Chromebooks are so plentiful these days they might as well grow on trees. There are fewer Chromeboxes — small form factor desktop computers that run Chrome OS — but Asus has been keeping its line of Chromeboxes updated. It just announced a follow-up to the 2018 Chromebox 3, the predictably named Chromebox 4. This device starts at just $289 and comes with a selection of Intel CPUs including 10th Gen Core chips.
You probably wouldn’t be able to tell the new Chromebox 4 from the Chromebox 3 at a glance — they’re both unimpressive black slabs (5.85 x 5.85 x 1.58 inches) with the Asus logo in the middle. That’s not surprising, though, because value is the name of the game in Chromeboxes. You can get a Chromebook with a slicker design and more features, but the displays add substantially to the cost. A Chromebox hooks up to whatever monitor you’ve got around and usually provides more ports and better thermals than a Chromebook.
The base model Chromebox 4 has an Intel 5205U Celeron CPU, which is more powerful than what you’d find in a similarly priced Chromebook (remember, you supply your own screen, keyboard, and mouse). You can also upgrade to a Core i3-10110U, i5-10210U, or i7-10510U. The i7 is probably overkill for a Chromebox, though. The base model starts with 4GB, which is fine for light workloads. 8GB is also an option, and that’s where you want to be for anything more than a few browser tabs.
One of the advantages of getting a Chromebox is that you’ll get more ports than the average (or even high-end) laptops of today. You get two HDMI ports, plus a USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 port that does Power Delivery and DisplayPort. That means you can attach three displays to the Chromebox 4, and it supports resolutions up to 4K. There are also five USB-A ports, including two on the USB 3.2 Gen 2 spec. There’s even support for Wi-Fi 6.
Like other small form factor PCs, Asus expects people will want to mount the Chromebox 4 to the back of a monitor. That’s why it comes with a new VESA-compliant mounting bracket that can lock the computer to the monitor, making it less likely it will grow legs and walk off. Asus expects to begin selling the Chromebox 4 in North America starting next month.
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