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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  • skido - Tuesday, February 04, 2014 - link

    I hope I can install any Linux distro using their default ISOs. Reply
  • Tristor - Tuesday, February 04, 2014 - link

    I've been considering the NUC for something to augment my HTPC with tighter integration, or even to replace it so I can convert the more powerful system into a SteamOS box. This might fit the bill even better since I use a lot of Google services. I haven't played much with ChromeOS, although I'd be interested to know what the set-top integration is like. Can this be controlled via a remote? It has Bluetooth, which is a plus, so I can use a simple media keyboard/touchpad combo with it. Reply
  • ie5x - Wednesday, February 05, 2014 - link

    Where's my IR port and remote? Reply
  • eyestrain - Wednesday, February 05, 2014 - link

    Maybe the same case is used for all three versions, with fan only for the i7.

    The case does look plastic, but some plastics conduct heat fairly well.
    Reply
  • Jeffspears - Wednesday, February 05, 2014 - link

    This would be a great HTPC box at that price, Does anyone know if it supports HDMI-CEC? Reply
  • cjs150 - Wednesday, February 05, 2014 - link

    16GB storage is way to small for me. I wonder if you get replace with much higher capacity. Very tempting to load with Linux server and use as my home network server Reply
  • raja_jagadeesan - Wednesday, February 05, 2014 - link

    If the final SteamOS (DebianWheezy based it seems) could be put on this, what a great cheap streaming SteamBox. Hoping that ASUS just goes ahead and makes a cheap streaming-only SteamBox, but have a bad feeling that it'll be up the end-user to put a Linux flavor or SteamOS on this thing. What a great price-performance, though. A SteamBox like this starting at $179 could be a game-changer. Reply
  • Carlita - Thursday, February 06, 2014 - link

    Seems that Asus France told this french blogger that the box finally isn't fanless, weird ... http://www.minimachines.net/actu/la-asus-chromebox... Reply
  • semo - Friday, February 07, 2014 - link

    I wonder how well this will function as a multichannel car DVR. It is much cheaper than the vastly inferior dedicated devices (although this does lack a GPS receiver). Reply
  • jrs77 - Friday, February 07, 2014 - link

    You forgot to list the SATA-port on the intel NUC. That's very important, as you can use a 2.5" HDD/SSD for storage and makes it way more flexible than the ASUS Chromebox.

    Also, there's tons of fanless enclosures for the intel NUC aswell.
    Reply

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