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What’s The Difference Between A Chromebook And A Laptop? [2024]

A comparison image: Chromebook vs. Laptop. Chromebook is a lightweight, web-based device, while a laptop is a versatile, full-featured computer.

Chromebooks and laptops are both portable computing devices, but they have some key differences.

Chromebooks run on the lightweight Chrome OS, while laptops typically run on Windows, macOS, or Linux.

Chromebooks rely on web-based applications and cloud storage, while laptops offer a wider range of software compatibility. Additionally, Chromebooks have limited internal storage, while laptops generally offer larger storage capacities.

I. Chromebook vs. Laptop: Hardware Differences

When comparing Chromebooks and laptops, one of the key aspects to consider is the hardware differences between the two.

While both devices serve the purpose of computing, there are notable variations in their specifications and capabilities.

1. Design and Build

Chromebooks are known for their lightweight and sleek designs. They are typically thinner and more compact compared to traditional laptops. This makes them highly portable and convenient for users who are always on the go.

On the other hand, laptops come in various sizes and designs, ranging from ultrabooks to gaming laptops, offering a wider range of options for different user preferences.

2. Operating System

Chromebooks primarily run on Chrome OS, which is a lightweight operating system developed by Google. This operating system is designed to work seamlessly with cloud-based applications and relies heavily on an internet connection.

Laptops, on the other hand, usually run on Windows, macOS, or Linux operating systems. These operating systems offer more versatility and are compatible with a wider range of software and applications.

3. Performance and Processing Power

Chromebooks are generally equipped with less powerful hardware compared to laptops. They typically have lower RAM and storage capacities, as well as less powerful processors.

This is because Chrome OS is designed to be lightweight and optimized for web-based tasks. Laptops, on the other hand, offer a wider range of hardware configurations, including higher RAM, larger storage options, and more powerful processors.

This makes laptops better suited for resource-intensive tasks such as video editing or gaming.

4. Connectivity and Ports

Chromebooks often come with limited ports and connectivity options. They typically feature USB-C ports for charging and data transfer, along with a headphone jack.

Laptops, on the other hand, offer a wider range of connectivity options, including USB-A ports, HDMI ports, SD card slots, and more. This makes laptops more versatile when it comes to connecting peripherals and external devices.

5. Price Range

One of the significant advantages of Chromebooks is their affordability. They are generally more budget-friendly compared to laptops, making them an attractive option for students and those on a tight budget.

Laptops, on the other hand, come in a wide range of price points, depending on the brand, specifications, and features. While there are budget-friendly laptops available, high-end laptops can be quite expensive.


When considering the hardware differences between Chromebooks and laptops, it is essential to evaluate your specific needs and use cases. Chromebooks are ideal for users who prioritize portability, affordability, and primarily rely on web-based applications.

Laptops, on the other hand, offer more versatility, power, and compatibility with a wide range of software. Ultimately, the choice between a Chromebook and a laptop depends on individual preferences and requirements.

II. Chromebook vs. Laptop: Operating System Comparison

One of the key differences between Chromebooks and traditional laptops is the operating system they run on. Chromebooks use Google’s Chrome OS, while laptops typically run on Windows, macOS, or Linux.

1. Chrome OS

Chrome OS is a lightweight and simplified operating system that is designed specifically for Chromebooks. It is based on the Linux kernel and primarily focuses on web-based applications and cloud storage.

The main interface of Chrome OS is the Chrome browser, which means that most of the applications and services are accessed through the browser.

  1. Advantages of Chrome OS:
    1. Fast and efficient performance: Chrome OS is optimized for speed and responsiveness, allowing Chromebooks to boot up quickly and run smoothly.
    2. Automatic updates: Chrome OS automatically updates in the background, ensuring that users have the latest security patches and features without any manual intervention.
    3. Simple and intuitive interface: The user interface of Chrome OS is minimalistic and easy to navigate, making it ideal for users who are new to computers or prefer a streamlined experience.
    4. Seamless integration with Google services: Since Chrome OS is developed by Google, it seamlessly integrates with popular Google services like Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Docs.
  2. Limitations of Chrome OS:
    1. Offline functionality: Chrome OS heavily relies on an internet connection, and many of its applications require internet access to function properly. Offline capabilities are limited compared to traditional laptops.
    2. Software compatibility: Chrome OS cannot run traditional desktop software like Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Office. Instead, users have to rely on web-based alternatives or Android apps available in the Google Play Store.
    3. Hardware compatibility: Chrome OS has certain limitations when it comes to hardware compatibility, especially for peripherals like printers or scanners. Users might need to check if their specific hardware is compatible before purchasing a Chromebook.

2. Windows, macOS, and Linux

Traditional laptops offer a wider range of operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. Each operating system has its own set of features and advantages.


