Chrome OS and Chromebooks are almost interchangeable in terms of computers, but there are all-in-one and desktop machines that run Chrome, too. The latest “Chromebox” from Asus is particularly interesting: it can be configured with some serious Intel power, and it’s capable of running up to three monitors at once. The Chromebox 4 releases in December.
Despite being pretty tiny—at just under six inches square, it’s smaller but slightly thicker than a Mac Mini—you can buy a Chromebox 4 with a 10th-gen Core i7 processor. Cheaper options offer a Core i3 or i5. 4GB of 8GB of memory can be configured, with storage from 32GB-256GB. Asus’ spec list says that these use standard laptop RAM SO-DIMM modules and M.2 SSDs for 128 or 256GB of storage, so presumably it’s possible for the end user to upgrade the desktops, if they can get the case open.
There’s a surprising amount of ports on this little box, too. On the front you get double USB-A ports, a headphone jack, and MicroSD card reared, while around back you get three A ports at various speeds, two HDMI ports, USB-C/Thunderbolt, and Ethernet. Between HDMI and USB-C, the Chromebox 4 can handle three 4K monitors at once—a rare feat for Chrome OS devices of any size.
There’s a dedicated DC jack, but the computer can be powered via USB-C from a compatible monitor (either 65 or 90 watts, according to the power supply spec sheet), too, and a VESA mount on the bottom means you can clear up some desk space by mounting it directly to the back of your monitor.
Like all Chrome OS devices, the Chromebox 4 gets its software and updates directly from Google, and it can run at least some Android apps from the Play Store. This one’s decked out with management tools for corporate or education customers. The price will start at a very reasonable $289 when it launches next month, but unfortunately, we don’t know how much those processor, RAM, and storage upgrades will cost.