Chromebooks have long had a reputation as being cheap notebooks that run Google’s browser-based operating system. And that’s certainly true for some Chromebooks. But PC makers have been putting out higher-priced models with better specs, performance, and build quality for almost as long as Chromebooks have been around.

Now Google is making it a little easier to know at a glance whether you’re looking at a budget Chromebook or a premium model. The new Chromebook Plus category of devices are Chromebooks that meet a minimum set of specs and offer some additional software features. But with prices starting as low as $399 for some models, even a premium Chromebook can be fairly inexpensive compared with Mac or Windows laptops.

So what does qualifies a Chromebook for the Plus branding? Here are the minimum specs:

  • Display1080p IPS or better
  • CPU: Intel Core i3 12th-gen or higher or AMD Ryzen 3 7000 or better
  • RAM8GB or more
  • Storage: 128GB or more
  • Webcam1080p or better with Temporal Noise Reduction

Google and hardware partners Acer, Asus, HP, and Lenovo are announcing 8 Chromebook Plus models at launch, two from each of those PC makers.

And one thing to keep in mind is that while some of the higher-priced models have 12th or 13th-gen Intel Core i5 U-series chips, some of the more affordable models have  Intel Core i3-N305 Alder Lake-N processors (with 8 Efficiency cores and no Performance cores) or AMD Ryzen 3 7320C Mendocino processors (with Zen 2 CPU cores and RDNA 2 graphics).

Those chips are still better than what you’ll find in most sub-$300 Chromebooks though, and it’s nice to know that nothing solder under the Chromebook Plus brand will have a 1366 x 768 pixel display, 4GB or RAM, or 32GB of storage… all things that you often find on budget models.

But the minimum hardware requirements only tell part of the story. Google is also promising extra software features for Chromebook Plus models, including:

  • AI-enhanced video conferencing with lighting effects, background noise reduction, and enhanced background blurring in Google Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other apps
  • Magic Eraser support in Google Photos (for removing unwanted objects from images)
  • File Sync makes files saved to your Google Drive available offline
  • Free 3-month subscriptions to:
    • Adobe Photoshop on the web
    • Adobe Express on the web
    • NVIDIA GeForce NOW priority tier
  • Adobe Photoshop and Express on the Web 3-month subscription for free with purchase of a new Chromebook Plus

Google says it’s also planning to bring more AI features to Chromebook Plus in the future including support for generating custom wallpapers from text prompts, or suggested edits to your written blog or social media posts, among other things.

Google and its hardware partners are announcing nine new Chromebook Plus models that will be available in the US starting Oct 8 before hitting Canada and Europe a day later. But Google also plans to bring Chromebook Plus software to a bunch of existing Chromebooks that already meet the minimum hardware requirements.

That software update should begin rolling out October 17, 2023 and should be coming to a number of Chromebooks from Acer, Asus, Dell, Framework, HP, and Lenovo.

 

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  1. For goodness sake, don’t give these to children in our schools. Pleasse teach them how to use Windows so they an get a job. These children of ours have to pay trillions and trillions of our debt off.

  2. It’s a shame that none of them are 2-in-1 tablets with detachable screens. I have always wanted to see a direct successor to the Google Pixel Slate with x86 CPU. I’m not interested in an ARM Chromebook as I can already utilize my Android phone in Desktop Mode.

  3. A little odd that the guidelines don’t allow any suitably recent/fast ARM CPUs, only x86 ones. Given ChromeOS’s emphasis on webapps and Android apps—with the “Crostini” Linux VM a distant third, at least from a consumer perspective—I see no downside to allowing ARM.

    The 1080p minimum requirement is very welcome.

    The only Chromebook I’ve used was the original Lenovo Duet, which had a 10.1″ 1920×1200 screen. Nice and compact, with more vertical resolution than either my laptop or desktop at the time.

    I sold it to a friend because the tablet-convertible form factor is not for me—I regularly type on my lap and other surfaces that aren’t rigid/flat). I’ve never been able to find a similarly-priced laptop (Chromebook or otherwise) that doesn’t cheap out on the display. Let alone one as compact and light as the Duet (920g with keyboard and stand, 450g without).

    The Duet of course wouldn’t have qualified for Plus branding, given its relatively slow MediaTek SoC.

  4. All those extra subscriptions just tell me that the operating system isn’t really good enough to sell on its own without them.
    …And maybe it’s not supposed to be, and my notions of buying software instead of subscribing to a service as a software substitute, is an outdated concept for losers who aren’t with it.

    1. In fact, something I was thinking about this morning, was a dreadful way that Google could REALLY boost adoption of its devices. No, not sales, you merely pay an adoption fee, the device belongs to Google.
      Change the policy on the creation of Google Accounts, so that to get a new Google Account, you have to either buy an Android phone, or a Chromebook. You don’t need a phone number anymore, device ID will suffice.
      Because that’s how Apple does it. No one cares because they don’t have any mainstream social media except iMessage.
      Think of how many people would start buying android phones if they couldn’t comment on YouTube without them! And think of how much more effort people would put in to not say anything out of line if their devices got banned from Google’s services for accidentally typing in a word wrong! They can do it now with Web Environment Integrity. Is this anti-trust lawsuit material? You’d think, but in the 90’s people thought that making it impossible to uninstall your browser was anti-trust lawsuit material and Microsoft “proved” them wrong by just BRIBING THE DOJ TO LET IT GO.