Acer Chromebox CXI3 review: Is this the ideal Windows replacement?

Buy the Asus Chromebox now

When the first Chromeboxes introduced in 2012, they had been intended to do to desktops what Chromebooks did for laptops. The thought used to be to switch the conventional Windows-based desktop with a small shape issue gadget packing a light-weight running gadget and a strong processor, with out the integrated display, keyboard, and touchpad of the Chromebook.

The platform took longer than Chromebooks to take off — Acer didn’t leap into the house till 2014, with its first CXI style, which packed an Intel Celeron processor.

Four years later, the style we’re now reviewing is the Acer Chromebox CXI3-I58GKM priced at $571.99. The complete CXI3 portfolio levels from $239.99 to $835.99:

  4GNKM 4GKM I38GNKM I38GKM I58GKM I716GKM
Processor Celeron 3865U Celeron 3865U Core i3-7130U Core i3-7130U Core i5-8250U Core i7-8550U
Memory 4GB 4GB 8GB 8GB 8GB 16GB
Storage 32GB 32GB 64GB 64GB 64GB 64GB
Price $239.99 $279.99 $449.99 $505.99 $571.99 $835.99

As proven in the chart, our evaluate unit has an Intel Core i5-8250U four-core processor with an built-in UHD Graphics 620 part, 8GB of DDR4 reminiscence and 64GB of garage. It measures 5.94 (H) x 5.85 (D) x 1.57 (W) inches and weighs an insignificant 1.14 kilos with out the incorporated stand (1.21 kilos with the stand).

Out of sight, at all times in thoughts

Acer’s Chromebox is terribly small, so you’ll position it anyplace out of sight in the house or place of work in a vertical or horizontal place. It additionally ships with a VESA equipment for mounting on a wall, beneath a table, or on the again of a observe. It’s a phenomenal little gadget that’s inconspicuous and silent, with out all the loud bulkiness of a tower desktop PC.

Upon unboxing the equipment, you’ll to find the Chromebox smartly packed on the left facet, whilst the stressed out mouse, energy adapter, and VESA equipment are saved one by one to the proper. Pull the entirety out and also you’ll to find the incorporated stressed out keyboard tucked away in its personal compartment beneath.

Asus Chromebox CXI3

On the entrance, Acer’s Chromebox supplies two USB (5Gbps) ports, one microSD card slot and a 3.5mm audio jack for headphones. On the again it has one HDMI port, one Ethernet port, three USB (5Gbps) ports, and one USB Type-C (5Gbps) port. Wireless connectivity is composed of Bluetooth 4.2 LE and Wireless AC with a most velocity of 867Mbps (2×2). This unit makes use of a 90-watt energy provide.

Asus Chromebox CXI3

For cooling, Acer’s Chromebox remains chilled with a spinning fan you’ll most effective listen when the processor truly heats up. If you’re viewing the Chromebox horizontally, you’ll see an air consumption vent on the backside part of every curved facet whilst an extended exhaust vent is living at the again. If you place the Chromebox vertically, the stand comprises a gap so it doesn’t block airflow.

Asus Chromebox CXI3

Mouse and keyboard

There’s not anything truly fancy about the incorporated peripherals — they’re fundamental fashions and get the process performed. The mouse is a black two-button optical stressed out USB gadget, with a clickable mouse wheel and perforated aspects for a good grip. It’s a bit of massive for youngsters however a good length for adults.

Asus Chromebox CXI3 mouse

The keyboard is solely as fundamental. It has mechanical switches or backlit keys for cavedwellers. It’s a full-size stressed out USB peripheral that doesn’t tack on any needless further expense to the general ticket. It’s extraordinarily light-weight too.

Asus Chromebox CXI3 keyboard

While the Chromebox’s small shape issue invitations you to take it on the street to occasions and trade conferences, the peripherals are designed for desktop use, to not be saved in combination in a briefcase. Acer sells quite a lot of compact, mobile-friendly peripherals right here for higher portability.

Software

The Chromebox runs on the identical Chrome OS as Chromebooks. It’s an running gadget in response to Linux that makes use of the Chrome browser interface and basically makes a speciality of web-based Chrome apps — no set up required. It’s an especially light-weight, safe platform and it calls for little or no on-device garage.

