Gone are the days of students spending a couple of hours a week in “computer class.” You probably remember those computer labs filled with rows of bulky PCs where you no doubt played “Oregon Trail” during the last 10 minutes of class. 

Many kids are already pretty computer savvy by the time they head to kindergarten. Those computer labs are a thing of the past in many schools. 

So, if not bulky computers–– then what? Kids today are learning on computing devices that are significantly smaller and more mobile. Something they can take with them from class to class and then home at night to complete assignments.

There are plenty of options, the most common of which are Chromebooks and laptops.

Read on to learn how Chromebooks and laptops compare for use by schools. We’re breaking down the:

  • Cost
  • Specs
  • Security; and
  • Ease of management

Table of Contents

Go-Box: Simplifying the Chromebook Management Process for Schools

Before we dive into the Chromebook-laptop comparison, you should learn about Go-Box

Go-Box was built to make the enrollment and configuration of 1:1 Chromebook programs faster, easier, and more convenient for schools. 

We saw a problem when it came to schools taking on this tedious and time-consuming process, so we came up with a solution.

By creating your own in-house “white glove” service, Go-Box allows you to handle the monster task of enterprise enrollment on stacks of Chromebooks in significantly less time.

Not only is Go-Box is compatible with all Chromebook models, but it:

  • Can provision up to 16 Chromebooks at once
  • Can automate re-enrollment after force wipe on existing units
  • Does not require extensive coding knowledge
  • Utilizes an easy-to-operate User Interface
  • Includes full tech support

How Are Laptops and Chromebooks Different?

Let’s face it —You might see a Chromebook and call it a laptop (or a notebook as some people call them) or vice-a-versa. At the end of the day, the two are both portable computing devices, and they look pretty similar. 

So, what makes them different?

The primary difference between laptops and Chromebooks is the type of operating system the device uses. Laptops might use Windows or macOS in the case of an Apple-branded laptop (such as a MacBook). 

A Chromebook uses Google’s Chrome OS.

As for some of the other differences (price, security, etc.), we’re getting there. Read on to learn more.

Why Do Schools Use Chromebooks Instead of Laptops?

Chromebook vs. laptop for school use: It’s a common comparison for educators, parents, and even students themselves.  

There are several reasons many schools across the country opt to use Chromebooks instead of laptops. These include:

  • Value
  • Security
  • Ease of use
  • Google-powered learning applications — Chromebook has its own App Hub where users can download 
  • And more

Chromebooks are fantastic devices for use in schools because they help digitize classrooms in a simple way. 

Can a Chromebook Replace a Laptop?

Depending on the user’s needs, a Chromebook can absolutely replace a laptop. 

Chromebooks are great for everyday computing needs, including:

  • Web browsing
  • E-mail and correspondence
  • Video calls and meetings
  • Online classes
  • Word processing; and
  • Spreadsheets 

However, a Chromebook can’t replace a laptop if users need access to additional programs, gaming apps, large video files, or projects requiring more power.

Cost Comparison: Chromebook vs. Laptop

Cost is an important factor when purchasing portable computing devices in mass quantities, like for a school. 

Shelling out $800-1000+ per device isn’t in the cards (or the budget) for many schools or school districts.

Here’s a general cost comparison for laptops and Chromebooks.

Cost of Laptops for School

Typical Mac or PC laptops vary widely in cost. Every laptop is different, depending on the:

  • CPU (Core Processing Unit)
  • Memory or RAM
  • Storage
  • Pre-installed software
  • Battery-life
  • Screen quality/screen options (touchscreen, etc.)
  • Keyboard quality
  • And more

So for the sake of comparison, the manufacturer’s retail sales price (MRSP) for this HP Pavilion 360x convertible laptop is $899.99. This particular model boasts:

  • Windows 11 Home
  • 11th Generation Intel Core i5 processor
  • 16 GB memory
  • 512 GB SSD storage
  • 14” diagonal touch display

It’s important to note laptops can be as expensive as $2,800+ depending on the specs.

Cost of a Chromebook for School

Schools may use a variety of Chromebooks based on their needs and budget. 

Here’s the great news — there are great Chromebook options with fantastic features at every price point! 

Many Chromebooks on the market cost less than $400, and some models are even less expensive than that, especially when purchased in bulk.

Chromebook vs. Laptop Cost: The Bottom Line

Chromebooks are the dominant portable computing device purchased by schools for students—one of the reasons for that: cost-effectiveness. 

Chromebooks provide many of the benefits and features of a typical laptop without the high price tag, and most schools don’t have unlimited resources in terms of budget.

But, whether your school decides on laptops or Chromebooks, that fleet of computers (hundreds or even thousands) will need to be set up.

