Asus Chromebook Flip C436
"The Asus Flip C436 is a newer, faster, and more expensive generation of Chromebooks."
Great build quality
Solid battery life
Chromebooks were once cheap laptops and nothing else.
Now the next generation of Chromebooks is coming onto the market, targeting mid-sized Windows laptops. The $ 800 Asus Chromebook Flip C436 is the first in this new class and doesn't mess around.
Think about what you can do before you spend $ 800 on a Chromebook. A Core i3-1011U CPU, 8 GB RAM, a 128 GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) and a 1080p screen. It's such a healthy spec list as on a Chromebook. Is Flip C436 the best Chromebook you can buy?
Design and build quality
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
Many early Chromebooks were budget options with the right build quality. This has changed over the years as more and more premium Chromebooks match the best available on other platforms. The Chromebook Flip C436 is such a laptop with an aluminum case that feels great in the hand. No bending, bending or twisting here. It's as solid as any Windows 10 laptop, some cost hundreds of dollars more.
In contrast to the previous Chromebook clip C434, the hinge of the C436 can be easily opened with one hand. However, it is not shaky. The display does not wobble in clamshell, presentation, tent or tablet mode.
It is also relatively modern in its aesthetics. The bezel is relatively small except for the large chin at the bottom of the display and has a screen-to-body ratio of 85%. This doesn't match Asus' ZenBook line, which reaches up to 97%, but is much better than the Google Pixelbook Go and many other Chromebooks that are slow to follow the trend.
The silver color is conservative but attractive, with the exception of the chrome hinges and the Asus logo on the lid. If you want more panache, Asus also sells an "Airgel White" option with a rainbow effect on the lid.
If you covered the Chrome label, you'd never know it was a Chromebook. This also applies to other newer Chromebooks. This shows that Chrome OS laptops have grown up – they look just as good and are well built like all but the highest quality Windows 10 laptops and MacBooks.
The Chromebook Flip C436 is light at around 2.5 pounds and thanks to the small bezel fits into a rather small case for a 14-inch laptop, which is also thin at 0.54 inches. The Google Pixelbook Go is smaller, a little lighter and a bit thinner at 0.5 inches, but the difference is not profound.
Keyboard and port selection
Connectivity is an area where Chromebooks have been limited in the past. For the first time, Chromebooks offer the latest standards like Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. This makes a significant contribution to making the Flip C436 a legitimate Windows replacement.
However, things are still somewhat limited in terms of ports. USB-C 3.1 has become universal in laptops, and the Flip C436 has two. However, Chrome OS still doesn't support faster and more powerful technologies like Thunderbolt 3. At $ 800, Thunderbolt 3 shows up on Windows laptops.
There are no USB-A or HDMI ports. This means that you only rely on dongles and connectivity is limited to only the two ports unless you use a USB hub. However, the Flip C436 has a MicroSD card reader and a 3.5 mm audio jack.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
The keyboard uses a standard Chromebook layout, but the typing experience itself is remarkable. The Flip C436 has oversized keycaps and 1.2 mm of travel, a snappy feel and a smooth ground movement that enables comfortable typing.
Next, the large-format touchpad responds and supports the full range of Chrome OS multi-touch gestures. It's glass where the previous version was made of plastic, which gives it a smoother feel. There's also a touch display that lets you scroll long websites with a thumb and tap pop-up buttons.
Finally, I didn't get a chance to check the active stylus available for the Chromebook Flip C436 – an add-on option that wasn't available on my review sample. However, the availability of an active pen is essential for 2-in-1 devices, and it's great that Asus at least offers it as an option.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
Display quality is another important performance factor, and the Chromebook Flip C436 meets these requirements. I was unable to use my colorimeter to test the display because Chrome OS is not supported. However, I found it bright enough for indoor use. It will fight under direct sunlight, but also most screens with a maximum of 300 nits.
The contrast also seemed to be sufficient, with black text and a white background that made my typing a breeze. It is a full HD display that is just sharp enough on the 14-inch panel, but not as good as some other current Chromebooks. For example, the display on the Google Pixelbook Go is much nicer.
