Two years ago Google released the original Chromebook Pixel to the world. To this day it has remained the most premium and expensive Chromebook ever made, with specifications that rivaled Ultrabooks more so than the time. Its display was also one of the first HiDPI displays to be put on a laptop, which is where the name Chromebook Pixel comes from. Unfortunately, Chrome OS was still in its early days when the original Pixel launched, and it suffered both from a high barrier to entry with its price, and a lack of software functionality that buyers of expensive laptops required. Since that time, Google has continually improved their cloud based applications offerings to have more features and work more seamlessly with existing file formats used by desktop software like Microsoft Office.

That brings us to today, with the launch of the new Chromebook Pixel. On first glance, it's difficult to tell this new Pixel from the old one. The chassis has remained largely the same, including its dimensions and its mass. But a careful examination will reveal that this new Pixel makes some huge improvements over the original model, and adopts some new technologies that will be very important going into the future. To get an idea of how this year's Chromebook Pixel compares to the old model, I've put together a chart with the key specifications of both versions below.

  Chromebook Pixel (2013) Chromebook Pixel (2015)
Dimensions 11.72 x 8.84 x 0.64" 11.72 x 8.84 x 0.64"
Mass 1.52kg 1.52kg
CPU Core i5-3337U (2 cores + HT) Core i5-5200U (2 cores + HT)
L3 Cache 3MB 3MB
Base CPU Clock 1.8GHz 2.2GHz
Max CPU Turbo 2.7GHz 2.7GHz
GPU Intel HD 4000 Intel HD 5500
System Memory 4GB DDR3L-1600 8GB DDR3L-1600
Storage 32GB SSD 32GB
Display 12.85" 2560x1700 IPS LCD 12.85" 2560x1700 IPS LCD
Battery 59 Wh 59 Wh
Ports 2 x USB2, Mini DisplayPort, 3.5mm audio, 2 x USB Type-C, 2 x USB3, 3.5mm audio, SD card
Connectivity 2x2 802.11a/b/g/n + BT 3.0 2x2 802.11a/b/g/n/ac + BT 4.0
Launch Price $1299 $999

Like I said above, there are some aspects of this new Pixel that are unchanged from the original. The size, shape, and mass of the laptop remains the same, as do the the basic specifications of its display. But once you move beyond the physical aspects of the device, things become much more interesting. The first big change is to the CPU, which makes sense given that its been two years since the original Pixel was launched. This new model adopts the i5-5200U which is one of Intel's Broadwell-U CPUs. It's a 2.2GHz dual core part which can turbo up to 2.7GHz when required. The GPU also moves up to Intel's HD 5500 graphics from the HD 4000 graphics on the older Ivy Bridge model. While there will be some degree of performance improvement from the new CPU, the real improvement it helps to bring is greatly improved battery life. Google's battery life estimate for the new Pixel is 12 hours, which is a massive increase over the 5 hours of battery life estimated for the original Pixel.

Perhaps the biggest change of all on the new Pixel is its new port configuration. The original model had two USB 2.0 ports, a Mini DisplayPort output, and your standard 3.5mm audio jack and charging port. The new Pixel does away with the dedicated Mini DisplayPort as well as the power jack, and instead replaces both of them with an incredibly versatile standard that we're finally seeing come to market. Much like the MacBook that Apple launched two days ago, the new Chromebook Pixel features the new USB Type-C standard for both expansion, connections, and charging. However, Google has recognized the benefit of being able to both charge and connect devices simultaneously, and so they've included two USB Type-C ports on the Pixel. What's also nice about the inclusion of one Type-C port on each side is that it allows the Pixel's charger to be plugged in to whichever side of the laptop is more convenient in a given situation. 

Since Type-C is so versatile, it can replace a whole range of legacy ports. Google will be selling accessories to allow the connection of older USB devices, DisplayPort monitors, and HDMI cords. Google also sells a Type-C to Standard-A cable which can be used to hook the Pixel to any existing USB charging block. You can see the prices for each adapter in the image above. In addition to the two USB Type-C ports, the Pixel also has two USB 3.0 ports, the previously mentioned 3.5mm audio jack, and an SD card reader. 

In addition to the standard Chromebook Pixel, Google will also be offering a Chromebook Pixel LS. The LS stands for "Ludicrous Speed", and this configuration bumps the CPU to an Intel i7 processor, while doubling both the RAM and SSD storage to 16GB and 64GB respectively. Both these models will only be available in the United States and United Kingdom, with starting prices of $999 for the normal edition and $1299 for the LS edition.

