Chromebooks come in a bewildering array of options. Sometimes even trying to decide which options to choose on a single model can be overwhelming. I have to use a spreadsheet to keep everything clear, but you shouldn’t have to, so here are some general specs to keep in mind when choosing one.
Processor: Chromebooks use half a dozen different processors, which you’ve probably never heard of. There is a reason for this: they are slow. After trying many Intel Celeron machines (usually labeled N4000) my recommendation is to go with something more powerful if you can afford it. The next step up from the Celeron is the Core m3, which is the best choice for most people. If you want a more powerful machine that will stand the test of time, get an i3 or i5 chip.
We’re starting to see more ARM-based Chromebooks, like the Lenovo Duet above. I haven’t had any issues with ARM Chromebooks, but they’re not as fast as Intel Core chips. Some newer Chromebooks use AMD’s new Ryzen chips, and I’ve had good experience with them.
RAM: Get 8 gigabytes if you can afford it, especially if you plan to run Android apps. When I’ve experienced slowdowns and serious issues, it’s almost always on a Chromebook with just 4GB of RAM.
Screen: Get an IPS LCD screen. There are still a few low-end models with more dismal TN LCDs that you should avoid. Your pixel resolution depends on the size. I’ve used (and recommend) 11-inch Chromebooks with 720p displays. Because these screens are compressed into a small form factor, I find them to be acceptable crispness, but of course a 1080p screen will look a lot nicer.
Ports: Most of the things you do on a Chromebook are cloud-based, so you don’t really have to worry about ports. You might want something that charges through a USB-C port if you want to be able to run your Chromebook with a portable battery / charger, but unfortunately USB-C is only really available in the priced models. middle and higher. It’s also helpful to have a MicroSD slot for extended storage, but it’s also not widely available.