Chromebooks come in many different shapes, forms, and sizes today. We’ve got specced-out machines like the Asus Chromebook CX9 and the HP Elite c1030 Chromebook pushing the limits of Chrome OS, while other more moderately-designed devices like the Lenovo Chromebook 3 are also making no mistake in packing a terrific user experience.
Therefore, you’re going to be reasonably confused specs-wise when looking to purchase a new Chromebook, especially with the size of the RAM. That’s because Chrome OS isn’t like most traditional desktop operating systems that don’t function at their best when internal memory is lesser than the normal count.
This is why it’s essential to know the RAM size you need for your Chromebook, and in this guide, we’re going to cover just that. Therefore, follow along with the write-up and keep reading to find out everything you need to know about picking the suitable device for your use case.
What is RAM?
Let’s start with the basics first. RAM is an acronym that stands for Read-Only Memory. It’s also known as computer memory or internal memory and is one of the most integral parts of your operating system’s hardware. RAM makes it possible for any operating system to function and perform basic tasks. It allows a computer to load programs and keep them active in the background.
Let us clarify with the help of an example. Consider you have an Android mobile phone with 2 GBs of RAM. You’ve installed multiple applications on it from the Google Play Store, and now you want to multitask between them. Let’s suppose you’ve opened up three applications simultaneously: Snapchat, Google Meet, and Instagram.
Suppose you’re using Instagram and Snapchat together, and you suddenly get a notification on Google Meet that makes you tap on it by the time you return to Instagram or Snapchat. In that case, one of the apps, or perhaps both, won’t be in their previous state anymore. It will have to load up repeatedly simply because the RAM size isn’t adequate for multiple applications to run together in harmony.
Therefore, the bigger your internal memory is on any device, the more efficient the device is in performing multiple tasks once. It’s not just about being versatile when you have enough memory; RAM affects performance as well. Devices with higher-level memory tend to work smoothly and are less prone to crashing during usage. Your internal memory is not confused with your hard drive, which is generally made to have a higher data capacity than RAM.
In addition, the latter is simply for storing temporary data so it can be fetched faster. This opposes the hard drive, typically for housing data on a permanent or a semi-permanent level. Gaming is another facet that heavily depends on RAM. Most modern-day AAA games require somewhere around 6 GB of RAM to run, among other essential components like the processor, graphics card, and, of course, storage.
Now that you have a somewhat clear idea of the internal memory of any device in the world let us ponder the question: What size RAM do you need for your Chromebook?
- Recommended: How to check the RAM size on your Chromebook
Chrome OS and RAM – Explained
Forming a foundation for this topic to be discussed is pretty substantial, so we’re going to do just that right now. Chrome OS is an operating system built on speed, security, and stability principles. In most ways, it isn’t like Microsoft Windows and doesn’t comprise a hefty load of processes to convolute its interface. Instead, it’s a no-frills experience originally launched on low-end devices.
However, Chrome OS doesn’t follow the standard norms of an operating system. Sized-down Chromebooks in terms of technical specifications with no more than 2 GBs of RAM can perform basic tasks like surfing the internet, streaming YouTube videos, and downloading and playing fairly minimal Play Store games.
However, to further this article in the right direction, we have to factor in an important factor when purchasing any computing device, whether a mobile phone, a Chromebook, or a Windows laptop. To make a well-informed purchasing decision, you need to have your use case adequately thought out. You’re purchasing a device, so you will have specific requirements for it to fulfill.
The requirements can be gaming, higher display quality for binge-watching Netflix shows, a better-than-normal battery life, or suitable hardware for fast-paced and stable performance. Some prefer their devices to be spectacularly specced-out so they can accomplish heavy-duty tasks efficiently, while others are more laid back and want something that works as intended.
Therefore, it’s all about the use case that will help you narrow down your options and choose the right RAM size for your Chromebook. In 2022, the Chrome OS space comprises three major RAM categories for Chromebooks: 2 GB, 4 GB, and 8 GB. In addition, there are 16 GB variants of certain Chromebooks available as well, such as the Google Pixelbook, Asus Chromebook CX9, and others.
