The first Chrome OS desktop computer from Asus is now available for pre-order. The Asus Chromebox-M004U is a tiny desktop with an Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a $179 price tag.
This model features an Intel Celeron 2955U processor based on Intel’s “Haswell” architecture. Asus also plans to offer a Chromeboox M-005U model with an Intel Core i3-4010U Haswell chip starting in mid-March.
Both models feature built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, 4 USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot, HDMI and DisplayPort. The $179 model comes with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and 100GB of free cloud storage space with Google Drive for 2 years.
The Asus Chromebox measures 4.9″ x 4.9″ x 1.7″ and ships with Google’s browser-based operating system. But as we’ve seen over and over again, it’s pretty easy to install Ubuntu, Debian, and other operating systems on Chrome OS hardware.
That could make the Asus Chromebox a pretty nifty little machine not only for folks who buy into Google’s vision that a web browser is your most important app… but also for folks looking for a cheap alternative to an Intel NUC or Gigabyte Brix mini-PC.
Update: Last month Asus told us these systems would be fanless, but the company made a last-minute change and included a fan due to lack of ambient temperature control. I’m told the fan won’t need to operate very often, and it will reportedly run quietly and shut off quickly when it does power up.