Why are Chromebooks so cheap?

Modified Nov. 3, 2023, 8:49 p.m.


Chromebooks are mostly cheap computers compared to Windows and MacOS computers. But why? I’ve made research and I see 3 reasons why Chromebooks are cheap.

Chromebooks are cheap because they are lightweight computers. They are built to be lightweight and can be brought everywhere, built to run lightweight applications with a lightweight and free operating system. So as Chromebooks do not need good hardware components to run, Chromebooks are quite cheap.

Chromebooks are cheap because of cheap components

Chromebooks computers are computers with Chrome OS as the default operating system installed on them, when you buy it, your Chromebook has Chrome OS already installed. The Chromebooks’ computers are used with Google applications, such as Google Documents or Google Chrome which are free applications. These applications are using the Cloud to store all the data needed for the application to run properly and to store the saves of your documents.

They are not a lot of software and components needed on your Chromebook to be able to run these Cloud-based applications. And Chromebooks are not made to be able to run heavy software directly on the computer, they still can do it but it will require some configuration to be able to run this kind of software correctly. For example, you can run exe files but you will need to do some configuration as explained here. Most of the applications that you will run on your Chromebook will be small and lightweight application.

So as Chromebooks are not made to run heavy software, they do not have the components to run heavy software, which are the most expensive components. Chromebooks need and have mostly cheap hardware components. These cheap components are the first reason why Chromebooks are cheap.

Chromebooks are cheap because Chrome OS is free

ChromeOS is an operating system made by Google, it has been first released in 2009. The source code of ChromeOS is open-source and a completely open-source version without the Google service also exists under the name of ChromiumOS. ChromeOS has been built to be running on a lightweight computer from the very beginning of its creation, and the operating system is only using 1 to 3 Go of space.

ChromeOS is not only an open-source operating system but also a free one. Not all operating systems are free, for example, Windows is quite expensive. When constructors are selling computers with a Windows license, they first had to buy that license. It’s not the case with ChromeOS.

As Chromebook are delivered with ChromeOS by default, that is why they are called Chromebook, the constructor did not have to pay the license for the operating system. Therefore, for two computers with the same hardware components, the price of a Chromebook will be lower than the price of a Windows computer, another reason why Chromebooks are cheap computers.

Chromebooks are cheap because they are small

The philosophy of Google with ChromeOS and Chromebooks is to build small computers that people can bring everywhere they want and need to, that can be used everywhere, even in small spaces where it would be difficult to use a big computer. Chromebooks are not made to be big workstations used by all the people working in tech, but more for the people that just need a small computer to browse the web, print a few things, and run their favorite applications.

So Chromebooks are small computers because that fit with their main use case. And because they are small, they have a small screen and small components. These small components are also cheap, a small screen will be cheaper than a bigger one, with the same resolution. So Chromebooks being small computers is also a reason why Chromebooks are so cheap.

Are Chromebooks good laptops?

Chromebooks are cheap computers, but that does not mean that they are bad laptops. However, it’s difficult to answer properly the question as it really depends on why you need a computer and what it will be used for.

Chromebooks are really good to make searches with Google and browse the web through Google Chrome, that’s the main feature of Chromebooks. If you are looking for a computer to browse the web or to mainly use web applications such as Google Documents or the web version of Microsoft office, then they are good computers. You can also run most Android applications, most of the things you do with an Android phone can be done on a Chromebook, but with a keyboard and a bigger screen. There are reliable computers, for example, it's difficult to crash a Chromebook.

But if you are looking for a computer to play Call of Duty with, then you probably want to buy another computer. First, ChromeOS is not made to play big games, you will have difficulty installing and running these games, and you will have to do many configurations to be able to. Also, Chromebooks do not have the proper hardware components to run this kind of game.



Maxime Levesque is a technical engineer with more than 5 years of professional experience. He is an expert in computer and phones, mostly on Apple products. Maxime is also the founder of TechBrowser.

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