However, that is where things start to get a little unreasonable for casual users and those people who are looking for personal devices. Most 16 GB RAM Chromebooks are intended for professional use in enterprise settings, so it’s best to dodge these and focus on consumer-grade options in the Chrome OS business. We’re now going to break down the major three RAM sizes and explain why they can be the one for you, or you’re better off without it.
2 GB RAM Chromebooks – the least desirable pick
We believe 2 GB RAM Chromebooks are the least desirable pick out of all the different devices that you have available today. This is simply because of advancement and more features to Chrome OS. A 2 GB RAM Chromebook could stand its ground very well about a decade before, but today? Not quite. If you’re a frequent visitor of Chrome Ready, you might be aware of how we’re blabbing about the Google Play Store on Chromebooks all the time.
This massive feature wasn’t present on Chromebooks from day one. Google Play and Linux both arrived at the forefront of the operating system in 2016—five years after the initial release of Chrome OS. Until then, most Chromebooks, except for an anointed few, consisted of a 2 GB RAM size while others had a 4 GB variant.
Therefore, not all Chromebooks were entertained when bringing Android app and Linux support to Chrome OS rolled out. Many were left in the dust without these convenient features simply because they were incapable hardware-wise, while the chosen ones were prompted to be upgraded. So, where does all this information leave us in 2022? The gist is that most 2 GB RAM Chromebooks were released multiple years ago and cannot keep up with Chrome OS today.
- Here’s where you can find all the Chromebooks that run Android and Linux apps.
You’ll struggle to find Chromebooks with this RAM size in marketplaces online. Most of them will be in used condition while others won’t be Play Store-equipped. Buying a Chromebook that doesn’t have Google Play or Linux support is second to wasting your money. With that said, let’s now talk about the devices that, indeed, have the features above. A 2 GB RAM Chromebook, apart from having a dated design, will be capable enough to run the internet browser perfectly fine.
In addition, if the device has Play Store and Linux, it will make it possible for you to enjoy apps from those sources but only within a certain boundary. Graphics-intensive games like PUBG or Call of Duty: Mobile will probably stutter, even at the lowest settings, while trying to do anything remotely robust on Linux will leave you bothered.
On the flip side, the most significant upside to buying a 2 GB RAM Chromebook in 2022 will be the cost. While Chrome OS is already advertised to be cheaper than other operating systems, and it truly is on many occasions (Lenovo Chromebook Duet, we’re looking at you), you’ll find 2 GB RAM Chromebooks to come dirt cheap. However, most purchasable deals will be pre-owned since no manufacturer bothers its workforce with this RAM size anymore.
Still, there’s a slight chance that you’ll find a new 2 GB RAM Chromebook in stock somewhere online. If you find an excellent refurbished deal, though, ensure you know everything to check and verify your purchase before plunging in. Now that you’re aware of the concept behind 2 GB RAM Chromebooks in the present day, let’s further the article and talk about 4 GB variants now.
4 GB RAM Chromebooks – suitable for most cases
4 GB RAM Chromebooks are currently the standard for Chrome OS. Most devices you’ll find sporting this sleek operating system are paired with 4 GB internal memory and 32 GB or 64 GB hard drive storage. These Chromebooks are fast, speedy, stable, and are capable of running all Android and Linux applications with appreciable performance. In addition to this, 4 GB RAM Chromebooks are priced just right.
You’ll find all kinds of price brackets for this type of Chromebook. Devices like the Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook and Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 are two premium mid-range machines that cost somewhere around $500-$600. However, you’ve also got the likes of the Lenovo Chromebook S330 and the Acer Chromebook Spin 513 that cost relatively less and still sport a 4 GB RAM size.
By buying one of these, you can have that extra sense of security with your purchase. You’ll know that the package that will be delivered to you will boast nothing but the highly desirable Chrome OS experience at its core. Play Store games, high-end Linux software, resource-heavy web pages—you name it. Just make sure that you’re picking the right one, as there are some other important factors that you have to look out for when buying a new Chromebook.
- Our master guide on choosing a Chromebook can help you out in this case.
