Boris Mann’s Personal Blog

Sep 2020

Fall 2020 Chromebooks for back to school in Canada

I always work across multiple machines and operating systems. I wrote up my laptop choices back in Feb 2020, and I ended up dipping my toes back into Windows with a laptop. Before that, I had bought two Chromebooks in a row, and I still think they are some of the best value.

Ryan recently asked me a question about Chromebooks:

I’m thinking of getting my 12 year old a Chromebook for back to school and wanted your input. For context, most of what they’ll be doing is google docs driven and she’s not a gamer.

Yeah, the Chromebooks are solid. And now that you can put Linux on them as a built in feature, there’s lots more that can be done with it.

You can also game on it: with streaming services like Stadia or Geforce Now, or Steam and some Linux games.

I usually follow the Wirecutter recommendations – I have personal experience with buying two ASUS Chromebooks and have been very impressed.

Looks like the ASUS Flip C434 is available at London Drugs for $700CAD.

The Lenovo model that is current WireCutter top rating looks to be good and available for about $560CAD.

If you see Chromebooks for less than $500CAD – they are usually way too underpowered.

And then Greg emailed me, so I’m turning this whole thing into a little Chromebook FAQ:

We’re wanting/needing to get something for my kids to use for school, and since they use the GSuite at school a Chromebook seems like a good idea. However, they still want to be able to play Minecraft.

Is there a site you would recommend for me to go to, in order to figure out what Chromebook to order? What Chromebook are you running?

Today, you don’t need to “dual boot” into Linux any more. Like WSL for Windows, you run any flavour of Linux that you want and you can run graphical apps like Minecraft no problem. This site on installing Minecraft for Chromebooks has too many ads on it, but basically – Linux stuff installs directly on Chromebooks these days.

Having a really solid browser environment, plus basic apps you can install, makes for a good stable system that is very inexpensive for what you get. You need to pay more for a Windows or Mac laptop – approximately 2-4 times the price of a solid Chromebook – to get equivalent performance.

My current Chromebook is the ASUS C434, but as I said at the top, I’m also switching between an ASUS Windows laptop and a Mac desktop.

I still wouldn’t pay more than $1000CAD for a Chromebook (and even that is pretty high).