Page 1:Meet Samsung's $329 Chromebox
Page 2:What's Inside The Chromebox?
Page 3:Chrome OS: Easy To Use, But Somewhat Restrictive
Page 4:Chrome OS Is Easy To Set Up, But Lacks Options
Page 5:Web-Based Gaming On The Chromebox?
Page 6:Benchmark Results: Browser Tests
Page 7:Chromebox: A Complete Platform For $329
What's Inside The Chromebox?
Inside the Chromebox you'll find:
- Intel Celeron B840 (Sandy Bridge, 1.9 GHz, 2C/2T, 2 MB Shared L3 Cache, 35 W TDP)
- 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1066 RAM
- Built-in dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n
- Gigabit Ethernet
- Six USB 2.0 Ports
- 2 x DisplayPort Outputs (compatible with HDMI, DVI, VGA)
- 1 x Single-Link DVI-I Output (VGA compatible)
- Bluetooth 3.0-compatible
- Kensington Key Lock-compatible
Retail Chromeboxes ship with Intel's Celeron B840 processor, a Sandy Bridge-based dual-core chip operating at 1.9 GHz. It doesn't employ Hyper-Threading, and it doesn't benefit from Turbo Boost. Quick Sync and AES-NI are also disabled on the B840. Systems with the Celeron inside are identified by the model number XE300M22-A01US.
However, the evaluation units that Google handed out at I/O 2012, which look identical, actually come with a faster Core i5-2450M. They bear the model number XE300M22-A02US. You'll find plenty of Ebay and Craigslist entries for the i5-equipped version, but it's not clear if they'll ever surface at retail. Newegg did have a very brief online listing for the XE300M22-A02US that lasted about 30 minutes (with a $500 price tag), but that could have been a fluke. We're still waiting to hear from Samsung or Google about future availability.
|Comparison||Core i5-540M||Celeron B840||Core i5-2450M|
|Architecture||Arrandale||Sandy Bridge||Sandy Bridge|
|Graphics Core||HD Graphics|
|HD Graphics 3000|
|Graphics Clock (MHz)||500–766||350–1000||650–1300|
The difference between both models is important for several reasons. Although both CPUs are dual-core models, the Core i5 does enjoy Hyper-Threading, Turbo Boost, higher clocks, more L3 cache, Quick Sync, and an HD Graphics 3000 engine. Although the Celeron is a Sandy Bridge-based chip, its HD Graphics core is more akin to Intel's older Arrandale design.
As a result of Intel's nomenclature, however, this opens the door to plenty of confusion. The Arrandale-based Core i5-540M, for instance, has Ironlake graphics with 12 execution units and support for hardware-accelerated video decoding. It's branded as HD Graphics, though. The Celeron B840, also bearing the HD Graphics label, comes with half as many EUs, though they run up to twice as fast. But the Celeron can't accelerate video decoding, nor does it include Quick Sync support.
Of course, the difference may not account to much at the end of the day, since many of those features rely on software to take advantage of them. And the Chromebox isn't being positioned as a gaming platform anyway, de-emphasizing the importance of graphics resources.
There aren't many ways to upgrade the Chromebox, unfortunately. Under the hood, you'll find two mSATA slots, one of which is populated by a 16 GB SSD. Dropping in a second drive is probably cost-prohibitive, since solid-state capacity still sells for more than $1/GB in mSATA trim. Realistically, it's most cost-effective to purchase an external USB-based hard drive if you want more space.