The popularity of desktop computers has been going down the hill ever since portability became one of the key features of personal computers. However, manufacturers cannot just abandon the once-mighty desktop. Instead, they went through innovation and experimentation to keep it afloat with the current technology.
In partnership with Google, Asus joined the bandwagon in reinventing desktops into smaller forms and integrating Chrome OS into it, breathing new life to the declining traditional forms. Asus Chromebox is an elegantly-styled, lightweight, compact, and versatile desktop. It’s highly favored by users who only need the basics of a desktop computer, such as web browsing, video streaming, and simple file processing. Furthermore, it has full support for Android apps on Google play. The price tag is also pocket-friendly, especially if you are content with lower-end models. There is also no need to install anti-virus software as the built-in security with Chrome OS automatically installs updates and fixes, keeping it safe from some malware and viruses. Although Asus Chromebox has not been the first in the market, it has been making waves since its introduction in 2014.
Asus Chromebox 1
The first of the Asus Chromebox series, CN60, has two variants that are similar in all aspects save for the performance. The close-packed desktop comes with a diversity of ports; two USB 3.0 ports at the front, an AC Adapter, an Ethernet port, an HDMI, a DisplayPort, a 3.5mm audio jack at the rear, and an SD card reader on one side. It’s also equipped with a Kensington lock on the same side as the SD card reader, a dual-band 802.11 Wi-fi b/g/n card, and Bluetooth 4.0. It also houses 16GB SSD storage, and if that’s not enough, you can extend it to the cloud with 100GB storage space via Google Drive, which is free for two years. Furthermore, it supports dual display and can be mounted on any VESA-compliant monitor, saving more space on your desktop. Likewise, it can also be mounted on an HDTV. Measuring only 4.88’’ x 4.88’’ x 1.65’’, this compact PC can be carried squarely (pun intended) and easily.
Asus’s first attempt with the Chrome OS-powered desktop was released in March 2014. M004U’s hardware is not the most powerful but the Intel Celeron processor and 2GB of RAM will get you where you want to go. It was once hailed as the “least-expensive desktop computers ever sold” after it first retailed at $179.
Two months after, Asus released the much faster M075U. With Intel Core i3 and 4GB of RAM running in the background, multi-tasking is made even faster. The graphics card is also upgraded to support up to 4k video. It is also bundled with a wired or wireless Chrome keyboard and mouse.
Asus Chromebox 2
In August of the same year, the business-oriented variant was released. Asus Chromebox CN62, also commonly called Asus Chromebox 2, is the fastest among the three, powered by 5th gen Intel Core i7 processor and 4GB of RAM. Like the Core i3 variant, it can support 4k videos. Targeting the corporate audience, it supports video conferencing with up to 20 participants. The card reader also supports 4 types of cards, namely: MultiMedia Card, SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, and SDXC Memory Card, as opposed to its predecessors, which supported only two.
Asus Chromebox 3
The Chromebox 3 series comes in four hardware configurations and supports Linux apps. It is slightly bigger than the earlier series measuring 5.9’’ x 5.9’’ x 1.6’’. Weighing only 2.2 lbs, this versatile PC is still considerably compact and lightweight. The bigger size gives room for more ports. It has a full-sized HDMI port and 6 USB ports (two USB 2.0 ports, three USB 3.0 ports, and a USB-C 3.1 port), which supports power input, speedy data transfer, and allows a screen to be hooked up via a DisplayPort adapter. The versatile USB-C port helps get rid of the cable clutter with the same or even better functionality than the earlier versions. It adopted the Ethernet port, audio jack, SD card reader, and Kensington Lock from the earlier series. It’s equipped with an 802.11ac Wi-fi card and Bluetooth 4.2 for wireless connectivity. The integrated Intel graphics card enables it to play 4K UHD videos seamlessly. The only downside to Chromebox 3 is, the 100GB free storage from Google is reduced from 2 years to a year, but that’s more on the perks, not on the box.
N017U is the first of the four Chromebox 3 series. The mini-PC is run by a dual-core Intel Celeron 3865U, 1.8 GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB SSD hard drive, and a cache memory of 2MB. Maximum memory supported is up to 16GB. Of the four, only this model has Intel UHD Graphics 610, the lower end of the graphics card, installed, but it can play 4K videos nonetheless.
The second model, N018U was released with a much faster 7th gen Intel Core i3, 2.4 GHz processor. Like the N017U, it’s installed with 4GB of RAM but can support up to 16GB and is also built with a 32GB SSD hard drive. It also has a bigger cache memory of 3MB than N017U. The graphics card has been upgraded to Intel UHD Graphics 620, which is the same card used for the succeeding two models.
Next in line is the N019U model. Hardware configuration and all the other features are the same as N018U, except for the installed RAM, which is 8GB. Like the previous two, the maximum RAM supported is still 16GB.
The latest and the fastest model by far is the 2020 model, N020U. The installed hard drive and memory are the same as the previous two, but the 8th gen Intel Core i7 processor is much more superior. The cache memory is also higher at 8MB. This makes multi-tasking run smoothly without any lag.
Asus has been unstoppable in upgrading its line of Chromeboxes; always keeping up with the latest trend in technology to give its users what they need and even more. With all the amazing features that they integrate into their models, the next Asus Chromebox is definitely something to watch out for.
 Wikipedia. “Chromebox”. N.d., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromebox Accessed 16 Nov 2019