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Chrome Hardware

Tested: Asus Chromebox Based On Haswell Core i3 103

Posted by timothy
from the who-needs-a-bigger-one dept.
MojoKid writes "The Asus Chromebox is a tiny palm-sized machine similar in form and footprint to Intel's line of NUC (Next Unit of Computing) mini PCs. One of the higher-end Asus Chromebox variants coming to market employs Intel's 4th generation Haswell Core series processor architecture with Integrated HD 4400 graphics. The machine is packed with fair number of connectivity options including four USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ports, HDMI and DisplayPort output, a microSD Flash card slot, 802.11n dual-band WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0. It also sports a 1.7GHz dual-core Core i3-4010U processor with Hyper-Threading for four logical processing threads and 4GB of DDR3 1600MHz memory. Finally, the onboard 16GB SSD storage might be appear a bit meager, but it's backed up by 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage for 2 years. In testing, the device proved to be capable in some quick and dirty browser-based benchmarks. For the class of device and use case that the Chromebox caters to, Google has covered most of what folks look for with the Chrome OS. There's basic office productivity apps, video and media streaming apps, and even a few games that you might care to fire up. The Asus Chromebox handles all of these usage types with ease and it's also barely audible while consuming only about 18 Watts under load."
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Tested: Asus Chromebox Based On Haswell Core i3

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Any word if these can be reformatted to run OpenELEC?

  • Awesome! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2014 @11:49AM (#46473847)

    Can I install Windows 8.1 on this so I can get rid of the Google ad/spy ware?

    • Maybe, but in that case you could simply get a NUC instead.
      • by Guspaz (556486)

        The problem there is that while the entry-level Asus chromebox is $179, including the RAM, SSD, CPU, wifi, etc... the cheapest NUCs are $190-200 before you add the RAM, the SSD, and the wifi card.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by hairyfeet (841228)

          Yet again you should just go AMD as you can buy the Jaguar based mini-PCs for cheaper, and since those are based on the same cores as the PS4 and XBone if you care any about gaming the coming games should be optimized for it.

          And while we are on the subject of Jaguar and AMD since XP is about to EOL? Please please PLEASE get rid of those damned P4s already, okay? If there was a list of "world's dumbest computing ideas" I'd have to put that one at the top, it was slow, sucked insane amounts of power, and beca

          • by Guspaz (556486)

            The problem with Jaguar is that it suffers from extremely poor performance per watt when compared to Haswell. That may not be an issue for all use cases though.

            I am having difficulty finding any AMD-based mini PCs in the NUC-style form factor with RAM/wifi/storage included for $179, though. Could you point some out?

            • by hairyfeet (841228)
              Sure when you show me a box that is an actual PC and not a thin client for that price, otherwise the comparison is moot as the Chrome isn't a PC, its a thin client. Here is a mini with SATA and wireless for $159 [newegg.com], just add a RAM stick and unlike ChromeOS you aren't giving a corporation every single thing you do online...yay!
              • by Guspaz (556486)

                That does get you down to the same price, but the CPU is going to be something like half the performance of the one found in the ChromeBox...

                I'd argue that between NaCL and modern Javascript engines (what with Mozilla showing off UE4 running at 60FPS+), ChromeOS isn't a thin client.

      • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Ken_g6 (775014) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @12:26PM (#46474171) Homepage

        Maybe, but in that case you could simply get a NUC instead.

        On one hand, an equivalent NUC [newegg.com] is cheaper at $290.

        On the other hand, the ASUS comes with a (small) SSD, RAM, and "a custom wireless ASUS Chrome keyboard and mouse that are collectively valued at $49." The NUC comes with none of those. Together those probably cost more than the $80 difference in price.

        On the other hand, you could get a last-generation NUC with an i3 for $180. [newegg.com]

        On the other hand, there's a lower-end ASUS Chromebox, [newegg.com] with a Celeron, RAM, and an SSD, also for $180. (No keyboard/mouse with this one.)

        On the other hand, I'm running out of hands!

