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November 16, 2012

The Best Chromebook?

Google now offers 3 Chromebooks and it's quite difficult to decide which is the best one for you. There are 2 Chromebooks from Samsung: one of them uses a high-end ARM SoC, while the other one uses a low-end Intel Celeron CPU with performance that's comparable to a Intel Core 2 Duo CPU from 2006-2007. There's also a Chromebook from Acer that uses a less powerful Celeron CPU, it replaces the standard 16 GB Flash storage with a 320 GB HDD and has a weird keyboard that seems to be borrowed from a Windows netbook.

For some reason, Samsung's Intel Chromebook is a lot more expensive than both the ARM Chromebook and the Acer Chromebook. Sure, it has a better screen, the most powerful CPU, Gigabit Ethernet and the largest battery, but the Acer Chromebook is $250 less expensive. On the other hand, buying a Chromebook with a hard-disk drive is a terrible idea because it impacts performance and you won't be able to use so many gigabytes in Chrome OS. The Acer Chromebook also has a poor battery life (only 3.5 hours of usage) and it's thicker.

The ARM Chromebook is the most efficient, the most silent and the lightest Chrome OS laptop ever released. Even if it only has a 2-cell battery, you can use it for more than 6.5 hours, which means it's 2 times more efficient than the Acer Chromebook. It also has the best GPU ever included in a Chromebook, which means it's great for watching HD videos and playing WebGL games. After all, Samsung used the same system-on-a-chip for the Nexus 10 tablet. It's too bad that the Series 3 ARM Chromebook doesn't have the screen from the Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook, which has a better aspect ratio (16:10 vs 16:9) and it's brighter.

To sum up, I think the best Chromebook right now must be Samsung's Series 3 ARM Chromebook, followed by Samsung 550 and Acer C7. The Acer C7 Chromebook is the most customizable Chromebook, since you can add more RAM, replace the HDD and remove the battery.

Samsung ChromebookSamsung Chromebook 550Acer C7 Chromebook
CPUExynos 5250 1.7GHz dual-core ARMCeleron 867 1.3GHz dual-core - 1271 CPU MarkCeleron 847 1.1GHz dual-core - 1016 CPU Mark
GPUMali T604Intel HD GraphicsIntel HD Graphics
RAM2 GB4 GB2 GB (expandable to 4GB)
Display11.6’’, 1366x768, 200 nits12.1’’, 1280x800, 300 nits11.6’’, 1366x768, 200 nits
Ports1xUSB3, 1xUSB2, 1xHDMI2xUSB2, DisplayPort3xUSB2, 1xHDMI, 1xVGA
Connectivitydual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, optional 3G ($80)dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Gigabit Ethernet, optional 3G ($100)dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 10/100 Ethernet
Speaker3W stereo4W stereostereo
Weight1.1 kg/2.43 lbs1.37 kg/3.02 lbs1.38kg/3.05 lbs
Battery2 cell, 30Wh, 6.5 hours4 cell, 51Wh, 6 hours4 cell, 37Wh, 3.5 hours (removable)

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