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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  • tuxRoller - Thursday, March 12, 2015 - link

    Is there any chance that the ssd can be upgraded post-purchase?
  • Zizy - Thursday, March 12, 2015 - link

    I like that you use kg for weight, a huge improvement over those pounds or whatever, but could you also switch to mm for dimensions please?

    As for the laptop, overpriced for a netbook. I presume it has 16GB ram because Chrome is such a memory hog. It would make a nice Linux/Windows machine, but I prefer XPS 13.
  • calden - Monday, June 1, 2015 - link

    Chrome OS is more efficient with it's memory than OSX or Windows. 16GB is only available on the LS because it's the premium model, how did you come to asemption that the OS must have horrible memory issues. Let's face it, memory is cheap, every notebook should now come with at least 8GB of memory as standard with 16GB being the average. I find it appalling that companies like Apple even have 4GB models listed on their sites. It's okay for a tablet but a notebook, no.
  • jabber - Thursday, March 12, 2015 - link

    I'm still amazed after all these years that so many in the tech community still do not understand the reason and usage methodology of ChromeOS and it's hardware. Why have so many been living under a rock?
  • Michael Bay - Friday, March 13, 2015 - link

    It was said somewhere above in comments, but it bears repeating: only reason for ChromeOS existence is Google data mining.
    For every other task there is a better, much more functional and network agnostic solution.
  • Henry Dorsett Case - Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - link

    That doesn't even make sense. Google doesn't need you to use their OS to get your data, they have reams of it already no matter what OS you use. You're beginning to sound shrill.
  • calden - Monday, June 1, 2015 - link

    I have no idea but it's actually making me kinf of upset reading this comments. Do people not know about web apps or better yet know how many really good ones are now out there. Microsoft has their entire Office suite online, Adobe is going to release theirs soon as well, Photoshop was just the start, check out AudioTools and than try to tell me that web apps can't co pare to desktop applications. I have completely moved my entire development environment to Codenvy, it's awesome and blows every other IDE I have encountered on the desktop for one major reason, corporative programming, my entire staff can log in and work on the same project without stepping on each others toes, it's amazing. I mean these comments are exactly the same ones I read two years ago, they just can't get over the old way of doing things with their computers. Well they better start learning because this is the direction all companies are headed. Why do you think Apple is spending millions on iCloud, what, just to be used as some sort secondary or backup tools. Nope, mark my words, Apple will be coming out with their own version of the Chromebook sooner than later. The new MacBook is paving the way for that future
  • Valis - Thursday, March 12, 2015 - link

    12.85" 2560x1700 IPS LCD? For 13 inch I'd settle with 1920x1200 and a lower price tag. TBH.

    Just my $0.01 (it used to be $0.02 but due to the recession, we've had to make cutbacks)

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