HP Chromebook Plus 14a review: Not the kind of “plus” I was hoping for

Solid, but nothing to gawk at

HP Chromebook Plus 14a review
(Image: © Future/Rami Tabari)

Laptop Mag Verdict

The HP Chromebook Plus 14a is a decent laptop for the price, but it lands in more gray areas than “pluses.”

Pros

  • +

    Sturdy design

  • +

    Comfortable keyboard

  • +

    Cool temps

Cons

  • -

    Poor display

  • -

    Below-average performance

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A resurgence of Chromebooks has arrived, and I’m here to tell you where the HP Chromebook Plus 14a fits in Google’s enlightened AI era. Like most things concerning AI, it’s complicated.

For $449, the HP Chromebook Plus 14a lets you work on a comfortable keyboard packed into a sturdy design that’s cooler than most when put under pressure. However, its Intel Core i3-n305 processor can’t keep up with the competition, and as with most laptops at this price most, the 14-inch display isn’t anything to gawk at. And the gray area it really finds itself in is battery life — landing between a full workday’s worth of energy and long-lasting competitors.

The HP Chromebook Plus 14a is a solid laptop, and it’s totally worth getting if you want a comfortable browsing experience, but it doesn’t quite cut it for our best Chromebooks page. Let me tell you why.

HP Chromebook Plus 14a: Specs

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Price$449
CPUIntel Core i3-n305
GPUIntel UHD Graphics
RAM8GB
Storage128GB UFS
Display14-inch, 1920 x 1080
Battery8:50
Size12.82 x 8.48 x 0.72 inches
Weight3.2 pounds

HP Chromebook Plus 14a: Price and configurations

There’s only one configuration of the HP Chromebook Plus 14a. It costs $449 and is outfitted with an Intel Core i3-n305 processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of UHS storage (better than eMMC), and a 14-inch 1920 x 1080 display.

If you’re looking for a laptop with a little more power behind it, we recommend checking out our best laptops under $1,000.

HP Chromebook Plus 14a: Design

The HP Chromebook Plus 14a is just thick and heavy enough to feel like it could take a few tumbles in a school bag. The gray exterior, accompanied by the glossy HP logo and a Chromebook Plus logo in the top left is inoffensive but boring. I didn’t expect anything spectacular at this price, maybe a little more color?

HP Chromebook Plus 14a review

(Image credit: Future/Rami Tabari)

Popping open the lid revealed more of the same — a gray deck with a compact keyboard walled in by a pair of vents. The bezels on the display are relatively thin, and it’s nice to see the webcam on top sporting a privacy shutter.

At 3.2 pounds and 12.8 x 8.5 x 0.7 inches, the HP Chromebook Plus 14a is among the lightest of its competitors. The Acer Chromebook Plus 515 (3.7 pounds, 14.2 x 9.39 x 0.79 inches) and Asus Chromebook CM14 Flip (3.44 pounds, 12.8 x 8.9 x 0.7 inches) had a little more heft to them. Meanwhile, its 2-in-1 sibling, the HP Chromebook Plus x360, is just barely lighter, at 3.1 pounds, 12.72 x 8.28 x 0.81 inches.

HP Chromebook Plus 14a: Ports

There aren’t many ports on the HP Chromebook Plus 14a—some notable absences are an HDMI port and a microSD card slot.

HP Chromebook Plus 14a review

(Image credit: Future/Rami Tabari)

On the left, you’ll find a headphone jack and a USB Type-C port, while the right holds room for a USB Type-A port and another USB Type-C port.

HP Chromebook Plus 14a review

(Image credit: Future/Rami Tabari)

Need more ports? Check out our best USB Type-C hubs and best laptop docking stations pages.

HP Chromebook Plus 14a: Display

You should always temper your expectations when shooting for a budget laptop, especially with its display. The HP Chromebook Plus 14a’s 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 display is a little dimmer and duller than average, but I won’t hold it against it.

HP Chromebook Plus 14a review

(Image credit: Future/Rami Tabari)

I watched the Borderlands trailer and the background of Cate Blanchett’s ship looked like the crew didn’t pay the electricity bill. However, while dull, Blanchett’s red shirt and hair presented cooler tones and didn’t look artificially saturated. The stitching in her vest also looked sharp.

According to our colorimeter, HP Chromebook Plus 14a covered 41.7% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which is a bit duller than the average Chromebook (49.7%). It’s slightly more colorful than the CM14 Flip (40.7%) but is bested by the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 (43.4%) and HP Chromebook Plus x360 (45.5%).

At 289 nits of brightness, the HP Chromebook Plus 14a wasn’t as bright as the average Chromebook (304 nits). However, its display is brighter than the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 (271 nits), CM14 Flip (262 nits), and HP Chromebook Plus x360 (236 nits).

HP Chromebook Plus 14a: Keyboard and touchpad

I click-clacked away on the HP Chromebook Plus 14a’s keyboard and found it to be surprisingly comfortable. I love that I can feel the font under my fingertips, which makes it easier to find my way around the keyboard.

