14 Differences Between Laptop and Chromebook

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What are the differences between laptop and Chromebook? A laptop computer, more commonly referred to as ‘laptop’ only, is a personal computer.

However, this PC is small in size and portable as compared to the desktop computers. The other unique features of a laptop, which makes it different from a desktop computer are:

The clamshell form allows the users to open up the lid to use the computer and fold it to shut the laptop and carry it in a backpack.

Suitable for mobile use, these computers are light and small to place it on your lap while using. This is how the name ‘laptop’ comes from.

Nowadays, people often refer to a laptop as a notebook but, originally, there was a distinct difference between the two. The laptop was heavier and bigger as compared to a notebook.

However, after 2014, there was a change in the design of a laptop and since then there was no significant difference between a laptop computer and a notebook.

The laptops of today can be used in a wide variety of settings such as:

  • For work in office
  • In education
  • For web browsing
  • For playing games
  • For personal multimedia and
  • For general use at home.

The architecture of a laptop includes all input and output components of a desktop computer in one single case. These include:

The latest designs of laptops also include built-in microphones and an integrated webcam. Some may even come with the latest touchscreen feature.

There are also a few specific models of laptops that even come with a wireless networking adapter or Bluetooth technology.

This allows the users to get connected to the internet without requiring any cables and wires, as well as transfer text and image files easily, quickly and with no hassles.

A laptop can work just like a desktop with the only difference that it does not need a lot of space to install and work in a fixed location.

You can power the laptop up through an external power supply using an AC adapter or from its internal battery.

This battery is very powerful and when it is fully charged it will allow you to work on it for several hours without having to keep it plugged in to the electrical outlet constantly. This is another significant difference of a laptop with a desktop computer.

All laptops may look the same and may be made for the same purpose but different brands, make and model may vary in several elements such as:

  • The type
  • The specs of the hardware components
  • The processor speeds
  • The capacity of the memory and, of course
  • The price points.

The design elements, construction as well as the form factor may also vary between the different models significantly according to the intended use of the laptops.

For example, there are specialized models of laptops that are used in military applications and construction such as the rugged notebooks.

There are also a few low-cost laptops available in the market such as those devices that come from the OLPC or One Laptop per Child organization. These laptops come with specialized features such as:

  • Solar charging
  • Semi-flexible components and more.

These features are typically not found in an ordinary laptop.

Ideally, it was the portable computers of the yesteryears that has been developed into a modern laptop. Initially, these laptops were designed for the smaller and niche market and involved specific field applications mostly. This included:

  • The accountants
  • The military and
  • The sales representatives who were always on the move.

With the evolution in design over time, these portable computers are now used for a wider and more diverse purposes by different people, in home or at offices.

Another significant difference of the modern laptops with the traditional portable computers is that it is far more capable and can work much faster.

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Looking beyond the portable computers, in fact, a laptop can work at par any desktop computer, thanks to the advancements in the laptop manufacturing technology.

However, all these features and conveniences of a laptop comes with a high price, which is significantly higher as compared to a similarly equipped desktop model.

Moreover, working for long hours on a laptop may cause more fatigue than working on a desktop for the same period of time, research says.

Now, take a look at the Chromebooks. In simple words, this is a computing device that uses Chrome operating system of Google instead of Windows 10 OS or macOS.

Ideally, these are specific types of laptops that are designed around Google’s cloud and have done remarkably well, especially in the education segment of the market.

However, over the years and time, both the demand and appeal of it has widened so much so that some of the best Chromebooks are today considered to be some of the best laptops.

Overall, a Chromebook is much more durable, tests have revealed. It has a fairly long battery life and comes with spectacular design and features.

Most importantly, you may consider buying a Chromebook rather than a traditional laptop because this is a low-cost and high-performing alternative from Google.

Since a Chromebook uses Chrome OS, which is the same as the Google Chrome web browser, you can do anything on it as you normally do when using a laptop such as:

  • Check your mail
  • Visit and read different websites
  • Watch online videos and movies
  • Listen to music and so on.