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  • Impulses - Thursday, March 12, 2015 - link

    I'm just happy to see Type C gaining traction...
  • thomas vu - Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - link

    "I want to pay $1299 for my facebook machine"
  • calden - Monday, June 1, 2015 - link

    Most people do, meaning that the average user only really ever uses the internet when they fire up their computers. Sure sometimes they need to type up a document but why do they need to do that locally. Microsoft has their entire Office Suite online and it's fantastic. I even use the same macros and calculations that I wrote up years ago in Excel online. Photo editing, check out Pixel or even PhotoShop, yep, PhotoShop and it's great online, music creation, check out AudioTools, notes, well the Evernote web app is actually more feature rich than the tablet counterparts, also their is OneDrive and a lot, lot more. People must be using them now because I keep seeing more of these web apps pop up and they keep getting more and more powerful. You can even run an entire business using just Your sarcasm just shows me how obvlivios you are to what is actually available on the net. The average person would be completely satisfied with a 300 dollar ChromeBook. I have converted over 25 people to using one and every single one couldn't be happier. We've even created a community where we share music, photos, movies, etc. Most of us even have ChromeBox's connected to out TV's with web cams connected and since I can now install Android apps I no longer need Linux to use Kodi(XBMC, which is probably the best media app ever created). These Chrome devices are a lot cooler than you think they are.
  • coolhardware - Thursday, March 12, 2015 - link

    I had the first one for a while. It was awesome hardware that I preferred to Apple's machines. The 3:2 aspect ratio was phenomenal for my uses. The machine had heft to it but it was a solid modernesque-ThinkPad heft, not brick heft.

    The software was of course the limiter.

    With the 2015 refresh of both the Pixel and the MacBook, I much prefer Google's HW choices again:
    +SD card reader
    +two USB-C (brilliant that either side can be used to charge too!)

    Personally I would not describe it as particularly similar to the new MacBook.
  • coolhardware - Thursday, March 12, 2015 - link

    PS does anyone else find it odd that, in the high-res arena, Apple's high-end is now one of the lower pixel density options out there?! Details: - Apple starts at #17
  • mkozakewich - Saturday, March 14, 2015 - link

    They were going for pushing the industry forward, rather than trying to beat specs. I find it funny, though, that they started the trend (with the iPhone 4) and yet are still late to the party with the MacBook Air screen.
  • zepi - Thursday, March 12, 2015 - link

    If you don't care about the 60% increase in weight, then why would you consider Macbook in the first place?

    It makes a lot of sacrifices to reach that size / weight class and why would you make them, if you don't care about the benefits that you get?
  • steven75 - Thursday, March 12, 2015 - link

    It's like a Macbook only with
    -A far more limited OS
    -Much less hard drive space
    -Much heavier
    -Much thicker
    -And you cannot opt-out of datamining

    All for the same price!
  • akdj - Friday, March 13, 2015 - link

    Or...for the same price as the 'LS" -- the 13" PCIe SSD equipped rMBP with faster processors and the 6/6100 series GPU's ...and an OS (w/on board support to run ANY OS you'd like) that'll Smash ChromeOS ...and you can get service. And you get 'storage' options. 32GB for one large. 64GB for 1300?
    That's ludicroius
    A facebook Google centerpiece is correct ...they're not meant to 'sell'
    & the MacBook is a MacBook. Not a MacBook Pro. Not even the 'Air' (which will hopefully also get the retina treatment). Tough to compete in the HiDPI arena with Apple and Google specifically because of their control over both soft and hardware --- as well as collaboration with the 'Adobes' of the world to allow for a killer HiDPI experience. My 2012 15" is still smokin'!
    Hopefully the Win10 (we use both OS'es) gets it 'right' and allows ease for developers to also easily transition their apps to high pixel density palettes with usable 'targets' sharp as a tack
    That's where OS X has absolutely nailed it.
    This looks like a killer rig but the storage sucks and limiting to being 'connected' for usage sucks worse. I'm a sucker for a killer display but if yiu can't cut in Premier or develop in PS, record in Logic or Pro Tools...Docs, Slides and Picassa would get old. Quick.
  • calden - Monday, June 1, 2015 - link

    You should really do a little research on what kind of web apps are actually available now. It's not just Google, I have Photoshop, I use Codenvy as my default IDE now, MS Office, Zoho, Pixel, AudioTools, etc. These apps have gotten so good that they rival their desktop installed cousins. I also have Linux installed and use Android apps witnin Chrome OS so my options aren't limited as your suggesting. My new Pixel is the best development machine I have ever bought, not to mention the best looking.

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