That setup can be time-consuming and require serious manpower for IT departments and even teachers and other staff members. 

That’s where Go-Box comes in.  

Plus — when it comes to the bottom line in cost, it’s important for you to know: Go-Box is also a one-time investment. Don’t keep paying “white glove” setup fees. Instead, buy Go-Box once and use it to enroll and configure your devices year after year.

Spec Comparison: Chromebook vs. Laptop

As we’ve covered, several brands and types of both laptops and Chromebooks are on the market, making it difficult to compare specs. 

Still, here’s what we know about typical Chromebooks vs. laptops. 

Chromebook Specs

  • Most Chromebooks offer 2 to 4 GB of RAM, suitable for general computing needs.
  • Many Chromebooks boast 10-12 hour battery life.
  • Disk storage is on the lower end amongst portable computing devices as the Chromebook is designed to depend on cloud-based internet storage over standard disk drive storage.

Laptop Specs

  • Laptops often come with 8 to 16 GB of RAM.
  • Battery life for most laptops is between 1.5-4 hours.
  • Laptops typically have at least 256 GB of disk storage, allowing for additional program downloads, etc.

Security Comparison: Chromebook vs. Laptop

When you’re deploying computers for use by students, security is crucial. Let’s take a look at how Chromebook and laptop security features compare.

Chromebook Security Features

Chromebooks have several built-in security features. This includes: 

  • Malware and virus protection
  • Encryption of all files
  • Automatic download of Chrome OS updates

When it comes to security, Chromebook has an excellent track record.

Laptop Security Features

Laptops are vulnerable. 

You can unknowingly infect your computer with malicious malware and viruses by downloading software or what appears to be a harmless e-mail attachment. If you decide to go with a laptop, the additional investment of anti-virus protection is a necessity. 

Laptops (especially those running Windows) are a bigger target for virus creators and hackers than Chromebooks.

Ease of Management Comparison: Chromebook vs. Laptop

Once a school invests in a fleet of portable computers, the real work begins. 

If you’re handing this technology off to students, it needs to be appropriately managed, lessening problems including student distraction and security issues. 

Here’s how that works for both laptops and Chromebooks.

Managing a Laptop for Education

To help avoid unnecessary distractions and potential viruses, schools may consider installing a program that prevents students from downloading their own software to the laptop. 

This will also help keep the operating system running more smoothly.

Managing a Chromebook for Education

The simplicity of the Chromebook is a huge selling point for schools. 

Students cannot download any software to the devices, cutting down on security issues (as mentioned before and school IT managers can manage hundreds of devices at once via a cloud-based admin console).

Additionally, Google provides a wide array of educational resources through its Google Classroom suite.

Chromebook vs. Laptop for School at Each Level of Education

Kids are using computing devices starting at an early age. 

While Chromebooks come out on top of laptops in many comparison categories, is that the case as students advance through school levels?  

Read on if you’re interested in comparing a Chromebook vs. laptop for middle school, high school, and even college:

Chromebook vs. Laptop for K-7

Chromebooks are incredibly user-friendly, making them ideal for young learners. 

These devices offer elementary and middle school students all of the features they need for everyday classroom work, while introducing them to technology simply and safely.

Chromebook vs. Laptop for High School

Chromebook continues to provide top-quality computer learning for older students. 

As students advance to high school, their classwork becomes more challenging, but it’s unlikely they need too many additional programs or increased computer power to complete classroom work and outside assignments. 

Chromebook vs. Laptop for College

When it’s time to head off to college, many students purchase portable computing devices for both their schoolwork and to keep in touch with friends, for gaming, etc.

When making the decision what exactly to buy, what is better: a Chromebook or a laptop?

When it comes to deciding on what computer device is right for college, it will often come down to the budget and specific needs of the student. 

A student going into a field such as computer science or engineering might prefer a laptop because they typically offer more programs than Chromebooks do. Or, if computer gaming and video editing are high priorities, a laptop may provide the appropriate amount of computer power necessary.

However, if college students think they’ll have more basic computing needs, they might feel more comfortable with a Chromebook, especially if that’s what they used in middle and high school.

In the end, both laptops and Chromebooks are excellent options for a college student, and this decision comes down to personal preference.

How Go-Box Can Help Manage Your Fleet of Chromebooks for School

Whether you’re a school that’s dealing with hundreds of Chromebooks or whether your school has purchased thousands of Chromebooks, you need a way to deploy them quickly and efficiently and get them into the hands of your students.

There’s no question: Go-Box is your solution.

Go-Box takes the time, hassle, and headache out of enrolling and configuring large quantities of Chromebooks. 

You won’t believe how easy the entire process becomes when you’ve got Go-Box to help with the heavy lifting.

Contact us today and find out how you can get started.