Asus Chromebook C434 Laptop Review
This best-in-class Chromebook is a nearly perfect affordable laptop
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If you still think Chromebooks are cheap, low-end imitators of real work laptops, I dare you to try the Chromebook Flip C434. With a sturdy aluminum build, a decent selection of ports, and a full HD touch screen display, the Chromebook Flip C434 is a premium laptop at a not-so-premium price—making it one of the best Chromebooks you can buy today. If you need an affordable laptop for getting the basics done, this is the best value running.
Its specs may not look like much on paper, but the Asus Chromebook Flip C434 is much more than the sum of its parts. We spent several full days putting it through its paces, both in the lab and in the real world, to see how it held up.
The processor–an Intel Core M3-8100Y–performs admirably under Chrome OS’ leaner requirements, and the base model's 4GB of memory is quite usable (though there's an 8GB model for heavy multitaskers). The Flip also supports Android and Linux apps—not to mention the ability to connect to Windows PCs with Chrome Remote Desktop—making Chrome OS a much more suitable replacement for Windows than a few years ago.
The Asus C434 is a bit more expensive than most Chromebooks—no doubt thanks to its high-end build quality and included touch screen–but both of these things are rare in Windows machines at this price point.
About the Asus Chromebook Flip C434
The C434 is available in two different configurations. We reviewed the $529 entry-level version, with an Intel Core m3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. You can, however, upgrade the RAM to 8GB for about $100 more. Here’s the full spec sheet:
Processor: Intel Core m3-8100Y (1.10GHz dual-core with up to 3.40GHz Turbo Boost and 4MB cache)
Memory: 4GB of 1867MHz LPDDR3
Storage: 64GB eMMC storage
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 with shared graphics memory
Display: 14-inch 1080p touchscreen
Battery: 48Wh 3-cell lithium-polymer battery with 45W USB Type-C power adapter
Ports: USB 3.1 Type-C (x2), USB 3.1, microSD card, headphone/microphone jack
Wi-Fi: Dual-band Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac)
Dimensions: 12.64” x 7.95” x 0.62”, 3.19 lbs
Chrome OS is a lot lighter weight than Windows or macOS, so you can get by pretty easily with that Core m3 and 4GB of RAM—but if you want something that lasts, I’d still recommend upgrading to 8GB of memory, especially if you use a lot of extensions or open loads of tabs. Even if you think 4GB is fine for now, the 8GB model will last you longer, since the RAM is not user-upgradeable.
What We Like
Its build quality is fantastic
The Chromebook Flip C434 feels a lot more expensive than it is. Its aluminum chassis is smooth and durable, comparable to Windows machines nearly twice the price. It’s also fanless, so you don’t have to deal with dusty grilles or loud whirring noises while you work. The hinge has a bit more resistance than I’d like, but it opens smoothly and doesn’t feel like it’ll break or wear down like other less expensive laptops.
The display is big and beautiful
At 1080p and 327 nits, it’s not the sharpest nor the brightest screen on the market—Microsoft’s more expensive Surface line beats it in both categories—but it’s still a great-looking screen, thanks to its large size and vivid colors. The bezels are also quite thin, meaning Asus was able to cram a 14” display in the body of a typical 13” laptop. It isn’t quite as portable as, say, Dell’s XPS 13, and it’s a bit heftier than most ultraportables, which makes the C434’s tablet mode just a tad clunky. Still, it’s serviceable enough as a tablet, especially with the inclusion of Android apps.
Battery life is off the charts
Battery life is key when you’re working on-the-go, and the Chromebook Flip C434 has one of the longest-lasting batteries we’ve used this year. In our test, which continuously cycles through popular websites like CNN and Twitter, the C434’s 48Wh battery died in just under 8 hours. I had no problem making it through the workday and then some, especially when I was inside and could dim the brightness. And, while this isn’t specific to the battery, I love any laptop that charges over USB-C, since the power adapter can also charge my Android phone. The Flip’s power adapter is also quite small, making it easy to toss in your bag when you’re on the go.
