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::>Multimedia > 2014 > 09 > ASUS Chromebox CN60

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25-09-2014


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Minicomputer ASUS Chromebox CN60: review and testing

The rapid development of on-line-services and cloud service, together with the introduction of the operating system Chrome OS has led to the appearance of a new type of device, namely Chromebox. Its basic concept is that all the work, information exchange and data storage is carried out within the World Wide Web. The computer acts only as a hardware platform for Internet access, as well as support of the interface and the minimum required tasks.

Globally, this idea looks very interesting and promising. Judge for yourself: the cloud services has all the information you need access to which you can get from anywhere in the world. Software to work with it also is in the Internet. In this case, all the standards are unified and simplified as much as possible. It is very convenient. In addition, software developers promise us a great opportunity for the optimization of the hardware platform. Based on the above, the devices based on the browser operating system attract more and more attention. First steps in the development of this niche are doing the manufacturers of component. One of them is ASUS which has launched own version of Chromebox called ASUS Chromebox CN60.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

Chromebox CN60

CPU

Intel Core i7-4600U: 2 core (4 threads), 2100 MHz (3300 MHz in turbo mode), 4 МB of L3 cache, TDP - 15 W

Motherboard

-

RAM

2 x DDR3L-1600 MHz SK hynix HMT425S6AFR6A-PB (2 GB, 11-11-11)

Graphics adapter

Integrated graphics core Intel HD Grpahics 4400: 200 MHz (1100 MHz in turbo mode)

Drive

M.2 SSD SanDisk SDSA6MM-016G-1002 (16 GB)

Optical drive

No

Card-reader

Yes (supported cards MMC, SD)

PSU

External AC/DC-adapter (input: 100 - 240 V / 50 - 60 Hz / 1,5 А; output: +19 V / 3,42 А / 65 W)

Audio codec

Realtek ALC283

Network adapter

Realtek 8111G

Front panel interfaces

2 x USB 3.0

Back panel interfaces

2 x USB 3.0

1 x RJ45 (LAN)

1 x HDMI

1 x DisplayPort

1 х audio jacks

1 х DC-in (power input)

Dimensions

124 х 124 х 42 mm

Weight

600 g

Color

Black

OS

Chrome OS

Website

ASUS

Packaging and content

ASUS Chromebox CN60

Model ASUS Chromebox CN60 is shipped in a small cardboard box which protects its contents against damage. For easy transportation on top is a plastic handle. Packaging does not shine by informative content. The only thing that can be learned from it is the manufacturer of the CPU (Intel). Logo with the inscription «Chromebox» in the upper right corner reminds us that we are dealing not with a mini-computer, but with the solution running an operating system Chrome OS.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

Scope of supply includes:

  • external power supply in the form of AC/DC-adapter;
  • plastic construction with holes for standard VESA;
  • set of screws;
  • user’s manual.

These components are sufficient for connection and further operation of the device. In some versions of Chromebox there is also a set of wireless mouse and keyboard. However, if necessary it always can be purchased separately.

Design

ASUS Chromebox CN60

Mini-computer ASUS Chromebox CN60 is made in the form of a small square boxe with dimensions 124 x 124 x 42 mm. Due to this it can be placed almost anywhere. Fortunately, in addition to small size the device has a small weight only 600g.

The body is made from a practical matt black plastic. Under it there is iron frame, so the whole structure is quite robust and reliable. Build quality is also at a height: no excessively large gaps between panels or backlash during testing were observed. Thanks to the humble appearance and small size ASUS Chromebox CN60 perfectly fits into any room.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

The lower part is covered by plate with an abundance of vents. Here the corners have four rubber legs with height of a few millimeters. In principle, the device can be placed in vertical position, but in this case it will be less stable. In addition, you have the risk of scratching the furniture or the surface of the table.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

ASUS Chromebox CN60 is not equipped with standard fixtures VESA. To locate it on the back side of the monitor or TV you should use a special plastic construction from the delivery set.

Ergonomics and elements layout

ASUS Chromebox CN60

The only button that has Chromebox is put to end of the body. It is responsible for the device turning on and off. Above the button there is blue LED that signals about the activity ASUS Chromebox CN60.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

The front side has two high-speed connectors USB 3.0, which supports fast charging connected to mobile.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

The back panel has a lot of interfaces. In addition to two more ports USB 3.0 (without the above mentioned function), you can also detect the opening for connecting an external power supply, connector for the power cable, headphone output and two digital video interfaces: HDMI and DisplayPort.

Over the connectors is located another group of vents for hot air removal. Therefore, during the operation of the device it is necessary to ensure that nothing overlaps them.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

On one side there is a place for a lock Kensington and a card-reader that supports the most popular formats MMC and SD.

Internal layout and description of the hardware platform

ASUS Chromebox CN60

After opening the bottom cover, you can see a power metal structure under the plastic panels.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

Despite the density of the arrangement, the upper part of the device has relatively much space. It asks to install 2.5” drive.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

ASUS Chromebox CN60

The basis of a mini-computer is a printed circuit board with double-sided components layout. Unfortunately, we could not find its producer. Marking «DA0W1AMBAA0 REV: A» also did not clarified the picture.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

After dismantling the cooling system, you can get to the CPU Intel Core i7-4600U, which belongs to a series of energy-efficient mobile solutions of Intel Haswell. It includes two cores operating at a nominal frequency of 2100 MHz. In turbo mode, using the technology Intel Turbo Boost 2.0, it can go up to 3300 MHz. In this case, the processor TDP of only 15 W. The advantages of Intel Core i7-4600U include the presence of L3 cache with capacity of 4 MB and support of proprietary technology Hyper-Threading. All this will significantly increase your computer's performance in multithreaded applications.

