Windows vs. Chromebook for College, Which is better?

Updated on June 3, 2020

When you are just starting off at college, one of the first things you’ll be looking for is a laptop. It is difficult to get your degree without one these days. If you’re looking for affordability, either Windows or Chromebook are going to be your first choice. So here we’ll take a look at who is better for college, Windows or Chromebook.

Windows Vs. Chromebook For College: Things To Consider


The first thing you need to consider when picking out your college laptop is what your major is. Now, if you’ve just graduated and been accepted to college, you may not have decided what your major is yet and that’s okay. 

But do think about whether or not you’ll need to purchase any specialized software for your major.

Specialized software will be something far more intensive than just Microsoft Office. We’re talking more along the lines of Adobe apps like Photoshop or Illustrator for the Photography and Art majors or CAD for those engineering majors.

These programs require a beefier laptop to run. One that has a lot of storage and a lot of processing power. So keep this in mind when you’re doing your research.


School work will take up a lot of your time at college (obviously, that’s why you’re there) but you will occasionally have some downtime. Think about how you want to spend your downtime on your laptop. 

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Source: Qrius

Do you want to watch movies on Netflix or play some games or do you prefer another downtime activity that doesn’t require a laptop.

If you like to game on your laptop, that too will require a beefier processor, graphics card, and storage, than your average laptop.

Windows Vs. Chromebook For College Pros & Cons

Finally, keep in mind your personal preferences on the matter. Below we’ll go through the pros and cons of both Windows laptops and Chromebooks but if you already prefer one over the other, go with your gut. Only you know what laptop is best for you.



  • Specialized software abilities
  • Can be budget-friendly
  • Many downtime options (e.g. gaming)
  • Can have large storage
  • Customizable


  • Not as safe
  • Can be expensive
  • Bloatware



  • Safe/Secure
  • Simple
  • Budget-friendly 


  • Limited software capabilities
  • Limited search engine/browser options
  • Small storage

Why Choosing Windows Laptop For College


Windows offer an enormous range of laptops to choose from with each laptop having its own customizable features. 

Features such as amount of storage and memory, the power of the processor, the display, the battery, and many more. 

This gives the potential buyer an almost infinite number of customizations of laptops to choose from. 

To some this may be daunting, but when you’re in the market for a versatile machine, being able to customize your laptop to fit your needs is incredibly advantageous. 

Along with the range of customization, also comes a range in price. Lower end windows laptops can cost less than $100 while higher end laptops can reach into the $2000s and everything in between.

..want a laptop that you can also game on in addition to your school work, you’ll be paying more for that big processor and killer graphics card… 

You are basically paying for your customization. If you want a laptop that you can also game on in addition to your school work, you’ll be paying more for that big processor and killer graphics card. 

While if you’re looking for a school only laptop, you’ll be paying a little less for a small, integrated graphics card and processor, but still have the power to get you through all your daily tasks.

Windows is still the number one OS used by laptop users and as such, has the most software developed for it. 

If you need a laptop that can run specialized software for coding, art, engineering, etc. you will definitely want to go with a Windows laptop because, depending on your laptop specs, you’ll be able to run it far more efficiently than a Chromebook ever could.

The biggest cons for Windows laptops are the price they can rack up for all that specialized hardware and the amount of bloatware they can come with. 

As mentioned above, you get what you pay for. If you want a gaming laptop, don’t expect a decent one to come cheaply. 

However, because of Windows customizability, there is likely a laptop out there to fit your needs and your budget.

Windows laptops are renowned (rather infamously) for the amount of bloatware they come with. 

Limited trials of everything from anti-virus to hard disk cleaners, word processors to web protection, the amount of bloatware these laptops come with is often overwhelming and frustrating to remove. 

They are one of the biggest cons to Windows laptops and there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of change for this aspect of them.

Why Choosing Chromebook For College


The Chromebook is quickly becoming a contender in the laptop market. They are well known for their budget-friendly price and easy to use OS.

As a college laptop, you would get a safe, cost effective laptop that has unique advantages. Chromebooks are safe because they are almost completely cloud-based. This means that any work you do on it will be saved automatically to your Google account.

This can be really useful if you forget your flash drive before a class presentation or if you are the victim of a blue screen of death the day that big paper is due. All of your work will be safely waiting for you in the cloud, ready to rescue you from your college induced panic attack. 

It also secures your documents in case of theft, which is a pretty real threat when you’re living with so many people.

Chromebooks are compact laptops. Their hardware is streamlined into small but powerful components and their lack of storage cuts down the price dramatically. 

Most Chromebooks are very cheap and many come as 2-in-1s for just over $200. These make for very versatile, budget-friendly machines.

Chromebooks have very little storage because of their cloud based connection. Now, this can be a curse or a blessing depending on what you need to use your Chromebook for. 

With very little storage, there is literally no room for the bloatware that Windows laptops manufacturers love to put on your laptop. So, no need to worry about that anti virus software bugging you to renew every month.

On the other hand, with so little storage, there is no place to put any specialized software. So, if you need to run Adobe or CAD or anything else with a large file size or that requires high processing power, you’ll likely need to use your university computers. 

Additionally, you can’t use a Chromebook for gaming unless you use an external hard drive and even then, you wouldn’t be able to play very many games, if any, because of the Chromebooks low end specs. If you game at all, stay away from the Chromebook.

..With Chromebook, Chrome is your only option so keep that in mind when you’re deciding on your laptop as well…

As the name suggests, Chromebooks use Google Chrome. Now, a lot of people use this browser which is great but there are some times when you need to use a different browser whether a website can’t work with Chrome or you prefer another browser. With Chromebook, Chrome is your only option so keep that in mind when you’re deciding on your laptop as well.


Both Windows and Chromebook laptops would make decent college computers but because of the variety of customizable options and the ability to run advanced software, Windows is likely your best option. 

Chromebooks are powerful laptops but they have too many limitations to their software and browsing capabilities to ensure the best experience for a college student. 

It is very likely that you can find a Windows laptop with the same power as a Chromebook plus more storage capacity and still be around the same price.

The less you have to use your university computer labs (which can often become overcrowded especially during exam season) the better. That’s the whole point of having a laptop at school with you. 

If you are in a major that is going to require specialized software, you should seriously consider a Windows laptop over a Chromebook just to make your own life just a little easier.

However, if you’re just looking for a fast and compact laptop that can get your school work done, a Chromebook may be the best option for you. 

If you already have a Google account and use it regularly, you’ll already be familiar with Google Drive and its facets and so a Chromebook will be easy for you to use.

Remember to consider the points we discussed above and use those to make the best decision about what laptop will work best for you because when it all comes down to it, the most important things are your needs and your preferences.

Article by:
Jordan Noland
Jordan is a tech wiz with several years of hands on experience researching and testing new products. Whether it’s a killer new gaming rig, a college laptop sure to last you your whole degree, or a sleek new tablet, Jordan has the know-how to get you started on your way to new and exciting tech adventures.

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