Though convenient, lightweight and useful, there are, however, a few specific limitations of a Chromebook. These are:

  • First, it will not come with a lot of drive space. The main reason behind this is that Google expects the users to use the system for accessing the internet primarily. For storing the files, documents and photos, users can use the cloud.
  • Secondly, Chromebooks use Chrome operating systems which means that users cannot install any third-party software such as the traditional Windows. It means that you will not be able to do everything on a Chromebook as you can in a traditional laptop such as using Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop or even play the most recent games.

It also comes with limited capabilities and hardware. A Chromebook is highly dependent on Chrome. This means that you will have all those specific features of an operating system residing within the Chrome tab such as:

However, this translates into a lightning fast startup, low overhead, and a high performance in spite of its low-end and limited hardware components.

The Chrome OS is heavily dependent on different Google services such as:

Now, the point of concern is that Google has discontinued Chrome apps for Linux, macOS, and Windows because these are sparsely used.

Coming June 2022, Google is supposed to discontinue Chrome Apps for Chromebooks as well. As of now, the void of software for Chromebooks is made up from the support from Android apps that can be installed from the Google Play Store.

Here comes the concern regarding storage of the Chromebooks which typically comes with a limited local storage capacity.

The only solution to this, however, is the 100 GB of space available online. You can even increase that amount significantly, if you want.

The benefit of storing in the cloud is that you can access any of your files from anywhere and by using any type of computer.

This means that, if, at some point of time your Chromebook fails to start, you will not lose any or all of your documents, data, apps and settings.

There are some specific types of Chromebooks that may have much more extensive local storage but that will also mean that it will be much more expensive.

The size of the screen of the Chromebooks can range between 12-inch to 15-inch, depending on the make, brand and model. The screen size will be not more than that.

However, if you want a larger display you can connect it with an external monitor. It will really work well providing you with some more screen space.

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If you want better resolutions, the Chromebook can offer you that as well. A few of its models come with an incredible resolution of 3,000 x 2,000, and even a 4K AMOLED screen supported by the 10th generation Intel Comet Lake processors for spectacular display.

Therefore, there is no reason to think that the resolution of a Chromebook screen can never match that of a Windows laptop.

There are also a few other differences between a Chromebook and a traditional laptop. Knowing these differences will help you to understand better and make the right choice between the two.

Differences Between Laptop and Chromebook

Differences between Laptop and Chromebook

1. Operating System

The laptops run on a macOS or a Windows 10 operating system, depending on the model.

The Chromebooks, on the other hand, runs on Chrome OS only and will not support using any third-party software.

2. Hardware and Storage

The Chromebooks come with limited hardware components. There will be very limited storage capacity because everything’s meant to be stored in the cloud.

The laptops, however, will have some of the best hardware components installed in it. This means that it will have at least hundreds of gigabytes of internal storage, either in the form of a Solid-State Drive or a spinning Hard Disk Drive.

3. Added Features

Laptops usually come with several other additional features such as optical drives, integrated webcams and several ports to connect different external accessories and devices to it.

Chromebooks, meanwhile, usually have very limited features and certainly not these. It can run only on Chrome browser and use only web-based apps.

4. Variety

There are different types, makes, brands, models and specifications of laptops. Such a wide variance may at times overwhelm you when it comes to choosing a particular one, when budget is not the primary concern.

Chromebooks, on the other hand, do not have such a wide variety. In fact, it is so little as compared to the types of laptops, choosing one will feel like ‘a breath of fresh air.’

5. Speed

Chromebooks can operate more or less at a constant speed. This is because it will not slow down due to running low on memory or a reduced speed of the processor.

Laptops, in comparison, may operate at a slower speed and lower rate of data transfer or have issues while accessing the storage components inside, when it runs low on memory.

6. Requirements

The requirements of a laptop are much more than a Chromebook. It will need more RAM, better software, powerful processor, huge storage capacity and powerful graphics cards.

A Chromebook does not need all these because it is not designed to perform any high-end tasks.

7. Design

The design of the laptop makes it heavier and bigger in size because it needs to accommodate a lot of hardware components inside.

