Asus Chromebox 2 CN62 Review

A new Chomebox design from Asus offers a minimalist nirvana

 

• Requirements: Monitor with HDMI or DisplayPort input. Wireless or Wired Broadband

Awhile back, Asus added some Chromebox systems to its inventory, and now it’s refreshed them with a second series of modestly uprated designs.

You really begin to wonder why you need Windows.

It sent me the entry-level model, part number 2-G084U, to see what’s improved and if this makes its Chromebox 2 offering even more desirable than its predecessor.

As computers go, this was is small, even by Chromebox 2 standards. The flattened box is just 12.4cm square and 4.2cm high. Inside, Asus has managed to shoehorn a complete Intel-based PC. In this model, it has a dual-core Celeron 321 5U, 4GB of RAM and 16GB of SSD storage.

For those wanting greater computing power, Asus also offers Core i3 and i7 variants of this platform, though unless you want to hook this system up to a 4K display for video I don’t really see the need.

Asus Chromebox 2 CN62 Review

You can also dismantle the box and manually upgrade the RAM and storage. That might be a valid plan if you want to repurpose this system with Ubuntu or some other Linux distro of interest. Because this is a PC, intrinsically, those things are all possible.

Specification
Processor: Celeron 3215U dual core 1.7GHz 2MB cache. Memory: 4GB DDR3L SoDIMM. Storage: 16GB M.2 SSD. GPU: Intel HD Graphics. WiFi: Intel dual band 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.0. OS: Google Chrome OS. Accessories: VESA mount, wireless mouse and keyboard. Ports: 4 x USB 3.0 (2 front, 2 rear), 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI, 1 x headphones/microphone – mini-jack, 1 x LAN (Gigabit Ethernet). Power adapter: 65 watts maximum. Dimensions (WxDxH): 12.4 cm x 12.4 cm x 4.2 cm. Weight: 600 g

However, what this system is primarily built for is running Chrome OS, and that it does very nicely indeed. Out of the box you simply connect it to an HDMI or DisplayPort monitor and a Ethernet connect, and you’re ready to rock. Included in the box is a wireless mouse and keyboard, and the dongle that connects them using USB to the system. This does take up one of the four USB 3.0 ports on the Chromebox, but not internalising the dongle means you can use these peripherals elsewhere.

What was good about all them was that there was no ‘pairing’ or similar exercise. I just inserted the dongle and batteries into the input devices, and it all just worked.

Once you’ve given the system a google account and wi-fi password, you can dispense with the Ethernet. And the provided mounting plate enables you to attach this to the rear of a screen with VESA standard holes, and make your own self-contained system.

The obvious limitation of Chromebox is that it can only use web-based applications, or Chrome apps, though access to the Google’s Android Play store is also promised at some point in the future.

This was originally going to be in 2016, but it’s been pushed back because Google needed more time to make it work more like people will expect.

For Windows, a Celeron 3215U and 16GB of storage just wouldn’t cut it, but on Chrome OS that spec is more than acceptable, and delivers web performance bordering on snappy. On this implementation, it’s even added animation so windows resize smoothly with transition effects. This demonstrates that the Celeron is probably not stressed doing these jobs, and easily performs these menial tasks.

If you need more local storage, then you could just insert an SD card into the 4-in-1 card reader, or you could use a USB flash drive or an external hard drive.

However, the best upgrade would be to flip the internal M.2 SATA drive out and replace it with something larger. If you do this, it’s a relatively straightforward exercise to reinstall Chrome OS, if you want.

While doing this does offer some interesting possibilities. Chrome OS is really designed to work with cloud-based documents and therefore isn’t really storage dependent.

As if to highlight this, all Chromebox 2 purchasers automatically get an extra 100GB of Google Drive space free for two years, covering all but the most extreme file hoarding eventualities.

This is by far the best Chrome OS experience I’ve had so far, and it illuminated for this writer how far Google has come in making this a viable alternative to traditional desktop operating systems.

A few hours with this and you really begin to wonder why you need Windows for the majority of tasks you perform on a daily basis. It won’t do everything, but it does much more than you might imagine.

For those who want portability, then obviously a Chromebook is more suitable. But for those who want a simple, almost silent, low-maintenance alternative to a conventional PC, the Asus Chromebox 2 is pushing all the right buttons, mm Mark Pickavance

Highly responsive Chromebox for all your Chrome OS needs

 

8 Total Score
Asus Chromebox 2 CN62 Review

Highly responsive Chromebox for all your Chrome OS needs

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