Although I’m very much a Mac guy, I also work with Windows PCs and laptops, along with the occasional Chromebook. One brand that I’ve been impressed with over the past several years is ASUS. I’ve been hands-on with a number of the company’s laptops, including the ZenBook S and ZenBook 4K. Over the past several months, I had the opportunity to try out the company’s Flip C436 Chromebook.
Premium 2-in-1 Laptop Design Competes With the Best
There are a lot of great looking laptops out there these days and the Flip C436 design holds up well against the best of them. That’s pretty impressive considering this is a Chromebook. An expensive Chromebook, but still a device that costs significantly less than most MacBooks and many Windows laptops.
ASUS used a magnesium alloy case that’s both strong and light. Bezels were cut down to the point they were able to fit a 14-inch display in a form factor more typical of a 13-inch laptop—it has an 85% screen to body ratio. Edges are precise, and the front features a dual-taper design that makes it easier to open the lid. The ErgoLift hinge is smooth and stable and lifts the back edge of the laptop for more comfortable typing and improved airflow/sound dispersion.
The lid on my review unit is a work of art. It’s coated in a striking, iridescent Aerogel White. On each side is a single USB-C port that can be used for power, accessories, or outputting video. The full-sized keyboard is backlit and offers decent travel for typing. The touchpad included a fingerprint reader.
Flip the Flip C346 display around, and you can use it as a tablet, which was useful for playing Android games.
Not Just Great Looks, Fire-Breathing Performance (For a Chromebook)
Chromebook and performance have seldom gone hand-in-hand. After all, with the reduced demands of Chrome OS, an emphasis on the cloud, and a mission to be affordable, Chromebooks started out as a compromise. The early Chromebooks I reviewed were a collection of years-old processors, outdated and dim displays, plus minimal RAM and storage. They did the job—often for $300 or less—but they weren’t exactly a joy to use.
The ASUS C436 upends the usual Chromebook playbook by incorporating the latest technology. It features a 10th generation quad-core Intel Core CPU, a bright and color-accurate Full HD display, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. In addition, it has a pair of USB-C ports, the latest wireless connectivity in Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, and even a quad-speaker audio system tuned by Harman Kardon.
Videos stream beautifully, games look great, text is crisp, and images are sharp and realistic. I could open Chrome tabs until I lost track of them all and the Flip C436 did not break a sweat. I could stream a dozen 1080p videos simultaneously.
In short, for a Chromebook, this is a powerhouse. Can you actually use all this firepower in a Chromebook? That’s debatable. But I guess the point is, you’ll never have to worry about it. You can count on snappy performance, no matter what you’re doing—something you can’t say with most Chromebooks. And if you want even more power, ASUS offers a Core i7 option…
Decent Battery Life
One of the benefits of using low-powered CPUs and dim, low-resolution displays is long battery life. ASUS took a different path with the C436. However, power efficiency improvements in the 10th generation Intel Core mobile chips and a higher capacity battery have helped to reduce the hit in battery life. ASUS rates the C436 at up to 12 hours of use on a charge. I liked to keep the display nice and bright, the sound volume cranked and the backlighting on—my average was more in the eight-hour range. Hardly spectacular, but still decent.
ASUS Flip C436 Key Specs (as Tested):
• 14-inch Full HD NanoEdge touch-enabled LED display with 100% sRGB color gamut
• 10th gen quad-core Intel Core i5 CPU with Intel UHD graphics
• 16GB LPDDR3 RAM, 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD
• 2 x USB-C (USB 3.2 power delivery)
• microSD card slot
• 360-degree ErgoLift hinge
• Full-sized backlit keyboard, touchpad with integrated fingerprint sensor
• Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
• HD webcam, Harman Kardon-tuned quad-speaker audio
• 42 Wh lithium polymer battery rated at up to 12 hours use
• Magnesium alloy construction with Aerogel White lid
• 0.54-inches thick, weighs 2.6 pounds
There’s no doubt the Flip C436 is a premium Chromebook and probably the nicest I’ve worked with. It’s also probably overkill for most users. However, at $1,000 the maxed-out version I tried is still far from expensive compared to Windows or Mac laptops. If it were up to me, the slick looks of the White Aerogel lid, the great display, and the performance would be worth paying a little more for. It was a sad day when I shipped this one back to ASUS.
If $1,000 is too steep for a Chromebook, ASUS offers more modest configurations of the Flip C436 for considerably less. For example, you can pick up a more traditionally equipped version (Core i3, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage) for $799.99 and still have the premium magnesium alloy design with 14-inch NanoEdge display and all the other features.
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