HP Chromebook Plus 14a review

(Image credit: Future/Rami Tabari)

I typed 80 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, which is slightly below my usual 81-wpm average. It took a little bit to get used to, as the keys are smaller than what I’m used to. Some people might not like the smaller shift and backspace keys.

The 4.7 x 2.6-inch touchpad offers a thick click without depressing the chassis too far, and the texture is softer than I expected for a budget laptop.

HP Chromebook Plus 14a: Audio

It's nice to see top-firing speakers on a budget laptop, but the HP Chromebook Plus 14a still sounded a little congested.

I listened to Hozier's "Too Sweet," and the bass guitar sounded like it was attempting to sneeze — seriously, though, the speakers reproduced muted lows. Crisp and clear vocals carried the track, but it didn’t sound full. The percussion fell to the background as well.

Unfortunately, the HP Chromebook Plus 14a isn’t outfitted with a built-in audio program, so you’ll have to search the Google Play Store for a program to adjust the EQ settings.

HP Chromebook Plus 14a: Performance

Like the recently reviewed HP Chromebook Plus x360, the Plus 14a has an Intel Core i3-n305 processor. With just 8GB of RAM, the HP Chromebook Plus 14a isn’t running a computing marathon anytime soon. Still, it’s powerful enough to juggle a couple dozen Chrome tabs and a handful of YouTube videos with little slowdown.

HP Chromebook Plus 14a review

(Image credit: Future/Rami Tabari)

On the Geekbench 6 overall performance test, the HP Chromebook Plus 14a scored 4,087, which is weaker than the average Chromebook (5,215). It falls short of the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 (5,052; Intel Core i3-1215U) and the HP Chromebook Plus x360 (4,188; Intel Core i3-n305). Meanwhile, the CM14 Flip’s MediaTek Kompanio 520 CPU scored a measly 1,449 on the Geekbench 5 test.

The HP Chromebook Plus 14a scored 196.82 on the JetStream 2.0 benchmark, which measures how fast large web pages load. It dropped just short of the 211.33 category average. It beat the CM14 Flip (74.5) and is comparable to the HP Chromebook Plus x360 (198.2). However, it was outpaced by the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 (275.37).

HP Chromebook Plus 14a: Battery life

Battery life is a bit of a gray area for the HP Chromebook Plus 14a. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. On the Laptop Mag battery test, the Chromebook lasted for 8 hours and 50 minutes. It’ll get you through a work or school day, but it’s not quite as long-lasting as the average Chromebook (9:33). While it did outpace its 2-in-1 sibling (7:25) and the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 (8:21), the Asus Chromebook CM14 Flip (10:14) survived over an hour longer.

HP Chromebook Plus 14a: Webcam

HP shoves the weirdest webcam I’ve ever seen in the Chromebook Plus 14a. It's a 1280 x 960 webcam that shoots in a 4:3 aspect ratio — an uncommon resolution paired with an equally uncommon aspect ratio (for laptop webcams). But it is nice to see a privacy shutter.

HP Chromebook Plus 14a review

(Image credit: Future/Rami Tabari)

In the test shot, my hair and face looked fuzzy. The colorful My Hero Academia poster behind me looked drab and muted. The poor contrast washed out the window behind me (with the blinds down). I highly recommend checking out our best webcams (if you feel you need to look your best in a video call).

HP Chromebook Plus 14a: Heat

My body temperature is hotter than the HP Chromebook Plus 14a. After streaming a 15-minute video, the underside clocked in at 77.5 degrees Fahrenheit, which is impressively below our 95-degree comfort threshold. The center of the keyboard and touchpad hit 82 and 76.5 degrees, respectively. And the hottest it got was 89 degrees, located between the rubber feet and where the vents start.

HP Chromebook Plus 14a: Software and warranty

The HP Chromebook Plus 14a operates on ChromeOS, a stripped-down operating system free of all the bloatware that comes with something like Windows 11. What’s new to Chromebooks is Gemini.

Gemini is an AI assistant that can help you procure knowledge, juggle tasks, and write better. It’s a bit of a controversial technology at the moment, as we’ve written about in stories such as: What Google failed to learn from Microsoft's most offensive AI chatbot or I used Google Gemini in Gmail and it's not the AI revolution I hoped for ... yet.

With the recent Chromebook updates, you can use Google’s video tool Magic Editor, design unique backgrounds, use the new Game dashboard to add keyboard input to games, access your calendar from the Chromebook shelf, create and send a GIF screen recording, and personalize keyboard and mouse buttons.

The Chromebook Plus 14a comes with a one-year limited warranty. See how HP performed on our Tech Support Showdown ranking.

Bottom line

At $449, I expect to make a few sacrifices, but the HP Chromebook Plus 14a rides the line on important sections like performance and battery life. At the very least, a budget laptop should offer enough performance to match its competitors and enough battery life to keep up with the rest. It’s hard not to recommend something else if you can't do that.

If you’re already going to sacrifice some battery life, you might as well go with the Acer Chromebook Plus 515. It offers better performance and a larger display for a better price.

Otherwise, if you’re looking for something compact, sturdy, and easy to use, the HP Chromebook Plus 14a is a solid choice.

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Rami Tabari
Editor

Rami Tabari is an Editor for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.