Chromebooks: the need for speed !

If you are looking to buy a Chromebook, I have one piece of advice for you. Ignore the marketing gimmick around processor speeds which are mostly misleading.

The top reasons for Chromebooks to slow down are the following

  • Lower powered CPU – Cheaper Chromebooks in general come with smaller battery size. To make the devices last longer, the Manufacturers typically pick lower powered CPUs. These CPUs work great for some types of work, but may not perform well during CPU intensive operation. Video conferencing and Gaming often challenges the CPUs.
  • Insufficient RAM – Most modern cellphones have 4GB RAM or higher. However, we still have Chromebooks selling with 2GB ram. Shortage of RAM can do two things: (1) It can crash your applications at times (2) If “Swap” is enabled, it will significantly slow down your device. If you have more than 5 tabs open on your Chromebook, I recommend picking at least 4GB or higher, and recommend at 8GB to 16GB if you can afford it.
  • Hardware acceleration – Certain operations perform faster if the device provides Hardware acceleration. If you plan to use Chromebooks for Video conferencing, check out if it supports H264 and VP9 hardware acceleration.
  • Insufficient thermal management – Most CPUs need a good thermal management system to help it manage its temperature. On larger devices like Desktops and Servers, CPUs have dedicated fans to cool it down. But Phones and most Chromebooks rely on hardware design to redistribute the heat generated to other parts of the device where its exchanged for cooler temperature. However, unlike CPU fans, this is a slower process. When CPUs get beyond a certain threshold, they start throttling down to lower speeds. This is why you may sometimes notice your chromebook slowing down after a few minutes of use.

I maintain a ranked list of Chromebooks here if you are interested in understanding what options are available.






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