Nothing about modern education is simple. It feels impossible to make everyone happy. 

Deciding which type of device to buy for your district or organization can feel daunting. How do you know what is the best device to meet student needs?

You don’t need to buckle under the pressure of making such a large purchase. A detailed comparison can help you make the right decision.

One question you may be asking yourself is, “Why do schools use Chromebooks instead of laptops?”

Let’s do a deep dive into which device schools are choosing and why, and how you can compare to make the best choice.

Table of Contents

Go-Box: Making Chromebook Fleet Management a Breeze

With everything school districts are expected to overcome, making any IT job easy and efficient is a priority. 

You don’t need to tie up staff and resources to get your Chromebook fleet up and running.

Chromebook’s enterprise enrollment can be a breeze if you create your own “white glove” service with Go-Box. 

And even better, Go-Box is compatible with all Chromebook models.

Go-Box makes fleet management easier by:

  • Including full tech support
  • Allowing you to provision up to 16 Chromebooks at a time
  • Utilizing an easy-to-operate user interface; and 
  • Not requiring extensive coding knowledge

Chromebook vs. MacBook for School Use: 8 Factors to Explore

Putting technology in the hands of students is critical to student success. It’s not whether to integrate technology into classrooms, but what kind? 

Everyone wants to know, “Is a MacBook or Chromebook better?

Comparing the Apple MacBook laptop and Chromebook can help you make an informed decision.

#1: Purchase Price

Most school budgets are stretched thin, so cost is a critical factor.

Apple MacBook Air bundles start at $779.00 per device for schools. Larger or more powerful units cost over $1000 per unit. Costs could be in the tens of thousands of dollars per classroom. Even using iPads instead of Chromebooks, the price is high.

Chromebooks tend to cost less but vary greater in price. 

Average total costs for schools are between $100 to $1000 per Chromebook. The price varies based on numerous factors and schools have more model options.

#2: Model Options

There are currently more than 60 different Chromebook models.

With Chromebook, you can choose the model based on:

  • Screen size
  • Processor speed
  • Stylus options
  • Internal storage capacity
  • Touchscreen options; and 
  • Screen resolution

While Apple does have multiple technology options, there are very few MacBook models, meaning you are pretty much being offered the same product with different storage options.

#3: Operating System

One of the best Chrome OS features for educational organizations is that Chromebooks auto-update. This means they update as needed any time the student connects to Wi-Fi. 

Automatic updates reduce the workload for school staff and IT professionals. It also lowers the number of update issues for students and parents. 

That’s right; you don’t have to micromanage system updates or plan to update an entire fleet of devices.

Chrome OS specializes in keeping things simple. Unlike the vulnerable software found on MacBooks and laptops, Chromebooks are web-based and secure. Antivirus software is not necessary. Updates are online and automatic, making IT maintenance a breeze for fleet managers.

MacBooks run on the macOS operating system from Apple. 

The software operating system does allow for more specialized configuration and integration options. It also requires more IT support and requires more device maintenance.

If full-time IT support is not available or having staff handle student IT problems is not feasible, managing a fleet of MacBooks with additional support needs may not be ideal.

#4: Maintenance and Repair Costs

Chromebooks require little to no maintenance. 

Maintaining the operating system is as easy as using a website. If you do run into IT problems, Chrome offers a help site to walk you through whatever issue you may be facing. 

Students can be rough on devices, and you may need to make repairs. Here’s the good news about your technology fleet: most Chromebooks are repairable

You may not have to send your devices out to a third party or hire IT specialists to make repairs. Many Chromebook manufacturers offer training programs for school staff to help minimize repair costs for things not covered by warranty. 

Your organization can save a lot of money by creating your school repair program.

With Apple MacBook fleets, software repair generally requires an additional software purchase to fix issues. And if you encounter damage or require repairs, the device needs to be handled by Apple directly and usually requires replacement. 

These additional costs can overstretch a school’s already thin budget.

#5: Battery Life

Chromebooks offer an average of 10 hours of battery life. 

Charging times vary from model to model, but the average time to a full charge is 2 hours.

New MacBook Air models have a slightly longer battery life, but they also take about 3 hours to charge.

#6: Specs

Comparing specs on Chromebooks and MacBooks for education is like comparing the tires on a tractor-trailer versus a scooter.

There are over 60 models of Chromebooks available from a variety of manufacturers. You can easily find a model with the specs and features you need for your school organization.

Chromebook options include:

  • Screen resolution up to 1920x1080p
  • Multiple processor choices, including Intel and NVidia
  • 2, 4, 8, or 16 GB RAM; and
  • Up to 512 GB SD storage capability

MacBooks, on the other hand, provide very few options. Some models do have greater storage capacity, and RAM is configurable up to 16 GB. The only choice you face is about screen size.

