• notebookcomputer
  • 09/12/2022

Asus Chromebook Flip CM3 Review

A 2-in-1 convertible Chromebook is an attractive option for those who can’t decide between a tablet or a laptop to do their daily internet browsing and email sorting. While we’ve seen some excellent premium convertible options, like the Acer Chromebook Spin 514, there are still plenty of quality models for budget shoppers as well. They include the Asus Chromebook Flip CM3 (starts at $329; $429 as tested). This sleek, budget-conscious 2-in-1 convertible laptop delivers performance so good, you might just forget you're holding something that costs less than $500.

More Than a Basic Chromebook

The Asus Chromebook Flip CM3 makes a positive first impression. The metallic silver of the chassis complements the black of the keyboard and screen bezels well, and it looks quite handsome as both a laptop and a tablet. On the inside, our review unit features just 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage, par the course for a budget Chromebook. The $329 variation of the convertible is almost identical to our review unit, with just two major differences: It uses an older MediaTek MT8183 processor (versus the new MT8192/Kompanio 820 in our ticked-up tester) and comes with half the storage, chopping the 64GB of onboard storage down to 32GB.

Our Experts Have Tested 131 Products in the Laptops Category in the Past YearSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (See how we test.)(Photo: Molly Flores)

The CM3 makes use of a Mediatek processor, instead of the usual Intel or AMD offerings. ARM-based processors from Mediatek and Qualcomm are usually found in low-cost Chromebooks like this one, and typically perform about as well as other bottom-rung chips like the Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon. Most aren't unbearably slow, but there's a considerable power gap between them and midrange chips from AMD and Intel, and an even bigger gap between them and Apple silicon, which is also ARM-based. (Here's how to choose the best laptop processor.) Still, the CM3 is one of the best-performing ARM-powered Chromebooks we've tested, as you'll see below.

If you haven't guessed by the name alone, the Chromebook Flip CM3 makes use of Google Chrome OS. If you’re already an avid Google user, you’ll have no problem seamlessly syncing your Gmail, YouTube, and Google Play accounts. While many Windows apps might seem unavailable at first glance, plenty of Android-equivalent programs are available to download from the Google Play Store. With a few downloads and heavy use of browser-based apps, you’ll be able to match the basic functionality of a budget Windows PC.

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At just 2.5 pounds, the Asus Chromebook CM3 is a featherweight, weighing a half-pound less than our previous Editors’ Choice winner, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, and almost a full pound lighter than the HP Chromebook x360 14a. (Granted, the CM3's screen is two inches smaller than what these competitors offer.) But the compact size is a high point for people who value portability: The CM3 measures just 0.7 by 10.6 by 8.5 inches (HWD). As a tablet, it'll be a little more unwieldy than an Apple iPad, but don't forget that it's also more versatile, since it's a full-fledged laptop with a keyboard.

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Underneath the tablet, you'll find two rubber strips that keep the machine firmly planted on your desk. The two ErgoLift hinges hold the keyboard and screen together and smoothly allow for 360-degree motion, providing just enough resistance so it doesn’t feel like you're snapping the machine in half. Overall, the build quality is more than sufficient.

Good Touch Screen, Clumsy Touchpad

Turning our attention to the screen, you’ll find a 3:2 LCD panel with a resolution of 1,366 by 912 pixels. It's a somewhat odd resolution, but better than the 1,366-by-768-pixel count found in most cheap Chromebooks. The rated maximum of 220 nits provides adequate brightness, though a non-glossy display would’ve been preferred to better filter out the glare from ambient light. The touch screen is quick and responsive, with either a finger or the included Asus digital pen. Rounding out the screen features is a 720p webcam tucked into the screen’s bezel.

Asus Chromebook Flip CM3 Review

(Photo: Molly Flores)

With decent screen quality and a responsive touchscreen, the Asus Chromebook CM3 already seems like a winner, but there are a few low points, including the clumsy touchpad. It's not quite as bad as the dismal one you'll find on the HP Chromebook 11a, but the CM3's pad is still spotty at best and frustrating to use. Even after messing around with the sensitivity options, it just didn't track my gestures as smoothly as I wanted it to. It makes subtle movements a chore, forcing you to rely on the touch screen or an external mouse for greater precision.