  1. Wide software compatibility: Windows is the most widely used operating system for laptops and offers compatibility with a vast range of software and applications.
  2. Familiar interface: Windows has a familiar interface for most users, making it easy to navigate and use.
  3. Extensive hardware support: Windows is compatible with a wide range of hardware devices, ensuring that users have more options when it comes to peripherals.


  1. Seamless integration with Apple ecosystem: macOS offers seamless integration with other Apple devices and services, such as iPhones, iPads, and iCloud.
  2. Robust multimedia capabilities: macOS is known for its multimedia capabilities, making it a popular choice for professionals in creative industries.
  3. Enhanced security: macOS is often considered more secure than Windows due to its closed ecosystem and built-in security features.


  1. Open-source and customizable: Linux offers a high level of customization and is popular among developers and tech enthusiasts.
  2. Stability and security: Linux is known for its stability and security. Your laptop will run smoothly and steadily. Plus, security is top-notch. Linux takes your tech game up a notch.

Frequently Asked Questions What’s The Difference Between A Chromebook And A Laptop

1. What is a Chromebook?

A Chromebook is a type of laptop that runs on Google’s Chrome OS operating system. It is designed primarily for web-based tasks and relies heavily on cloud storage and online applications.

2. What is a laptop?

A laptop, also known as a notebook computer, is a portable personal computer that is capable of performing various tasks such as word processing, web browsing, multimedia playback, and more. It typically runs on a Windows, macOS, or Linux operating system.

3. What is the main difference between a Chromebook and a laptop?

The main difference between a Chromebook and a laptop lies in the operating system they run on. Chromebooks use Chrome OS, which is designed to primarily work with web-based applications, while laptops run on different operating systems like Windows, macOS, or Linux, offering a wider range of software compatibility.

4. Can I install Windows on a Chromebook?

No, Chromebooks are not designed to run Windows operating system. They are specifically designed to run Chrome OS, which is a lightweight and cloud-centric operating system developed by Google.

5. Can I use Microsoft Office on a Chromebook?

Yes, you can use Microsoft Office on a Chromebook. However, instead of installing the traditional desktop version of Microsoft Office, you will need to use the web-based version available through the Chrome browser or use Microsoft’s Office Android apps from the Google Play Store.

6. Do Chromebooks require antivirus software?

Chromebooks are designed with built-in security features and sandboxed browsing, which significantly reduces the risk of malware infections. As a result, antivirus software is not necessary on Chromebooks.

7. Can I run Photoshop or other resource-intensive software on a Chromebook?

No, Chromebooks are not ideal for running resource-intensive software like Photoshop. They typically have limited hardware specifications and rely on cloud-based applications. However, there are web-based alternatives available for basic photo editing on a Chromebook.

8. How much storage do Chromebooks and laptops typically have?

Chromebooks usually have smaller amounts of internal storage, typically ranging from 16GB to 128GB, as they rely heavily on cloud storage. Laptops, on the other hand, often come with larger storage capacities, commonly ranging from 256GB to 1TB or more.

9. Can I connect external devices to a Chromebook?

Yes, you can connect external devices such as USB drives, printers, monitors, and other peripherals to a Chromebook. Most Chromebooks have USB ports and other connectivity options similar to traditional laptops.

10. Can I play games on a Chromebook?

Chromebooks are not primarily designed for gaming. While there are some web-based games available through the Chrome Web Store, they are generally not as powerful as traditional gaming laptops. However, some Chromebooks support Android apps, which opens up a wider range of gaming options.

11. Are Chromebooks generally more affordable than laptops?

Yes, Chromebooks are generally more affordable than laptops. They are often priced lower due to their simpler hardware specifications and the use of a less resource-intensive operating system. However, there are high-end Chromebooks available.

Conclusion: What’s The Difference Between A Chromebook And A Laptop

While both Chromebooks and laptops serve the purpose of computing, they differ significantly in terms of operating systems, software compatibility, storage options, and price.

Chromebooks are lightweight, affordable, and ideal for web-based tasks, while laptops offer a wider range of software options, storage capacities, and customization possibilities. Choosing between the two depends on individual needs and preferences.

Related: What’s My Wifi Password Chromebook

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William Larson is a computer engineering graduate and a techy writer and a laptop enthusiast based in New York who is the man behind BestLaptopsVenture.com, where he reviews and writes professionally about laptops & cutting-edge technology with more than 10 years of experience in the industry. He tends to spend most of his time researching the best laptops. His love for studying laptops enables him to assist others to find the best laptops. He has written and managed content for tech websites like Laptops, Computers, T-Sprint, and TracFone Wireless, etc. On YouTube, he reviews laptops, How to guides, Tips, peripherals, and hold giveaways. You can follow him on Twitter.

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