PCs & Laptops

Two inexpensive laptops in comparison – ThinkPad vs. Chromebook

Since the beginning of the Corona crisis, demand for laptops has increased worldwide. The mobile companions are mainly used for home office / mobile working and home schooling.

But not everyone can or wants to afford an expensive notebook. And so two affordable alternatives to the classic, new Windows laptop have emerged: used business laptops (especially Lenovo ThinkPads) and Chromebooks.

In this article, we compare two representatives of their kind with the Lenovo ThinkPad X230 and the Acer Chromebook 514. Who will win the race?

Eyes open when buying a ThinkPad

Not every ThinkPad is the same. The following series have proven themselves on the second-hand market:

  • The X-series (e.g. X230, X280): These are very compact ultrabooks; usually with a screen diagonal of 12.5 inches. The devices are designed for maximum portability.
  • The T series (e.g. T440p, T14): The T models are relatively compact and light ultrabooks. The devices can usually be upgraded very well, some models even have a socketed CPU (e.g. T440p). In return, they are somewhat less portable than the X models.
  • The L-series: The L-series is a bit higher-end than the E-series, but cannot quite keep up with the T / X models. In addition, they are slightly thicker.
  • The E-series: The entry into the ThinkPad world. Unfortunately, Lenovo makes concessions here in terms of quality.

Basically, the following applies to the ThinkPad naming scheme: the first number indicates the display size (e.g. the X230 has 12.5″, the T540 15.6″), the second the generation of the device (often also congruent with the generation of the installed Intel core CPU) and the third number indicates whether it is the Intel (ends with a “0”) or AMD version (ends with a “5”).

In addition, there are other things you should look out for when buying:

  • Some ThinkPads, especially on eBay, come without a German keyboard layout. Often, the seller applies German stickers to the keycaps, but these offer a poorer typing feel and can come off over time.
  • Some models (e.g. X240) have two batteries instead of one. With these, you should make sure that both are functional.
  • Check whether a charger is included in the scope of delivery. Depending on the model, replacement can be expensive.

Scope of delivery

For both the X230 and 514, both the laptop and a charger are included. Acer also includes safety instructions and a manual.


Device name Lenovo ThinkPad X230 Acer Chromebook 514
CPU Intel Core i5-3320M (2x 2.6 – 3.3 GHz, HyperThreading) Intel Pentium N4200 (4x 1.1 – 2.5 GHz)
RAM 8 GB DDR3L (2x slots) 8 GB LPDDR4 (not expandable)
Fixed memory 256 GB (2.5″ SATA SSD, expandable) 64 GB (eMMC, not expandable)
Display 12.5″, XGA (1366 x 768), IPS 14″, FullHD, IPS, Touch
Webcam 1.0 MP 0.3 MP
Connections 1x VGA, 1x Mini DisplayPort, 2x USB-A 3.0, 1x USB-A 2.0, 1x Gb LAN, ExpressCard/54 1x USB-C 3.0 with DisplayPort 1.2, 1x USB-C 3.0, 2x USB-A 3.0, 1x jack, 1x MicroSD reader
Operating System Linux Mint 20 ChromeOS (updates until 06/2024)
Battery 5,676 mAh (smaller size available) 3,900 mAh
Dimensions (width x depth x height) 30.5 x 20.7 x 2.7 cm 32.3 x 23.2 x 1.7 cm
1.34 kg 1.4 kg
Housing material
Plastic, magnesium Aluminum
approx. 205€ (test unit) € 379.00*

Material quality and workmanship

The ThinkPad X230 relies on a mix of high-quality plastic and magnesium for the chassis material, as is common with the X models. This makes the entire notebook extremely sturdy; the display is also very torsion-resistant. Fingerprints are also hardly visible.
The hinges of the X230 are made of metal and are still stable even after years of use.
The only flaw is the area above the ExpressCard slot. Since this is hollow, the plastic above it can be slightly dented. However, this problem can be solved by using a dummy or a simple ExpressCard.

Acer manufactures the case mostly out of aluminum. This looks chic and feels high-quality. Unfortunately, Acer saves on the hinge of all things; it is only made of simple plastic. Therefore, it is prone to occasional creaking noises. The cold metal surface of the palm rest feels more uncomfortable when using the device than the plastic of the X230.

The unadorned but very sturdy X230 wins in this category.

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Acer Chromebook 14 Zoll (CB514-1HT-P1BM) (ChromeOS, Laptop, FHD Touch-Display, Intel Pentium N4200, WLAN, bis zu 12 Stunden Akku-Laufzeit, 8 GB RAM, 64 GB eMMC) Plus Chromebook price comparison

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Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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