Since it does not need too much hardware, the Chromebooks are sleeker, lighter, smaller, and more streamlined in comparison to the traditional laptops.

8. Customization

You will be able to upgrade your laptop as and when required by making a few changes in the hardware components according to your need and choice. However, these new components should be supported by the existing motherboard.

On the other hand, the Chromebooks offer very limited or no scope for customization in comparison to the laptops. They will come with a specific feature set, but that is all about it.

9. Portability

The thinner and sleeker make of the Chromebooks make them extremely portable.

The laptops, however, are small but most of them cannot be considered as ultra-portable as the Chromebooks. Those that can be, usually comes with a very high price tag.

10. Performance

The level of performance of a laptop is much higher because it has better components, specs and different form factors.

The Chromebooks may not be as high as a laptop in performance with its limited features and lightweight operating system. However, if these devices come with the same specs, it will always outperform a laptop.

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11. Power Consumption and Battery Life

The powerful processor, graphics, operating system and other components of a laptop will consume more power. This means that the battery life of these devices will be significantly low.

In comparison, the Chromebooks use a lightweight Chrome OS and limited hardware. It will, therefore, use low power to run smoothly and have a longer battery life than a laptop.

12. Safety Aspect

Since the laptops will allow using third-party operating systems, software and access several web-based apps, the safety of the system is a vital concern. It is comparatively lower than a Chromebook.

Though none of the operating systems can be labelled as completely safe and secure, the Chrome OS comparatively will be less prone to failures and attacks from evil hands.

13. Security Measures

The Chrome OS is much more secure due to the different security measures followed by Google such as sandboxing, automatic updates, power washes and verified boot.

Meanwhile, Windows-based laptops are more vulnerable to attacks and the prime target for viruses, hackers, malware, and other dangers of the internet. This is because it is extremely popular and extensively used.

14. Value

Chromebooks will offer you more value in return for the money you pay to own it. This low-cost machine can run much smoother and faster while booting, opening pages, and even while turning the system off.

The traditional laptops will cost you twice as much as a Chromebook. However, it may be a worthy investment if only you have higher and more software-intensive computing needs.

Which is Better – Laptop or Chromebook?

The short and simple answer to this is: both are good enough in their respective fields with their respective pros and cons.

Now, if you ask, which one to choose between the two, then the answer will be: it all depends on what you want to do with your computer.

Ideally, a Chromebook is a better option to choose over a laptop if you limit your usage to:

  • Surfing the web
  • Catching up on your emails
  • Browsing Facebook
  • Streaming music via YouTube and even from the iTunes library
  • Watching movies and
  • Creating documents in Google Docs.

You may even use it for balancing your checkbook in Excel for Microsoft 365.

The Windows-based laptops, on the other hand, are good for you if you have to leave the browser to use the installed apps.

However, you will have to pay a higher price for it. More often than not the price of a decent laptop may be double or triple the cost of a Chromebook.

Yes, you will also get a few cheaper laptop models within the range of a Chromebook but that will be very slow and low in performance making it unworthy.

Therefore, if you are looking for high-end performance and specific software, it is worth paying more for a costlier laptop.

Looking deeply into it, you may also find some other good reasons to own a Chromebook, simply because it uses the Chrome OS. The Chrome OS is:

  • More stable than Windows 10 operating system
  • More secure
  • Simple to move to new hardware and
  • Works fine offline.

All these make the Chromebooks one of the most versatile laptops these days. However, this does not mean that the Chromebooks are suitable for everyone. Though a Chromebook is ideal for some people, to others, the Windows laptops are still the best.

Therefore, a Chromebook is the best device for web purposes. If you want to run more sophisticated programs using Windows, Linux or macOS, a good and traditional laptop is the best choice that comes with a wider selection of apps.


It is your decision and choice when it comes to selecting a Chromebook or a laptop. While both are thin, light and portable, it is about your usage and need that will determine your final choice.

You should also consider the comparative advantages of each of these devices and your computing jobs you want to perform on it to get the best value overall.