The Asus Chromebox M115U Desktop offers faster USB ports, a newer Intel Celeron processor, HDMI, and a more compact chassis. For the price, it's also a much better deal as compared to the pricier Samsung Series 3 Chromebox which offers relatively better performance.
The Asus Chromebox M115U is a great alternative to buying yet another cheap Windows desktop. It comes with Chrome OS that gives you a quick way onto the Internet, as well as Web apps from Google. Compared to Android-equipped options such as the HP Slate, the Chromebox M115U is a much better option, but it stops short of full Windows program compatibility. True to its capabilities, it gets you surfing the Web using both regular and mobile versions of sites for under less. That’s an amazing deal, and helps Asus Chromebox M115U win our first Editors’ Choice for Chromebox desktops.
The Asus Chromebox M115U measures a compact 1.6 by 4.9 by 4.9 inches (HWD). It bears close resemblance to media boxes like the Apple TV or Roku 3 in terms of form factor, but its a bit heftier since it hosts a plethora of I/O ports on its outer faces. Its size and appearance are very close to the once we’ve seen on the Intel Next Unit of Computing Kit, which is yet another compact, power-saving computer. The M115U weighs in at 1.3 pounds, which is quite lighter that the NUC, although the latter is more of a whitebox, whereby you have to install your own memory, hard drive and operating system.
There are four USB 3.0 ports, a HDMI port, DispalyPort, and an Ethernet port. Inside the non-user serviceable chassis is an Intel Celeron 2955U 64-bit Dual Core Processor 1.4 GHz (2MB L3 cache per processor, 2GB DDR3 of system memory, Intel HD Graphics and a 16GB solid-state drive (SSD) for local storage. While 16GB is way too little for many users, this seems like less of a concern for a desktop, since it will be connected to the Internet pretty much of the time. If you need more space, you can as well hook up a USB 3.0 drive for more storage or pop an SD card into the built-in (2-in-1) card reader.
Apart from the connectivity Ethernet port, the Asus Chromebox M115U has a dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluteooth 4.0. Google includes 100GB of Google Drive storage for two years after a purchase of a Chrome OS device. The Chromebox M115U comes with a one-year warranty. Its benchmark specs make it certainly a better system than the pricey Samsung Series 3 Chromebox (XE300M22). However, If you absolutely need Windows- or Mac-specific programs like the official Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office, then you’ll sadly have to pass this system by.
On the Chromebox M115U, everything runs on the full version of the Chrome browser including most, if not all, of the x86-based browser plug-ins and Web apps you’ve become accustomed to. Office document creation and editing is as easy as bringing up Google Docs, and video streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime work fine in Chrome OS.
This means that your bookmarks are ported from the Chrome browser on your PC or Mac (as long as your Google account is logged), as well as plug-ins like Adblock and Google Translate. This is is in stark contrast with the kludgy experience of using Android-based versions such as the HP Slate 21 all-in-one desktop.
The Asus Chromebox M115U offers faster USB ports, a newer Intel Celeron processor, HDMI, and a more compact chassis. For the price, it’s also a much better deal as compared to the pricier Samsung Series 3 Chromebox which offers relatively better performance. HP and Dell have announced competing Chromebox desktops, you can get the reviews here with more to come.
For a few more dollars more, you can get your hands on a screen, moee storage and a full Windows operating system with the Editor’s Choice entry-level desktop reviewed earlier. But for the second time, we can actually recommend a Chromebox, especially if you’re on a very tight budget and all you need is Internet on a large screen. Right now, the Asus Chromebox M115U is worth a serious look as you shop around.