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Asus Chromebox M031U review

Asus Chromebox under monitor
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £209
inc VAT

A charming little Chrome OS-based PC with surprisingly sprightly performance


Processor: Dual-core 1.4GHz Intel Celron 2955U, RAM: 4GB, Front USB ports : 2x USB3, Rear USB ports: 2x USB3, Total storage: 16GB SSD, Graphics card: Intel HD Graphics, Display: None, Operating system: Chrome OS

Chrome OS has long been associated with budget laptops, with its lightweight operating system and browser-based applications very suitable for people who have modest needs while on the move. We’ve seen substantially less desktop-based Chrome machines but, when you think about it, there’s very little reason why a Chrome desktop PC can’t be a great buy.

Step in the Asus Chromebox. There are several specifications of the this PC available, including a rather over-specified, £500+ Intel Core i7 version. The one on test here is the more reasonably priced £208 version, powered by a 1.4GHz Intel Celeron 2955U processor. It’s a pleasingly designed mini PC, with a footprint a little smaller than a CD case. The dark metallic blue top and black sides look classy and don’t give away this PC’s ultra-cheap origins. Its tiny size means it can fit practically anywhere: on a desk, on the back of a monitor (with a mount) or even in your media cabinet if you fancy a dedicated web browsing PC for your TV.

Asus Chromebox front angleIn such a small form factor the Chromebox would be forgiven for failing to provide all the ports and connectors you’d expect of a larger PC, but it’s actually surprisingly well-endowed. You get full size HDMI and DisplayPort connectors at the rear, along with two USB3 ports, a gigabit Ethernet connector and 3.5mm headset jack. There’s two more easily accessible USB3 ports on the front of the Chromebox, and there’s also an SD/MMC card reader on the left-hand side. There’s also built-in dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4 as well.Included in the price is a wireless keyboard and mouse set, although the two peripherals require a USB dongle and don’t take advantage of the Chromebox’s Bluetooth connectivity. This means one of the four USB3 ports is permanently occupied, which seems like a bit of a waste. Still, the mouse, while comically small, is reliable and comfortable to use. The keyboard, meanwhile has a childlike feel to it and certainly won’t suit quick typists. What’s more, it’s slightly weird dimensions means some of the keys feel out of place and takes a fair amount of time to get used to. The keyboard also replaces the entire top row of F-keys with Chrome OS-specific functions including window management, browser navigation, audio controls and, oddly for a desktop PC, brightness controls.

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Core specs
ProcessorDual-core 1.4GHz Intel Celron 2955U
Processor socketFCBGA1168
Memory type1600MHz DDR3
Maximum memory8GB
MotherboardNot stated
Motherboard chipsetNot stated
Ports and expansion
Front USB ports2x USB3
Rear USB ports2x USB3
Other portsNone
Networking10/100/1000 Ethernet, dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi
Case typeMini PC
Case size HxWxD43x127x124mm
PCI (free)N/A
PCIe x1 (free)N/A
PCIe x16 (free)N/A
Serial ATA (free)N/A
Memory slots (free)2 (0)
Drive bays 2 1/2″ (free)N/A
Drive bays 3 1/2″ (free)N/A
Drive bays 5 1/4″ (free)N/A
Total storage16GB SSD
Memory card readerMMC, SD
Optical drive typeNone
Graphics cardIntel HD Graphics
Graphics/video portsDisplayPort, HDMI
Sound cardOnboard
Sound card outputs1x 3.5mm headset jack
Native resolutionN/A
Other hardware
KeyboardAsus Chromebox wireless keyboard
MouseAsus Chromebox wireless mouse
Operating systemChrome OS
Operating system restore optionChrome OS power wash
Buying information
WarrantyOne year collect and return
Price including delivery (inc VAT)£209
Price excluding monitor (inc VAT and delivery)N/A

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