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ASUS Chromebox CN60: A review

Recently Newmind received our first ASUS Chromebox. Although we didn’t get the version with an Intel Core i3, we did get the model with an Intel Celeron processor. The Celeron performed well with every task we threw at it, playing 18 YouTube videos at once before becoming too slow to load another. Scrolling through the average website (forbes.com) with several tabs open resulted in a smooth experience with no discernable issues.

Specs

  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB memory
  • Intel Celeron 2955U processor
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n wifi
  • Bluetooth 4.0

My first reaction was disbelief at the size of the Chromebox, which at only 12.4×12.4×4.19cm and 1.32lbs, is smaller and lighter than the container that held my lunch! I was also blown away by the selection of ports on the CN60. It has four USB 3.0 ports, a HDMI port, a DisplayPort, an ethernet port, microphone/audio out jack, a SD/MMC card reader, Kensington security slot, and a power cable!

The whole body of the device feels quite solid. Despite being covered in plastic, the device is built on a metal framework. The Chromebox’s plastic doesn’t pick up fingerprints or dust as easily as other Chromebooks, however, it is not immune from the occasional greasy fingerprint or speck of dust.

The one complaint I had with the entire Chromebox was the lack of tactile feedback when turning it on. The power button is placed on the corner with two USB 3.0 ports on one side, and the SD/MMC card reader and security slot on the other. When pushing the power button significant force is required, and the only indicator that anything happened is the LED above the button switching on. In the end, that is only a very minor annoyance that doesn’t detract from the rest of the user experience.

Many DIYers will be happy to learn that the Chromebox has a hidden ability: It is upgradeable! It is a simple operation to remove the rubber feet, then unscrew the screws that hold the bottom plate on. From there, the RAM and SSD can be changed, allowing upgrades to at least 8GB of RAM and as large of an SSD as you can find.

At $179.99 these Chromeboxes would be ideal devices for updating computer labs in schools that are searching for an upgrade from old PCs running XP. This use case would be supported by the security slot that could be used to tie down the Chromebox, and the VESA mount that is included with the Chromebox to mount it behind monitors, leading to less clutter and more security in computer labs in schools. One thing that should be noted is the lack of a DVI port on the Chromebox, so it may need an adapter to work with older monitors. These features also make the CB60 perfectly suited for kiosk use as a cheaper alternative to bulkier PCs.



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