When you’re in the market for a new laptop, you’ll find that many options are quite expensive.
However, when you start looking at Chromebooks, you’ll see that they tend to be less expensive than the average laptop.
You might wonder what makes Chromebooks cheaper than standard laptops.
Why Are Chromebooks So Cheap? (10 Reasons)
The average price of a Chromebook is around $300 with some models even costing as low as $100.
Chromebooks are cheap because of their limited manufacturing costs, their target audience, and the fact that they are primarily made with the use of Google apps and services in mind.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Small Screen
One of the reasons Chromebooks are cheap is that they have smaller screens than laptops.
The standard screen for a Chromebook is between 11 and 15 inches.
Chromebooks with 15-inch screens tend to be on the more expensive side.
This is an average screen size compared to a standard laptop that usually has a screen between 11 and 17 inches.
Chromebooks typically have smaller screens than standard laptops.
This means that it costs less money to produce a Chromebook.
Since the screen isn’t as big, it doesn’t require quite as many materials.
Screens also determine the size of the rest of the computer.
Since the screen is small, the body of the computer is going to be on the smaller side, too.
That also means fewer materials are needed to make it which leads to reduced manufacturing costs.
Some people who are used to bigger screens might find the smaller screens on Chromebooks to be difficult to use.
Google is aware of that and likely understands that it’s an inconvenience to some users.
That might contribute to the lower prices as well.
Chromebooks are cheap because they have smaller screens which reduce manufacturing costs.
2. Smaller CPU
Most of the cheaper Chromebooks tend to have smaller CPUs than other standard laptops.
The CPU of a computer is extremely important.
You can think of it as the brain of the computer.
It receives instructions and then tells the rest of the computer’s parts what to do based on those instructions.
The bigger the CPU is, the faster it can relay that information.
That’s why you’ll often find that computers designed for gaming have large CPUs.
Gaming computers are receiving tons of information at one time.
When the CPU is large, it can quickly transmit that data.
That can result in higher response times and refresh rates and also reduce lag.
While more expensive Chromebooks are capable of running some games, they’re not exactly gaming laptops.
As such, there isn’t much of a need for a large CPU.
That helps keep Chromebooks cheaper.
Depending on the size and complexity of a CPU, it can be an expensive part to produce.
Since Chromebooks’ CPUs are generally simple, they’re less expensive to produce.
That brings down manufacturing costs which brings down the price of the Chromebook.
Chromebooks are cheap because they have smaller CPUs.
3. Free Operating System
Another major reason why Chromebooks are cheaper than standard laptops is that they use a free operating system.
Chromebooks run on ChromeOS.
ChromeOS is a free operating system.
Google essentially allows manufacturers to use its operating system for free.
That isn’t the case with Windows laptops, for example.
Windows laptops use the latest version of the Windows operating system.
For example, laptops might use Windows 11 as their operating system.
Windows do not give its operating systems away for free.
The laptop manufacturer has to buy a license from Windows to use the operating system in its laptops.
That is an additional cost that makes the laptop a lot more expensive.
Depending on the Windows version, the license can cost around $139.
While upgrades are free, new laptops and computers require manufacturers to buy a license for the latest software.
That means that manufacturers have to spend at least $139 from the start just to put an operating system onto the computer.
Chromebooks don’t require that initial cost.
Since it’s free to use the operating system, manufacturers are able to save money on each laptop they produce.
Since they’re saving money, they’re able to pass those savings on to their customers.
Chromebooks are cheap because the operating system they use is free.
4. Low-Tier RAM
RAM is another important aspect of a computer.
You can think of RAM as the short-term memory of a computer.
Whenever you load an app or web browser, the RAM is what handles the data.
When you turn your computer off, the RAM clears itself and any important functions end up stored on your hard memory or SSD.
The bigger the RAM is, the more memory it has and the faster it can store and transmit data.
This is important in gaming since your computer is trying to read through tons of data and remember certain things at one time.
The bigger the RAM is, the easier it is for your computer to remember certain things and transmit data at faster rates.
That improves your game’s performance.
Since having a large RAM is more important for professionals and gamers, it’s primarily utilized in more expensive laptops.
Gamers or professionals who need lots of RAM for work are typically the ones who buy these expensive laptops.
Chromebooks aren’t necessarily geared toward gamers or professionals.
As such, they don’t need as large of a RAM.
While you can find certain versions of the Chromebook with large RAM, they tend to be the more expensive versions.
The standard Chromebook has small RAM.
Since the RAM is small, it saves on manufacturing costs.
In return, the cost of buying a Chromebook is also reduced.
Chromebooks are cheap because they have small RAM which reduces manufacturing costs.
