Like everything in this world, also desktops are evolving fast. They used to be big, ugly grey boxes hidden somewhere in the room from the eyes of people. Such a desktop was the worst piece of decoration (albeit a mandatory one) in your room. Well, things have changed a lot, and these days they make computers with also aesthetics and ease of use in mind. A prime example of such a modern, stylish computer is ASUS CHROMEBOX-M115U to which I’m going to take a closer look below.
The main things
ASUS Chromebox-M115U is listed under desktop category, but it’s indeed not your typical desktop. As you can see from the above picture, it’s a small dark box with rounded corners and dimensions of 4.9″ x 1.65″ x 4.88″ (H x W x D). The weight of mere 1.32 lbs adds to the fact that finding room for such a Chromebox is never a problem.
The small size leads us to discuss about the performance. Indeed, you can’t put too many or too big components inside the small case of ASUS Chromebox-M115U. The processor is ultra low voltage Intel Celeron 2955U running on two cores and 1.4GHz clock speed. It’s excellent choice for such a compact desktop, but for heavier tasks it doesn’t suit at all. That was, however, never a purpose for Chromebox, and for simple everyday tasks this CPU does its job very well.
ASUS Chromebox-M115U has 2GB DDR3 RAM. That’s on the borderline these days, and having more wouldn’t certainly hurt. But one must remember the scope of this desktop: it runs on lightweight Chrome and was also intended for lightweight use. The same can be said about the storage: while there’s just 16GB storage space inside, the technique is called solid-state drive which contributes to very fast feel and booting times for this ASUS. You can also get 100GB of Google cloud storage by signing up at Google Drive on your Chromebox.
So how about the operating system? It’s indeed not Windows, not Mac, not Linux. But it’s Google’s own Chrome OS. It’s said to be just a Chrome browser acting as an operating system. In a sense that is true, but Google and others have made excellent job providing software for such an operating system on a browser. Using, for example, Microsoft Office through their web version is possible. Google has their own Docs application for spreadsheets and such. Playing browser games is also very possible on this Chromebox.
What can I not do with it?
Game hard. That’s out of question with ASUS Chromebox-M115U. To start with, it has components of poor performance. The Intel Celeron processor can’t handle games well, especially when its integrated Intel HD Graphics is one of the worse chips for playing these days. Secondly, the Chrome OS limits what games you can play. You can’t actually install software on it, and must settle for web-based browser games.
What else to keep in mind?
As expected, the connectivity of such a modern, web-driven desktop is excellent. It has Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 support for your connection needs. There are also in total 4 USB 3.0 ports, 2 being in the front and 2 in the back. HDMI and DisplayPort outputs are also in the back, allowing you to connect supporting monitor to the Chromebox.
There’s no optical drive in ASUS Chromebox-M115U. Chrome OS doesn’t have support for DVD movies. So watching movies from disc media is off the limits, but you can always watch streaming content from Netflix.
2-in-1 card reader is installed on the side, meaning you can transfer images from digital cameras and such easily to your Chromebox.
Wireless mouse and keyboard are shipped with ASUS Chromebox-M115U but no monitor. As such, you must get the display separately.
ASUS Chromebox-M115U is an example of the current trend of moving everything from offline to online. Having access to Internet is essential with Chrome OS systems, but after that dealing with everyday tasks of browsing, sending emails, watching YouTube and making video calls (with Google Hangouts) should be a smooth sail. Gamers and some power users are the bunch who should definitely look for something else than a Chrome-based system, but for adventurous home users and students I’d recommend giving it a try. Especially when the price beats about all the other computers on market.