The Asus Chromebox M004U is a computing device that offers a refined version of Chrome OS that is ideal for folks in need of a secondary desktop with little overhead that lacks the flexibility of a traditional desktop. The most appealing thing about the Chromebox is its size that offers the versatility on where to place the tiny desktop in your working space. It is a daunting task to try to compare between two Chromeboxes, basically because they are all featureless boxes and run on a simple OS based on a web browser. The Chromebox is however able to deliver what it promises and only promises what it can deliver. Chrome OS won’t offer the same flexibility as Windows or any other OS, but if you just need a cheap device to get on the web, the ASUS Chromebox provides a more than adequate solution.
Asus’s Chromebox is a nicely designed minimalist box that blends into any workspace without causing a scene. It flaunts a matter black plastic exterior with a silver colored reflective Asus logo and a small Chrome logo on the top. The desktop is a 4.9×4.9 square that sits with 1.6 inches tall and weighs 1.3 pounds. The Chromebox sports a similar design to other media boxes such as Roku 3 or Apple TV based on its form factor, but weighs more due to the presence of extra connection ports on its outer faces. It includes a bracket for mounting it on a wall if you may feel that the footprint is not small enough for you or you can tuck it behind the display. Ideally, Asus provides you with all the options to assist you place your small form factor desktop in your most desired position.
The Asus Chromebox M004U is powered by a 4th generation 1.4GHz Intel Celeron 2955U processor coupled with a 2GB 1600 MHz DDR3 memory and Intel HD graphics. The Asus M004U comes with 2 slots for RAM, so upgrading will be easier as you won’t have to toss the standard memory that comes with your box to increase your speed, just add another stick. That said, the system supports up to 8GB of RAM making the system a power user friendly. It also includes a fast 16 GB SSD that you can use for storage of some important docs and it supports external storage drives. There is memory card slot for expansion of the storage space or for copying your files and photos from your SD card. The included storage space is barely enough but the inclusion of two years use of 100 GB on Google Drive storage solves the whole issue. You can get to access all your files and documents so long as you are connected to the internet.
The web apps and the x86-based browser plugins run in a full version of the chrome browser thus allowing you to handle a number of tasks. The system handles creation of office documents and editing easily while running streaming services like amazon prime and Netflix seamlessly. Users get logged in right away and start playing since the Chromebox boots up fast and consumes less power. As such, you can leave your mini-computer on for long and you won’t feel a pinch when paying the power bill due to low power consumption.
The Asus Chromebox features a number of connectivity options including two USB 3.0 ports on the front panel and two more on the back panel. The back panel also has an HDMI-out port, dual-mode DisplayPort, an RJ45 LAN port for wired Internet connections, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a DC port for its included power adaptor. The system features an integrated Wi-Fi dual band 802.11 a/b/g/n for internet connectivity. The Chromebox does have built-in Bluetooth 4.0, which can be used to connect to Bluetooth keyboards and mice.
Contrary to a Chromebook, the Chromebox does not come with a keyboard, mouse and display, so you will have to purchase them separately. You will be safe if you already have your old monitor in the house because you can connect with it using the HDMI port. The settings on the chrome browser harbor the controls for adjusting, rotating and aligning the display.
The Asus Chromebox is a tiny PC with an Intel Celeron processor, a nice range of ports, and an attractive price tag compared to its competitor the pricey Samsung Series 3 Chromebox (XE300M22). It is very close in size and appearance to the Intel NUC, which is also a compact, power-saving computer. This is an entry level system especially because of its 2GB RAM configuration, which might be a bit limiting for those into heavy duty computing. Luckily, you can change this as it allows one to upgrade the RAM for a super-snappy performance. All said, the Asus Chromebox M004U is a well-designed and solid entry-level system that should do everything you need in this category while keeping the budget price tag.