Chrome OS now additionally helps Google Play and Android apps, which you do want to obtain and set up. This is a brilliant promoting level for patrons with massive Android app libraries, however toughen is a piece in development. Not all apps will paintings accurately on all Chrome OS units. Many apps you personal merely don’t seem to be appropriate and even display up on the retailer. While some Android apps would possibly seem appropriate and run on Chrome OS units, they’re most likely extremely optimized for telephones, require contact or stylus enter, or forget about sport controllers.

Chrome OS is perfect used for internet apps and perusing, although the addition of restricted Android app toughen can turn out to be useful.

Since you’ll probably run Android apps on this, understand that efficiency could have not anything to do with . Unoptimized code written for a completely other non-Intel processor structure, running gadget, and display length can impact issues dramatically. Right now, working Android apps on Chrome OS is hit and miss, whether or not it’s a Chromebook or a Chromebox.

That stated, there’s without a doubt one factor you’ll rely on software-wise: no bloatware.

Asus Chromebox CXI3

Processor efficiency

Despite the eighth-generation label, Intel’s Core i5-8250U is a four-core processor in response to a elegant seventh-generation design launched in the Fall of 2017. It used to be a part of the first eighth-generation wave focused on ultra-thin notebooks. The “U” suffix interprets to “ultra-low energy,” and manner this is largely a cellular CPU now stuffed right into a small shape issue enclosure to run an especially light-weight running gadget.

The four cores run at a base velocity of 1.60GHz and a most velocity of 3.40GHz, drawing round 15 watts of energy. The chip additionally features a UHD Graphics 620 part with a base velocity of 300MHz and a most velocity of 1.10GHz. This miniature Chromebox does no longer come with a stand-alone graphics chip.

There’s no denying it, this Chromebox has quite a few energy beneath its hood

That stated, we ran it via Geekbench, the place it scored a 4,393 in the single-core check — higher than the Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Pro 6 when configured with the identical processor. Other recorded benchmarks equivalent to the Dell XPS 13 9360 and the HP ProEbook 450 G5 display a an identical efficiency distinction. In truth, in keeping with the Geekbench stats, this Chromebox displays a single-core efficiency matching the Asus VivoBook 15 X510UR with Windows 10 Home.

On the multi-core entrance, Intel’s chip scored a 11,155 in the multi-core check, which goes Dell’s Inspiron 5379, Inspiron 7373, and Acer’s personal Swift 5 (SF514-52T) (the Chromebox’s single-core check if truth be told outperforms the Swift 5). Acer’s Chromebox falls in the back of the Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Pro 6 wearing the identical processor in multi-core efficiency trying out.

We additionally ran benchmarks urged through Acer, which equipped us with anticipated efficiency levels for every check. They’re all web-based benchmarks, which the Chromebox performed as anticipated, if no longer higher than Acer’s absolute best numbers. Here are our effects:

Regardless of a lot of these numbers and comparisons, Acer’s Chromebox simply feels speedy, because of the mixture of Intel’s chip, numerous reminiscence, and Google’s light-weight web-based running gadget. The Chrome browser launches close to instantaneously, with web page loading velocity mainly restricted through your wi-fi connection. The Google Games app opened in four seconds. The web-based Google Drive opened in simply over two seconds. The multiplayer sport Shadowgun Legends started its loading procedure in seven seconds.

Backing up the processor, light-weight running gadget, and speedy load instances is rapid SSD-based garage. Using PCMark, we examined the inside power and noticed an especially top sequential learn velocity, surpassing what the Lenovo Chromebook C330. The sequential write velocity used to be upper too at 128MB in line with 2nd.

Overall, Acer’s Chromebox is terribly speedy when loading each web-based and Android apps. Everything about this gadget is fast, from streaming video to loading paperwork to scrolling via the settings tucked away in the back of the gadget clock. Honestly, getting the Core i7 style with 16GB of reminiscence is also overkill.

Asus Chromebox CXI3

Graphics efficiency

As mentioned, Acer’s Chromebox depends on Intel’s built-in UHD Graphics 620 part. It helps a most 4,096 x 2,304 solution at 24Hz via the HDMI port and a most 4,096 x 2,304 solution at 60Hz the use of a DisplayPort cable hooked up to the USB Type-C port. Intel’s chip helps as much as three hooked up presentations.

We used Android-based benchmarks to check each the CPU and GPU. Given they are going to or is probably not absolutely optimized for Chrome OS and/or Intel processors, a couple of graphics checks we prior to now ran on Chromebooks with ARM-based processors (Qualcomm, MediaTek, and so forth) wouldn’t run accurately on Intel’s chip.

