Asus Chromebook Flip C436 full review
Asus showcased a number of head-turning entries during 2020's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas but one of its most notable offerings had to be the new Asus Chromebook Flip C436.
The company introduced a similarly standout machine at last year's show in the Flip C434 but the new C436 doubles down on both design and performance to offer a truly premium Chromebook experience.
Google has progressively moved away from offering high-end Chromebooks within its own hardware portfolio, transitioning from the pricey Pixel, to the more modest Pixelbook and most recently, the humble Pixelbook Go. This year, Asus and Samsung appear to be filling the void left by this shift - the question now is whether there's a worthwhile reason to do so.
Check out our Best Chromebooks roundup to see what other machines are worth considering.
Price & Availability
While the top-tier specs are detailed down below, in the UK, the C436 is launching with a more modest Intel Core i5 processor and 256GB of internal storage. A premium Chromebook commands a premium price, all the same, coming in at £899 with a launch window of mid-March, 2020.
US pricing isn't yet locked in but expectations place it slightly below Samsung's new $1000 Chromebook.
Design & Build
The most obvious difference between Asus' 2019 and 2020 attempt at a high-end Chromebook has to fall to the fit and finish on offer from this year's model.
There's a level of precision and care to the tolerances, material choices and finishes at work on the Flip C436 that most Chromebooks lack.
The machine comes in two colours: a fairly generic-looking 'Transparent Silver' or the far more eye-catching 'Aerogel White' which totes a pink iridescence when light hits it - a trait that also carries across to the company's 2020 Vivobook S line.
The magnesium alloy chassis feels great to handle and allows this machine to come in at only 13.7mm thick, weighing just a sliver over a kilogram (1.1kg) - not bad for a machine with a 14in display. In fact, Asus claims this to be the thinnest and lightest Chromebook at this display size.
Narrow bezels, which Asus brands as 'NanoEdge' grant the C436 an 85% screen-to-body ratio, with enough room left for an HD conferencing camera and dual-axel hinges that validate the 'Flip' name here, with 360-degrees of motion, making this a true 2-in-1 convertible.
There's a well-spaced backlit keyboard, offering 1.2mm of key travel, which feels fine, considering the Chromebook's overall thinness, while an integrated fingerprint sensor features in the top right of the deck; allowing for easy biometric authentication and a quick login experience.
Software & Features
Beyond touch input, the Flip's Full HD display also accommodates USI stylus compatibility with up to 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, meaning the company's own Asus Pen plays nice if you're after a Chrome OS-friendly digital inking experience (as well as a bevvy of other supported styli).
There's also a tuned Harman-Kardon quad-speaker array with 'omnisonic' output, which sounds impressive on paper but in practice can be hit-or-miss, based on our experience with the technology in other machines. We'll know for sure how well the C436's audio chops are come full review time.
Performance & Battery
The Chrome OS experience remains rigidly consistent across all Chromebooks with Asus instead making sure the hardware backing it up brings additional benefits beyond raw performance.
Depending on the market, you'll be able to pick the C436 up with up to a 10th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, up to 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM and up to 512GB of storage from an M.2 SSD, while a 42WHr battery grants this machine up to an impressive 12 hours of mixed usage.
Asus worked with both Intel and Google to ensure the C436 qualified for Project Athena and while there's no word yet on a cellular model, this Chromebook passes every other major checkmark for the standard.
Networking is still unquestionably snappy, with support for WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 built-in, while physical I/O falls to two USB-C ports (both USB 3.2 Gen 1), as well as a microSD card reader with support for cards up to 2TB and an included 3.5mm combo headphone jack.
There's no denying that Asus achieved what it set out to do with the Chromebook Flip C436. This a beautiful machine that enjoys the same treatment equivalent premium Windows machines have enjoyed for a few generations now. The question still remains about its viability though.
At £899 for the lower-spec iteration (using a 10th-generation Intel Core i5 chip, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD) destined for markets including the UK, potential buyers will likely be those that place style and speed above all else.
The fault doesn't lie with Asus or the C436 but Chrome OS itself, which continues to struggle to find a place outside of the ultra-affordable laptop space. This machine makes a statement, but it doesn't change the state of the market, where people typically turn to Chromebooks for affordable, basic computing and jump to Windows or Mac OS for anything more demanding.
Asus Chromebook Flip C436: Specs
- Up to 10th-generation Intel Core i7 processor
- 14in NanoEdge Full HD LCD display
- 4.9mm thick bezels
- 85% screen-to-body ratio
- Chrome OS
- Intel UHD Integrated Graphics
- Up to 16GB LPDDR3 RAM
- Up to 512GB M.2 SSD
- Dual band WiFi 6
- Bluetooth® 5.0
- HD Camera
- 2 x USB 3.2 Gen-1 Type-C
- micro SD card (up to 2TB)
- 3.5mm audio jack
- Omnidirectional speaker
- Integrated microphone
- 42WHr battery
- Colours: Aerogel White, Transparent Silver
- 319.54 x 205.3 x 13.76mm