The advantage of the Flip C436 is of course a 2-in-1. It's a pleasure to switch to media mode and watch Netflix. The speakers won't blow your mind, but they're loud enough for a medium-sized room and won't distort at full volume. The bass is of course almost completely missing, as is the case with many laptops.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
Chrome OS is a very efficient operating system and doesn't burden processors nearly like Windows 10 and MacOS. Only a very anemic CPU with low power consumption like an older Intel Celeron can slow it down.
The Chromebook Flip C436 doesn't have that. The 10th generation dual-core core i3-10110U would not be the fastest for Windows or Mac, but it offers sufficient performance for Chromebooks. If you use 8 GB RAM and a 128 GB PCIe SSD – no slower eMMC storage here – you have a Chromebook that should at least keep up theoretically.
You can even add a quad-core processor to the mix for an additional $ 200.
The Chromebook Flip C436 definitely keeps up with everything you want to throw at it. I opened a number of tabs in Google Chrome and couldn't slow them down no matter how many apps I loaded in the background. I'm sure I could have found a combination that would have raised some concerns, but to put it simply, you won't just tax the system.
It's the fastest Chromebook we've seen with 97 in the Tachometer 2.0 benchmark. And imagine: For an additional $ 200, you can get a quad-core i5-10210U and configure up to 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD. Yes, this very fast Chromebook can be even faster if you want to throw a little more money on it.
However, this investment may not be worth it unless you need tons of storage. You would have to open a lot of apps and tabs to exceed 8 GB of RAM, and a quad-core i5 is likely to be an overkill for everyone except programmers and developers.
Speaking of which, you can run modern Android games on the Chromebook Flip C436. The Intel UHD graphics can keep up, and the ones I tried – like Asphalt 9 – were fluid and entertaining. Switch to tablet mode and use the touch display. Even though it's a little hard, you can play games like on an Android tablet.
Battery life is another strength – although it was significantly lower before I updated it to the latest version of Chrome OS. This shows that Google's operating system is not immune to the same problems that sometimes occur with Windows 10 and MacOS.
Although the Flip C436 only has 42 watt hours of battery life – compared to 48 watt hours in the C434 – it still offers a solid battery life. I will find that in our demanding Basemark web benchmark test of just under three and a half hours, in which some other Chromebooks have a better lifespan, it was not as strong. For example, the Google Pixelbook Go ran for more than four hours.
The processor was connected at full speed during our Basemark battery test, with the fans running constantly.
In our web browser test, the Chromebook Flip C436 was much stronger at 10.5 hours. The Pixelbook Go ran about 13.5 hours and the Chromebook Flip C434 over 11.5 hours. And in our loop video test, in which a Full HD Avengers trailer is played until the battery is empty, the Asus took a strong 13 hours.
The reason for the mediocre battery life in the Basemark test seems to be that the Core i3 was connected at full speed and the fans ran fairly consistently. This also happened while surfing the Internet before the Chrome OS update, and I would add that it is a little strange to hear fans run a Chromebook – most are fanless, which is simply not possible with this processor caliber.
The Chromebook Flip C436 isn't cheap at $ 800, and it shouldn't be either. There are many cheap Chromebooks, but only a few offer this level of performance and build quality. The battery life was sufficient to bring the Flip C436 to a solid result and to use the traditional strength of Chromebooks.
Is there a better alternative?
It has some advantages over the Pixelbook Go, but the $ 150 price difference between the base models is difficult to justify. They give up the 2-in-1 flexibility, but get a better display, a more attractive design and a little better battery life.
Another competitor is the Acer Chromebook 13. They don't get the same quality, but they do have a 13.5-inch screen with a higher resolution and a size of 2,256 x 1,504. They spend $ 700 on a dual-core processor, but the storage space drops to just 32 GB.
If Windows 10 is more your bag, consider the $ 850 Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 with an 8th generation Core i5 and better display. And the Asus build quality is also there, along with even smaller bezels and a nifty LCD numeric keypad built into the touchpad.
How long it will take?
The Chromebook Flip C436 is solidly built and seems to last forever. Its components should keep up with years of Chrome OS updates. The one-year warranty is also disappointing, but Asus offers its usual protection against accidental coverage for 12 months.
Should you buy it
Yes. The Chromebook Flip C436 is fast, well built, and deserves its premium price.