        • by idontgno (624372)

          All of that means that you're buying your discounted hardware with your personal information and your willing agreement to be another statistic in their advertising numbers.

          I suspect that's a fair trade for a lot of people, considering how little they actually value their privacy.

          • Ya know, I got my hair cut once, about six months ago, and didn't need another one until recently (perks of work from home...) When I was there, the stylist handed me her card, which I promptly lost. I'd like to have used her again, was a good cut, aged well, but I totally forgot all but the first letter of her name and the purple streak in her hair.

            This time, the receptionist hit me up for name and phone number, even though I paid cash. My childhood shopping/training at Radio Shack means that I know wha

        • by timeOday (582209)
          I like the idea of these cheap little boxes! But it should be noted that the $180 one you linked does not include an HDD/SSD, nor an ethernet port(!?) (No USB3 either, though it does have high-speed expandability via a Thunderbolt port).

          I know it's not really the same, but I've had good luck with used laptops. Even if I use them primarily headless or with an external keyboard/mouse, you get low power consumption, built-in battery backup, and a built-in screen which is handy sometimes. The only trick i

          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            Look for the ones with AMD chips, especially the E350s and E450s, as those come with HDMI out and most will hold 8Gb of RAM and do 1080P. A good place to start would be the Asus EEE "B" series, with B standing for Brazos. I have one and its fricking great, 4 years on and it still types well, gets nearly 4 hours on the battery and with 8Gb of RAM everything plays nice and smooth.

            But if you want a really cheap media tank instead of using an old lappy look at th E350 barebone kits as I've seen them on sale at

            • by timeOday (582209)
              Good info. For a video player I am an absolute believer in hardware acceleration; even if the CPU load is 100%, software playback always causes stuttering. That is a definite hurdle in the "old laptop" route for that application, since the GPUs tend to be sub-par.
              • by timeOday (582209)
                I meant, ...even if the cpu load is NOT 100%...
              • by hairyfeet (841228)

                Thanks. If you want dirt cheap media tanks check out Amazon as you can find ones like this [amazon.com] all the time and unlike a used laptop not only does it look nice but you can easily add anything you want, BR drive,SSD, plenty of RAM and HDD, and its easy to add.

                I've used the E350 a LOT at the shop and was impressed enough I sold my full size lappy for an E350, its THAT nice. HD videos, office work, hell I've played Torchlight and Portal on 'em and they are great little chips, all while just using 20w full load

        • by mrp (1001)

          Intel DN2820FYK [intel.com] is selling for $140 [google.com] and comes with an infrared sensor.

          I have OpenELEC 4.0 beta (version 3.95.1) running off a 4GB USB stick I had lying around - no need to buy an SSD. Infrared sensor worked out of the box with my Harmony Smart Control remote.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Luthair (847766)
      Sure, but then you have the Microsoft Bing ad/spyware.
      • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by recoiledsnake (879048) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @12:13PM (#46474071)

        But atleast you can install Firefox or any other native application instead of only Google being able to install native apps.

        I have no idea why Slashdot seems to cheer on this DRM'ed up the wazoo "computer" that's more locked down than a Windows PC.

        • by DarkOx (621550)

          Right I just don't get this, does not matter if we are talking tablets, media pcs, or phones. All of these machines are big powerful enough now that the possibilities are essentially unlimited. Yet rather than embracing the best of the 90's PC era opening up and trying stuff out; its a rush back the narrow vision that was the Macintosh in 83.

          • by Kz (4332)

            its a rush back the narrow vision that was the Macintosh in 83.

            In '83 the Mac was anything but closed or 'narrow vision'. I was a huge leap in usability and programability. It was open to anybody who got the three-volume (soon expanded to 5 books) "Inside Macintosh", a great resource not only on the API but also a good primer on UI design.

            Now, the last couple of Mac OSes, which are progresively tied to the app-store... and windows isn't far from that... currently, the easiest OS to install and configure applications is Linux, by a wide margin.

