With hopes of chipping away at the low end Windows PC market, Google enlisted ASUS' help in putting together a small form factor desktop machine running Chrome OS. The result is the ASUS Chromebox, a NUC-like machine running Google's browser based OS. The specs of the ASUS Chromebox are respectable compared to Intel's line of Haswell NUCs.

You get your choice of one of three CPUs, all based on Intel's Haswell architecture. There's the Celeron 2955U, Core i3-4010U or the Core i7-4600U. All three options carry the same 15W TDP rating, and the system is apparently fanless (at least the Celeron and Core i3 versions are, waiting for confirmation on the i7). ASUS only plans to offer the Celeron and Core i3 versions in North America. 4K video out is supported on the Core models. Given how well Chrome OS can run on a pair of ARM Cortex A15 cores, I fully expect a 15W Haswell based system to be a great performer.

ASUS Chromebox
  ASUS Chromebox Intel Haswell NUC
OS Preloaded Google Chrome OS None
CPU Intel Celeron 2955U (2C/2T 1.4GHz 2MB L3)
Intel Core i3-4010U (2C/4T 1.7GHz 3MB L3)
Intel Core i7-4600U (2C/4T 2.1/3.3GHz 4MB L3)
Intel Core i3-4010U (2C/4T 1.7GHz 3MB L3)
Intel Core i5-4250U (2C/4T 1.3/2.6GHz 3MB L3)
GPU Celeron: Intel HD (200/1000MHz)
Core i3: Intel HD 4400 (200/1000MHz)
Core i7: Intel HD 4400 (200/1100MHz)
Core i3: Intel HD 4400 (200/1000MHz)
Core i5: Intel HD 5000 (200/1000MHz)
Memory 2GB/4GB configs, 2 x DDR3 SO-DIMM Slots 2 x DDR3 SO-DIMM Slots
Storage 16GB M.2 SSD + 100GB Google Drive for 2 years 1 x mini PCIe (full length)
LAN 10/100/1000 Ethernet 10/100/1000 Ethernet
Wireless dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n, BT 4.0 1 x mini PCIe (half length)
External I/O SD card reader
4 x USB 3.0
1 x HDMI
1 x DisplayPort
1 x Audio Jack (mic-in/speaker out)
4 x USB 3.0
1 x mini HDMI
1 x mini DisplayPort
1 x Audio Jack (mic-in/speaker out)
Power Supply 65W 65W
Dimensions 4.88" x 4.88" x 1.65" 4.59" x 4.41" x 1.36"
Starting Price $179 $285

ASUS' Chromebox comes with a 16GB M.2 SSD, and dual-band 802.11n wireless all for a price starting at $179. Google will throw in 100GB of space on Google Drive for 2 years to make up for the limited internal storage.

The box itself is a little bigger than Intel's Haswell NUC, but we're still talking about an extremely small form factor computer. ASUS will ship all units with a VESA mount as well. You can expect availability sometime in March.

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  • n0b0dykn0ws - Tuesday, February 04, 2014 - link

    If I can get HD audio bitstreaming from the i3 model I would buy three of these in a heartbeat. Reply
  • Demios - Tuesday, February 04, 2014 - link

    At $179. I'm tempted to buy one just for streaming Steam OS from my gaming PC out to my living room. Reply
  • Anonymous Blowhard - Tuesday, February 04, 2014 - link

    Keep the price reasonable on the i3 model, let us install our own OS without a fight, and I'll put one under my TV in a heartbeat for Netflix, light gaming/emulation with the HD4400, and displaying the more intense stuff via Steam In-Home streaming. Reply
  • nafhan - Tuesday, February 04, 2014 - link

    This + Steam OS (for streaming), might be pretty nice hooked up to a big screen. It's cheaper than the NUC, and it's a complete system. Reply
  • Aikouka - Tuesday, February 04, 2014 - link

    Anand, you had me excited like a kid on Christmas at the thought of a cheap, *fanless* NUC-like device, but the photos paint a different story. The vents on the back in this photo ( http://anandtech.com/Gallery/Album/3375#1 ) look exactly like the vents on Intel's actively-cooled NUC. Is that possibly the i7 model, which isn't fanless, or is it just that they aren't fanless? Also, another reason to doubt the fanless claim is that the chassis does not appear to be designed to be a heatsink like a fanless design would require. In fact, if I had to guess, I would say the chassis is plastic. Here's an example of a fanless design for a NUC: http://www.streacom.com/products/nc1-fanless-chass... . Reply
  • DryAir - Tuesday, February 04, 2014 - link

    Yeah, on a closer look its hard to believe... Asus also claims the the also recently anounced EB1037 eeebox is fanless too, and thats with a 10W J1900 Celeron + 15W nVidia 820M...

    Perhaps they have developed a new amazing passive cooling for SFF tech!
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, February 04, 2014 - link

    I confirmed with ASUS last night that the Celeron and i3 were fanless, and just confirmed with them again, so unless I've been lied to twice - they are fanless :-P

    No word on the i7 yet.
    Reply
  • Aikouka - Tuesday, February 04, 2014 - link

    That is certainly good news! Aftermarket fanless cases for the Haswell NUCs are still somewhat hard to come by, and if you can find one, they're ridiculously expensive. It would cost me $200 to import one from the UK from Tranquil PC! Anyway, so I mentioned that the photos (I assume ASUS provided them) are of the i7 model, which you surmised might not be fanless. Reply
  • azazel1024 - Tuesday, February 04, 2014 - link

    XBMC box? Reply
  • DryAir - Tuesday, February 04, 2014 - link

    Wow, the basic model seems to be a much better value than the Celeron N2820 NUC: better CPU, one more USB port (and all of them 3.0), SD card reader, DisplayPort, 16gb SSD and 2gb ram for $40 more. Google subsidies those things? Only downside is no 2.5" HDD support. Reply

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