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Written by Jan

What's the difference between a Chromebook and other laptops?

A Chromebook is a budget-friendly alternative to a Windows laptop or MacBook. Chromebooks run on the Google operating system Chrome OS, which means that Windows and macOS programs don't work on these devices. That doesn't mean that Chromebooks don't have advantages over other laptops. On this page, we'll explain the difference between a Chromebook and other laptops.

Chromebook vs laptop or MacBook

Chromebook Laptop
Recommended for... From sending emails to playing games via the apps from the Play Store From browsing the internet to gaming
Operating system Chrome OS Windows, macOS
Web browser Google Chrome All browsers
Storage Online in the 'cloud' Offline on a drive or online in the cloud
Apps Internet applications from the Chrome Web Store and Android applications from the Google Play Store Almost all programs
Protected from viruses Automatically protected via Google Antivirus software necessary
Battery Energy-efficient Differs per model

What do you use what for?

A Chromebook

Chromebook: apps for different purposes

You can use a Chromebook for the most diverse tasks, like using the internet and watching movies, but also to play games. Either you work directly from the Chrome internet browser, or you install Android applications from the Google Play Store. While you depend on the apps available for your Chromebook in the Play Store, there are thousands of apps and the number is constantly growing. You can always find an app in the Play Store that's suitable for what you want.

An HP laptop and a MacBook

Laptop or MacBook: from the internet to gaming

All laptops are suitable for browsing the internet, sending emails, and text processing. You can also watch movies and series on all laptops. Depending on the processor and the RAM, you can also edit photos and videos on some laptops. If you want to play games, you need a laptop with a dedicated video card. MacBook models are less suitable for gaming, because few games are released for macOS.

Operating system: Chrome OS, Windows, and macOS

Chrome icon

Chromebook: Chrome OS

Chrome OS is based on Google's web browser, Chrome. In Chrome OS, you also perform many tasks online. You can work directly from the internet browser, but you can also install Android applications. Because a Chromebook is based on the 'internet first' principle, the operating system is very light and fast. You're less dependent on the specifications of your laptop for speed and performance. And that benefits the price of a Chromebook.

Windows 10 and macOS icon

Laptop or MacBook: Windows or macOS

The speed at which Windows 10 and macOS run depends on the specifications of your laptop or MacBook. If you have a more powerful laptop, the operating system and programs run faster. In contrast to Chrome OS, both of these systems are a little freer. You're less dependent on apps and you can install any available software.

Apps and programs

Chromebook application alternatives

Chromebook: Play Store apps

On a Chromebook, you use internet applications from the Chrome Web Store. These applications work from the Chrome web browser. Think of text editor Google Docs or Google Slides, an alternative to PowerPoint. You can also install Android applications from the Google Play Store. If you're a Microsoft Office enthusiast, you can install the Office 365 Android application. As a gamer, you can now use Google Stadia, which allows you to play and stream the latest games on your Chromebook, even in 4K.

Firefox, Safari, Photoshop, and Word icon

Laptop or MacBook: almost all apps and programs

On a laptop or a MacBook, you can download and install just about any application you want. If you need particular applications for work or school, a laptop or a MacBook is the best choice. When it comes to downloading apps from a store, you use the Windows Store on a Windows laptop and the App Store on a MacBook. Or install software from other sources.


Google Drive icon

Chromebook: Google Drive and other cloud storage

On a Chromebook, you automatically save documents, photos, and videos to Google Drive. Since Chrome OS is specifically laid out for this, a Chromebook often has limited offline storage. That's why you receive 100GB of free online storage when you buy a Chromebook. You'll always have the option to buy extra storage or use other storage services on your Chromebook, like DropBox.

Cloud icon and SSD

Laptop or MacBook: online and offline

A laptop or Macbook has a hard drive or SSD to physically store your files. In addition, a Windows laptop or MacBook allow you to store your files online in the cloud. You can save files online, for example on Google Drive, but you can also choose an alternative, such as Dropbox or OneDrive.

Virus protection

Google Antivirus icon

Chromebook: automatically protected

A Chromebook is protected against viruses by default and doesn't require a separate virus scanner. Files stored online are protected by Google, so threats and viruses have little effect on the operating system and Chromebook itself. This way, you can be sure a Chromebook is always secure.

Norton antivirus icon

Laptop or MacBook: antivirus program

On a Windows laptop, you need an antivirus program or virus scanner to protect you against viruses, malware, and spyware. At Coolblue, you get a free year of Norton antivirus if you buy a Windows laptop. MacBook models are less sensitive to viruses, but it's a good idea to install an antivirus program. As MacBook models are becoming increasingly popular, the number of threats is also increasing. Apple's built-in security doesn't always protect against this.

Battery and battery life

Chromebook and full battery icon

Chromebook: energy-efficient

A Chromebook doesn't need a heavy processor, video card, hard drive, and SSD that uses a lot of energy. The operating system is light and requires little of the Chromebook itself, including the battery. That's why a Chromebook lasts a whole working day, without you having to look for the outlet.

Laptop and half battery icon

Laptop or MacBook: not always energy-efficient

With a MacBook or an energy-efficient laptop, you can easily work an entire working day unless you perform a lot of demanding tasks like photo editing or gaming. In that case, the battery drains in a few hours and you'll have to look for a socket. The more powerful hardware of Windows laptops and MacBook models, and their less energy-efficient operating systems, require more energy than a Chromebook. As a result, these laptop types need to be recharged sooner. In general, MacBook models have a longer battery life than the average Windows laptop.


Chromebook vs laptop

Whether you choose a Chromebook, Windows laptop, or MacBook depends on different user situations. Are you satisfied with the applications in the Play Store? Choose a Chromebook. Do you want more freedom when it comes to downloading and installing software and programs? Choose a Windows laptop or MacBook. If you can't seem to make up your mind, we'll be happy to help you out. For extra support, please contact our Customer Service or visit one of our stores.

Our advice for a Chromebook

Chrome OS instead of Windows | Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Compute Platform - 8GB - 64GB Flash | Foldable touchscreen
in stock
  • Flip the touchscreen 360 degrees to use the Chromebook as a tablet.
  • A Chromebook lasts a working day without charging.
  • Chrome OS is less susceptible to viruses.
  • Not all programs work on a Chromebook.
  • A Chromebook isn't powerful enough for photo editing and gaming.

Our advice for a laptop

Powerful enough for photo editing | AMD Ryzen 5 - 16GB - 512GB SSD | Backlit keyboard
temporarily sold out
  • This laptop is powerful enough for photo editing and multitasking.
  • On a Windows laptop, you can use more programs than on a Chromebook.
  • Thanks to the anti-glare screen, you won't be bothered by light reflections.
  • Windows is more susceptible to viruses than Chrome OS.
  • A 15-inch laptop is less suitable for use on the go.

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