SSD and your games and movies backed up on an HDD? There are laptops for that. You don’t mind having to wait long loading times and just want as much space as possible? Then a 3TB hard drive is what you are looking for.


The Toshiba Chromebook 2 offers an excellent display for a Chromebook.

In order to make these notebooks as affordable as possible, sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Display quality is one of the areas where nearly all Chromebooks sadly lag behind the 1366 x 768 curve, and hopefully unless it’s a model that specifically offers HD capability, You probably won’t be able to show off to your peers in a short amount of time.

There are some exceptions to this rule, of course. The Toshiba Chromebook 2 was our # 1 pick on the 2017 Best Chromebook list , a title it won in large part thanks to its full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS display. color, this model is one of the few that may be able to handle it.

On the laptop side, there’s a bit of everything. Some laptops have impressive 4K displays that can play Blu-Ray content at its best, while others are so blurry that you can barely read a paragraph of text on them without having to adjust your glasses a couple of times. When it comes to touchscreens, while Windows maintains the advantage of having a large number of touchscreen laptops available, many of them fall short in quality.

Comparatively, the ASUS Flip Chromebook is our top pick on the 2017 Chromebook list for its robust design and a touchscreen that responds to even the slightest touch of your finger.

Keyboard and Trackpad

Although some Chromebooks are made as cheaply as possible and come with keyboards or trackpads to match (I mean you, HP), others like the Toshiba Chromebook 2 are anyone’s dream when it comes to typing on them. As Chromebooks are machines designed to help you with work, study or in general any task that requires a lot of typing, most Chromebook keyboards perform brilliantly.

Trackpads, on the other hand, are somewhat more bumpy. Comparing the cost with Windows computers, you get a similar offer in quality.

If you opt for a Macbook, instead, the trackpad will be clearly superior due to the increase in price and the budget invested in the general quality of all the hardware.


This is another of the sections in which they tie. Chromebooks may come with some cheap components, but Google knows that of all the functionality people want in a laptop, the webcam must be one of the best.

Comparing the webcams of several of the best Chromebooks on the market right now to the ones you get with a Windows laptop or Macbook that costs five times as much, it’s clear that any decent Chromebook will have a webcam that works in most lighting situations, even even though you can’t use it to call anyone on Skype.


Absolutely, for the specs and ease of use you’d expect from a device, pricing is where Chromebooks really shine. By not charging Google to other companies to use its operating system, manufacturers can use resources that would otherwise be spent on licenses for the operating system in better specifications.

This means that prices being the same, the hardware you have on a Chromebook will always be superior to what you will find on a competing Windows PC.

As for the comparison between Chromebooks vs. Macbooks, the fight does not even occur. Apple makes its products very expensive compared to Google. And while a basic 2015 Macbook Air might cost you about $ 999 at checkout, a comparable Chromebook with the same specs would cost nearly three times less, about $ 330.

The bottom line about Chromebooks is that they offer solid hardware at half the cost of what you would spend on any other laptop. While it may not have as much software to talk about and its internal storage capabilities bordering on embarrassing, what you do get is a fully functional laptop at such a huge discount that it would put smaller companies out of business.

Which is Right for You, a Chromebook or a Laptop?

In the battle of Chromebooks vs. notebooks, it seems that the victor depends on personal preference.

The only way you really have to decide if a Chromebook is right for you (or anyone in your family) is to know what you’re going to be using it for most of the time. If you just need a computer to connect, open web pages, and type whatever you want, then a Chromebook is the perfect choice.

If you think you would need more flexibility in the future, however, it may be better to spend your money on a Windows laptop or Macbook instead. The Chrome operating system is perfect for your children’s first laptop or as a support when you are preparing the annual expense report from the airport terminal. But it lags behind when it comes to playing most file types, running third-party programs, or playing games on the go.

They are cheap and lightweight, but not much else. If that sounds like the perfect combination of enough features and a low price to you, then a Chromebook might be for you.

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