Asus Chromebook Flip C436F review: The Chromebook grows up
A powerful convertible Chromebook that packs a superb screen, with only its high price counting against it
If there’s one thing the Asus Chromebook Flip C436F proves, it’s that Chromebooks are growing up. It’s been a slow process, but there is finally a good choice of premium laptops running Google’s OS. None more so than this convertible, which measures a skinny 13.7mm when closed. Slim bezels surround the 14in display and, at 1.2kg, it’s surprisingly light too.
Despite this lack of girth, the C436F is solidly made. There’s no play in the smooth hinge, which twists round the full 360°, nor much give in the chassis. And it looks fantastic with a white finish to the lid, set off beautifully by chrome effect hinges and a finely perforated grille at the rear of the machine for venting heat.
Asus finds space for a pair of USB-C ports, one on each side, which can be used for charging and connecting the machine to external displays and other peripherals. Other than this, ports are restricted to a 3.5mm jack on the left edge and a microSD slot on the right, although you shouldn’t need to expand the storage by much as there’s a 256GB SSD inside.
The keyboard isn’t the best we’ve used on a Chromebook; that honour belongs to the Google Pixelbook Go. While it’s spacious, keys would benefit from more travel and the feedback is less positive than we’d like. There’s no Caps Lock key, but that’s an issue shared by all Chromebooks, and you can easily reassign the Search key as Caps Lock if you wish. We appreciate the backlit keys, but the transparent lettering can make it difficult to read them in bright natural light.
Despite this laptop’s small size, it comes with a large touchpad that measures 130 x 66mm. We found this both sensitive and reliable, and its size makes three and four-finger multitouch gestures easy to perform. Another bonus is that Asus finds room for a fingerprint reader, just above the Backspace key in the top-right corner.
There’s a stylus in the box for sketching and taking notes on the touch display. This wasn’t supplied with our review sample so we can’t say how effective it is, but we know there’s nowhere to stow it in the laptop, which is another minor irritation.
The screen is a peach; in fact, we prefer it to the Google Pixelbook Go’s display. A resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 works well on a 14in diagonal and, since it uses IPS tech, viewing angles are great. Peak brightness reached a not-so-amazing 303cd/m² but colour coverage is good, covering 97.7% of the sRGB colour gamut with decent colour accuracy.
While this display won’t play HDR material, it’s a great laptop to watch TV and films on, and you won’t have to don headphones every time as the stereo speakers deliver full, clear audio. There isn’t much in the way of bass, but there’s enough warmth to make watching the news or a documentary pleasant.
How fast is it? It’s hard to compare the performance of Chromebooks with that of other laptops because they work in a very different way. However, it’s still possible to make a comparison between other Chromebooks and, by this metric, the C436F is a winner. For instance, it scored 99 in Speedometer 1.0 compared to the Pixelbook Go’s 78; this is one of the big advantages of Asus using a tenth-generation Core i5 compared to the eighth-gen chip in the Pixelbook.
It’s a very quick and responsive machine and there was no point at which we felt the laptop ran out of gas. we had tens of tabs open and it didn’t break a sweat. It couldn’t match the Pixelbook Go’s astonishing 14hrs 15mins in our video-rundown battery test, but 10hrs 24mins is more than good enough for a full day’s work.
All this bodes well if you decide to push the C436F beyond Chrome OS, and indeed apps installable via the Google Play store, and instead run Linux-based software. If you want to do the latter, you have to install Linux from the Settings menu. Once done, it’s possible to install all sorts of stuff from the command line or by downloading DEB files.
It’s hard to pick holes in what the Chromebook Flip C436F has to offer. It’s a cracking little laptop: powerful and nicely made, with a great display, effective touchpad and decent keyboard. Battery life is very good, too. However, it’s expensive. Its only obvious rival is the Google Pixelbook Go, which comes in a £949 version with a Core i5 and 128GB of storage.
We would plump for the Pixelbook if push came to shove, but there isn’t much in it. The Go has a nicer keyboard and longer battery life, but the Asus has more storage, a superior display and a fingerprint reader. Whichever you choose, we’d wager you’ll be pleased.
Asus Chromebook Flip C436F specifications
Quad-core 1.6GHz Intel Core it-10210U processor
Intel UHD Graphics 620
Screen size (in)
1,920 x 1,080
Memory card slot
3.5mm audio jack
2 x USB-C
2x2 MIMO 802.11ax Wi-Fi
Dimensions, mm (WDH)
320 x 205 x 13.7mm
Weight (kg) - with keyboard where applicable
Battery size (Wh)