What is the Difference Between a Notebook and a Chromebook?

Difference Between a Notebook and a Chromebook

If you’ve looked for a new laptop recently chances are that you must have come across a Chromebook somewhere. A Chromebook looks just like any other laptop but mostly comes at a lower price. However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t get your money’s worth.

Depending on your use, a Chromebook can actually suit you better than a conventional Notebook (laptop). Besides, you should be able to do a little research before choosing between a Notebook and a Chromebook. Granted, that there could be significant confusion between buying a Notebook and a Chromebook.

This article will dispel all your doubts and give you a better understanding of the difference between a Notebook and a Chromebook, their individual pros and cons and any other difference that matters.

Buying Notebook vs Chromebook – Which is the better choice?

When you decide to buy a convenient, lightweight laptop computer then you need to consider the type of operating system you would require, the overall versatility of the computer to make your tasks more efficient, etc.

Buying Notebook vs Chromebook – Which is the better choice
Buying Notebook vs Chromebook – Which is the better choice

In essence, a Notebook and Chromebook are both laptops that can replace the desktop computer for everyday tasks (see also Difference Between a Chromebook and a Laptop). These are more advantageous than a conventional desktop PC because of their incredibly lightweight, smaller size and their portable design.

However, there are some significant differences between a Notebook and a Chromebook, such as:

What is a Notebook?

A Notebook is a portable personal computer with a significantly smaller size. It can perform all tasks that a conventional desktop computer can however the main difference between the two is the former’s portability.

Think of a Notebook laptop as a miniature version of your computer which has an on-screen keyboard with track-pad/track-ball, and is powered by a battery. Mainly, a Notebook laptop runs on Mac or Windows operating systems. They are equipped to run all software and apps that can run on conventional computers. A Notebook laptop consumes less power to run and also comes with significant processing power and RAM to handle multiple tasks easily.

However, laptops usually come with a higher price tag, as compared to personal computers.

What is a Chromebook?

A Chromebook, on the other hand, is a new take on Notebook laptops and runs on a Linux-based Chrome Operating System (Chrome OS). This OS runs directly on an internet connection. A Chromebook differs from a Notebook laptop in several ways with their distinct operating systems being the main difference. Another major difference is that a Chromebook is an online-only computer that requires an internet connection to work as the majority of its tasks are cloud-powered.

In essence, a Chromebook is like a laptop but with fewer complications. Chromebook is extremely lightweight as they don’t need loads of RAM or heavy processing power. As they rely on cloud services and Google apps to work.

Chromebook laptops have become increasingly popular among students because of their sleek design and easy-to-use features. Although a Chromebook can’t replace a Notebook laptop, they are extremely useful for particular tasks. Chrome OS looks very similar to Windows OS but is extremely lightweight in comparison.

You can store music, images, videos and document files on a Chromebook, just like you’d do on a Notebook laptop but all these files are stores on cloud servers, instead of the Chromebook internal memory. A Chromebook can also easily sync with Android devices by simply logging into your existing Google account.

Besides this, a Chromebook is programmed to update automatically, which relieves you of the task to download and install updates manually.

What are the main differences between a Notebook and a Chromebook?

Now that you know the basic features of the two, let’s take a closer look at the main differences between a Notebook and a Chromebook:

What are the main differences between a Notebook and a Chromebook
What are the main differences between a Notebook and a Chromebook

Operating System (OS)

The operating system is the main difference between a Notebook laptop and a Chromebook. A Notebook usually runs on Windows or Mac OS, which are conventional operating systems used in computers and laptops alike.

On the other hand, a Chromebook is powered by Google’s Chrome OS, which is essentially a simpler version of the Chrome web browser.

Cloud Server

Conventional laptops, like a Notebook, require significant computing power which they derive from RAM and processors.

However, Chrome OS is practically the Chrome web browser but with additional features and functions. This operating system relies completely on Google’s online services, like Google Docs, Drive, Gmail, etc. A Chromebook is cloud-based and its applications and software are all stored on the cloud server, instead of on the device itself.

Storage Space

A Notebook laptop needs high-end SSDs or disk drives for storage whereas a Chromebook is designed mainly for online use. Hence, a Chromebook stores everything on the cloud server, such as your Google Drive. Additionally, you can choose to increase your device memory by using USB or SD cards.

MS Office

Microsoft Office is an essential office automation tool found in all Windows-powered laptops. However, MS Office is not compatible with a Chromebook. Instead, you can use Microsoft’s cloud-based office automation features, such as One Note, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word. In addition, you can also choose to use Google Docs and Google Sheets as alternates for MS Words and MS Excel.

Keep in mind that a Chromebook is not designed to download and install applications as it relies on web-based apps.

Printer Connectivity

As opposed to a Notebook laptop that you can connect to a printer with a USB cable or Wi-Fi network, a Chromebook requires you to use Google Cloud Print to connect with a printer. Thus, if you need to print files regularly, make sure to buy a Google Cloud Print-friendly printer when you buy a Chromebook.


If you are a fan of computer games, then you might want to choose a Notebook instead of a Chromebook. Although there are games that are compatible with Chromebook not all PC games are compatible to run on a Chromebook. Some device agnostic games like Minecraft can be played on Chromebook with a few tweaks.


The operating system is the main factor of distinction between a Notebook laptop and a Chromebook. The two might look similar on the surface but they have distinct features and functions.

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See Also

Best Chromebook for Kids

Best Laptops for College Students