ASUS revealed its third iteration in the Chromebox lineup, with better specifications and more compact form factor. Chromebox is the series of small PCs that are based on the Chrome OS; they are capable of being used as regular computers or 4k media streamer when connected to the TV. ASUS announced that the first device in the Chromebox 3 lineup would be available later this month, while the devices are available for pre-order through Ebuyer, the sales partner of ASUS.
Chromebox is a little less popular device than their laptop counterparts the Chromebooks however, since the reveal of Chromebox in 2014 by ASUS, it is getting attention from the educational institutions, low budget business, and students. Because of its compact form factor and lower prices compared to the Windows PCs. The Chromebox 3 is now much better and compact than the previous generations. It now offers better configurations that depend on price.
There are four configurations as of now; it is expected that more configurations will be available depending upon the sales of the Chromebox and the demand of the consumers. The base model CHROMEBOX3-N002U comes with Intel Celeron 3865U processor, 4GB DDR4 memory, and 32GB of M.2 SSD; it is priced at $330.
Then the CHROMEBOX3-N003U model that comes with an Intel Core i3-7100U processor that has 4GB DDR4 memory, and 64 GB M.2 SSD with a price of $600. Next is the CHROMEBOX3-N005U model that comes with an Intel Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB memory, and 128 GB M.2 SSD, with the price of $750. The high-end model CHROMEBOX3-N006U has an Intel Core i7-8550U complemented by 16GB DDR4 memory and 256 GB M.2 SSD, priced at $1000. All of them are powered by Intel HD 620 graphics except the Celeron model that has INTEL HD 610 graphics.
The peripherals include HDMI port, Gigabit LAN port, and DC power supply at the back, 2 USB 3.1, an audio jack and a 3-in-1 micro SD card reader at the front, while there is a Kingston lock at the side. The wireless connectivity options include Dual band WIFI and Bluetooth version 4.2.
The Chrome OS is a light-weight build that has access to the Google Play store now; that means it can access all the apps that are on android. The Chromebox 3 can now run different apps in different windows using the windowed mode that is now resizable. The OS is a lot internet dependent now than it was before, but it installs latest updates automatically when connected to the internet. The OS is incredibly secure, thanks to the Google’s antivirus protection, the Chrome OS is in fact rarely targeted by malware compared to Windows or Mac OS.
While the OS is heavily dependent on the internet, they are working on making many apps less dependent on the internet. Most apps were not compatible with mouse or keyboard at the start, but they have fixed it. However, most importantly many apps are redesigned to work in the larger desktop environment, with resizable windows and keyboard shortcuts. Most importantly the Microsoft apps are now compatible to work with the Chrome OS making the Chromebox 3 an affordable productivity tool across the board.
The Chromebox 3 is a major improvement over the last generation of Chromebox devices, the improvements are not only in the hardware, but the software department also offers a great amount of compatibility with latest apps. The Chrome OS is still in the early stages of its life as it is getting a lot of improvements and many developers are looking forward to working with Google to develop apps and software to make it more compatible with everyday usage of the consumer.
The Chromebox 3 shows great potential regarding hardware, the Chrome OS is much better nowadays, but the price of Chromebox 3 is the only deal breaker here. You can buy a gaming PC with decent specifications under $1000, a mini PC at this price is not worth it at least for me. But you can check out the best prices of ASUS mini PC on Amazon here.