Hands-On With Google's MacBook Air-Style Pixelbook Go

Google earlier this month unveiled the Pixelbook Go, a new premium Chromebook that's similar to a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro, but Chrome OS.

In our latest video, we went hands-on with the Pixelbook Go to see how it measures up to Apple's ‌MacBook Air‌ (the two have similar price points) and whether or not it can serve as a ‌MacBook Air‌ replacement.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

Design wise, the Pixelbook Go looks rather similar to a MacBook featuring a lightweight chassis, a large trackpad, a 13-inch display with slim side bezels and a thicker top/bottom bezel, a keyboard with speaker grilles at each side, and a similar hinge mechanism.

A G logo at the top and a wavy, bumpy textured feel at the bottom sets it apart from the ‌MacBook Air‌. Like Apple's MacBooks, the Pixelbook Go offers a simple, clean design.


Pricing on the Pixelbook Go starts at $649 for an Core M3 processor and 64GB of storage, but we tested the upgraded Core i5 model with 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage, which is priced at $849. That's the model most similar to the entry-level ‌MacBook Air‌, which comes with a 1.6GHz Core i5 processor, 128GB of storage, and 8GB RAM for $1,100.

The Pixelbook Go is cheaper than the ‌MacBook Air‌, but there are some areas where it is definitely lacking in comparison. When it comes to the display, for example, it's adequate, but the HD quality just doesn't measure up to the ‌MacBook Air‌'s Retina display. There is an upgraded version of the Pixelbook Go with a 4K display, but that machine is priced at $1,400.

One area where the Pixelbook Go shines is its keyboard. The keyboard doesn't look too different from a MacBook keyboard, but it's super quiet thanks to Google's Hush Keys feature, satisfying to type on, and has the perfect amount of key travel. There are also custom keys, including a key for activating Google Assistant. There are speakers located to each side of the keyboard, and the sound quality is solid. The speakers are a touch louder than the ‌MacBook Air‌'s speakers at maximum volume, but the ‌MacBook Air‌ wins out when it comes to sound quality.


There's a MacBook Air-style trackpad on the Pixelbook Go, but MacBook competitors often have a hard time replicating the feel of Apple's trackpad, and the Pixelbook Go is no exception. There's a physical trackpad button that feels clunky and outdated compared to Apple's Haptic Trackpad.

The Pixelbook Go offers up to 12 hours of battery life, which is the same claim that Apple makes about the ‌MacBook Air‌. In practice, we see around five to eight hours of battery life from the ‌MacBook Air‌ depending on usage, and the Pixelbook Go has been hitting around eight hours.

There are two USB-C ports on Pixelbook Go (one on each side) along with a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is the same general port setup the ‌MacBook Air‌ offers, though the ‌MacBook Air‌ supports Thunderbolt 3.

What really sets the Pixelbook Go apart from the ‌MacBook Air‌ is the operating system. While the ‌MacBook Air‌ runs the full version of macOS, the Pixelbook Go uses Chrome OS. Chrome OS is a Linux-based OS that supports Chrome apps and some Android titles, but it is in general more limited in scope than macOS.


Chrome OS is designed for everyday tasks like browsing the web, creating documents, taking notes, and sending emails rather than more specialized tasks like photo and video editing. Technically, most people who buy something like an entry-level ‌MacBook Air‌ are probably primarily using it for the same purposes, but you do have a bit more flexibility with macOS.

The option to download Android apps has made Chrome OS more useful over the course of the last several years, and there are, for example, apps for photo and video editing, though we wouldn't recommend them for regular full-time usage.

All in all, for most people, the upgrade to the ‌MacBook Air‌ over the Pixelbook Go may be worth the price differential given the better screen quality and the option to use macOS, though it's still much cheaper than the ‌MacBook Air‌ when it comes to the entry-level $649 option. The Pixelbook Go is one of Google's nicest Chromebooks in terms of design, hardware, and the complete Google experience, so it is likely the better choice for those who prefer a Google ecosystem.

What do you think of the Pixelbook Go? Would you use it over a ‌MacBook Air‌? Let us know in the comments.

Tags: Google, Chrome

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
13 months ago
No, I wouldn't use it over a MacBook Air.. Only because one is a glorified web browser, and another is a .. computer.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
13 months ago

Chrome OS is designed for everyday tasks like browsing the web, creating documents, taking notes, and sending emails rather than more specialized tasks like photo and video editing. Technically, most people who buy something like an entry-level ‌MacBook Air‌ are probably primarily using it for the same purposes,

I wonder what the author has based this assumption on? Certainly here everyone I know who has a MacBook Air (entry) uses it for a huge amount more than basic everyday tasks - from designing new engineering products, to systems development work, to creative marketing design, to creating customer schematics etc etc. Perfectly capable and powerful machine.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
13 months ago


No, I wouldn't use it over a MacBook Air.. Only because one is a glorified web browser, and another is a .. computer.

