HP Chromebook x360 14c
RRP $ 690.00
"The HP Chromebook x360 14c has errors, but is supported by its low price."
Robust build quality
Conservative good looks
Solid productivity performance
Disappointing battery life
Keyboard is a little too light
Pen is not included
Chromebooks have essentially caught up with Windows laptops in terms of form factors, and the Convertible 2-in-1 is well represented among Chrome OS devices. As an example, HP has its Chromebook x360 14c, which it has updated with an 11th generation Intel Core CPU for 2021.
It's still held back by a 16: 9 display as the rest of the world moves towards larger 16:10 or 3: 2 panels, but otherwise it's a representative example. There's nothing that really stands out other than, as we'll see in a moment, the price.
My test configuration of the HP Chromebook x360 14c with a Core i3-1125G4 and a 14-inch 16: 9 Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display is priced at $ 690, but it's on sale since I've been reviewing this for a long time write more tasty $ 510. At this price point, the HP Chromebook x360 14c is an attractive 2-in-1 convertible for anyone looking for a Chrome OS laptop with some flexibility.
The HP Chromebook x360 14c isn't cheap enough that you would accept poor build quality, especially for a Chrome OS computer. So it's good that the laptop is made of aluminum and cannot bend in the lid or bend in the keyboard deck and in the lower chassis. HP has made a solid machine that is almost as tough as laptops that cost twice or more than the Dell XPS 13, which sets the standard for premium laptops.
Some only give in when the lid is pressed down, which puts the HP Chromebook x360 14c in a different class. It's significantly stiffer than the Asus Chromebook Flip C536, another 14-inch Chrome OS convertible 2-in-1 that costs about the same and is probably HP's most relevant competitor.
If you want a laptop that stands out, the HP Chromebook x360 14c isn't for you.
The hinge is a bit tight and requires two hands to open the lid, but it holds the display firmly in place in any of the four modes – clamshell, tent, media or tablet. Strong magnets hold the lid tightly to the lower chassis, so you'll need to pry it open first.
Aesthetically, the HP Chromebook x360 14c is a very conservatively designed device in dark silver, with just a chrome-plated HP logo on the lid to break things up. The lines and angles are simple, with rounded corners and edges that make the laptop minimalistic but comfortable to hold.
The Asus Chromebook Flip C536 is a much more eye-catching laptop with its white outer case and black keyboard deck, as well as its more aggressive angles. Both are attractive laptops, but if you want one that stands out, the HP Chromebook x360 14c isn't for you.
The Chromebook x360 14c's display bezels are thin on the sides and reasonably large on the top, and the bottom chin is smaller than some other budget 2-in-1 convertibles. That makes the laptop just a little wider and deeper than average, while being 0.71 inches thin and weighing 3.35 pounds, also above average for the modern 14-inch class.
That said, the HP is smaller than the Asus Chromebook Flip C536, which is 0.73 inches thick and weighs 4.3 pounds. In addition, the Asus is more than an inch wider and deeper, which makes the Chromebook x360 14c appear tiny in comparison. You won't hate carrying around the Chromebook x360 14c, but it's not the smallest 14-inch laptop you can buy.
Connectivity is decent, with two USB-C ports and one USB-A port for a 3.5mm audio jack and a microSD card reader. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 offer wireless connectivity.
HP has equipped the Chromebook x360 14c with a dual-core Core i3-1125G4 CPU of the 11th generation, which should be sufficiently fast for Chrome OS. Add in 8 GB of RAM and a fast PCIe 256 GB solid state drive (SSD) and there is reason to be optimistic.
We can only run limited benchmarks in Chrome OS, so most of my performance metrics are subjective. I ran the Android Geekbench 5 benchmark and the Chromebook x360 14c overwhelmed with just 898 in the single-core test and 2,866 in the multi-core test. That is behind the Asus Chromebooks Spin C536 with the slower Core i3-1115G4 in the single-core test and equivalent in the multi-core test at 1209 and 2849 respectively. The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 with its quad-core Core i5-1135G7 achieved 1,237 in the single-core test and 5,114 in the multi-core test. It's a lot faster.
The HP Chromebook x360 14c is fast and efficient no matter how many Chrome tabs I open.
I also ran the Tachometer 2.0 web benchmark and the Chromebook x360 14c did well here, scoring 141. The Chromebook Flip C536 was slightly faster at 158. Most laptops, Chrome OS or Windows, score less than 100 on this test, so these are good results.
Subjectively, I found the HP Chromebook x360 14c to be fast and efficient, no matter how many Chrome tabs I had open or Android apps were running in the background. These may not be the fastest benchmark results on our database, but the 2-in-1 kept up with everything I've given it, including running an Android game like Asphalt 9.
That's a pretty demanding title as far as Chrome OS games go, and the Chromebook x360 14c ran it without any stuttering or chopping. This is a 2-in-1 device that is fast enough for demanding productivity workflows, at least as far as Chrome OS is concerned.
