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HP Chromebook vs Windows Laptops

HP Chromebook vs Windows Laptops

Dwight Pavlovic
Reading time: 9 minutes
From efficient and thin notebooks to powerful workhorses that somehow fit into a compact frame, there’s an incredible number of laptops to research and compare in the current market. And whether you’re shopping on a budget or looking for the most powerful computer available, variety is the most obvious benefit of this leveled playing field.
These days, there are more and more features to consider when comparing the HP Chromebook vs. more traditional laptops. Students, gamers, families, and professionals all have distinct resources and needs from their device, so it’s critical to understand both options before committing to a big purchase.
There are advantages with both formats, and it all really depends on your profession or preferences. As a result, it’s likely that you can find plenty of pros and cons for either type, so it’s just a question of deciding which is right for you.
While Windows laptops depend on local software and hardware, an HP Chromebook and its Chrome operating system work differently. And because most PC users will be familiar with the ins and outs of Windows, we’ll start this article by explaining the basics of what you can expect from an HP Chromebook laptop.

What is a Chromebook?

In very brief terms, “Chromebook” is the name for a range of laptops designed to take greater advantage of the internet for certain critical functions. To get the most out of every inch of the device while also reducing prices for consumers, a Chromebook won’t feature loads of local storage or software. Instead, these features are replaced with online cloud solutions.
While early HP Chromebooks focused on Google’s suite of recognizable Chrome and business apps, the extent of their capabilities and their popularity are growing hand-in-hand. And when you consider their lower price tag and the increasing availability of high-speed wireless networks, you can expect these laptops to only become more popular.
Deciding between a Chromebook or Windows laptop isn’t necessarily simple, since there are streamlined HP Chromebooks for just the basics with corresponding high-end versions. You’ll find premium models and 2-in-1 variants, with a wide range of options from HP®.

What is Chrome OS?

Chrome OS is based on Linux and uses Google’s signature Chrome browser and its catalog of office apps as its starting point. For comparison’s sake, while Windows users depend on the Microsoft Office suite for word processing, spreadsheets, and so forth, Chrome users can accomplish similar tasks using Google Drive and Google Sheets, along with cloud storage options.
With adoption rates growing, Google has made regular updates and improvements to make the OS an industry leader. It’s also helped the HP Chromebook become one of the most popular Linux-based computers of all time. And now that HP Chromebook laptops are increasingly Android-enabled, users can enjoy an even wider range of options as far as apps go.
While we’re looking at just two categories of computers, it’s easy to find plenty of unique advantages to both. Unexpected advantages and drawbacks can always come up, no matter which option you choose.
And if it’s just a question of style, you may not find the difference between Windows and HP Chromebook laptops too substantial. More and more, Chrome OS is designed to offer the best of both worlds with increasingly minimal disruption even when a stable internet connection isn’t available.
Let’s now take a thorough look at the advantages of HP Chromebook vs Windows laptops, then compare them based on different use scenarios.

The advantages of HP Chromebooks

1. Lower prices and energy impact

HP Chromebook x360
One of the main advantages for many users will be the competitive starting price for most HP Chromebooks. There are exceptions for both Windows laptops and HP Chromebooks, but on average you’ll see more affordable prices with the latter.
Plus, Chrome OS excels at managing memory use, so you won't have to worry about paying for RAM upgrades anytime soon. It should keep even "power" Chrome users happy with 4GB to 8GB of RAM. Even without a constant internet connection, there is a growing number of tasks you can do offline with the Chrome OS.
Their streamlined hardware configuration also means that HP Chromebooks tend to have more efficient power profiles than comparable Windows laptops. Many HP Chromebooks are available in configurations certified by ENERGY STAR® and given top ratings by EPEAT®. As a result, the device reduces its impact on the environment and your energy bill.

2. Great choice for Google Drive and Chrome users

HP Pro c645 Chromebook
For any user with extensive experience with Google Drive or the Chrome browser, the transition to an HP Chromebook will be pretty minimal. The Chrome OS is already designed along relatively familiar lines, so using one of these laptops should come naturally.
Plus, if you have some of your files saved in Google Drive, they’ll all be immediately accessible through your new HP Chromebook. As a result, taking one of these computers out of the box will never give you a feeling of, “OK, now what about my existing stuff?” Considering how most of us typically handle new hardware, that’s a fundamental change. It’s also a great way to reduce time spent on setup.

