Chromebook vs laptop: which should you get?

The answer might not be as facile as it might appear to be. While the Chromebook might not assume the exact picture of what we know as laptops, it is actually a portable computer with a desktop operating system – that defines a laptop. So if it is technically a laptop, then, why the vs in between Chromebook and laptop?

It’s nice that you endeavored to drop by to do proper research before you go for either—a Chromebook or a laptop. Perhaps, you might have stumbled upon both at your local stores while shopping for a new laptop. I’m sure you must have wondered: Why is the Chromebook cheaper compared to other usual laptops like Windows and macOS? Does it mean that it is lesser a value of a laptop? Why isn’t it just called a laptop like every other laptop? Why might sticking to the usual laptop be a better option for me? Why should I go for the Chromebook regardless? I must say you were very thoughtful if you did. However, I’m here to walk you through the differences between a Chromebook and a laptop, principally focusing on uncovering how these two have an upper-hand over each other. This will help you to make a sound decision on which to go for.

To start with, that Chromebooks currently cost less than its counterparts, Windows or macOS name it, does not make it any lesser in value neither does it make it a better option. It all depends on what you need or care about in a laptop.

The Gap between Chromebooks and Laptops

Despite being categorized as laptops, Chromebooks have taken on a different name. Basically, this was done for marketing reasons. Additionally, though, the functionality, software, UI, design, and overall philosophy of these laptops are significantly different from laptops like Windows or macOS.

Does the word Chrome sound familiar? Yeah, that will help. Chromebooks run Google’s own operating system, the Chrome OS – essentially a glorified Chrome browser – which is focused on online usage. Given that, Chromebooks practically killed as online machines up until recently, when it began tapping into specialized software. Now, Chromebooks have access to the Google Play Store and Android app support, thus, they are now much more functional offline.

Well, there isn’t much to say about the Windows and macOS laptops, we know better. They are the perfect package of what we will call a laptop. These laptops use the traditional desktop operating systems designed to operate independently, and do notably better than Chromebooks; particularly offline. No wonder they cost much more? They will surely need a lot need more resources and more powerful components to keep things running smoothly.

Even at this point, we can’t really conclude that laptops especially the likes of Windows or macOS computers are entirely a better option than Chromebooks just yet. Let’s bring our needs to play.

·       Do you need specialized software?

If you are in a greater need of a specialized software, perhaps photo and video editing tools—the likes of Adobe’s Lightroom, Photoshop, or Premiere, the very popular ones—or Auto CAD for Designers, then you should know that a Windows, macOS, or even Linux-based laptops is a better choice. The list of specialized software definitely doesn’t end there. However, most of them are released primarily for those three traditional laptop options.

Simply put, Chromebooks lost this round to laptops. While other professionals such as accountants, architects, etc may go for unique programs that have Android apps or use some web services, they are inferior to the entire desktop options offered by Windows, macOS, or Linux-based laptops.

And to make it even worse, when it comes to gaming, Chromebooks can only offer you majorly Android games from the Google Play Store. Isn’t that limiting? Well, if you can manage; good for you. But if you are in for some serious games you had better go with a powerful Windows laptop where can you get an overwhelming portfolio of available titles to choose from. 

·       Chromebooks are for casual users

Truth be told, Chromebooks are the ideal machines for people who do more online than offline. They are perfect for Email checkers, Netflix bingers, social media buffs, and web surfers. Users also take full advantage of Google Drive for storing things like documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in the cloud. And convincingly, the Chromebook can also take care of some important work such as editing photos and writing articles like I’m doing.

Fine, fine, fine! But, Chromebooks are not just cut out for carrying out certain task extensively like Windows and macOS laptops. Thanks to its access to Google Play Store Chromebooks can offer a wide range of Android apps. While these Android apps actually work, they will not operate as desired on a larger computer screen as they are usually not well designed to. Personally, however, when it comes to using apps especially on my PC, Android apps are not what I would term the best.

·       How much local storage do you need?

While some people don’t place greater importance on the storage capability of a laptop, for others, having a laptop is all about having a huge collection of movies, videos, photos, music, and other resource-intensive files. If you don’t mind using a computer of just 128GB of local storage just for the cloud, then you might want to consider going with a Chromebook. On the other hand, if having an even larger and massive storage is what it is for you, going with a Chromebook will be a huge mistake. A 128GB of local storage is just a joke in comparison to the storage capability of Windows and macOS laptops.