8 GB RAM Chromebooks – the ideal Chromebook choice
Enter the next level. The holy grail of Chromebooks. 8 GB RAM devices deliver a fantastic Chrome OS experience that sails through even the most demanding Play Store applications and Linux software like a boss. If somebody came forward with an idea of developing a Chromebook with an 8 GB RAM size 5 years earlier, people would scoff and dismiss the ridiculousness. That’s because Chrome OS has come a long way from where it once started.
Today, the operating system at hand can allow you to write and develop code with the help of the Linux Terminal, run virtual machines, use WordPress, and even make high-end video editing possible with the likes of OpenShot Video Editor. Chrome OS is basically on course for a ton of advancement. The developers have announced that official Steam support for gaming will also be making landfall on Chromebooks sometime later this year.
On top of that comes the initial stage of Adobe Photoshop, which has been relatively recently introduced to Chromebooks, although only in the form of a web-based app. However, now that the people up high have touched base with something as full-fledged as Photoshop on Chrome OS, it’s logical to assume that the future of this operating system looks better than ever.
Therefore, the current norm in the Chromebook space is 4 GB RAM devices, but that will soon change when all these much-awaited features and even more arrive at the face of Chrome OS. From there on out, you’ll be well-suited to have an 8 GB RAM Chromebook by your side and if budget isn’t an issue for you, going for one right now appears to be a sensible choice.
There’s another facet where these types of Chromebooks excel. By default, each device running Chrome OS has an end-of-life date that’s commonly abbreviated as EOL. This is basically when auto-updates for the device expires, and the Chromebook no longer gets system updates. 8 GB RAM Chromebooks have their auto-update expiration (AUE) dates stretched further in the decade. The HP Elite c1030 Chromebook, for instance, has its EOL date slated for June 2028.
By purchasing one of these, therefore, you’d indeed be setting yourself up for a future-proof decision. Top-of-the-line performance that’s usually in line with other high-end specifications on deck is what you can expect from an 8 GB RAM Chromebook that will run all supported applications without breaking a sweat.
What RAM size in Chromebooks should you go with?
All right, so which RAM size Chromebook should you go with now? The answer is simple. Whatever device that suits your style and is capable enough of fulfilling your use case is the one you should buy. To begin with, 2 GB Chromebooks can be found excessively cheap and are moderate performers. They will pull off basic tasks for you like surfing the internet, streaming Netflix, and running Linux at an acceptable level. However, there’s more to these Chromebooks than what meets the eye.
First off, you’ll find it difficult to nab a good deal on a brand-new 2 GB RAM Chromebook. We mean that most of these in 2022 are either pre-owned or refurbished. Not many people would like a used Chromebook for themselves, so there’s that. In addition, even if you do manage to find a 2 GB RAM Chromebook, you still have to worry about its end-of-life date, which, we fare, isn’t going to be any more than 1-2 years afar from 2022. Either that or the EOL has already expired.
Next comes the set of 4 GB RAM Chromebooks, which, in our opinion, are the most preferred class of Chromebooks anyone can go far. Sublime performance, good specifications, a striking design, and several other perks are what await you in these types of devices. Most 4 GB RAM Chromebooks released after 2019 have their end-of-life date comfortably placed several years before their launch, which usually eases the buyer and sets them up for a good while.
The last entry of the bunch is 8 GB RAM Chromebooks. These are absolute beasts that won’t come with an affordable price tag. However, if paying $600-$1100 isn’t an issue on your end, and you’d like the best Chrome OS experience there is, an 8 GB RAM Chromebook is the best one to go for, especially considering how bright the not-so-distant future of this operating system seems to shape up.
There are 2 GB, 4 GB, and 8 GB RAM Chromebooks that you’re mostly going to concern yourself with. This guide has covered important information concerning each Chromebook type, so you should be all set for deciding what type of device to purchase now. Subjectively speaking, there are some terrific 4 GB RAM Chromebook options out right now, so do take your time in the research phase for the best results. Chrome Ready wishes you good luck!
- If you’re after the raw performance in your devices, check out these Chromebooks with the highest performance levels for a head start in your purchasing journey.