3. Convertible options

HP Chromebook x360 Convertible
The versatile HP Chromebook x360 and x2 variants are both among the most popular examples of the series, even among HP laptops as a whole. They offer unique functionality that users may still mostly associate with Windows laptops, so we’ll discuss the implications of having a convertible HP Chromebook.
Powered by the latest generation of processors, the HP Chromebook x360 line provides the Chrome OS within the framework of 2-in-1 convertibility. The device’s strong hinges allow users to treat it like a traditional laptop or a tablet. When you need mobility or greater freedom of motion, just fold the display back against the keyboard and you can get to work in tablet mode. Otherwise, just use it as you would any other laptop.
The HP Chromebook x2 is designed to offer 2-in-1 functionality in a somewhat different way. Instead of folding the display back to use it in tablet mode, you can simply detach it from the keyboard. If you love using your laptop in tablet mode, this detachable option cuts out some of the bulk and weight from the keyboard. There are some differences in usability, however, so choosing between the two depends on your preferences and style of work.
These devices are great for budget shoppers and moderate users who want a multi-use device. The HP Chromebook x360 and x2 are among the most competitive prices you’ll find for either format. Plus, their touch functionality is protected by Corning® Gorilla® Glass.

4. Extremely fast boot times and setup

Because HP Chromebooks are highly streamlined, they’re easy to set up. With an existing Google Drive account and your own Chrome experience, it won’t take long to get a firm grasp of things. Once it’s out of the box, it should only take minutes for you to begin using it. And once you’re all set up, you’ll enjoy fast boot-up times, too.

The advantages of Windows laptops

1. Better local performance and storage

The biggest advantages of a Windows laptop - and, really, any version of the “HP Chromebook vs notebook” showdown - are related to local performance and hardware. These devices don’t require an internet connection or web-based applications, so you can work from just about anywhere. Also, while gaming options for the HP Chromebook are expanding, Windows laptops are still the primary source for dedicated gaming platforms.
It can be helpful to have dedicated graphics cards and deep local storage drives at your fingertips depending on your use. For some, these features offer a greater degree of independence, even if it comes at a greater cost. Storage is particularly important if you regularly work with large files or in environments with limited internet access.
Of course, while some of the following advantages are unique to Windows, most of the general concepts covered here are also applicable to the Chrome OS.

2. Choose your preferred browser and software

Maybe you don’t have much experience with Chrome or don’t like to use the Google Drive office suite. For you, a Windows laptop offers the most certainty and convenience because you’re familiar with the software. Plus, you can use whichever browser you prefer, from Internet Explorer to Mozilla.
Also, the HP Chromebook’s app marketplace may be growing, but for now Windows laptops have the advantage of several decades’ worth of development behind them. That being said, the HP Chromebook’s recently introduced Android app market is a watershed change. Between that and their competitive pricing, the hurdle of software options may not be particularly disruptive.

Side-by-side comparison

Now we’ll explore HP Chromebook and Windows laptop configurations in a few different work scenarios so that it’s easy to understand the implications of each system for your situation.

Students and teachers

As the popularity of the HP Chromebook rises, schools and administrators have widely embraced the format and made it an increasingly common part of educators’ toolkits. For students as well, most configurations offer many of the functions they’ll need. They provide easy collaborative tools and access to research while also saving students and schools money.
For engineering or design students with specific software needs and the right budget, however, you may still want to shop around for the right Windows laptop.

Streamers and gamers

The HP Chromebook and the Chrome OS are both great platforms for streaming with access to high-resolution displays even in their lower price range. Streaming depends primarily on the strength of your internet connection, so as long as you’re connected, watching movies and TV from the web should never be a challenge.
For gamers wanting to play the latest titles, however, the HP Chromebook may not be up to the challenge. While the options for streaming games are growing, you may need a Windows laptop with dedicated graphics. On the other hand, Chrome users with Android-enabled devices do have access to a unique selection of games via the Google Play Store.

Families and professionals

As a portable supplement for vacationing or to help cover individual streaming needs, the HP Chromebooks excel as a portable solution. You can enjoy full functionality and a boosted offline experience during long journeys or when you’re away from a stable internet connection. If you’re looking for a laptop that can serve as a shared PC for work and family, though, you may need a more powerful Windows model.
By the same token, professionals in certain fields like architecture, engineering, and design will require a Windows laptop with stronger specs and access to preferred software. Still, business users will appreciate the HP Chromebook’s rigorous security, which is improved through regular updates.

Remember to focus on your resources and routine

Ultimately, whether you choose an HP Chromebook or a Windows laptop depends on your specific needs, including your budget, your workspace, and many other factors. With more and more HP Chromebook variants making it to market, you’ll also enjoy having access to more versatile 2-in-1 models like the latest HP Chromebook x360 and x2. They’re a great option for when you want to a device that can do it all as they serve as both a laptop and a tablet.
As you browse the latest HP Chromebooks, you’ll notice that they’re advancing well ahead of past models, too. From high-resolution displays to convertible options, you’ll find much more than just a great price when you choose an HP Chromebook.

About the Author

Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.

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