5. No Dedicated GPUs
Another big difference between Chromebooks and other types of laptops is their GPUs.
The GPU is the primary part that’s responsible for the graphics on your laptop screen.
The sharper the picture quality, the better the GPU.
The problem with Chromebooks is that they don’t typically use a dedicated GPU.
This means that the GPU is part of the RAM or CPU.
It doesn’t have its own memory storage.
This usually means that the picture quality on a Chromebook isn’t as advanced as on some other laptops.
Gaming and professional laptops, for example, tend to use dedicated GPUs.
These are GPUs that have their own memory banks.
They don’t have to rely on a system’s RAM or CPU for power or data transmission.
That helps make a GPU work faster.
Since it’s able to work faster, the picture quality is better.
However, dedicated GPUs are more expensive to make.
They require more parts than a shared GPU.
Since the cost of manufacturing them is higher, the overall price of the laptop is higher.
Chromebook is able to avoid this extra cost by using a standard shared GPU.
Since its manufacturing costs are lower, the price of a Chromebook is also lower.
Chromebooks are cheap because they don’t use dedicated GPUs.
6. Lack Of High-Quality Webcams
If you have ever used a Chromebook’s webcam before, then you know it isn’t the best quality.
Part of that is due to its shared GPU.
The other part is due to the webcam, itself.
Chromebooks don’t typically have high-quality webcams.
They aren’t built for professionals working remotely who need regular access to a webcam for meetings.
As such, manufacturers tend to only install basic webcams on the computer.
Basic webcams use standard materials that are cheaper to source.
Since the webcam is inexpensive to make, it doesn’t impact the overall price of the computer that much.
This is different from laptops that use high-quality webcams.
Computers built for office use, for example, tend to have high-quality webcams.
The manufacturer knows that the individual likely needs to use their webcam often for meetings.
As such, the individual needs a webcam that can capture them perfectly.
Companies will use more expensive materials to make a high-quality webcam.
Since the cost of making the webcam is more expensive, the laptop is more expensive.
Chromebooks avoid those costs.
Chromebooks are cheap because they save on costs by using basic webcams instead of high-quality ones.
7. Main Material Is Plastic
While Chromebooks are relatively durable, they’re mostly made of plastic.
Plastic can be a very durable material.
Although Chromebooks may be made of cheaper types of plastic, their case is made of more durable plastic.
This helps ensure the Chromebook survives even if dropped.
Although manufacturers spend a bit of money on protecting Chromebooks, they don’t spend as much money as they could.
For example, some manufacturers will use aluminum or another durable material to make their laptops.
They want to ensure that the laptop will survive a drop onto any type of surface.
Others might focus on using materials that are waterproof.
The more durability or security that a laptop offers, the more expensive it is to manufacture.
Chromebooks have just enough durability to make them a good investment.
However, because they stick to the basics, they can be sold for cheaper prices.
Chromebooks are cheap because they are made from durable plastic instead of more expensive materials.
8. Target Audience
Another reason Chromebooks are cheap is because of their target audience.
Chromebooks are particularly popular among students.
Their lightweight nature makes them easy to carry around.
They also have the basic type of functionality that students need.
They’re not necessarily looking for a laptop that has all the bells and whistles.
They just want a laptop that will let them perform research, write essays, and contact friends.
Chromebooks do all that for a low price.
Students typically don’t have the biggest budgets either.
As such, Chromebooks are the perfect budget-friendly solution.
If Chromebooks were intended for an audience with bigger budgets, then they’d likely be more expensive.
Chromebooks are cheap because their target audience is students who don’t always have huge budgets.
9. Small Memory
Chromebooks also don’t have a lot of built-in memory space.
Most Chromebooks have around 32 GB of memory.
Laptops, on the other hand, tend to have between 128 GBs to even a full terabyte.
Since Chromebooks don’t have large memories, the manufacturing costs tend to be cheaper.
Manufacturers are also aware that having such a small memory space is likely inconvenient for some people.
That is reflected in the lower price, too.
Chromebooks are cheap because they have small memories.
10. Made For Google Services
A final reason Chromebooks are cheap is that they’re primarily built for use with Google services.
Whether it’s Gmail, Google Docs, or even Google Calendar, Google has tons of free services.
It relies on Chromebook users paying for more advanced or premium features with its services.
However, the fact that most of Google’s services are free means that Chromebook users can have their needs met without having to pay much.
Windows laptops usually have apps that the customer needs to pay for to use.
That isn’t the case with Chromebooks that rely on Google services.
Since most apps are free, using a Chromebook is even cheaper.
Chromebooks are cheap because they utilize Google services which are primarily free to use.