A powerful Chromebook?

When I started college I figured it was important to get a good laptop, up until that point I had just been using my desktop. I was interested in getting the best price-to-performance ratio I could find and I decided to look into Chromebooks.

My budget was $300-400 and I wanted a laptop that was powerful enough to handle everyday tasks like playing music, browsing the web as well as programming. After some research I decided to go with Toshiba Chromebook 2 – 2015 Edition (CB35-C3350) because of the 1920 x 1080 display, small size, good quality speakers and the fairly powerful processor inside (I chose the i3). It also has an LED backlit keyboard if that’s a feature that interests you. My workload usually entails Spotify, Firefox (with a lot of tabs open), a MySQL server, an Apache server and PHPStorm. I can run all these at once without any lag.

If you are curious the Octane Scores are below in the spoiler tag:

Octane Scores

  • Octane Score: 20476
  • Richards: 18237
  • Deltablue: 35783
  • Crypto: 18533
  • Raytrace: 47507
  • EarleyBoyer: 25796
  • Regexp: 3097
  • Splay: 13805
  • SplayLatency: 19325
  • NavierStokes: 20632
  • pdf.js: 13474
  • Mandreel: 15028
  • MandreelLatency: 29153
  • GB Emulator: 36439
  • CodeLoad: 10594
  • Box2DWeb: 34022
  • zlib: 39143
  • Typescript: 25496

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However, it is a fairly extensive process to install Linux on the Chromebook. There is a great guide that I followed to do this setup which I will link to at the end of this post.

As soon as I got the Chromebook I replaced the puny 16 GB SSD with a 128 GB SSD so that I could have more space. I installed ElementaryOS on top of the new SSD, but that requires you install new BIOS firmware called SeaBIOS, an open source firmware designed to replace Google’s restrictive BIOS. Overall, the the whole process from installing the SSD to flashing SeaBIOS and finally installing Linux took me about 3-4 hours, but I had never worked on the inside of a laptop before and was going slow.

I found it a great learning experience and it gave me a much greater appreciation of my laptop after I had done so much research and custom work on it. I highly recommend this for anyone who wants a budget laptop with great performance and doesn’t mind putting some effort in.

Guides I followed:
Native Linux on Toshiba CB35-C33X0 Chromebook
Upgrade the SSD in a Toshiba Chromebook 2 (2015)

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