Hands-on Gear Review

Google Pixelbook Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $1,100 List
Pros:  Fast and powerful, Touchscreen and optional stylus, thin and light, lots of onboard storage
Cons:  Expensive
Bottom line:  High end performance with a correspondingly high price tag
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight:  2.4 lb
Dimensions:  11.4" x 8.7" x 0.4"
Touchscreen:  Yes
Manufacturer:   Google

Our Verdict

Few product prefixes create more buzz nowadays than Pixel, and the Google Pixelbook largely lives up to the hype. It is both the most powerful and one of the most portable Chromebooks we tested. It backs that up with a near flawless touchscreen and optional stylus and 128GB of internal storage. The only downside is its price: the base model starts at $1000. If you're planning to use the Pixelbook as your primary machine it is likely worth the price. However, if you're looking for a secondary computer, or just don't need all the extra RAM and internal storage, the Samsung Chromebook Pro will serve you just as well at about half the price.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Max Mutter and Steven Tata

Last Updated:
Monday
April 9, 2018

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The Google Pixelbook is the clear frontrunner for those that want a no compromises, high-performance Chromebook no matter the cost. It is also great for those that want to use a chromebook as their primary computer and want enough internal storage to keep all of their personal documents on the machine itself rather than on the cloud.


Performance Comparison


We used five different testing metrics, weighted according to their importance to overall performance, to determine the best Chromebooks. You can read about how the Pixelbook performed in these metrics below.

Performance


Boasting better specs than pretty much any other Chromebook on the market, the Pixelbook sat atop our performance testing scoresheet.


The Pixelbook sports 8GB of RAM, double that of any of the other models we tested, and it showed. In our testing we couldn't slow this machine down, no matter how many videos we streamed, how many web apps we used, and how many tabs we had open. However, that jump in performance was by no means astronomical. For example, the 4GB of RAM in the Samsung Pro still let us stream video and edit Google documents with 10+ tabs open before we saw any signs of lag. For most people this level of performance is most likely more than enough, but if you want the peace of mind of knowing that your Chromebook can handle pretty much anything you throw at it, the Pixelbook is the best bet.

The Pixelbook was always fast and reliable  no matter what we threw at it.
The Pixelbook was always fast and reliable, no matter what we threw at it.

One area where the Pixelbook really sets itself apart is with its 128GB of onboard storage. This is double the next closest competitor (the ASUS Flip C302CA) and quadruple that of most models.

The Pixelbook doesn't have many ports  just 2 USB-Cs and a headphone jack.
The Pixelbook doesn't have many ports, just 2 USB-Cs and a headphone jack.

Ports


One place the Pixelbook is somewhat limited is in the ports that it offers. In the interest of staying slim it has just 2 USB-C inputs (either of which can be used for charging) and a headphone jack. This isn't limiting at all in most scenarios, but if you want the option of charging your computer while using an external monitor and and external keyboard you're either out of luck or will need to invest in some Bluetooth accessories. Also, all but the newest accessories will likely need USB-C converters.

Interface and Features


Here again the Pixelbook came out on top, sharing the top score with the Samsung Pro


The Pixelbook offers pretty much anything you could want from a Chromebook: a full sized keyboard, touch screen, folded tablet mode, and an optional stylus (for another $100). It also sports a large, responsive trackpad and a full-sized keyboard. We had no complaints completing long typing sessions and doing lots of mouse-heavy spreadsheet editing with this machine. Our only very minor complaint is that the computer itself doesn't have anywhere to store the optional stylus. Here the Samsung Pro has a leg up, as it has a slot that the stylus lives in, so there is little to no chance of misplacing it or leaving it behind.

Both the touchscreen and stylus are exceptional.
Both the touchscreen and stylus are exceptional.

Display Quality


With full HD and vibrant colors the Pixelbook has a great screen, earning it a top score in this metric.


Sporting a resolution of 2400 x 1600 the Pixelbook is not lacking in terms of clarity. We also found it able of producing vivid, true colors. The contrast offers fairly true blacks and very bright brights, resulting in a dynamic and engrossing image. We feel this display is more than adequate for visually stunning hollywood blockbusters. Our only minor complaint is that the 3:2 aspect ratio, while great for web browsing, does leave some unused screen real estate when watching widescreen movies. Overall the display is almost identical to that of the Samsung Pro. The only screen that offers a better experience is the 15.3" display of the Acer 15, though you have to make a big sacrifice in terms of portability to get it.


Battery Life


The Pixelbook lasted 4.5 hours in our test. This was the shortest battery life we tested, but most models lasted around 5 hours, so it was by a very small marging. you should also note that our test was done streaming a video with the screen brightness turned up to full, so the Pixelbook would last longer under less taxing circumstances.


Portability


The Pixelbook is surprisingly thin and light for a laptop with a 12.3" screen. This earned it a fairly high score of 8 out of 10 in this metric.


Somehow Google managed to stuff a lot of power into a body that is just 0.4 inches thick and weighs just 2.4 pounds. This weight is comparable to that of the Samsung Pro (2.38 pounds), but the Samsung feels noticeably thicker at 0.55 inches (yes, it's not a huge difference, but it is certainly noticeable). The only way to get a machine that is more portable is to move to a much smaller screen size in the ASUS Chromebook Flip C101PA or sacrifice some performance to get the ruggedized exterior of the ASUS Chromebook C202SA.


Value


The Google Pixelbook offers premium performance at a premium price. If you want a Chromebook that has the specs of a traditional laptop and has plenty of onboard storage, it is worth the money. However, we feel most Chromebook users that don't need the absolute best performance a Chromebook can offer and are fine storing most things on the cloud will find a better value in the Samsung Chromebook Pro.

Conclusion


For those looking for the absolute best Chromebook available the Google Pixelbook is the clear choice. However, for most Chromebook users the Pixelbook is likely overpowered and overpriced.

Max Mutter and Steven Tata

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