- Black Friday is the perfect time to buy a Chromebook, but since some of last year's deals sold out quickly before the actual day, you might not want to wait too long before you buy.
- November is a great time for Chromebook sales, as older models are on clearance, mid-range options drop into impulse buy territory, and premium Chromebooks offer significant discounts to attract buyers.
- When buying a Chromebook during Black Friday, make sure to check two important features: the model's Chrome OS support life via Google's Auto Update Expiration list, and the amount of RAM offered (4GB is okay, 8GB is recommended). If a Chromebook lacks a USB-C port, just close that shopping tab and walk away. Touchscreen Chromebooks are ideal for kids and using Android apps and games.
Time to throw out the pumpkins and break out the wreaths — okay, maybe a little early for Christmas decor — as we head into November and the first bumper crop of Black Friday deals. These superb sales will cover every gadget and gizmo you could think of, from the smallest Soundcore earbuds to the most tantalizing tablets, and that naturally includes Chromebooks.
If you've been on the fence about trying out a Chromebook — they make fantastic backup computers — Black Friday is absolutely the time to buy, but you shouldn't wait for November 24 itself.
Why now is the time to buy
See, last year, there were plenty of great Chromebook deals, but many of them sold out before Black Friday itself arrived, including a complete sellout of the outgoing Acer Chromebook Spin 713. That was an utter shame because it was one of the best deals you could get for a powerful, premium Chromebook, and several other Acer and HP models played this dance of selling out, restocking, and then selling out again.
The reason behind this, and behind the extremely fluid nature of fall/holiday season Chromebook sales, is that this is a confluence point in their annual cycle. Most Chromebooks are announced in the first few months of the year — CES, MWC, and Bett UK (a huge education technology event) all take place before March — and then are launched between May and August, just in time for schools to start back up. This means that come October, a few things start to happen: year-old models start getting clearance sales, the Chromebooks released in the summer finally start seeing significant deals, and once the school year has started, education purchases drop, giving manufacturers more incentive to cut prices.
This trifecta gives us a wide variety of deals to choose from: ultra-cheap outgoing models, mid-range Chromebooks at bargain bin prices, and premium Chromebooks taking off hundreds to try and lure buyers in. We've already seen some decent discounts on Chromebooks — the whole lineup of just-released Chromebook Plus laptops are on sale right now — and we're expecting to see more this week and next as early Black Friday deals kick up in earnest.
What you need to know before buying a Chromebook during Black Friday
As these deals pick up, there are a few factors you should be mindful of when looking at your next potential Chromebook, first of which is to always check two features. Check the model of your Chromebook against Google's Auto Update Expiration (AUE) list to ensure the Chromebook will last until at least June 2028. This will ensure your Chromebook stays secure for as long as possible and that you get your money's worth out of it.
Another feature to watch out for is a barrel plug charger rather than USB-C. Any Chromebook worth using in 2023 must support USB-C Power Delivery charging. Without it, the laptop will charge slowly, and replacement Chromebook chargers that aren't USB-C can be a real pain. USB-C also supports a much wider range of peripherals, from USB-C hubs to secondary monitors. Most importantly, Chromebooks with barrel connectors also tend to be older, more outdated designs — USB-C became pretty much standard on Chromebooks all the way back in 2019 — meaning they'll stop receiving Chrome OS updates more quickly because they are further into their life cycles. The only times you'll usually have to worry about barrel plugs are deals under $150.
While you can potentially compromise on some features in order to get a better deal, if you're looking for a Chromebook that will be used full-time by a student or working adult, I urge you to seek out laptops with 8GB of RAM. While not quite as memory-hungry as Chrome is on other platforms, the amount of multitasking you can do on a Chromebook is greatly impacted by the amount of RAM available to hold all the tabs you're bouncing between. Video calls especially can be resource intensive, so for those who are hopping into Meet or Zoom — or, god forbid, Teams — every day, the extra memory will be crucial for being able to get anything else done on your Chromebook while in a call.
4GB of RAM is okay for a budget Chromebook or a tertiary laptop that might not be used every day. As I said earlier, Chromebooks make great backup laptops; even if a family member hasn't used it before, setting a Chromebook up from scratch only takes five minutes: you sign in to your Google account and say yes or no to a few settings. And for those who have used it before — or any Chromebook before — as soon as you sign back in, everything syncs back up, and you can hit the ground running.
As a final note when watching Chromebooks this Black Friday, touchscreen Chromebooks are ideal if you want to use any Android apps or games on it. Non-touch Chromebooks tend to get bigger discounts around Black Friday — almost any $100 or below Chromebook deal has a non-touch display — and if you intend to use a Chromebook with a proper mouse at a desk most of the time, they can be a fine way to save a few dollars. But for my money, touchscreens are just more fun, as evidenced by the many, many hours of Stardew Valley I've played on mine.
With Black Friday Chromebook deals just starting to kick up, be sure to check back early and often as we hunt down the best of the bunch to bring you your next Chromebook.
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus
Less than a month after its launch, the Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook Plus is already down to a better price than its predecessor while sporting swanky new features like the webcam/mic control center for video calls, File Sync, and three free months of Photoshop for Web. This is the Chromebook deal to beat so far this season.