ASUS Chromebox 3 2020 HeroSource: ASUS

Best Chromebox Android Central 2020

The ASUS Chromebox 3 is the best Chromebox you can buy right now. It's available in several configurations, but all models feature a true M.2 SATA SSD for years of worry-free storage and upgradability should you need it. If you're more interested in Chromebooks for using Chrome OS on the go, Check out the best Chromebooks where you'll find something that fits you and your style.

Best Overall: ASUS Chromebox 3

ASUS Chromebox 3 2020 LifestyleSource: ASUS

The Chromebox 3 is ASUS' newest model, and it's one of the company's best ever. You can get the base model for less than $300, but we think the N019U model, with a faster processor and more memory, hits the sweet spot of price versus features — all for just a couple hundred bucks more. All models come with a full set of ports for connection to monitors or televisions — including current-generation USB-C ports — so you can use your favorite mouse and keyboard or an external storage drive filled with movies.

The ASUS Chromebox 3 is a Chromebox for the whole family that's future-proof, secure, and dependable. We do have a few issues — there isn't any compatibility with Windows apps and there aren't any internal speakers (so you'll need to pay extra). This might be an issue if you're on a budget since the higher-end models are still expensive compared to others on the market. However, based on what you get in terms of features, you can't go wrong here.

Pros:

  • Desktop-class Intel Core processors
  • High-speed DDR4 RAM
  • User-upgradable hard drive
  • Legacy HDMI and USB connections
  • SD card reader

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No internal speakers
  • No compatibility with Windows apps
  • Base model is a bit underpowered

Best Overall

ASUS Chromebox 3

The best for everyone

You'll be able to browse the web, shop online, do your taxes, or even play a game with the Chromebox 3 and stay safe and secure.

Power Users: Acer CXI3 Chromebox

Acer CXI3 Chromebox LifesyleSource: Acer

Acer's Intel Core i3 CX13 Chromebox bundle is perfect for the user who wants a little more without worrying about choosing between models or upgrading things themselves.

Inside you'll find Intel's 8th-generation Core i3 processor, 8GB of DDR4 memory, and a 64GB solid-state drive (SSD) (it's worth noting that the memory and storage aren't upgradeable after purchase). Outside you'll find a vertical mounting option to save desk real-estate and a chrome-customized keyboard and mouse. You'll pay a little more than the base model of our top pick, but you'll also notice the difference when it comes to daily usage.

Pros:

  • Fast CPU and plenty of RAM
  • Chrome OS keyboard and mouse included
  • Vertical stand saves desk space

Cons:

  • More power means a higher price tag
  • Storage and RAM isn't upgradeable

Power-User Ready

Acer CX13 Chromebox

Fast and ready to go

If you want a power-user configured Chromebox without opening the case it's a great option.

Total Package: CTL Chromebox Bundle

CTL Chromebox bundleSource: CTL

If you would rather grab one box with everything you need — including a hard-to-find Chrome customized keyboard — then this setup from CTL is a great buy.

Besides a fully configurable Chromebox complete with Google Play Store access, you'll find a 22-inch 1080p display, a custom Chrome keyboard, and Logitech mouse. With the Chromebox VESA mounted to the back of the monitor, this makes for an ultra-clean desktop.

Pros:

  • Excellent price
  • Monitor, keyboard, and mouse included
  • Chromebox comes VESA mounted to the monitor

Cons:

  • The base model monitor is only 1080p
  • Storage isn't upgradeable

Total Package

CTL Chromebox and 22-inch display bundle

It's all in the box

CTL offers a Chromebox you can configure VESA mounted to a high-quality 22-inch IPS display, a keyboard, and a mouse at a great price.

Is it a good time to buy a Chromebox?

Yes! Chrome is constantly getting new features that make it more usable as a desktop and a Chromebox is the best way to experience it. By being a device that's always plugged in you don't have near the thermal throttling that you would find in a Chromebook with a monitor and keyboard attached and the result is a better experience from the same class of specs.

Google supports Chromeboxes with automatic updates for a whopping six years and it's not hard to update them yourself after the official support is over so a purchase now will be good for years to come. If you want a desktop operating system with a world-class browser, the best security, and plenty of apps and games available through Google Play you can't go wrong with a Chromebox.

Bottom line

The ASUS Chromebox 3 is what we've always wanted to see in a Chromebox. Models and prices for everyone are available, and every configuration has the ports and power you need to have a great experience while staying secure and up to date with Google's Chrome software. We think it's the very best Chromebox for everyone.

If you would rather grab one box with everything you need — including a 22-inch display — then the CTL Chromebox bundle is a great buy. It's plug and play!

The best upgrades

A Chromebox is great, but one thing makes our top pick even better — it's user-upgradable. While you can't swap out the CPU or mainboard, the RAM and hard drive are simple to swap using guides you'll find on the internet. here's the right gear to buy.

More RAM

Crucial 16GB Kit (2 x 8GB) DDR4-2400 SODIMM Memory

The Right Stuff

Finding the right RAM is harder than actually upgrading it. This is the right RAM and with 16GB of it your Chromebox will fly!

More Storage

Crucial MX500 500GB 3D NAND SATA M.2 Type 2280SS Internal SSD

Oodles of room

This M.2 SATA drive will snap right in to your Chromebox 3 and with its 500GB of space you'll have room for all the memes you want to download.

Get a mouse

Logitech Pebble M350 Mouse

Slim and sleek

The Logitech Pebble M350 is rather impressive given its size, 18-month battery life, and the ability to connect via Bluetooth or through Logitech's Unifying Receiver.

Made for Chrome

Logitech K580 for Chrome OS

All the right buttons

Chrome OS has some unique keyboard shortcuts, and while you can use the F keys on any keyboard, having a model with the right keycaps can make your life easier.

The Big screen

Acer R240HY IPS Monitor

All the display you need

You'll need a monitor to actually see what your Chromebox is doing, and that's where the Acer R240HY steps in. It has a good screen size, ample resolution, and keeps costs nice and low.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Jerry Hildenbrand is Mobile Nation's Senior Editor and works from a Chromebook full time. Currently, he is using Google's Pixelbook but is always looking at new products and may have any Chromebook in his hands at any time. You'll find him across the Mobile Nations network and you can hit him up on Twitter if you want to say hey.

Andrew Martonik is the Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central. He has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days, and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at AC since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at andrew.martonik@androidcentral.com or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.

Daniel Bader is the Managing Editor of Android Central. As he's writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there's a correlation.

Andrew Myrick is a regular freelancer at Android Central. He has been a tech enthusiast ever since the original iPhone was released and continues to flip-flop between devices. You might as well hook him up to an IV filled with coffee to get him through the day. If you have any questions, you can find him on Twitter or browsing Reddit.

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