PROS / The Samsung Chromebook 3 has excellent support options.
CONS / Its poor test results indicate disappointing performance and battery life.
VERDICT / The Samsung Chromebook 3 is one of the most affordable Chromebooks available, but it comes at the expense of overall performance.
Among ultra-affordable Chromebooks, the Samsung Chromebook 3 represents some of the best and the worst of the category. The inexpensive laptop computer has good enough performance for the average web-browsing user, but if you open more than a few media-heavy tabs or go too long away from a charger, you’ll start to feel the system’s limitations. That said, Samsung adds a few finer touches to the Chromebook to make these constraints more palatable, including category-leading support options and a quick-charge battery that gets you going again after mere minutes.
The Samsung Chromebook 3 is equipped with a 1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3050 processor, which is similar to the low-powered processors used in the majority of low-end Chromebooks. This is paired with 2GB of RAM, which is a smaller allotment of memory than we’d like to see since it directly impacts performance. In JetStream 1.1 it scored 41.38 points, the lowest in our Chromebook comparison, and it averaged only 31 frames per second (fps) in WebGL Aquarium, again near the bottom of the bunch. The laptop is outfitted with 16GB of local storage, which is less than the usual 32GB, but it shouldn’t hamper anything too badly since Chromebooks rely almost entirely on cloud storage.
With a disappointing battery life of just seven hours and 53 minutes, it’s one of the shorter-lived models in our Chromebook laptop review. That said, Samsung has incorporated quick-charge technology that gives you an estimated two and a half hours of additional battery life from just 15 minutes of charging.
It’s also a very portable system, measuring just 11.37 x 8.04 x 0.70 inches and weighing only 2.54 pounds. The plastic chassis may not be as fancy as the aluminum ones used for top-rated Chromebooks, but it’s reinforced and built to withstand drops. It also has a textured finish to provide better grip and prevent drops in the first place.
The small notebook computer has an 11.6-inch display, a basic LED-lit panel with 1366 x 768 resolution. There is no touchscreen option. This small Chromebook also has one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port and a microSD card slot. Most Chromebooks only have one video output, but this model is outfitted with both HDMI and DisplayPort. You’ll only want to use one or the other though, not both simultaneously, since the laptop’s low-powered processor and graphics aren’t well-suited to running multiple external displays.
Samsung covers the Chromebook 3 with a one-year warranty, as is standard for the category. Support services can be reached through phone, live chat or social media. Samsung also has the best support of any company in our review – it ranked third out of 10 brands in Laptop Mag’s independent testing by providing helpful advice via phone and the web.
The Samsung Chromebook 3 could be seen as one of the more disappointing models when you compare Chromebooks, with performance limitations from a low-end processor and short-lived battery. Despite those flaws, however, it’s still a decent value for the budget-conscious shopper, with a price that makes even the best Chromebook under $300 seem a little pricey.