What Is the Difference Between a Chromebook and a Laptop?

Chris Campbell14 Jan 2022

While Chromebooks and laptops appear to be the same in terms of appearance and build, Chromebooks are a new breed of laptops that are significantly different from your typical laptops, and they're all Google. Laptops were the unquestioned monarchs of mobile PCs, well, until Chromebooks came along. 

Chromebooks are a new range of fast, lightweight laptops that are budget-friendly. Instead of using Windows or Mac OS, they use a skinned version of Chrome. Despite the OS, it can do literally everything like watching videos and streaming music, editing photos, and checking emails. 

It is similar to the Chrome browser in that it runs most of its applications from the Cloud. It's essentially a spruced-up version of the Chrome browser specifically designed to be used online.

Is a Chromebook a Laptop?

To begin, a Chromebook is a notebook that runs the Google Chrome os. Chrome OS is based on Google's Chrome browser, hence it is web-based. This is fundamentally different from rival operating systems such as Windows or MacOS, which operate entirely on the machine rather than on the internet.

Chromebooks are a new type of low-cost laptop that runs the Linux-based Chrome OS and are intended to be used with internet access. They are considerably different from laptops that run a whole other operating system, such as Android. Chrome accomplishes its fundamental functions admirably, and it's virtually mobile given that it's an internet machine that conducts the majority of its operations in the cloud. In theory, it's a typical laptop with fewer lights and frills. They are incredibly lightweight, similar to ultrabooks, and do not require a lot of computing power or RAM. Instead, they make use of cloud services and Google products to work. To put it simply,  a Chromebook is a low-cost laptop that runs Google's Operating System rather than Microsoft Windows.

What will you do if you don't have internet access? For a long time, no one had an answer to this question. However, Google has expanded its offline capability in recent years, with the addition of its Android app store Google Play, which now includes numerous apps with offline capabilities, such as Spotify and Google Podcasts.

Chromebooks, unlike regular laptops, do not support MacOS or Windows directly. While it is possible to run Windows applications such as Microsoft Office via the online Android market, it is not what the Chromebook was designed for. Chromebooks are intended to be internet-connected and reliant on Google's cloud-based software. Google Workspace includes office tools such as Google Docs and Google Sheets in case you require them.

Chromebooks are immensely popular in academic settings due to their simple design that's efficient yet easy to use. Chromebooks may not be capable of replacing feature-rich computers, but they are well worth the expense. Chrome OS is designed to emulate the look of a Windows laptop, including a search button that looks similar to the Windows start button. 

In comparison to Windows and Mac OS, it is also incredibly light. It includes everything from music to images to navigation and business software. It offers the best of Google, Map, Gmail, and Docs, all of which are securely kept in the cloud. It synchronizes with your Android-based devices and all you need to do is sign in with your Google account and you're ready to go with no further configuration needed. The best aspect is that Chromebooks are regularly updated, eliminating the need for manual upgrading and downloading.

Chromebook Vs Laptop

Those looking for a new laptop have most likely come across a few Chromebooks online or at local stores. They appear like every other laptop but are generally far less expensive. However, this does not imply that you will receive less value.

Based on your requirements, Chromebooks may be superior to Windows or macOS rivals. Regardless, it's critical to do your research before purchasing a Chromebook as you may not even need one at all if you have certain requirements. Deciding between a Chromebook and a laptop might be difficult, so let's look at what makes them distinct.


Chromebooks are powered by Chrome OS, Google's proprietary operating system that emphasizes internet use. Chrome OS is in essence just an enhanced Chrome browser. Chromebooks just lately began to make use of specialized software. Chromebooks have become considerably more effective offline after obtaining access to the Google Play Store. Moreover, Chromebooks also have access to Linux programs, considerably expanding their catalog of desktop software.

Windows and macOS laptops, on the other hand, are more well-rounded computers. They run typical desktop operating systems that are supposed to be self-contained. These can perform a lot more than a Chromebook, particularly when it's not connected to the internet. Traditional computers cost more money and more powerful elements to keep things operating properly since they are more competent. With basic Chromebook specifications, a Windows/macOS laptop would perform appallingly.


For the price, Chromebooks are slim, small, and lightweight. Meanwhile, lightweight Windows and macOS laptops are becoming increasingly rare, and those that can compete with Chromebook's compactness are often substantially more expensive.