GFXBench Aztec RuinsVulcan-based checks and its Car Chase benchmark crashed at quite a lot of phases (out of reminiscence error). AnTuTu locked up the Chromebox mid-way via trying out. Some Android-based benchmarks nonetheless labored although.

Using the GFXBench Aztec Ruins High check, the Chromebox controlled a mean 21fps at our observe’s bizarre 1,680 x 1,002 solution — reasonably a bit of higher than Lenovo’s Chromebook C330, which runs on an ARM-based MediaTek MT8173c processor.

The Chromebox noticed a 45fps moderate in the Manhattan 3.1 check, whilst Lenovo’s Chromebook most effective hit a 17FPS moderate at a decrease solution. The T-Rex off-screen rendering check produced a 121fps moderate at 1080p.

3DMark produced the identical massive variations between Intel’s chip and MediaTek’s processor. The first Sling Shot Extreme check the use of OpenGL produced a mean of 28.6fps on the Chromebox — six instances the C330’s. In the non-extreme Sling Shot check, the Chromebox outperformed the Chromebook C330, the Asus Chromebook Flip C101PA, and Acer’s personal Pentium-powered Chromebook 15.

Take a destroy with somewhat gaming

For the worth, you sacrificing a integrated display and simple on-the-go portability for an especially tough processor in a small shape issue desktop. It’s no longer a gaming gadget, however you’ll get some respectable cellular gaming out of it. Again, your perfect guess for now’s to play Chrome internet apps, like the Legends sequence from Spacetime Studios or one thing an identical.

The MOGA Pro controller wouldn’t pair by way of Bluetooth and it wouldn’t paintings by way of USB. Even MOGA’s Android-based Pivot app wasn’t to be had on Google Play. We couldn’t get a stressed out or wi-fi Xbox One controller to paintings, however an older stressed out Rockcandy Xbox 360 controller carried out extraordinarily smartly with none problems. Additionally, keep an eye on compatibility numerous from sport to sport.

Much like with different apps, video games can run, however they’re no longer all optimized for massive monitors. Titan Quest performed superbly in its default windowed mode, with clean framerates. In full-screen mode, it didn’t scale correctly, scattering the UI throughout the complete display towards a black backdrop whilst the exact sport international took up simply the display’s backside left nook.

First-person shooter video games like Shadowgun Legends paintings higher in full-screen mode, however on-screen motion can impact the framerate. If you’ve performed Splatoon 2 on the Nintendo Switch, the town foyer framerate is very similar to the town foyer framerate observed in Shadowgun Legends. Shadowgun Legends most commonly labored with a controller, although a mouse works higher for the menus. It does no longer toughen complete mouse and keyboard gameplay.

Dead Trigger 2 used to be much less taxing, we skilled nice framerates in full-screen mode. You can use the mouse to navigate the consumer interface and foyer, however in-game motion is perfect performed with a controller.

Android choices like Order and Chaos 2, N.O.V.A. Legacy, the Modern Combat video games, and extra both aren’t recently appropriate with the Chromebox — some aren’t even indexed on Google Play for this gadget.

Asus Chromebox CXI3

A really perfect Windows substitute at an ideal worth

What’s abnormal about reviewing a Chromebox is there’s no show, battery, keyboard or trackpad to check — you most effective center of attention on the meat and potatoes. In this case, it’s an eighth-generation Intel processor that’s greater than in a position to turning in top efficiency to a light-weight platform. Anything greater than Intel’s ultra-low energy cellular processor would merely be overkill.

Acer’s Chromebook is zippy and extremely responsive. Unlike many cumbersome desktop answers, it sports activities a phenomenal look and simply blends into a house or place of work surroundings. You will also mount it out of sight and stay your center of attention on productiveness, relatively than a noisy, monstrous monolith sitting to your eyeline. There’s quite a few connectivity for exterior garage units, peripherals, and the incorporated mouse and keyboard.

Ultimately Acer markets this Chromebox to small and medium companies, nevertheless it’s additionally an ideal gadget for college students and normal consumers having a look to ditch Windows. If you’re on the lookout for a Windows desktop substitute, Acer’s Chromebox is a brilliant access into Google’s standard Chrome OS platform.

Buy the Asus Chromebox now

Next: Acer Chromebook Spin 13 evaluate: The perfect Chromebook, however at what price?

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