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Asus Chromebox 4 Review: A mini PC that packs a punch

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As we all know, Chrome OS is

. With the rapid growth in sales, people’s awareness of Google’s operating system is getting higher and higher, so 2021 will be a bumper year for Chromebooks and Chromeboxes. CTL's CBx2 left a deep impression on us

, Determine the basic knowledge at a reasonable price. That's not the only new Chromebox in town. ASUS’s updated version of Chromebox 4 was launched on the market, which provides a very fast processor, ample storage space and killer network performance. For anyone who needs a powerful Chrome OS desktop for business and personal use, this is an excellent follow-up to the popular Chromebox 3.

The ASUS Chromebox 4 is a moderate-looking micro PC with a square, practical design. Although the price of its frosted plastic chassis is not as good as the brushed aluminum film on Chromebox 3. But its size is not much larger than most computer mice. If you want to save office space, it also comes with a VESA mounting kit. The large power button is the best part of its design: when it is installed behind the display, the switch faces up, making it easier to reach to power on the Chromebox.

The core of ASUS Chromebox 4 is

Comet Lake CPU, a dual-core mobile processor with a clock frequency of 2.10 GHz. It is more flexible than the Celeron chip in the cheap Chromebox, but a few Google Docs tags are enough to keep the main CPU fan working. Although the fan is slightly larger than the CTL CBx2 that we checked a month ago, it does not turn on frequently. The two large air intake holes at the bottom help keep it cool, while the long exhaust holes on the back dissipate heat.

Chromebox 4 comes with a VESA bracket, a 90-watt power supply, and the expected manual and warranty card. Unlike the Acer Chromebox CXI3 we reviewed, this device does not have a keyboard or mouse.

Chromebox 4 will not change the story of Chrome OS. Google's operating system is becoming more and more powerful every year. It has powerful multitasking functions, such as virtual desktops and a large number of Android and Linux applications for you to use. There are no viruses and malware, and Chrome OS will be updated in the background to ensure that your system runs smoothly and securely. Like CBx2, the software on Chromebox 4 is the same as all other Chrome OS computers, and it skips outdated software found on traditional Windows computers, resulting in a streamlined, vanilla experience provided by Google.

When I powered the Chromebox for the first time, Chrome OS prompted me to update the system to the latest software. Easily set up my Google account. Thanks to Google’s comprehensive account synchronization, the machine was fully configured within a few minutes-Microsoft should start taking notes.

However, using Chrome OS on a non-touch desktop can be annoying. For example, it is awkward to cycle through the drawer with the mouse wheel, and it is difficult to click the tiny page buttons. Similarly, managing notifications in the system tray is cumbersome and unintuitive. These conditions are true on all Chrome OS devices, so Asus is almost helpless here.

Chrome can support Android applications well, but don’t buy Chromebox 4 specifically for this. Chrome OS runs Android 9.0 Pie in a container, which is two years behind the latest stable version. Flat scalability, app crashes, and poor mouse support continue to damage the platform, especially on Chromeboxes without touch screens. I hope that when Android 12 lands, most of the problems will be resolved, but for now, don't make you determined to run Android applications on this machine.

On the other hand, ASUS Chromebox 4 can easily break through demanding Linux applications. I installed Firefox and Olive from Flathub with no problems, and both programs ran smoothly. Linux containers use graphics acceleration on Chromebox 4 by default, which significantly improves the performance of graphics-intensive Linux applications (such as Minecraft). Starting from OS 89, there is still no mouse pointer lock in Linux applications (it is necessary to play first-person shooters and games), but you can switch an experimental flag to introduce its functionality

Chromebox 4 is equipped with one of several 10th generation Intel CPUs. Asus has configured Core i3-10110U for our device, which is very fast for traditional Windows laptops with software (and OEM bloatware). The CPU's 15W TDP requires a fan, and the fast performance can make up for the noise. Compared with Celeron CPU on CBx2, Chromebox 4 is significantly more powerful: Web applications and websites load fast, I can render multiple 1080p videos without performance barriers, and 8GB RAM allows me to use hundreds Chrome tabs are multitasking. If 8GB of storage space is not enough for you to use, Asus can install more memory for the Chromebox.

Here are some benchmark tests that will give you an overview of Chromebox 4’s performance:

, If you need a powerful desktop, it can get you online and don’t mind some compromises. Asus Chromebox 4 may be small, but its powerful CPU and sufficient RAM can handle all my Chrome tabs, and can even render videos without any effort. The port selection is also very good. The price is 489 US dollars, and you will get a reliable computer that can be used for a long time.

There is nothing to complain about Chromebox 4, but I don't like the noise of the CPU fan. Like CBx2, if you use USB-C with Chromebox for DisplayPort, you will lose your only USB-C port. My biggest complaint is its value: the fully loaded Chromebox 4 costs $899, and the i5 costs $649, which is not worth it on a Chrome OS machine. Although the i3 and Celeron models are meaningful to most people, a comparable Chromebook is still a good choice: it is portable, has a touch screen and a webcam, and can cost approximately The same price is set. I hope Asus will bundle the keyboard and mouse with the device to make the transaction more successful.

Asus Chromebox directly competes with CTL's similar CBx2, which only offers Celeron and i7 variants. Although the performance of the Asus i3 model is excellent, it will cost an extra $200. If you need CPU-intensive Linux applications (such as GIMP), then ASUS i3 is an easy decision. Despite its shortcomings, the Asus Chromebox i3 is still a very competitive PC for the right buyer.

The following retailers can purchase Asus Chromebox 4:

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