If you aren't a developer or a gamer or a couple of other very specific vertical users...what exactly do you need a 'computer' for? If you're not ensnarled in the Apple ecosystem, what do you need a MacOS computer for? I write code all day, every day on a MBPro ... but at home, ChromeOS is my jam. My kids use them at their school, my retired parents use theirs...as much as it pains me to say this...they just work. We all have iPhones but move our pictures to Google Photos, I have an AppleTV but occasionally watch Netflix and Hulu on my Chromebook... There just isn't a lot of things that don't run in a browser these days...
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
13 months ago
One might call it MacBook Air style, but it surely hasn‘t the style of a MacBook Air.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
13 months ago
That's a lot of money for running a browser with a severely limited App ecosystem.

An iPad has more useful Apps for it than Chrome.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
13 months ago
And then there's that privacy thing ...
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

First Impressions From New iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Owners

Thursday October 22, 2020 4:20 pm PDT by
It's already Friday, October 23, in Australia and New Zealand, which means some customers who purchased an iPhone 12 or 12 Pro already have their new devices in hand. We've seen dozens of reviews of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro from media sites, but now first impressions from regular Apple customers are available. Image via MacRumors reader Boardiesboi New iPhone 12 and 12 Pro owners are...

New Photos Offer Better Look at iPhone 12 Color Options

Tuesday October 20, 2020 2:34 am PDT by
As we wait for the iPhone 12 review embargo to lift later today, more pictures are circulating of the devices in real-world lighting conditions, providing a better look at the different colors available. Leaker DuanRui has shared images on Twitter of the iPhone 12 in white, black, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. The black and white colors are similar to the iPhone 11 colors, but the other...

Photographer Austin Mann Tests the iPhone 12 Pro's Camera

Wednesday October 21, 2020 4:14 am PDT by
Travel photographer Austin Mann usually performs an in-depth review of new iPhone models to test their camera performance in real-world scenarios. To test Apple's new iPhone 12 Pro, Mann traveled to Glacier National Park, Montana. Mann focused on some of the biggest camera upgrades with the iPhone 12 Pro, including the upgraded Wide lens, Ultra Wide Night mode, and LiDAR autofocus, across a...

iPhone 12 Pro Max Has Smaller 3,687 mAh Battery According to Regulatory Filing

Tuesday October 20, 2020 8:48 pm PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 Pro Max is equipped with a 3,687 mAh battery, which is around 7% less capacity than the 3,969 mAh battery in the iPhone 11 Pro Max, according to a regulatory filing published by TENAA, the Chinese equivalent of the FCC. The regulatory filing, spotted by MacRumors, also lists the iPhone 12 Pro Max with 6GB of RAM as seen in benchmark results last week. Apple has filed ...

5G Drains iPhone 12 Battery 20% Faster Than 4G in Benchmark

Wednesday October 21, 2020 3:17 am PDT by
After the first reviews for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro emerged yesterday, a new report by Tom's Guide reveals the extent of battery life reductions when using 5G. The report outlines a test wherein the iPhone surfs the web continuously at 150 nits of screen brightness, launching a new site every 30 seconds until the battery drains. Interestingly, the test was run on an iPhone 12 and...

Teardown Video Confirms iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Use Same 2,815mAh Battery

Thursday October 22, 2020 9:47 am PDT by
With the iPhone 12 launching on Friday and in just a few hours to Australia and New Zealand, hands-on videos, teardowns, reviews, and other iPhone-related content has been coming out. A new teardown video delves into both the iPhone 12 and the 12 Pro, confirming battery life for both models and giving us a closer look at their internals. The video from Io Technology is in Chinese, but ...

French iPhone Boxes Come Packed in an Outer Box With Separate EarPods

Wednesday October 21, 2020 6:52 am PDT by
After the news that France would be the only territory to continue to include EarPods with the iPhone, it seems that Apple is not packing the earbuds within the iPhone's box (via iGeneration). Screenshot from TheiCollection's review video The French iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro does not have a different retail box to accommodate EarPods, meaning that all iPhone boxes are consistent...

Some Defective Apple iPhone 12 Cases Shipping Without Speaker Holes

Wednesday October 21, 2020 12:54 pm PDT by
At least two customers who have purchased iPhone 12 cases have received defective cases that do not have speaker holes, which obscures the sound. Photo by Reddit user zarnold16 There have been two separate threads on Reddit from iPhone 12 customers who purchased a case and received one without speaker holes. One customer was told by an Apple advisor that the case wasn't meant to have...

Watch: New iPad Air Unboxing Videos and First Impressions

Wednesday October 21, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's embargo has lifted on reviews for the new iPad Air ahead of its launch on Friday. In addition to our more detailed review roundup, we've shared a handful of unboxing videos and first impressions of the device below. The new iPad Air via Karl Conrad The new iPad Air features a larger 10.9-inch edge-to-edge display, a faster A14 Bionic chip, and a USB-C port instead of Lightning. It is...

Apple's AirTags Revealed in Newly Published Patent Applications

Thursday October 22, 2020 9:13 am PDT by
Two patent applications filed by Apple appear to depict the company's widely expected AirTags item trackers (via Patently Apple). The filings, which include a large number of images, are titled "Mounting Base for a Wirelessly Locatable Tag" and "Fastener with a Constrained Retention Ring," and describe a wirelessly locatable tag that can be used to determine the absolute location of an...