The keyboard feels great
As laptops get thinner and thinner, keyboards are the first things to suffer. But the C434 feels lovely to type on, with a slight texture on the keys and a decently long 1.4mm key travel. Most importantly, the deck is big enough that you don’t feel like you’re playing a cramped game of Twister with your fingers. It’s a tad mushier than, say, a high-end ThinkPad keyboard, but most people will find it more than pleasant to type on, especially in a world where keyboards are getting worse and worse. It’s also backlit, which is just another one of those premium touches that make this laptop stand out.
You get a decent selection of ports
While some laptops have gone all-in on USB-C a little too early (I’m looking at you, Dell and Apple), Asus decided to keep one USB-A port, so you can ease into the transition. And while you don’t quite get the port selection you see on large or business-oriented laptops—there’s no HDMI port, for example—you get the most important ones, and USB-C dongles will do in a pinch for connecting to an external display. There’s even a microSD slot, with enough room inside for the card to sit nearly flush with the laptop’s body—so you can permanently beef up your storage with a 128GB microSD card like this one. 64GB is not bad for a Chromebook, but that extra space is great if you want to bring a few movies on the plane with you, or sync your entire music collection to your laptop.
What We Don't Like
It’s more expensive than typical Chromebooks
While the C434 feels extremely premium, it’s on the higher end for Chromebooks, which often go as low as or $300. Compared to those, $530 (for the 4GB model) and $630 (for the 8GB model) just feel spendy, even though they’re much cheaper than similarly high-quality Windows laptops (not to mention pricey Chromebooks like Google’s $1000 Pixelbook). The C434 is well worth its price; it may just be a hard pill to swallow for truly budget-minded folks.
The trackpad is merely “fine”
I’m a bit of a trackpad snob. It’s the main component through which you interact with your laptop’s software, so if a trackpad is imprecise, jumpy, or has bad palm detection, it kills the experience for me. The C434’s trackpad is what I would call good, not great: the surface is smooth and the cursor doesn’t jump around, but it isn’t quite as precise as offerings from Dell, Lenovo, or Apple. In other words, it isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s not best-in-class. Thankfully, I got used to it pretty quickly, and only really noticed after moving back and forth between other laptops.
Configuration options are limited
While it’s standard for Windows machines to come with a number of CPU, RAM, and storage configurations, Chromebooks don’t always offer the same flexibility. For a brief time, Asus sold a number of different configurations for this machine, allowing for three different CPUs and three different levels of storage, just like the previous Chromebook Flip C302. But they seem to have disappeared as quickly as they were here, with Asus now offering only a core m3-8100Y model with 4GB and 8GB RAM options. Again, I found the m3-8100Y to be more than suitable enough for the work I do, but some heavier users may lament the lack of higher-end i3 or i5 models for the occasional processor-intensive task. Since the C434 supports Linux desktop apps, it’d be nice to have the option.
Should You Buy It?
Yes. It’s one of the best Chromebooks out there.
It’s honestly hard to find too much fault with the Chromebook Flip C434. Most of my issues feel like nitpicks, or are attributable to personal preference. The bottom line is that this is one of the best Chromebooks you can buy, with build quality that rivals far more expensive Windows laptops: a solid aluminum chassis, a beautiful display, and a fantastic keyboard make this a great buy.
Criticizing it is difficult not because it’s perfect, or the most powerful laptop out there—far from it—but the C434 does exactly what it aims to do: It’s a premium-feeling machine that delivers a great browsing experience for less money than its Windows-based brethren, as long as you’re able to get by with Chrome OS. And again, that’s getting easier and easier to do. If I only had $550 to spend on a laptop, I’d take a well-built Chromebook like the C434 over a cheap, creaky Windows notebook any day of the week.
If you need more power, you could step up to something like the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 or the Google Pixelbook, but these are much more expensive, and probably more powerful than most people will need in a Chromebook. There are also cheaper options, like the $289 Acer Chromebook 11, which we like quite a bit—but it may border on "not enough power" for some people. If you have the extra couple hundred to spend, the Asus Chromebook Flip really hits the sweet spot for Chromebooks, and it’s hard to go too wrong.
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