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Samsung Chromebook 2 (11.6-inch, Intel Celeron) review: A stronger Chromebook in more ways than one

Though the 11.6-inch laptop looks the same as its earlier Chromebook 2, Samsung made some changes inside and should you need help, it's now just a click away.

Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Expertise Laptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and drones Credentials
  • More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Joshua Goldman
5 min read

If you put Samsung's newest 11-inch Chromebook 2 next to the Chromebook 2 it released in April, you probably wouldn't be able to tell them apart save for its silver lid.


Samsung Chromebook 2 (11.6-inch, Intel Celeron)

The Good

The Samsung Chromebook 2 with Intel Celeron offers sturdier construction than your average Chromebook with good performance with more than 7 hours of battery life, a responsive touchpad and a comfortable keyboard given the 11.6-inch size. Live video support is included powered by Google Helpouts.

The Bad

The display quality is disappointing even for an inexpensive laptop. Memory is fixed at 2GB.

The Bottom Line

Samsung keeps the nice-looking design of its previous 11.6-inch Chromebook 2 while making it a little more durable and puts live support help just a click away, making it a noteworthy update to the company's Chrome-computing lineup.

The lid does have the same leather-like treatment to as the earlier model, though, making it look and feel a bit nicer than the lids of other Chromebooks. The new version also has the same 1,366x768-pixel-resolution, 11.6-inch LCD, the same wide, comfortable keyboard with curved keys (it's still not backlit, though) and the same big, responsive touchpad.

The screen, though it looks good head-on and gets respectably bright, is pretty bad off-angle. Colors wash out when looking down on it from the top or off to the sides. It all depends on how you plan to use it as to whether this will be an issue for you.

Sarah Tew/CNET

For example, I had trouble seeing what was on the screen working with it on my lap during my daily commute, which leaves me little flexibility with positioning. But, again, if you can tilt the screen so you're looking directly at it, it's just fine. Well, considering this system's $250 price tag, anyway.

The keyboard is comfortable with at least a little travel so it doesn't feel like you're typing on a board. Key size and spacing is respectable, too. Still, this is a small laptop so you may feel a little cramped depending on what you're used to typing on.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Having tested many low-end laptops over the years, the clickpad on this Samsung is surprisingly good. Like the keyboard, it's reasonably large given the laptop's size and it's responsive without the jumpiness you might expect.

As for ports and connections, those are the same, too: one USB 2.0, one USB 3.0, a headphone/mic jack, a full-size HDMI and a microSD card slot. A 720p Webcam with mics and stereo speakers round out the package. The speakers, by the way, actually sound pretty good, but you'll probably want to hook up a set of decent desktop speakers or headphones for extended listening.

The biggest changes between the old and new versions of this Chromebook are on the inside. Perhaps to make it more appealing to business and education markets, the display housing, the corners of the body and the ports have all been reinforced with metal to make it more durable.

Sarah Tew/CNET

This seems like almost a direct response to Lenovo's Chromebooks, such as the ThinkPad Yoga 11e . That model costs nearly twice the Samsung, but does have a touchscreen and the fold-back design for which the Yoga is known.

Performance and battery life

The other major change is Samsung's use of an energy-efficient 2.58GHz Intel Celeron N2840 processor instead of the Samsung Exynos processor found in the previous Chromebook 2.

The processor is joined by Intel HD graphics, 2GB of memory, 16GB of internal storage and 802.11AC wireless and Bluetooth 4.0, making it all in all a pretty typical Chromebook.

Six screws stand between you and opening up the bottom of this thing, but after doing it ourselves, there really isn't a reason to go digging around in there. That's disappointing because although I didn't expect to be able to put in additional storage, I was hoping to add more RAM.

Joseph Kaminski/CNET

The one positive is that should its battery stop holding its charge as well, you could potentially service it yourself. (That's the battery being held up in the picture above.)

As is the case with every Chromebook we've tested, the system boots in a matter of seconds, and the combo is powerful enough to efficiently run Chrome and Web apps. Streaming HD video from Hulu Plus or listening to Spotify or Google Play Music while working in other tabs didn't pose any problems, and even under heavy load it stays quiet because of its fanless design.

Opening up dozens of tabs is an urge you'll want to fight as it will slow things down. But for things like simple photo editing using Pixlr Touch Up or Polarr or a quick game of Cut the Rope, it has enough pop.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung claims this Chromebook 2 is capable of up to 9 hours of battery life based on results from Google's power-testing procedures. Using our continuous wireless video-streaming test with sound and screen brightness set to 50 percent, we hit 7 hours and 6 minutes. These times will change according to what you're using it for, but regularly reaching 7 to 8 hours of use should be no problem.

There is one last thing that makes this Chromebook 2 stand out from the crowd, and that's the live video chat support Samsung includes with this model.

Powered by Google Helpouts, Samsung Support can be contacted through the Chromebook Help menu installed on the laptop. Samsung says the support team is ready to answer questions about the hardware and Chrome OS basic usability and features, but any technical troubleshooting will be redirected to Google. That matches what we experienced with the support call we made.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

Ever since Chromebooks launched I've read comment after comment saying they'd be great for less tech-savvy family and friends and what a relief it would be to no longer need to be "IT support." That's true to a point.

For instance, since it's running on Google's browser-based Chrome OS, you can't install software. While that means there's less risk of picking up a virus, it also means you're still explaining that he or she can't install iTunes or use a USB-connected printer. It is with those things or potential hardware questions that the Samsung support might come in handy. Though it might not be a huge benefit, it is a benefit.

The service, which is currently in beta, is available Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST. The support is for the life of the product, but right now that only means the Intel-based Chromebook 2. Samsung is planning to roll out service to other device, but a schedule has not been determined yet.


There's not a lot of wow factor when it comes to Chromebooks (with the exception of maybe Google's pricey Pixel ), and the Samsung Chromebook 2 doesn't really change that. It is, however, an inexpensive well-built and nice-looking Chromebook for its price, and the included video-chat support is a fine bonus.

Futuremark Peacekeeper

Lenovo Yoga 11e Chromebook 1293Lenovo N20p Chromebook 1334Acer Chromebook 13 1399HP Pavilion Chromebook 14 1455Samsung Chromebook XE500C12 1614
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Sunspider JavaScript

Samsung Chromebook XE500C12 589Acer Chromebook 13 574Lenovo Yoga 11e Chromebook 566HP Pavilion Chromebook 14 518Lenovo N20p Chromebook 513
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance


HP Pavilion Chromebook 14 1000Lenovo N20p Chromebook 1260Samsung Chromebook XE500C12 1380Lenovo Yoga 11e Chromebook 1420Acer Chromebook 13 3820
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Hulu streaming battery test

HP Pavilion Chromebook 14 177Lenovo Yoga 11e Chromebook 336Samsung Chromebook XE500C12 426Acer Chromebook 13 483Lenovo N20p Chromebook 499
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

System configurations

Samsung Chromebook XE500C12
Chrome OS; 2.16GHz Intel Celeron N2830; 2GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 16GB SSD

Lenovo Yoga 11e
Chrome OS; 1.83GHz Intel Celeron N2930; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 16GB SSD

HP Pavilion Chromebook 14
Chrome OS; 1.1GHz Intel Celeron 847; 2GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 16GB SSD

Acer Chromebook 13
Chrome OS; 2.10GHz Nvidia Tegra K1; 2GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 16GB SSD

Lenovo N20p
Chrome OS; 2.16GHz Intel Celeron N2830; 2GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 16GB SSD


Samsung Chromebook 2 (11.6-inch, Intel Celeron)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7Battery 7Support 8