For image display and processing of 2D/3D-graphics is responsible the integrated video core Intel HD Graphics 4400, which in the nominal operates at the frequency 200 MHz. However, if necessary it can automatically be overclocked up to 1100 MHz.

No less important node in this case is integrated memory controller. In this regard Intel Core i7-4600U is suitable for desktop counterparts: it has support of dual-channel modules of standard DDR3/DDR3L/LPDDR3 with operating frequency up to 1600 MHz. The maximum amount is 16 GB, but the bandwidth can reach 25.6 GB/s.

Such capabiitieswill be enough not only for surfing the internet or watching movies, but for more serious tasks.

It is also worth noting that the manufacturer has applied best practices in the field of mobile platforms. He placed the CPU and chipset in one BGA-case. This positively affects the level of power and heat consumption. Besides the exchange of data between the main components of the system is fastened. However, we could not be established the name of used chipset.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

RAM subsystem of mini-computer ASUS Chromebox CN60 consists of two SO-DIMM-modules SK hynix HMT425S6AFR6A-PB of standard DDR3L with total capacity of 4 GB. The heart of each module is chips SK hynix H5TC4G63AFR-PBA, operating at a frequency of 1600 MHz (delay 11-11-11) and low voltage (1.35 V).

ASUS Chromebox CN60

SSD SanDisk SDSA6MM-016G of type M.2 is used as drive. Its storage capacity is equal to 16 GB, which, in our opinion is fairly small. Taking into account the fact that the ASUS Chromebox CN60 has no any additional drives, to store necessary information is used an external SSD/HDD-drives connected via connector USB.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

The nice bonuses include card reader to read memory card of standard MMC/SD and preset wireless module AzureWave AW-NB110H. The latter has the support of modes Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n (2,4 GHz/5 GHz) and Bluetooth 4.0.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

Wired network connection is organized on the basis of Gigabit controller Realtek 8111G. The codec Realtek ALC283 is responsible for audio output.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

The power converter is built on the 1-phase scheme. PWM controller is represented by chip TPS 51622A manufactured by company Texas Instruments. Taking into account the low power consumption of the processor, such a configuration of module VRM would be enough.

Cooling system

ASUS Chromebox CN60

To cool the processor and chipset is used a structure consisting of a heat sink with a copper base, which is blown by radial fan SUNON GB0555PDV1-A (power 5.5 W). Plastic casing helps to make better direct air flow along the aluminum fins, and remove it out of the case.

Fan is based on the bearing type Vapo, which is an improved version of the classic sliding bearing. Together with the "magnetic cushion" (technology MagLev) it should provide quiet and reliable operation of the turbine over a long period of time.

Power supply

ASUS Chromebox CN60

The power supply is made in the form of an external AC/DC-adapter with capacity 65 W and the following parameters:

  • input: 100 - 240V/50 - 60Hz/1,5 A;
  • output: +19 V/3.42 A.

In-use

Mini-computer ASUS Chromebox CN60 is the first device running under Chrome OS which has visited our lab. Therefore, we decided to investigate in more detail the capabilities of the operating system.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

Chrome OS, as you might guess from the title is developed by Google and is based on the popular browser Chrome. The specifics of this operating system are that it is entirely focused on the job in a mode «on-line». That is, without access to the internet Chrome OS almost completely loses its functionality.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

ASUS Chromebox CN60

Of course there is the traditional desktop, explorer, windows and folders, but the software that is capable to operate in a mode «off-line» is not enough. And it has a rather limited capacity compared to similar for other operating systems.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

ASUS Chromebox CN60

For example, the music player only plays tracks from the selected folder; setting of playlists, tag editing or equalizer is not available. The video player reads not all formats: video tape with extension .MKV or .AVC refused to play or sound was distorted. Also we could not find any free torrent client that could upload files using a service p2p.

A little better in this respect is the situation with office applications. Documents created in popular applications MS Word and MS Excel are opened without problems. Also there is the possibility of further editing.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

If there is access to the Internet the work in the operating system becomes more convenient, as there are always handy on-line-services developed by Google. By the way, buying a mini-computer ASUS Chromebox CN60 you will automatically receive 100 GB of cloud service Google Drive, paid for 2 years in advance.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

If the capabilities of standard applications are not enough, then additional software can be downloaded from the online store Chrome Store. It is made like a similar service for smartphones and tablets Google Play. Note that there are both paid and free apps, as well as those who work in the mode of «off-line». With their help, you can significantly extend the functionality of the device and in most cases solve the shortcomings described above.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

Separately we want to say a few words about the games. We could not find full 3D-projects for Chrome OS in the Internet. Although we do not exclude that such will appear in the future with the increasing popularity of this operating system. At least, there are all prerequisites: API's and built-in processor graphics cores.

Now, basically all games are browser-based projects, which only work if you have access to the Internet. Most of them are platformer and strategy popular on Android-powered devices. Although some of them may work in a mode «off-line», such as the famous Angry Birds.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

Administration of operating system is greatly simplified. So, you do not have access to system resources and you cannot create a top-level folder. It is impossible even to configure system components through their drivers. Even the information about your PC is only general.

ASUS Chromebox CN60

A little help in the administration can be added by build in console, but it is unlikely an ordinary user wants to deal with it logs and study the available commands. There is a function of remote access to the desktop machine running under the operating system MS Windows. In the opposite direction, this feature is not available yet.

In general, Chrome OS is quite promising operating system, but it can not to compete with MS Windows, Mac OS or Linux. Binding to the internet severely limits its capability, and functional applications that run in a mode «off-line» is quite small. While on the other hand, to surf the Internet, edit documents, listen to music and display a simple video it would fit perfectly. Moreover, due to the presence of different kinds on-line-service and the services that are always at hand, in some cases Chrome OS may be even more convenient than its analogs.


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