Chromebook recommendation?

It pains me to say this, but I have decided to buy a Chromebook for my son’s online schooling. He’s been using one of my older MacBooks, but he continues to run into problems with education websites requiring Adobe Flash. The “use the Chrome browser” trick isn’t working for these sites. Rosetta Stone is the worst, but there are other problems too. I’m tired of fighting with these antiquated platforms and I want to get him a Chromebook.

The thing is, I don’t know anything about Chromebooks. The school told me I should be able to pick one up for about $100-150, but all the ones I see recommended on Wirecutter and the like are in the $500 and up range. I do not want to spend that much. My son prefers his Mac, but I need to take the friction away when it comes to schoolwork. Does anyone have any recommendations for me? There are several less expensive options on Amazon, but I’m not sure what to look for.


If you’re comfortable with virtual machines and can take a little time to experiment, you might want to try installing Chromium OS in a virtual machine on the MacBook. I haven’t tried it (I probably will soon because I’m intrigued), but there are instructions at

1 Like

Interesting idea. It’s my son’s MacBook and is running either El Capitan or Yosemite, I can’t remember, but it’s updated as far as it will go. If it were my machine I might not mind tinkering, but he doesn’t have much patience with fiddling with tech. If I can find a chromebook that will do the job for $150ish, I think it’s worth it.

I hear you. Sometimes spending a little money to avoid aggravation is very much worth it! :grin:

I can’t recommend anything (or even know of any units) at the $100-$150 price-point. On a positive note, anything at that price won’t be great, but it will run Googlethings, and won’t be missed if lost or destroyed.

Why doesn’t the school offer recommended models, or at least provide info about models successfully used by students? Seems like they should be providing guidance…

The Acer Chromebook 11 CB311-8H-C5DV sells on Amazon for $270 and was the cheapest recommendation in PCMag’s top 10 Chromebook round-up for 2019.


Thanks. I have reached out to the school, but I haven’t heard back yet. I also reached out to this group because y’all are smart cookies! I was hoping to get something ordered today. The school is who told me I should be able to find something for well under $200 and I would like their recommendation. I am also considering for non-school things (and school things where he can get away with it), my son is perfectly happy with his old MacBook. So, dropping a lot of money just doesn’t make sense. I’ve raised my kids right — They would rather have a 10 year old MacBook than a brand new PC or Chromebook! But in this case, the chromebook is worth it for the lack of frustration interfacing with his online schooling. It would be nice if our school resources (both print and online) were not so antiquated and platform dependent, but it’s easier to drop some money than to try to change the entire industry!

I’ve read the reviews linked. Most of them are recommending things my son doesn’t need, and they come at a premium pricepoint — touch screen, flip around screens, etc. That is all unnecessary. He needs a boring, cheap chromebook — Like they use at school!

An elderly neighbor with shaky hands couldn’t deal with touch interfaces so I helped her get a 13.3" HP Chromebook 13 without touch or flipping and she loves it. I’m pretty sure it’s discontinued, but I remember it cost close to $400; it was one of Consumer Reports’ top picks at the time

The HP 11 and HP 14 are (confusingly) both around $240 on amazon, and similarly-specced.

The least expensive well-reviewed Chromebook at CR]( is a $169 11" Samsung.

Chromebooks are interesting devices, I have one of the cheap ones from when they first launched and it’s great, abet totally out of date now.

Like a lot of things you do get what you paid for, and the wirecutter has good reason for recommending the ones that they do.

the reason that you get the more expensive ones are that they are made with a higher quality and better parts, which is very useful depending on your workload. To my understanding modern chromebooks are able to run android apps, and thus having more system overhead for that would be good. There are also extensive signs that chromebooks will soon be able to dual boot into windows, meaning that the machines have a lot of options.

Something I was able to do on my chromebook, since ChromeOS is just a cutdown version of Linux and has the Linux kernel under the hood, I was able to change the system shell to use it as a full Linux laptop. Making the machine incredibly versatile.

So the point I wanted to make is that there are reasons to get a better then base model of chromebook, even though the cheap ones tend to be super durable.