The Chromebook x360 14c has a 14-inch Full HD IPS display that is touch and pen capable. I couldn't test the display with my colorimeter, but I would rate it as a good panel. It's bright enough for my usual work environment, but at a nominal output of 250 cd / m² it won't overcome very bright ambient lighting – in fact, you don't want to use it outside with sunlight.
The colors were pleasant and not oversaturated, so I suspect they are pretty accurate. Watching Netflix and photos was fine. The contrast was acceptable, black text sticking out on a white background without looking grayish. My biggest complaint was that the display was the old school 16: 9 aspect ratio and its Full HD resolution was just bordering on sharpness.
Overall, this is a comfortable display for productivity and media frenzy. Creative guys who crave dynamic colors and deep contrasts won't like it, but that goes for most Chromebook displays.
Two upward-facing speakers on each side of the keyboard produce the sound, and they provide crisp highs and mids with a hint of bass. That's the good part.
The volume was not so great, as it was low even when the volume was turned up all the way. That is unfortunate.
There was no distortion, however, meaning that if you're playing Netflix alone you are covered, but music will benefit from headphones, and a bluetooth speaker is handy for entertaining groups.
Keyboard and touchpad
HP makes great keyboards, as evidenced by the version in its Specter range. Unfortunately, this keyboard didn't make it onto the Chromebook x360 14c. While the keyboard has plenty of room and large keycaps, the switches are too light. There's a lot of travel and snappy ground motion, but too little pressure is required to register a button press.
I like lighter keyboards, and so this one was just over the top. If you like a light touch on your keyboards, you'll be fine with this one, but too little pressure can be as tiresome during long tips sessions (like writing this review) as too much.
My test device came with a pen for testing, but this is an additional purchase.
The touchpad, on the other hand, is excellent. It's bigger than usual and has a soft tactile feel that is great for precise wiping. The buttons have a nice, quiet click that sounds good without waking your partner up when you use the laptop in bed at night. This is one of the better touchpads I've used on a Chromebook.
My test device came with a pen for testing, but this is an additional purchase. It worked well with Chrome OS's built-in pen tools so I can take notes and highlight with precision. The pen is magnetically attached to the case so it's easy to take with you, although the magnets aren't that strong, so be sure to keep an eye on it.
A switch on the left side that turns the webcam on and off provides additional security. There's also a fingerprint reader that allows you to log in without a password, which is convenient and unusual for devices in this price range.
HP put 58 watt hours of battery in the Chromebook x360 14c, which should be enough for a Chrome OS laptop with a 14-inch full HD display and an energy-saving CPU. In terms of battery life, I expected great things.
I didn't get that. Surprisingly, the Chromebook x360 14c only lasted 7.75 hours in our web browser test, which is where Chrome OS devices usually do best. But maybe I shouldn't have been surprised, because the Asus Chromebook Flip C536 with the slower Core i3 and 57 watt hour battery only lasted 6.75 hours. The Asus Chromebook Flip C436, the predecessor of the C536, had a 10th generation i3 and only 42 watt hours of battery and lasted 10.5 hours – a much better result.
Even the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 with its 1st Gen Full Power Core i5 CPU managed it to last 8.5 hours. In our video test, which repeats a local 1080p movie trailer, the Chromebook x360 14c only got eight hours, compared to the Chromebook Flip C536 with 10 hours and the C436 with 13 hours. The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 lasted 10 hours. Here, too, the HP lagged behind.
I was disappointed with these results. The Chromebook x360 14c probably won't even last a full work day even running the lightweight Chrome OS, which is usually the norm for the platform.
The HP Chromebook x360 14c is an attractive, well-built 2-in-1 Chrome OS convertible that is good value at $ 510. At $ 690, it's a little less attractive.
It's fast enough for the demanding productivity user, but its battery life will let you down. The keyboard is a bit loose, but the touchpad is a winner and the pen support is a plus. If you can find it on sale then definitely add it to your list.
Are there alternatives?
The most natural competitor, the Asus Chromebook Flip C536 offers similar performance and slightly better battery life for the same price. It has a more distinctive look, so it's better for someone looking for a laptop that will stand out.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is another competitor, similarly expensive but much faster and with better battery life. It also offers a sharper, more productivity-friendly 3: 2 display, which is a plus for getting the job done.
Finally, if it's not sold with a 2-in-1, Google's Pixelbook Go should be considered. It has better battery life, a better display, and superior audio quality, all in a smaller package. You'll spend more, but it's worth it.
How long it will take?
The Chromebook x360 14c is a relatively rugged 2-in-1 that feels like it will last for years. And its components should keep Chrome OS running for quite some time. The typical one-year guarantee is more palatable at such prices.
Should you buy it?
Yes sir. If you can get it on sale, it's value for money and a solid Chrome OS 2-in-1.