Asus Chromebox 4 review: Chromeboxes don’t get nearly as much coverage as other Chrome OS-based computers. Much of the time, these small computers are hidden under or behind screens, out of sight. That doesn’t mean they’re any less competent or strong than their mobile counterparts. In reality, a Chromebox could be the best option for a family looking for a versatile computing platform that is both safe and up to date.
Asus Chromebox 4 Specs
- Weight: 1.0KG
- Storage: 128G M.2 SATA SSD
- Memory: 8GB (in 4GB SO-DIMMs)
- Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics
- LAN: Gigabit LAN, Realtek® RTL8111H-CG
- Wireless Data Network: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
- Dimensions (W x D x H): 148.5 x 148.5 x 40 mm
- Power Supply: 19Vdc, 4.74A, 90W Power Adapter
- CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core™ i3-10110U Processor, (2 cores, 4 threads, 2.1 GHz (4M Cache, up to 4.1 GHz with TurboBoost)
- I/O Ports: 5 x USB 3.2 Gen2, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen1, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C (PowerDelivery/DisplayPort 1.4), 2 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x LAN (RJ45) Port, 1 x Audio Jack (Combo Mic/Headphone Jack), 1x Micro SD card slot, Kensington Lock slot
Asus Chromebox 4 Software and Performance
First, in this Asus Chromebox 4 review the performance of the device is worth-mentioning; with the Chromebox 4, the Chrome OS narrative remains constant. Every year, Google’s operating system improves, with strong multitasking features like virtual desks and a slew of Android and Linux applications at your fingertips.
Viruses and ransomware are virtually non-existent, and Chrome OS automatically updates to keep the machine running smoothly and securely. The Chromebox 4’s software is similar to that of any other Chrome OS machine, avoiding the bloatware found on typical Windows machines in favor of a lean, vanilla Google experience.
Chrome OS prompted me to upgrade the device to the new software when I turned on the Chromebox for the first time. Setting up my Google account was easy, and thanks to Google’s robust account sync, my computer was completely configured in minutes.
However, there are several drawbacks to using Chrome OS on a non-touch desktop. Cycling through the drawer, for instance, is clumsy with the mouse wheel, and the tiny page buttons are difficult to press. Managing alerts in the device tray is often inconvenient and unintuitive. These issues affect all Chrome OS computers, so there’s not much Asus can do.
In a pinch, Android app support in Chrome is useful, but don’t buy the Chromebox 4 for that purpose alone. In a container, Chrome OS runs Android 9.0 Pie, which is two years behind the most recent stable version. Lackluster scaling, app crashes, and terrible mouse support tend to wreak havoc on the platform, particularly on Chromeboxes without touch screens. I’m assuming that when Android 12 arrives, most of the problems will be resolved, but for now, don’t get your hopes up about running Android apps on this phone.
Asus Chromebox 4 Hardware and Design
Asus Chromebox 4 review presents the powerful hardware whereby the Asus Chromebox 4 is a boxy, utilitarian mini PC with a modest appearance. While the Chromebox 3’s brushed aluminum chassis is more premium, the Chromebox 2’s matte plastic chassis is less so. The unit is around the same size as most computer mice, and it comes with a VESA mounting kit if you want to save even more room in your office. The best aspect of its nature is the big power button: when placed behind a display, it faces upward, making it convenient to reach over and turn on the Chromebox.
The Intel Core i3-10110U Comet Lake CPU, a dual-core mobile processor clocked at 2.10 GHz, is at the heart of the Asus Chromebox 4. Although it’s faster than the Celeron chips used in budget Chromeboxes, a few Google Docs tabs are enough to activate the main CPU fan. The fan is marginally louder than the CTL CBx2 we tested a month ago, but it isn’t as regular. It stays cool thanks to two big intake vents on the bottom and a long exhaust vent in the back that dissipates heat.
The Chromebox 4’s ports were generously given by Asus. On the front, you’ll find a combo mic/headphone audio jack, two USB-A ports, and a microSD card reader. The front-facing USB 3.2 Gen1 ports deliver lightning-fast results. The card reader comes in handy when you need to add more room or sync files.
The back panel is much more crowded. There are three USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB-A ports to begin with. One USB 3.2 port and two USB 2.0 ports are available on the Celeron and Core i3 versions. A USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C (Power Delivery/DisplayPort 1.4) port is included on all models for charging phones and transmitting signals to a monitor. Two HDMI 2.0 ports support a 4K display each, as well as an RJ45 LAN port and a Kensington lock.
Asus Chromebox 4 Price and Availability
The Asus Chromebox 4 isn’t all that pricey, at least in the specification we have here – it begins at $289 (£249.99, AU$549), which puts it in the same price range as lower-tier Chromebooks and well within reach of those who merely wish to transform a dumb display into something useful.
It’s not the affordable Chromebox, as HP’s similarly-specified Chromebox G3 is expected to release in the US for $254 (around £185/AU$330), which is more than Asus’ prior Chromebox 3.
You will certainly spend more if you wish to upgrade the specifications. The Chromebox 4 is available from Asus in a variety of configurations, ranging from a low-cost Celeron to tenth-generation Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors, the latter of which will cost about $1,049 (around £765/AU$1,360). Provided that we have the Celeron spin on test, we can’t say if going that far with a Chromebox is a good idea, but to our educated eye, an i7 will probably raise things a little too far.
Should You Buy It?
Let’s turn the Asus Chromebox 4 review towards a conclusion. If you’d like a strong desktop PC to get online and are willing to make a few sacrifices. Although the Asus Chromebox 4 is small, its powerful CPU and ample RAM can manage all of my Chrome tabs, and it can even make videos without making a sweat. The port range is also outstanding. And for $489, you’ll get a dependable machine that will endure for a long period of time.
The Asus Chromebox faces competition explicitly with CTL’s CBx2, which only comes in Celeron and i7 configurations. Although the Asus i3 model offers better results, it will set you back about $200 more. The Asus i3 is a no-brainer if you need to run CPU-intensive Linux apps like GIMP. Despite its flaws, the Asus Chromebox i3 remains a compelling PC for the appropriate consumer.