Asus has been on something of a roll recently when it comes to Chromebooks. From the excellent C302CA from a few years, to the equally impressive C433TA, the brand has delivered quality products at the premium end of the Chromebook market.
Now in 2021, a new budget device has arrived in the shape of the C423NA. Can Asus still work its magic when price demands that a few corners are cut? It seems it can, but not across the board. Battery life isn’t particularly impressive, but in just about every other area, this is a good Chromebook for the money.
Design & Build Quality
Asus has opted to use a plastic case on the C423NA rather than the aluminium one found on its more premium models. This is fine, as it not only keeps costs down, but also does the same with the weight. At 2.65lbs/1.2kg, it’s a laptop that you’ll be happy to carry around in a bag all day without feeling it on your shoulders.
You’ll be able to get stuff done too, as the screen offers a good amount of space for writing documents, surfing the web and other traditional Chromebook duties.
There are actually three different displays available on the C423NA, all 14 inches in diagonal. The first has a 1366×768-pixel resolution, and the second – the one Asus sent for review – being Full HD (1920×1080). The third is a Full HD touchscreen, which obviously pushes up the price.
The panel in the test model maxed out at 250nits, which is dimmer than some other Chromebooks, but proved quite sufficient even outside on a sunny day. This was also aided by the matt finsh, which avoids the reflections that you get with glossy touchscreens.
The panel is surrounded by a rather large bezel, which at the top is home to a 720p webcam that is fine for Zoom calls and other video communications if you’re in a well-lit room.
The bottom part of the bezel is thicker and bears the Asus legend in a reflective silvery plastic, plus the two chunky hinges that are ‘standard’ ones rather than the fancy 360-degree pivots installed on the C423NA’s higher-priced siblings. You can still open it out to a 180-degree angle, so it lies flat on a desk, but it’s hard to see the point of doing this on any laptop.
Keyboard & Trackpad
Keyboard performance is on-par with most Chromebooks, in that it is consistent and easy to type on. The keys can feel a little spongy at first, but after five minutes it all feels very natural and I was up to my normal typing speeds with no effort at all. The chiclet style layout is – of course – expected these days (which means there are gaps between keys) and the 1.4mm travel for each key gives enough tactile response to know that you’ve pressed it down successfully.
The trackpad is a similar tale, with multi-finger gestures all responding quickly and efficiently. A nice surprise is that the clicking areas at the bottom of the trackpad feel solid and don’t come with the hollow ‘clicky’ sounds that can make others sound a bit cheap. That being said, I always use the tap-to-click option that’s the default on ChromeOS and found the C423NA to be very reliable in this mode.
In terms of ports, there are more than you might expect. The C423NA offers 4x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports (2x USB-C, 2x USB-A), 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card reader.
Two downward-firing speakers are located on the underside of the device, returning a decent sound that can get quite loud if pushed up to the maximum. They’re a little lacking in bass, which is to be expected with the light weight and affordable price, but if you keep your expectations in check then the audio is actually quite good.
For general Chromebook tasks of viewing websites, writing in Google Docs, streaming video from Netflix and music from Spotify, I was very pleased with the performance of the C423NA. Webpages loaded quickly, having multiple tabs open didn’t seem to cause any slow-downs, and I was able to get on with what I was doing without being held back in any way by the device.
This is impressive when you consider that the 1.1GHz Intel Celeron N3350 isn’t exactly expected to deliver stellar performance. But, when paired with the 8GB of LPDDR4 memory, the combination results in an enjoyable experience that will make the device a great choice for those who want a knockabout machine for mainly online activities.
You won’t be able to keep too much on the 32GB of eMMC storage, but that’s not really the idea with Chromebooks. Instead, you trust to Google’s cloud services, plus the other apps available through the Chrome Web Store, and the 802.11ac (WiFi 5) connection provided by the C423NA.
Putting the Asus through our standard battery of benchmark test saw it manage 267 (Single-Core) and 511 (Multi-Core) in Geekbench 5, 214 in Basemark 3.0 and 37 on Jetstream 2. Now, these are some of the lowest scores we’ve seen in recent Chromebook reviews, but it only goes to show that benchmark tests don’t always tell the whole story.
Gaming is pretty much out of the question, which isn’t the end of the world as the lack of a touchscreen (on this specific model) a no-go for any Android apps. If you’re determined, you can always try Nvidia’s GeForce Now service, as this handles most of the processing on remote servers.
If there’s one area where the Asus C423NA Chromebook disappoints a little its with the battery life. In our standard test where we stream a HD video until the battery is depleted, it lasted for 6 hours and 38 minutes. By comparison, the Acer Chromebook 13 managed 11 hours and 52 minutes (very impressive), while the Lenovo Ideapad 3 (14in) endured for nine and a half hours. So, as you can see, it doesn’t fair well against other devices in its class.
ChromeOS has matured into a solid platform over the past 10 years, to the point now where it really is a valid alternative to Windows, macOS and Linux for a lot of people. The Google office suite means you’re able to get plenty of work done, then share it with colleagues even if you want to output it in Microsoft Office formats, as that feature is available.
With so much of life now online, Chromebooks have really come into their own. The normal caveat applies though, in that if you’re reliant on a specific piece of software, search to see if there is a web version rather than needing to install it, as the latter will probably not be possible on ChromeOS.
You can also use Chromebooks offline for plenty of tasks, with the Google Office suite being a prime example, as the device will save all your work locally then sync it when you get back online again.
Google Assistant is another bonus, meaning you can control the device with your voice. I was able to launch apps and search for websites on the C423NA just by instructing the device to do so, with of course the prefix ‘OK Google’.
ChromeOS isn’t for everyone, as the gaming side is quite lacking and specialist software for photo, music or video editing isn’t really up to snuff. For most people most of the time though, a Chromebook is well worth considering.
Price & Availability
The Asus C423NA model I tested, with the Intel Celeron N3350 processor, 8GB of RAM and the full HD display is available now for a very reasonable £319.99 in the UK and 24.999 Rupees in India direct from Asus. Our review sample was provided by Box and you can buy device on its site for a very reasonable £241.99.
It wasn’t available in the USA at the time of writing, but you can go for the larger C523N which has a 15.6in FHD display for $269.99.
This puts the Asus C423NA up against the likes of the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (14in) that sells for around £379/$394.99 and Acer Chromebook 14 that you can get for £249/$249, all of which are solid choices if you’re looking for an inexpensive every-day computer.
To see our current pick of the crop, read the best Chromebook roundup.
The Asus C423NA Chromebook is a classic example of cheap and cheerful. It’s not the fastest performer we’ve ever seen but handles light use really well. The lightweight chassis and comfortable keyboard/trackpad combination make it a device that’s a pleasure to use and carry about, with the only real downside being the sub-par battery life, which disappoints even for this category of device.
For sheer value, we’d probably still recommend the Acer Chromebook 13, but (battery issues aside) the Asus C423NA is a good laptop that will be a fine servant for anyone looking for an inexpensive Chromebook that leaves out the bells and whistles.
Asus C423NA Chromebook: Specs
14in (1920×1080) LCD display with a 16:9 aspect ratio
1.1GHz Intel Celeron N3350 processor
Intel HD Graphics 500
8GB LPDDR4 memory
32GB EMMC storage
2x USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 1)
2x USB-A (USB 3.1 Gen 1)
3.5mm headphone jack
Micro SD card reader
38WHr 2-cell Li-ion battery
1.20kg / 2.65lbs
322 x 228 x 16mm
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