IT Pro Verdict
Strong mid-range spec delivers excellent performance
Flexible 2-in-1 design and garaged stylus
Bright 14-inch screen
Styling isn't 100% professional
Standard full HD display
Last year Google – with exquisite timing – launched a range of gaming Chromebooks within a few weeks of shuttering its own game streaming service, Stadia. Luckily, something really good came out of this mess: a selection of Chromebooks from Acer, Asus, and Lenovo that mixed high-end specs with decent screens and solid ergonomics, and that happened to be good at just about everything, not just streaming games.
The Asus Chromebook Vibe is the latest and smallest of this mini-wave of gaming Chromebooks, arriving in the UK months after rivals like the Lenovo IdeaPad 16 Gaming and the Acer Chromebook 516GE. Don't dismiss it for its distinctive looks or gaming focus. It's a brilliant Chromebook for business.
Asus Chromebook Vibe CX34 Flip review: Design
For a start, it's versatile, with a 14-in, 16:10 screen inside a 2-in-1 convertible body, with a compact 319 x 235mm desktop footprint and a weight of 1.7 kg. At 21mm thick, it's not the thinnest or lightest 2-in-1, but it's manageable for commuters or mobile workers, while still providing the big screen, trackpad, and keyboard you need for a full day's work. You can use it in the standard clamshell or tablet formats, with the touch-sensitive screen folded flat behind the keyboard, but it's also quite effective in a tent mode for watching video on the move.
The looks are distinctive, with a white powder-coated aluminum body, a light grey keyboard and bright orange WASD keys and accents on the palm rests, but they don't scream 'gamer' at you and, when closed, the Vibe CX34 Flip looks perfectly professional.
There's no numeric pad, which means there's plenty of room for a spacious layout and large, square flat-topped keys, complete with Shift and Alt keys you can find by touch alone and a separated cursor pad. The light action, quick response, and firm deck underneath make it very fast and comfortable to type on. You might not be so keen on the orange WASD keys or RGB backlighting in a business setting, but you're free to limit the palette for working hours and, you can always let your hair down once you're back at home.
The touchpad is also wider than usual, measuring 13 by 6.6cm, which helps when you're navigating Google Sheets worksheets or browser-based collaboration apps. What's more, Asus bundles in a xxx stylus, which slots into the left-hand edge. It lacks the angle and pressure sensitivity you need for serious art or design, but it's fantastic for doodles, notes, and annotations, particularly paired with Google's Cursive app.
The Vibe CX34's larger size means there's also more scope for connectivity, including two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports, an HDMI output, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, and a micro SD card slot. There's also Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5 connectivity, while users of wired headsets will be grateful for a good, old-fashioned 3.5mm headphone socket.
Asus Chromebook Vibe CX34 Flip review: Display
The screen is full HD rather than the QHD found on some high-end Chromebooks, but don't hold that against it. It has a 1920 x 1200 resolution to cover the 16:10 aspect ratio, and there's barely a sign of pixelation at this screen size. The 144Hz refresh rate only comes into its own when streaming games rather than in normal operations, but it's a plus if you're happy to subscribe to GeForce Now's most expensive Ultimate tier for some after-work gaming.
With a maximum brightness level of 425cdm2 and low black levels, contrast and clarity are excellent, and it covers 95% of the sRGB color gamut and 72% of DCI-P3. Whether you're working in Google's Workspace apps or watching downloaded Netflix shows on the commute home, it looks good, and the built-in audio is fine for casual viewing, not to mention web chats, meetings, and calls.
Disappointingly, the webcam is limited to 720p resolutions, so the image is a little grainy, though exposure holds up well In low-light conditions. The mic captures voices well, and overall audio is richer and more rounded than on the majority of Chromebooks, easily good enough for chats and conference calls or watching Netflix downloads on the way home from a meeting.
Asus Chromebook Vibe CX34 Flip review: Performance
One thing these gaming Chromebooks consistently bring to the table is good-to-great performance; with their lightweight operating system and reliance on web-based apps, even relatively low-spec Chromebooks tend to feel speedy, but with a Core i5 or Core i7 CPU they really fly. Our test model's Core i5-1235U and 8GB of RAM saw it post scores of 1435 (single-core) and 5243 (multi) In Geekbench 5, and 1815 (single-core) and 6292 (multi) in Geekbench 6. In the demanding, multi-tasking JetStream 2 benchmark it scores a very credible 260.655, putting it ahead of high-end Chromebooks like the Asus Chromebook CX9, let alone mid-range devices with Core i3 or ARM CPUs, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 or the Acer Chromebook Spin 514.
Battery life won't be a problem, either. The Vibe CX34 Flip lasted 10hrs and 47mins streaming 1080p video in our rundown test, and on our own experience will happily cruise through an eight-hour working day without a recharge, with 10 to 20% left in the tank.
If you're not a fan of the style, Asus also produces a more sedate, grey version, the Chromebook CX34 Flip, with a slightly lower Core i3 spec, plus an AMD variant, the CM34 Flip, with a Ryzen 3 CPU. But if you're happy to pay a little extra for performance, the Vibe CX34 Flip is an absolute bargain. It's ideal for for more demanding SMB users, and one of the most effective working Chromebooks you can buy.
Asus Chromebook Vibe CX34 Flip specifications
|Processor||Intel Core i5 or Core i7 CPU|
|Display||FHD 14-in, 16:10|
|Ports||2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports, 1 x HDMI output, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, and 1 x micro SD card slot|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.0|
Stuart has been writing about technology for over 25 years, focusing on PC hardware, enterprise technology, education tech, cloud services and video games. Along the way he’s worked extensively with Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android and Chrome OS devices, and tested everything from laptops to laser printers, graphics cards to gaming headsets.
He’s then written about all this stuff – and more – for outlets, including PC Pro, IT Pro, Expert Reviews and The Sunday Times. He’s also written and edited books on Windows, video games and Scratch programming for younger coders. When he’s not fiddling with tech or playing games, you’ll find him working in the garden, walking, reading or watching films.
You can follow Stuart on Twitter at @SATAndrews.