Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Review Asus Chromebox

Last up for the Chrome OS devices is probably my favorite device, a Chromebox.  A Chromebox is considered a desktop.  It is a small box it is about 5 inches across, 5 inches deep, and about 2 inches high.  It has 4 usb ports, sd card reader, headphone jack, and hdmi port. It also has built in wifi & ethernet port. The Chromebox I am looking at is the first Chromebox made by Asus.  Looking back on it now, I find it funny how I bought the first Chromebase & first Chromebox. This model, like the LG Chromebase, has a 4th generation Intel Celeron processor, only 2 GB of RAM & a 16 GB SSD.  Newer Chromeboxes have updated processors, storage, & ram.

So I have made it no secret, especially since I did the Chromebook Challenge, that a Chromebox is probably the best computer for a teacher today.  I did a post on it HERE, so I won't rehash everything I listed there, but there are some things that I didn't mention in that post.  With a Chromebox, you can hook up any size monitor you want to it. If the school gets you a 17-19 inch monitor and you want to go bigger, you can.  If something breaks (monitor, keyboard, mouse), you can just swap it out.  Even if the Chromebox itself goes down, you can swap it out.  Plus, unlike the Chromebase, there is 2 video out ports.  You can have one hook up to your monitor and another hooked up to your projector.  You can buy a Chromebox with mouse & keyboard and a 17-19 inch monitor for under $350.  Similar to a Chromebase, but the "swapability" of components makes it more appealing in my opinion, plus the video out missing from the LG Chromebase.

So what about the Asus Chromebox?  I actually had the Chromebox before I ordered the Chromebase for my parents.  And honestly, there isn't much difference between the two.  The specs are identical and the performance is basically the same as well.  Octane scores are similar with the Asus Chromebox running in the mid 10,000s.  There really isn't much to add to the review.  I like a Chromebox because of the customization that the user has.  I would like to note that this Chromebox is very easy to upgrade.  Obviously, teachers wouldn't be doing it (I would though :-)) but you can easily add in more Ram and a bigger SSD.  Other Chromeboxes are more difficult to open up and get to the Ram and SSD.  That's why more than a year later since its debut, the Asus Chromebox is still the number one desktop on Amazon.  That's impressive considering that HP, Acer, Dell, & Lenovo have all released Chromeboxes too.

The only downside I could see is the amount of cables that could come out of this tiny box.  If you have a wired keyboard/mouse (although you could get a blue tooth mouse/keyboard to eliminate this), there are two wires. You would then have the HDMI cable and the ethernet cable.  But the Chromebox does have built in wifi.  So you could have a minimum of 4 cables coming out of it or just one, depending on how you set it up.  Once again, that's the beauty of a Chromebox, customization.

The other thing to note when buying a Chromebox is that if you don't buy a Chromebox that is bundled with a Chrome OS keyboard, you won't have the top row of Chrome OS shortcut keys.  You can now buy a Chrome OS keyboard made by Dell that you can buy online for $20.  It has the full keyboard including the Chrome OS shortcuts and a numeric keypad. Most retailers do offer a bundled deal with keyboard & mouse included.  However, the keyboard is similar to the LG Chromebase keyboard.

A Chromebox is a great device and it seems like a simple choice for educators.


  1. One note about the keyboard before I go off on tangents. The F-keys work just like the top row keys (F3 is Reload, F1 is Back, F2 is Forward, etc.) You just don't have the pretty pictures to go along with it. For keys like Full Screen (F4), Switch Window (F5) which aren't used as much, you may have to use the Keyboard Help shortcut (Ctrl+Alt+?) to refresh your memory on what comes first.

    Now - I love my ChromeBox. It was a replacement for our personal PC when it gave up the ghost. I have moved it into Developer Mode and loaded Crouton so I can have Linux side booted. I have also recently installed a PLEX server onto my Chromebox and am able to host my own Media Server with the attached 1TB Hard Drive as storage. Able to stream 3 devices with no issue, hadn't tested more. For the $160 I paid (for the 2GB RAM version) I have been extremely pleased.

    1. Yeah I guess I should have mentioned all those shortcuts still work, but I like the little icons :-) plus I doubt teachers would know those shortcuts.

      I looked at a Chromebox for one of our rooms when I cut cable 3 years ago. But we already had a functional htpc, so I couldn't justify the purchase. I will say Chromeboxes are more powerful than most give them credit for.