What is a Chromebook?

What separates a Chromebook from a laptop?

What is a Chromebook?

by Kyle Purves |
Updated on

When you're searching for one of the best laptops, you've probably run into a few that said they were Chromebooks. They look the same and are usually still in laptop sections, so what's the actual difference?

Chromebooks are designed to serve the same purposes as laptops, with the key difference being the operating system. Most laptops run Microsoft Windows as their OS, whereas Macbooks tend to run Apple's MacOS. Think of it like the difference in how Microsoft, Android, and Apple phones all run differently.

As you might be able to guess, Chromebooks run on Google's ChromeOS. The idea of adjusting to a new system can seem a bit daunting at first, but ChromeOS is very intuitive to use and easy to understand. We'd describe it as the middle ground between Windows and MacOS, so you shouldn't have much trouble getting to grips with it. Plus, if you've ever used a Google phone, you'll already be fairly familiar with the system.

Of course, while the operating system is the main difference, it's not the only one. We're here to help break down what sets a Chromebook apart from regular laptops.

Asus Chromebook


As a consequence of running a different operating system, a Chromebook has different compatibility with apps and software. Luckily, they've been around on the market long enough now that it's not that limiting. Most modern Chromebooks are Android compatible, which in turn means they can run ever-important software like Microsoft Office. Nevertheless, it's worth doubling check this before purchasing one, as older models might not be so compatible.

Cloud technology allows Chromebooks to overcome some limitations, so while not many models are ideal for gaming, they are compatible with plenty of titles. They also come with Cloud storage, which is super secure and fast.


While it can differ, Chromebooks are usually more budget-friendly than laptops. ChromeOS requires less power to run, meaning they don't require as powerful processors, which typically means they cost less. As such, if you're looking to pick up a laptop on a budget, a Chromebook is a fantastic alternative that does most of the same functions while being more affordable.

This is a bit of an inverse to this value, however. While they require less power, Chromebooks also tend to be less powerful. This isn't an issue in most cases, but it does explain why gaming rigs rarely involve Chromebooks. It's not just gaming, though; focusing on convenience and affordability often means the screens aren't amazing. Note that we didn't call them bad. After all, a Chromebook will still be good enough to enjoy your favourite shows and videos, but it will rarely reach the heights that a quality laptop can.

What else?

The last remaining difference to discuss is primary use. A laptop is a brilliant jack-of-all-trades and a Macbook has great creative suite options for artists, so what is the Chromebook designed to do?

Well, as you can imagine from a company like Google, a Chromebook has browsing as its main goal. With speedy load times, easy-to-use UI, and a usually very portable build, a Chromebook is the perfect coffee shop companion or library researcher. They're an especially good pick for students. The price tag won't eat into a budget quite the same, and the existing features make browsing websites a breeze. You don't even need to worry too much about Microsoft Word, as you can use Google Docs in most of the same situations.

A Chromebook is worth considering if you're looking for an affordable alternative to a laptop. Unless you have specific needs for certain software or specs, they're ideal for most of us who spend most of our laptop time browsing the internet anyway.

Kyle Purvesis a Commercial Content Writer for What’s The Best, with an avid interest in all things gaming and tech.

They’re well-versed in reviewing a variety of tech products, with a soft spot for speakers and earphones. They’re also no stranger to hunting down the best savings, always wanting to get the best deal possible. Outside of work, they can often be found playing through an RPG, listening to Japanese noise rock, or trying to catch up with their ever-expanding list of shows and anime to watch. If possible, they try to play Dungeons and Dragons a couple of times a week, but getting six adults to be free at the same time is easier said than done.

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