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Asus Chromebox to Support 4K Ultra HD on a Budget

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 8 comments

Asus is launching a Chrome OS-based mini-PC next month.

Not to be outdone by Zotac and Gigabyte, in March Asus plans to launch a mini PC of its own called the Chromebox. As the name indicates, this device will sport Google's Chrome OS platform, and will be backed by an Intel "Haswell" processor. The combination promises simplicity, security and speed for the home, office or classroom.

"Asus Chromebox provides a gateway to the world of Google web services and thousands of Chrome Web Store apps designed for business, education and home, including many popular services like YouTube, Hulu Plus and Netflix," reads the company's press release.

In March, Asus will launch at least three models: one with an Intel Core i7-4600U, one with an Intel Core i3-4010U, and one with an Intel Celeron 2955U processor. They will also have either 2 GB or 4 GB of DDR3-1600 MHz memory (two SO-DIMM slots). A 16 GB SSD and a 2-in-1 SD card reader will also be included.

As for other features, the Chromebox will have dual-band Wireless N and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI output port, one DisplayPort jack, one audio output jack, a Kensington lock and a 65 watt power supply. The overall dimensions will be 4.88 x 4.88 x 1.65 inches.

"Asus Chromebox features HDMI and DisplayPort outputs for dual monitor capability and support for next-generation 4K Ultra High Definition (4K/UHD) displays," reads the company's press release. "This gives users the flexibility to use desktop displays or large-screen TVs, giving them more room to work, collaborate or play."

Asus notes that support for 4KJ/UHD 4K resolution requires a Core-i3 or higher SKU. All three units will come with 100 GB of free Google Drive space for two years, and come packed with a VESA mount kit at no extra charge. These units will also be fanless.

The Asus Chromebox units will be available at North American resellers in March with pricing starting at $179 US. That price really isn't too shabby given that the three units will come packed with memory and storage.

As a quick comparison based on price, Gigabyte also sells a mini PC with Intel Celeron inside. For $168 USD, the GB-XM14-1037 features the Celeron 1037U clocked at 1.8 GHz, two open slots for DDR 3 1600/1333 memory up to 16 GB, one open mSATA slot, a half-size mini-PCIe slot occupied by the Wi-Fi card, two USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, one mini DisplayPort and a Kensington lock. The dimensions are 4.5 x 4.25 x 1.18 inches.

Zotac has a ZBOX nano for $185 USD. This unit has an AMD E-450 dual-core APU clocked at 1.65 GHz, two memory slots for up to 4 GB of DDR3-1333 RAM, a 6-in-1 card reader, 7.1 channel surround sound, one mSATA slot for an HDD, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI output, Gigabit Ethernet and Wireless N network connectivity. The dimensions are 9.45 x 7.28 x 3.07 inches.

The Chromebox seems to be a great deal, but we won't know the full extent of pricing and SKUs until next month. The specs lean towards six models based on the two RAM amounts.

Display 8 Comments.
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  • 1 Hide
    virtualban , February 5, 2014 2:45 AM
    Now gimme 4K displays on a budget, and I will be alright. Let me worry about what computing device I attach to those.
  • 3 Hide
    velocityg4 , February 5, 2014 5:51 AM
    I'm sure all those poor people buying expensive 4K displays will be clamoring for this. Just what I need a $180 PC with a useless OS to go with my $3,000 monitor!
  • 0 Hide
    WithoutWeakness , February 5, 2014 7:57 AM
    This thing really seems like it'll be the best bang-for-your-buck Steam Streaming box. Gigabit Ethernet, a few USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, and the WiFi card and SSD included sounds like a phenomenal deal for the hardware at that price. We'll start to see what the real minimum requirements for Steam Streaming are once it comes out of Beta but if the Core i3 or even Celeron models are fast enough then this will be an amazingly small and capable machine for the price.
  • 0 Hide
    Christopher Shaffer , February 5, 2014 8:37 AM
    I think this is a bit misleading. There's no way this will support 4K gaming. Video, sure, but it's implied both by your article title and by Intel's description that it will support "play" at 4K.
  • 0 Hide
    salad10203 , February 5, 2014 9:40 AM
    Damn, pretty awesome. Love seeing the variety of devices expanding every day.
  • 3 Hide
    XGrabMyY , February 5, 2014 4:04 PM
    Dang, the pricing on this thing is killer. Is the boot loader locked? Because I can't imagine ChromeOS has any serious media playback abilities. I'd like to load XMBC or Windows Media Center on this bad boy to make it serve a real purpose other than being a silly Google toy.
  • 0 Hide
    Christopher Shaffer , February 7, 2014 7:26 AM
    Quote:
    Dang, the pricing on this thing is killer. Is the boot loader locked? Because I can't imagine ChromeOS has any serious media playback abilities. I'd like to load XMBC or Windows Media Center on this bad boy to make it serve a real purpose other than being a silly Google toy.


    Considering you can install Android apps, you shouldn't have any trouble playing media.
  • 1 Hide
    toysareforboys , February 7, 2014 3:20 PM
    Quote:
    Now gimme 4K displays on a budget, and I will be alright. Let me worry about what computing device I attach to those.
    If it's just for movies/youtube you can get a 39" 4K display for $399 or 50" for $698: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=4k