·       Speaking of the cloud!

If the cloud is your work terrain and warehouse, then Chromebook does it. What will be the use of massive local storage when you have the Google Drive to store and use most of your files, stream music, watch movies online, and store your photos on the web.

Plus, Chromebooks are not totally bad offline too. You can edit documents offline as well work on downloaded emails offline, using a Chromebook. Not all Android app only work online, many operate offline too.

·       Portability

For good reasons, Chromebooks win this round. Laptops are laptops basically because they are “portable” computers. No wonder ultraportable laptops are usually more expensive and less common too. Chromebook, however, is incontrovertibly very thin, small, and light, for the price.

·       Performance

A machine’s performance is mostly rated based on its specs and workload among all other factors. And coming from that direction, Windows laptops and Macbooks gaps the Chromebook. These machines can be completely specced out, with all the necessary power to take on anything you throw at them. More to that, they are practically compatible with intensive software.

Well, that, Chromebooks can’t really boast of. Even with the most expensive Chromebook, the Google Pixelbook which costs $1,649 at its highest setup that comes with a Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of internal storage, Chromebook specs plateau after a certain point. What’s the need for all that power if the software cannot take full advantage of the operating system because they are not compatible? And apart from running heavier Android apps, there’s nothing much more significant you can do with all that specs. Basically, Chrome OS is a lightweight operating system and doesn’t need much power to run.

Windows laptops, on the other hand, can run just about anything. If you need a true performance, a regular laptop with much more raw power is what you are looking for not a Chromebook. Don’t hesitate to put in the cash.

·       Security

Moving forward, speaking of security, it’s not about the capability of a laptop’s OS; it’s about its safety. Windows do not do the best this time; keeping a Windows laptop clean is almost impossible. It is in fact, as a result of the complexity of Microsoft’s operating system, a prime target for hackers, viruses, malware, and other internet dangers. While macOS might be a better option than Windows when it comes to security, the Chrome OS remains the best option. Though the Chrome OS isn’t completely safe, it is less prone to attacks. Take a look at important measures Google has taken to shield its OS from attacks.

Chrome OS security measures:

  • Sandboxing: Every application and tab in Chrome OS runs on its own “sandboxe.” Even if some virus gets to you, it should be killed whenever that process ends.
  • Automatic updates: Hackers and evil internet dwellers are working hard to get to your computers, so Google made it simple to act on any vulnerabilities that show up and get any new code to you ASAP.
  • Verified boot: Chrome OS can’t boot an infected system. It has to boot the way Google intended it to. Upon booting, the system will check all files. If anything is looking infected, it will be immediately resolved by pulling a backup.
  • Power washes: Traditionally known as factory data resets, Power washes wipe everything in your Chromebook and get you back to point A in a few minutes. Since the OS mostly works with the cloud, you can’t lose much.

·       Battery life

Ah ha! This is definitely Chromebooks spotlight; where it shines the best. Surpassing Chrome OS devices’ pace-setting battery life doesn’t look like it’s going to be a piece of cake for other laptops including Windows and macOS. The regular Chromebook comes with at least 8 hours battery life with Google Pixelbook offering a 10-hour battery life. It gets even better with the Pixel Slate coming with 12-hour run time. The naked secret to the outrageous battery life of Chrome OS devices is low-power processors and other enhancements. That sound familiar right?

·         Price

Once again, it all depends on your need. If you have the money to afford a Windows and macOS laptop, go for it without thinking twice if you can’t live without fancy software that can run anything that you throw at it.

Furthermore, if you can live on a low-power processor, then Chromebooks is the best value option you can get now. Since their operating system’s not compatible with most power-hungry software, it also means that a $300 Chromebook can often run faster and smoother than a traditional laptop twice the price. Also, it will boot, open apps, load page, and even turn off faster.

Wow, I suppose I’ve covered it all; the differences between Chromebooks and laptops with other operating systems and in which aspects they respectively excel or have more advantages. This should do to help you make a sound decision.

To round it all up, to know which is better – a Chromebook or a laptop, first, get your needs straight.

Chromebooks vs laptops


  • More extensive online usage
  • Portability
  • Security
  • Battery life
  • Cheaper

Regular Laptops

  • Specialized software
  • For formal users (carrying out most tasks extensively)
  • Local storage
  • Performance
  • Costlier
  • Both online and offline usage.

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