Running the benchmarks of this machine, as usual, was a challenge. Artificial benchmark software such as PCMark, Powermark, and 3DMark cannot run on ChromeOS, as they are executable files, which are not permitted on the operating system due to safety concerns.
On the Browsermark 2.0 test, the Chromebook’s Chrome browser scored a 5492, placing it superior to 88% of all desktop browsers tested. Browsermark 2.0 uses common web tasks such as dynamically resizing pages, manipulating the DOM structure, testing Flash Player compatibility and more to determine a system’s rank. It should be noted that ChromeOS cannot run Microsoft Silverlight, so it was not compliant with those tests.
The major difference in scores between this and the other Chromebooks we’ve tested came in Microsoft’s HTML5 Virtual Fishbowl test, which tests HTML5 graphics and math functions. With all effects, sounds and auto-fish on, this device maintained 60 FPS while handling 415-420 fish, which is twice as many as the Acer or Toshiba could handle. This is due to the Dell Chromebook being able to process the information much faster by having more RAM to access.
Ultimately the question with this machine’s defining feature is, “Do you need that extra 2 GB of RAM in a Chromebook?” When we ran the battery test (found below) on other Chromebooks with only 2 GB RAM, they handled just as well as the Dell, scoring similar battery life and not slowing down while streaming videos from multiple services. ChromeOS is designed to run on minimal specs without suffering in terms of performance or system bloat, so RAM increases or processor improvements may be overkill for the types of applications that can actually run in the OS.
Really it boils down to whether you will need 15-20 tabs open and playing at once, or will you need 30-35 tabs open, to determine whether the RAM increase will affect your computing. Most users should be able to get by without the increase. It is worth noting, as mentioned in the Ports and Connectivity section, that downgrading to the 2 GB model (only a $20 difference) causes this Chromebook to lose a USB 3.0 port, but gain two USB 2.0 ports (for a total of three USB ports).
The Dell Chromebook 11 we reviewed had the following specs:
- Operating System: ChromeOS
- 11.6” 1366 x 768 LCD display
- 1.4 GHz Intel Celeron 2955U processor
- System memory: 4 GB RAM
- Storage drive: 16 GB SSD, plus 100 GB Google Drive cloud storage for 2 years
- Dell DW1901 (Atheros) A/B/G/N Wi-Fi
- Integrated Ethernet 10/100/1000
- Bluetooth support
- 720p HD Webcam, PC Lock Slot, HDMI port, 2x USB 3.0 ports
- 3-cell battery (51 WHr)
- 65W AC adapter
- Dimensions: 0.97″ x 11.6″ x 7.9″ (24.6 mm x 294.64 mm x 200.7 mm)
- Weight: 2.9 lbs (1.3 kg)
- Price: $299
When pushing the battery, the Dell Chromebook 11 lasted 4 hours 35 minutes on a full charge, with Bluetooth connection on, and while streaming HD video from a Plex media server, two Twitch game streams, and a YouTube video. However, under normal conditions where users may only be streaming a video and doing web browsing, the battery would likely perform far better.
Before running this test, we had used the Chromebook off and on for about 7 hours over 3 days without needing to charge the battery, and only depleting approximately 60 percent of the full charge through basic word processing and browsing. Considering that the device has more RAM than other Chromebooks and still had fairly comparable battery life under our tests (versus the Toshiba CB30-A3120’s 4 hours 40 minutes, and the Acer C720’s, that means it has a very good battery.
Heat and Noise
Due to the increased RAM, the Dell Chromebook ran a bit warmer along the bottom vent than other machines, though not enough to be considered “hot” by any means. It would still make a good laptop computer, even while running multiple video streams. As well, due to the SSD not having moving parts, the machine is virtually silent while running.