        • by unixisc (2429386)
          So one can't install Firefox on ChromeOS?
    • Obviously trolling, but kind of an interesting question as the hardware isn't bad. I don't know why anyone would buy it with the intention of windows-izing it, but maybe the build quality is better than what the send windows in? Any case there are a million reasons for doing anything.

      http://windows.microsoft.com/e... [microsoft.com]

      Only 32 bit windows would fit, due to the 16 GB of storage.

      Also not sure if the open source Coreboot will work with windows 8.1. You'd need to install seabios first, that's supposed to work for

      • If you boot any other OS, you'll have to type a key combination every single time you start the system. This can get annoying quickly.

        • by rthille (8526)

          Not if you flash the bios, or just put it in developer mode (at least that was true of the older chromeboxes)

    • by zoid.com (311775)

      So you would rather have the Microsoft ad/spy ware? The answer is don't buy this device unless you want a ChromOS box. ChromeOS is really great for what it is. This would be a perfect system form my dad.

    • Typing this on a Chromebook ARM (dual Cortex A15).
      2GB RAM, 16GB Flash.
      With it were 4GB of RAM and 32GB of Flash, and there's no Java plugin for Cortex ARM CPUs, so I need another computer to do banking.
      Very convenient machine otherwise, no need to worry about moving it while powered on (zero moving parts). Don't even need to power it off, close the lid. A full battery can hold the system in a suspended mode for almost a week. Thanks to having linux under the hood instead of EvilWindows !

      • You just described my $500 brushed aluminum chassis touchscreen i3-3217U laptop, except it has 4GB of RAM, 120GB of flash, boots cold in 8 seconds, has zero moving parts, and can run Java, Firefox, Windows, AND Linux. Just watched 45 minutes of video on a TV and battery went down 20%.
      • Probably the highest usefulness-to-cost ratio of any computer I've purchased, given it only cost only about $250 and is so low maintenance and light weight (and relatively droppable).

        I still like a recent MacBook Pro better though for the bigger screen and better keyboard (including backlit) and better trackpad, as well as the ability to run Eclipse and some other software etc.. But for many people, the extra $1000 or more would not be worth it.

        I enjoy the Chromebook immensely more that a Win 8 laptop that

  • by wiredog (43288) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @12:27PM (#46474193) Journal

    A lightweight one with X and xfce. Put /user on a USB drive and you're set.

    I wonder how hard it is to hack the bootloader?

    • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday March 13, 2014 @12:42PM (#46474329)

      With some (all?) Chromebooks -- and I would expect a Chromebox to be the same -- you can just enable "developer mode" and chroot. See this article [lifehacker.com] for more details.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, I don't think Chrome OS makes any sense for a reader of /. As for the typo, he obviously meant /home.

      • Yeah, I don't think Chrome OS makes any sense for a reader of /.

        I'm currently *reading* Slashdot on my Chromebook, you insensitive clod.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      I wonder how hard it is to hack the bootloader?

      Easy enough - Developer Mode is all you need.

      However, it's annoying as the bootloader pauses for 30 seconds to warn you that it's in developer mode and you have to hit a key to proceed or it goes into recovery mode.

      In short, it's not something you really want to mess with - it works in a pinch ,but damn it's annoying.

      And unless it has SeaBIOS, it won't run Windows.

      • It's a plug-in computer anyway, so you can probably just sleep instead of shutting down and then avoid the BIOS start up.
    • Is XFCE the default UI for Chrome OS? Or is it something else?
  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @12:35PM (#46474261)

    Even though I do find myself using things like OneDrive and Dropbox to keep non-sensitive stuff I'm working on available at home or at work, I'm not totally convinced that most power users will be replacing their PC or laptop with what's essentially a thin client that Google has control over.

    On the other hand, for people who truly don't know any better, live in a location with five-nine, super-fast broadband access and just don't have the savvy to understand that their data is being mined by a third party, this might take off. It's the same reason tablets are taking off among the "content consumer" set. Amazon is doing something very similar with the Kindle Fire -- basically give away the hardware with the knowledge that Amazon uses your browsing habits to improve their prediction engine.

