Editor's Notes & Price Research
This is the #1 seller in the Desktop Computers category on Amazon.com, where it has a rating of 4.5 out 5 stars overall based on 252 reviews. - Corwin
The internals are virtually identical to the popular Acer 720 Chromebook, with the same Intel Haswell processor, 2GB RAM, and 16GB SSD. The reason I'm getting a Chromebox in addition to my Acer is for upgradability--Chromebooks are limited to whatever RAM amount they're sold(ered on) with (2 GB or 4 GB). With a Chromebox you can easily upgrade with a second stick, or max out with 16 GB. ChromeOS is remarkably lightweight, but if you do heavier tasks with Crouton or replace it with a regular Linux install, more RAM can come in handy. If you want more space for other OSes, you can easily upgrade the HDD too.
Other improvements over the Acer 720 are in bold:
- 1.4 GHz Intel Celeron 2955U Processor with Intel HD graphics
- 2GB DDR3 RAM (Upgradeable to 16 GB)
- 100GB Google Drive for 2 years
- 16 GB SSD HDD (Upgradable to 128 GB with 42mm m.2 SATA drives)
- 4 USB 3.0 ports, audio/microphone out, SD/MMC card reader
- 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth, wired ethernet
- Dual monitor outputs (HDMI and DisplayPort)
- VESA mount for mounting on back of TV/monitor
For the HDD, it takes m.2 SATA SSD drives (not to be confused with mSATA!), with dimensions of 22 x 42 mm, sometimes abbreviated 2242. This size is also sometimes referred to by NGFF (Next Generation Form Factor). Current upgrade sizes are 32GB, 64GB or 128GB. Larger capacities will come, but right now they're in longer sizes, like 50mm or 80mm. I purchased the max 128GB for $80 to give me room for Steam games and other non-streamable media to use with Crouton. Received it today, and upgrades were a snap. If replacing the hard drive, remember to first make recovery media by navigating to chrome://imageburner and inserting a blank 4GB SD card or USB drive.
Hardware upgrade instructions: http://liliputing.com/2014/03/upg...orage.htm
When taking off the bottom cover, first pry off the four rubber feet (they're attached with strong adhesive). Remove the screws the feet covered, then insert two screwdrivers in opposite screw holes, apply light sideways pressure, and pull up. This avoids marring the exterior plastic, which might happen if you try using a screwdriver along the edge seam.
If you want to test out other OSes, you can do that without any hardware upgrades (though it leaves only 9 GB free on the HDD). Crouton lets you toggle back and forth with a key combo and is an easy 30 or 60 minute process if you can follow a few instructions: https://github.com/dnschneid/crouton
For a full wipe and traditional Linux install, you can use Chrubuntu, Elementary OS, or others. However, it seems the process is a little more involved. If you're not comfortable dabbling with that stuff, and won't be OK within Chrome 100% of the time, you should probably consider another computer.
Chromeboxes are popular as HTPCs--they're powerful, quiet, cheap, and easy to set up with XBMC or OpenELEC . There is also an XBMC EZ Setup Script .
However, be aware that as of today, Netflix does NOT stream HD on this box (max is 480p: i.e. DVD-quality)
As far as I know, NO ChromeOS device streams Netflix in HD currently. Though that may well change with their surging popularity. Play the Netflix video "Example Short 23.976 " to test your bitrate and resolution delivered.