Best High-Performance Chromebook, Think M1 MacBook On Chrome
Post-2018 Chromebooks are generally fast. But HP’s new Chromebook is so fast it makes me wonder why I still use Windows.
tl:dr: Apple’s new M1 MacBooks aren’t the only new laptops that scream. Chrome OS already runs fast on poky low-power processors but is hypersonic on Chromebooks with conventional Intel laptop processors when doing everyday productivity tasks.
This is a quick-read review of the HP Elite c1030 Chromebook using the Google Pixelbook Go as a benchmark. Most of the review highlights are summarized in the two tables. I’ve had the HP Chromebook for a couple of weeks.
The HP Elite c1030 Chromebook I have is tricked out with Intel 10th Generation processors, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Those specs are overkill for Chromebooks, which run fast on older dual-core Intel chips, 8GB of memory and a 128GB SSD (or even a 64GB SSD). In fact, a Chromebook’s memory requirements are not unlike the M1 MacBook which does just fine with 8GB of memory.
Quick take on HP Elite c1030: optimized for Web and mobile apps, HP’s high-end Chromebook is designed for businesses that run stuff in the cloud. It’s also offered with an option for “Parallels Desktop for HP Chrome Enterprise,” which is virtualization software that allows you to run Windows applications like they would run natively on Windows 10. That’s the reason for the extra horsepower, memory and storage.
For me, it’s simply the fastest Chromebook I’ve ever used. Everything seems to happen in real time and doing things like scrolling through big PDF files is painless (not the case with Windows).
HP also throws in a fingerprint reader (still rare for Chromebooks). That helps a lot because Google’s Smart Lock, which automatically unlocks your Chromebook if your Android phone is nearby, isn’t as reliable as Face or fingerprint unlock. If Smart Lock flakes out (which it can do occasionally) and you don’t have biometrics, then you’re stuck with manually entering your password or PIN to unlock your Chromebook.
So far, battery life is stretchable (with on-and-off usage) to all-day for me. That’s if I keep screen brightness down and don’t do a lot of heavy lifting or video conferencing. A bigger workload, with screen brightness turned up, makes all-day battery unlikely. Using my Pixelbook Go as a benchmark, battery life falls short. The Google Chromebook can last a day and a half for me.
*Most of the “Cons” are not hardware but due to Chrome OS. Though Google’s operating system is great if you stay inside the Chrome-OS and Android ecosystem, it can have problems with Windows legacy applications like Microsoft Office (i.e., Windows applications on Chrome lose features and can be quirky and sluggish).
Chromebook and Chrome OS backgrounder:
Schools: Chrome OS with a fast processor and lots of system resources screams. But that’s not the reason an increasing number of schools and businesses buy Chromebooks. They buy them because they’re cheap, secure, and easy to set up. And because they run stuff like Google Docs and Web apps just fine with cheap hardware.
Chrome OS is efficient: it’s almost redundant to break this out as a separate bullet item. If you spend a lot of time inside the Chrome browser (like me), Chrome OS on HP’s Elite c1030 feels faster than high-powered, $2,000+ Intel-based laptops running on Windows 10 or macOS.
Chrome OS runs Android apps: this is a bonus that makes Chromebooks very compelling for me.
But…Without a virtualization program like Parallels, Windows legacy apps can be quirky running on Chrome.
I’ve used a lot of Chromebooks over the years but the HP Elite c1030 is the first spec’d with 16GB/256GB and a higher-end Intel quad-core mobile processor.
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