    Honestly, I wish Google and similar services would offer a "paid" version with no data mining or tracking. People forget that the awesome search engine, maps, etc. aren't a free resource, and their data is paying Google's bills.

    • Honestly, I wish Google and similar services would offer a "paid" version with no data mining or tracking. People forget that the awesome search engine, maps, etc. aren't a free resource, and their data is paying Google's bills.

      You can do this partly with Google Apps, doesn't stop the tracking in Google Search though...

    • I'm not totally convinced that most power users will be replacing their PC or laptop with what's essentially a thin client that Google has control over.

      A Chromebook is a 'second' (or third) computer.

      It's the computer that sits on the kitchen counter at home so people can look things up or play some music. It's the computer for email on the couch.

      For those use cases, it's perfect.

      • I completely agree. I picked up a Chromebook just to try it out. It has these things going for it: Cheap, acceptable display, great battery life, boots from a powered off state in around 10 seconds, and is pretty solid at internet browsing. I don't store anything on it and it was $200 so I'm not overly concerned if it's lost, broken, or stolen. I find myself using it frequently around the house for light internet tasks where a keyboard is desired (which is fairly often).

        A big plus that I didn't expect -

    • On Brazil, the whole setup fails on the "need fast 24/7 internet acess" part. Stable and fast internet here is a luxury.
  • I'm not sure of that. It is on my Acer C720 chromebook (laptop). If it's M.2 you may be able to just buy a bigger SSD on e.g. newegg, load linux or a BSD onto it, and throw it in. Google for instructions, not all chromebook BIOS's allow non-chrome OS installs.

    -Matt

  • I still hate the fact that mini-devices sport so many ports which require traditional plugs. For example Apple has sported the magnetic power connection for ages - when plugging my Air into devices/power, it's by far my preferred of connector - and don't understand why while technology focuses on things like throughput they don't look at simple usability like connecting the throughput as a very common-sense improvement. In short, fuck USB 3.0, fuck the throughput, I just want to plug in my mouse without hav
    • I still hate the fact that mini-devices sport so many ports which require traditional plugs. For example Apple has sported the magnetic power connection for ages - when plugging my Air into devices/power,

      This complaint makes no sense. You're comparing a 'desktop' computer with an Air.

      How often are users going to unplug their monitor, keyboard, mouse & power on this thing? Almost never.

    • by ddtmm (549094)
      Really? You would rather forego USB3 and throughput in favour of a mouse connector you can plug in without fishing around? Just how often are you plugging in your mouse? In the case of Apple's reversible Lightning connector they embedded a chip in the connector housing to facilitate that, and to no less surprise, detect whether you're using a genuine Apple cable or not. All that makes their USB/Lightning cable over $20. Is that what you prefer?
    • You plug your mouse on your Macintosh's power connector? wow.
      Mac has always had to be just weird in little ways. I remember I had a hard time figuring how out how to turn a G5 all-in-one one (and when I knew how to do it, spend at least ten tries booting a CD/DVD)

  • $369?!?!

    No thanks. I can get a better laptop/Netbook/tablet for cheaper and they include a screen.
    I can build a better desktop for cheaper as well.
    If I want to experiment I'll get a RPi
    What niche is this filling?
    Possibly good for an automotive entertainment center or in an RV... but nah. Way over priced. Let me know when it's under $100.

  • Google has been experiencing great market attention to it's Chromebooks. They had the best selling laptop on Amazon this past Christmas. Why?

    1) People are buying them as "safe" easy to maintain platforms for performing "browser" based tasks without the (much) threat of OS attacks.
    2) I bought one for my Mom who only uses a browser. She loves it. And there are fewer worries about "infections" of malware and the sort.
    3) Google KNOWS many of us buy these cheap laptops (Acer's $199 c720 - very nice for the

  • by jmd (14060)

    The C720 works wonderful with Bodhi Linux :) I use it for traveling. Sometimes I run bfgminer on for the ASIC miners. Quite usefull when you dump ChromeOS

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