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.