After using the M1 MacBook Pro for a week, I have a newfound respect for Chromebooks.
tl;dr: Intel-based Chromebooks deliver the kind of performance-per-watt that can compete against Apple’s new M1 MacBook Pro.
I’ve been using the new M1 MacBook Pro (16GB config) for about a week. At the risk of rehashing what’s already been asserted in countless reviews, the M1 MacBooks are a watershed, delivering long battery life, high performance, and low heat.
But I’ve come to one more conclusion. Chromebooks may be the best, new hope for competition against Apple and the M1.
Based on my real-world testing of Google’s Pixelbook Go and HP’s new Elite c1030 Chromebook, they deliver the kind of performance-per-watt that you see on the new M1 MacBooks.
Both of the above Chromebooks deliver snappy performance with long battery life, especially Google’s Pixelbook Go. Results not unlike the new M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. And results that I can’t get with current Windows laptops.
And, yes, these Chromebooks use Intel processors. (Good news for Intel amid all of the doom and gloom post M1 MacBook.)
M1 MacBook Air = Google Pixelbook Go
For comparison purposes, we can roughly equate the Pixelbook Go with the M1 MacBook Air. And the HP Elite c1030 with the M1 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Like the M1 MacBook Air, the Pixelbook Go has no fans, minimalist specs (entry-level config), good performance via an energy-efficient processor, very-long* battery life, and a low price.
And like the M1 MacBook Pro (the MBP 13 has a fan so it doesn’t thermal throttle like the MacBook Air), the HP Elite c1030 delivers better performance and has all-day battery life. And, like the MBP 13, it’s also pricier.
The OS is the difference
Similar to Big Sur running on M1 MacBooks, Chrome OS is an efficient operating environment able to extract good performance from low-power processors.
Chromes OS also runs Android apps — analogous to iOS apps on Big Sur — and a growing number of cross-platform applications that (unbeknownst to many) you may be using on Windows or macOS.
No, Chrome OS isn’t perfect (but neither is Big Sur). For example, legacy Windows applications like Office can be quirky. But if you spend most of your time inside the Chrome browser (like I do) and lean on apps like Google Docs, it’s a refreshing departure from Windows.
The upshot: as someone who uses Windows laptops, MacBooks, and Chromebooks interchangeably, I’ve used my Chromebooks for long stretches over many months (cumulatively over the years). So, yes, the Chromebook can be a full-time stand-in for a MacBook or Windows laptop.
*I can get a day and a half of battery life on my Pixelbook Go.
Comments can be sent to mbcrothers[AT]gmail[DOT]com or direct message at twitter.com/mbrookec