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Thankfully, the keyboard doesn’t suffer the same fate. The keys of the chiclet keyboard are spaced just far enough apart so it doesn't feel too cramped, and it even provides some satisfying feedback while typing. A row of system commands lines the top of the keyboard, and the oversize Control and Alt keys are always a plus to have on smaller machines. All in all, we didn’t have much issue with using the keyboard during testing.

The Chromebook’s speakers, tucked just underneath the keyboard, deliver crisp and clear sound, especially at full volume. I did notice that the chassis vibrates slightly when listening at full volume, but it was nothing too distracting.

As far as I/O ports are concerned, the machine doesn’t have a great quantity, but the variety it does have is surprising. On the right side, you’ll find a lone USB Type-C port alongside volume control buttons and a power button.

(Photo: Molly Flores)

On the left side, you'll find a headphone jack, a USB-A port, another USB-C port, and a microSD card reader. A total of two USB-C slots is generous, and a pleasant surprise to find on a budget machine, though you'll have to use one of the USB-C ports for charging.

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Testing the Asus Chromebook Flip CM3: Strong ARM-ing the Competition

The Chromebook Flip CM3 has proven itself to be an impressive machine so far, but how does its performance compare with that of other Chromebooks? To find out, we pitted it against the Acer Chromebook Spin 311, the Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3, the HP Chromebook 11a, and HP Chromebook x360 14a on our benchmark tests. While not all of these Chromebooks in this lot are 2-in-1 convertibles, they all share similar specs and starting prices.

The first Chromebook benchmark we use is CrXPRT 2, a downloadable app that measures how quickly a system performs everyday tasks such as applying effects to photos and encrypting files. The CM3 took top marks in this test, proving that it can easily handle everyday tasks with ease.

The next benchmark is we run is the browser-based Basemark Web 3.0, which assesses how well a PC can run web applications. The CM3 does well here but comes up short compared with the HP Chromebook x360 14a.

While we normally run UL’s PCMark benchmark during our Windows PC test, for Chromebooks, we deploy the Android version, downloaded straight from the Google Play Store. Both tests simulate everyday workflows like word processing, web browsing, and data analysis and give an overall performance score. The CM3 comes out on top once again, a testament to its impressive ARM-based processor, with the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 not too far behind.

Our next test also comes to us straight from the Google Play Store. The Android version of Geekbench 5 is just like its Windows cousin: a CPU-centric test designed to simulate real-world applications ranging from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning. The Asus Chromebook Flip CM3 blows the competition out of the water in this test, easily claiming the top spot.

Everyone knows that Chromebooks are not powerful gaming laptops, but that won’t stop us from running the next benchmark, GFXBench 5.0, which is a cross-platform GPU benchmark that stress-tests both low-level and high-level game routines. The CM3 did do the best, but every machine in this test performed poorly, in both the 1440p Aztec Ruins test and the 1080p Car Chase test. If you’re looking to do some gaming on the go, your best bet is a Windows-based dedicated gaming laptop.

Our final test puts the battery through the wringer. We run a 720p video of the open-source Blender movie Tears of Steel with display brightness at 50%, audio volume at 100%, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned off until the system taps out. If the computer doesn't have enough storage to hold the video file, we play it from an external solid-state drive.

While the CM3 came out on top on almost every test thus far, it buckles under the pressure of video playback, tapping out well before the 7-hour mark.

A Budget Baron

There’s no better feeling than finding a diamond in the rough, and the Asus Chromebook Flip CM3 might just be that diamond for those looking for a cheap but capable laptop that can also function as a tablet. Impressive performance makes this Chromebook a joy to use, even if the touchpad, distractingly glossy display, and short battery life steal some of its thunder.

While there are plenty of premium Chromebook options to consider, like the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, if you’re on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the Asus Chromebook Flip CM3. It’s an excellent buy despite its shortcomings and should please students, teachers, and general internet users looking for an affordable internet machine.

4.0See It$279.00 at AmazonStarts at $329.00View More

The Asus Chromebook Flip CM3 is an excellent 2-in-1 convertible Chrome OS laptop with speedy performance, a reliable touchscreen, and an included stylus.

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