MacBook Air models are very similar with these specs:

  • Retina display
  • Apple M1 chip
  • 8 GB RAM, some models configurable up to 16 GB
  • 256 GB or 512 GB storage capacity

If you want options, you may need to compare Chromebook models to find the device that meets your organization’s needs.

#7: Security

Privacy and security remain major concerns for both schools and parents. Everyone wants to protect students while meeting their technology needs.

Chromebooks offer “multiple layers of protection” to give users peace of mind. The web-based operating system provides security with:

  • Automatic updates
  • Sandboxing
  • Verified Boot
  • Data Encryption; and
  • Recovery mode

Apple products have enjoyed the reputation of being more secure than Windows-based devices, but the truth is MacBooks are vulnerable to cyber-attacks

You can lower the risk with antivirus protection software, but this is an added cost for your organization.

#8: Ease of Management

The current education landscape makes technology a necessity for schools and students. Districts have to find the balance between what the student needs for success and providing too much access and facing problems.

Chromebooks are web-based, so controlling what students can access is easy. And enrolling your Chromebook fleet can be simple if you’re using Go-Box. 

MacBooks use a software operating system, so management can be more time-consuming. Teachers and IT staff will have to manage settings and updates, which increases the resource load needed to manage the fleet of devices.

Chromebook vs. MacBook for School By Level of Education

Different grade levels use devices for different reasons. Student needs and abilities vary based on age, too. 

Before choosing a technology fleet, consider who will be using the technology — and how.

Chromebook vs. MacBook for K-7 Students

Chromebooks are easy to use; most students can learn how to complete assignments very quickly. Web-based learning minimizes distractions but still offers plenty of options for educators.

For students grades K-7, who may be rougher on devices, Chromebooks are a great option due to their lower cost of purchase and repair.

MacBooks do require students to learn to use the operating system and software. While middle school students may learn quickly, younger students may become frustrated with the various programs needed to facilitate learning.

Since much of the work assigned to younger students is online, spending over $800 per MacBook just to enable online work is too great of an expense for many school districts.

Chromebook vs. MacBook for High School Students

High school students are usually more responsible with their devices and are less likely to accidentally damage them. High school students often have greater technology needs, so Chromebook models with better processing speed and more RAM are ideal.

Whether students are using Chromebooks for online assignments or larger projects, the Google Play Store and Chrome can meet their needs and propel them to success.

MacBooks can be a good option for high school students if device management and security are in place. Older students are well-adapted to technology and often know how to use devices better than their adult counterparts. 

Ensuring students are not accessing programs and sites that are potentially dangerous remains a concern if you are choosing MacBooks for your school or district.

Chromebook vs. MacBook for College Students

Is a Chromebook or MacBook better for college? It depends.

Selecting the best device for college students poses a bit more of a challenge. The individual needs of each student makes it harder to decide between a MacBook or Chromebook for college.

The fast processing speeds of the MacBook make it desirable. And students working in graphic design often find the retina display appealing.

But what if you’re purchasing computers for students en masse? 

Processing speed in higher-end Chromebooks is comparably fast. Chromebooks don’t require as much RAM to operate.

Most college students use computers for …

  • Taking notes
  • Typing reports
  • Doing research; and 
  • Completing projects

… and all of these things can be done easily on a Chromebook — at a much lower price point.

Mac vs. Chromebook for Schools’ 1:1 Device Programs: The Bottom Line

When looking at the Apple MacBook vs. Chromebook, the bottom line is this — 

Which device will meet classroom needs and allow the district to stay on budget?

Imagine spending tens of thousands of dollars to purchase a fleet of MacBooks and then having to spend thousands more on fleet management software. And you’ll need e a dedicated IT team to enroll and manage them. And you’ll have to have a plan to complete updates. The costs keep adding up.

For many public school districts, MacBooks are too expensive to purchase and repair. Budgets don’t allow for 1:1 deployment at that price. That means some students get left out or teachers must alter lesson plans to accommodate a lack of devices.

Resources and budgets are limited, so dedicating thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands, of dollars and untold man-hours to purchasing and managing a fleet of MacBooks is just unrealistic.

Chromebooks are affordable and easier to deploy en masse. Fleet enrollment is easy with Go-Box, and repair costs are much lower. It just makes sense to go with the option that costs less time and money. 

Chromebooks are a win-win for schools and students of all grades.

Get Your Chromebook Fleet Up and Running in No Time With Go-Box

You don’t need a certificate or advanced training in coding to handle fleet enrollment. 

You don’t need a large team of IT professionals to get your Chromebooks registered and in the hands of students.

What you need is Go-Box. 

With our easy-to-operate user interface and helpful IT support, you can easily enroll up to 16 devices at a time — saving you time and money.

Deploying technology in your organization doesn’t have to be a major hassle. With Go-Box, you’ll look like the classroom hero you are.