Performance is a vague concept. The performance of a machine is determined by its specifications, workload, and a variety of other factors. When identical specifications are applied to a Chromebook, a Windows laptop, and a Macbook, the Chromebook always outperforms the others. Chrome OS is a compact OS that does not require a lot of processing power to function efficiently.

True performance, on the other hand, will not be found on a Chromebook. Windows and macOS laptops may be fully customized, with enough power to run whatever you throw at them. Furthermore, they are suitable with sophisticated software. A typical laptop can provide far more raw power. That is if you are ready to pay a premium for the heftier specifications.


While no operating system is totally secure, Chrome OS is less vulnerable to threats. Google has taken several precautions to ensure that its operating system is safe from malicious hands.

Quite the opposite, Windows is popularly targeted by hackers, malware, viruses, and other online threats. Microsoft's OS is sophisticated, which exposes additional weaknesses upon which to attack. Windows is also incredibly popular, which increases the possibilities of success for hackers, and as a result, they place more emphasis on the operating system. It is unquestionably tougher to maintain a Windows laptop clean. Although macOS is often seen to be more secure, it is nevertheless more fragile than Chrome OS.


Many laptops are starting to catch up in this category as well, owing to low-power CPUs and other improvements. But "starting to catch up" is the essential phrase. In terms of battery life, Chrome OS smartphones are difficult to surpass.  Chromebooks typically have a battery life of at least 8 hours. This figure is quite unusual in the Windows or macOS realms.  Of course, you can always acquire a rechargeable battery that will keep your computer running longer.


Chromebooks now provide the greatest bargain. Because the operating system is incompatible with most energy-consuming apps, Chromebook devices are quite cheaper. As a result, a $300 Chromebook may frequently operate quicker and smoother compared to a typical laptop that costs twice as much. Chromebooks will boot quicker, launch apps faster, load websites faster, or even shut down faster.

Which Is Better: A Chromebook or a Laptop?

Buying a laptop used to be a reasonably simple process. It came down to choosing between a Windows laptop and a MacBook, with both having a strong following. Today, the two are perhaps closer than ever since they have a new adversary, the Chromebook.

Chromebooks have become a better alternative than typical laptops due to their lower pricing and straightforward approach. In essence, unless you need to run software that is exclusively accessible on Windows (or Mac), a Chromebook is the top choice. They are also pretty secure, so you don't have to worry about falling victim to any security breach.

Nowadays, more computing is done online rather than on your PC. Your email address? Synced through the cloud. What about your documents? Backups have been made to Google Drive or Onedrive. What about your favorite tracks and videos? Streamed rather than downloaded. Chromebooks are ideal for this "active online" strategy because they are far less expensive than Mac or Windows competitors.

To summarize, Chromebooks are ideal for anybody who uses a laptop for web-based tasks and can rely on Android apps for more difficult tasks. Chrome OS is quicker, less expensive, safer, and easier to use. Windows, MacOS, and another Linux-based os, on the other hand, can execute more complex apps and are much more efficient when used offline. They also offer a better assortment of laptop-optimized apps.

Can a Chromebook Replace a Laptop?

Chromebooks are an excellent alternative for anybody with standard computing requirements. For instance, if you're one who spends most of your time online checking emails, perusing the web, accessing social media, or watching YouTube videos, a Chromebook will suffice.

There are also a variety of work and entertainment apps available in Chromebooks like MS Office, Google Workspace, Dropbox, Spotify, Netflix, and YouTube.

Most Chromebooks have relatively low CPUs as well as other components than more expensive Windows and Mac laptops, thus they may perform slightly slower while doing intense computer activities. However, if you choose the perfect Chromebook for your requirements, you'll discover decent battery life as well as an overall snappy experience for online surfing and email.

To sum it up, Chromebooks and laptops are quite different. While laptops use the most prominent operating system which is Windows, Chromebooks use the web-based Chrome OS, which is essentially a better version of the Chrome browser with extra features. While they appear identical, they have major distinctions in terms of specifications and performance. One of the numerous differences between a Chromebook and a laptop is that Chromebooks make considerable use of the cloud and are mainly intended for internet use. Laptops, on the other hand, are designed to handle even the most sophisticated computer processes.

Chris Campbell

Chris Campbell

Thanks for reading! I'm Chris, an avid tech fanatic that enjoys keeping up with the latest laptop models. Hopefully my tips & tricks can help you out!

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