If it’s affordability and simplicity you want in a laptop, Chromebook might be a good choice for you. They’re at the lower end of the price scale, and due to the Chrome operating system also very convenient to operate – after you get used to them. HP 14-x030nr is such a Chromebook, and in this review we’ll let you know if this small laptop would be a good candidate for your next computer.
The essential things
Let’s repeat it: The operating system in this model is Chrome, not Windows. It’s an OS that’s basically just the Chrome browser. It boots up very quickly and has many equivalents for popular Windows applications like Microsoft Office and Skype. Installing Windows executables like games (without hacking) is impossible, so gaming is basically limited to those titles running on a browser. For lightweight use, like web surfing, text editing and video streaming/meetings Chromebook however works fine.
Now that we know more about the software, let’s concentrate on hardware. You’ll find a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor inside. The clock speed of that CPU is 2.3GHz. There are not many benchmarks available for this mobile chip, but rumors are it can be compared to Celeron-based PC processors. For a typical Chromebook use that is definitely adequate, and in no way will the CPU become its bottleneck.
A little more problematic thing can be the RAM amount. There’s just 2GB memory installed in the laptop. It’s hardly enough these days. My favorite example is multitasking, or keeping many tabs open in the browser: with 2GB RAM, the system might become sluggish. You won’t really get any remedy for the problem either because RAM can’t be upgraded.
The storage is usual 16GB eMMC, an embedded MultiMediaCard. It’s like a stripped down version of a true solid-state drive, offering limited write and read write speeds compared to SSDs. It’s not an issue in my opinion, but of course the small size of 16GB means you can’t store nearly as much data on this computer as you could on a Windows-based laptop with a conventional hard drive.
That said, if you’re looking for ways to get more storage, one is to use Google Drive. You’ll get 100GB free cloud space from them. If you prefer local storage, you can plug in an external hard drive through USB or use a microSD card.
About display and graphics
Although Chrome OS supports touch these days, HP 14-x030nr hasn’t jumped into that bandwagon. Thus, the display in this model is a regular 14 inches screen. The biggest hurdle might be the 1366×768 resolution. But if you ask me, it works fine for a display of this size.
The graphics chip in this Chromebook is NVIDIA Tegra K1 Kepler GPU. It’s very fast engine in the mobile computing scene, and won’t have any problems with games Chromebook supports. But the catch here is indeed the Chromebook support: Playing regular Windows games like Battlefield 4, Minecraft of World of Warcraft won’t run on Chrome OS unless you’re a geek and install Linux alongside. If you’re not willing to do that, your choice of games is limited to browser apps – for which this HP is undoubtedly enough.
Like all Chromebooks I know, also this model has a WiFi-only networking options. The wireless chip also supports Bluetooth 4.0 so you don’t need to get external adapters for that.
HP 14-x030nr has one USB 3.0 port and two slower USB 2.0 ports. You can, for example, use them for an additional hard drive to increase the storage space.
There’s also a HDMI output good for connecting the Chromebook to a HDTV.
microSD card reader is available on this HP. Its most obvious use is probably to get more space for your files, since the default storage is just 16GB on this model.
The laptop sports a high-definition webcam which you can use with Google Hangouts for video meetings. Skype video isn’t supported on Chromebooks without hacking.
What else to keep in mind?
HP 14-x030nr doesn’t have a DVD drive. It would be rather pointless because Chromebooks support only data discs – no movie DVDs, for example. Also burning discs on Chrome OS is not possible.
For battery life they promise 8 hours. That’s quite typical for a Chrome-powered laptop, and excellent if you compare to budget laptops running on Windows. In addition, the 3.4 pounds weight is not much among all 14″ notebooks.
There’s no numeric keypad on the keyboard. However, because of this, keyboard and trackpad are centered which probably contributes to a better user experience.
Summing it up
HP 14-x030nr is a Chromebook of capable processor and graphics engine and subpar memory. If you ask me, a home user or, say, a student would be fine with this. They could also operate their favorite programs Google-style since most Windows applications have a Chrome equivalent. If you have very specialized and demanding needs, like you’re a programmer or video editing professional, Chromebook is naturally bad choice due to hardware and software limitations.
However, Chromebook also has other advantages like very fast booting times, small weight and respectable battery life. If these things resonate with you – and you’re fine with software that’s slightly different from what you’re used to – you may have a good reason to go for a Chrome-powered laptop instead of a Windows one!