Aopen Chromebox Mini 2: What is an 'Enterprise' Chromebox?

Aopen Chromebox Mini 2
(Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand)

If you think about it, a Chromebox is a weird product. They make for a great desktop computer for most people, excelling at things like web browsing, social media, online shopping, and entertainment. If you want a cheap and easy-to-use computer for your living room so you can watch Netflix and browse Instagram on a big screen, a Chromebox is great.

The drawback is that they're not mobile; a good Chromebook and USB-C Hub does everything a Chromebox can do and has the benefit of being able to unplug everything and go along with you.

Having said that, there are a few reasons why a Chromebox could be a better choice. The Aopen Chromebox Mini 2 excels at both because of how it was designed and built: its made for enterprise applications. 

Very few people in a Fortune 500 company use a Chromebox as a server or desktop, so what does that mean? A look at the Chromebox Mini 2 tells the story.

 A typical Chromebox


(Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

Using the Chromebox Mini 2 is like using any other modestly spec'd Chromebox. It runs the Chrome Browser like a champ, having plenty of memory for literally hundreds of open tabs.

Support for two 4K monitors means the video looks great. The Celeron processor isn't the strongest chip out there, but it has adequate power for decoding streaming media or any other sort of entertainment you can imagine while being efficient—it isn't going to get too hot.

Because it runs the same Chrome OS as every other Chromebox, you have support for many Android applications as well as Chrome-centric apps. If that's not enough for you, many Linux apps will install and run great, thanks to the Intel X86 architecture. 

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CategoryAopen Chromebox Mini 2
ProcessorIntel Celeron N4500
Memory8GB Dual Channel DDR4
Storage32GB emmc
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
Ports5x USB 3.0 / 2x HDMI / 1x USB-C / 1x Gigabit RJ45 / 2x Antenna connectors / Combo Audio / Kensington lock
Onboard Backup BatteryYes
Dimensions159 x 119 x 32 mm
Additional featuresFanless design / External Power Switch / APAR Auto-Recovery / MIL-STD-810H Certification / 50,000 Hour MTBF / 3-year Warranty

You could use the Chromebox Mini 2 the same way you use any other Chromebox. From a software and usability point of view, not much stands out. Chromeboxes, no matter the manufacturer, are all designed to work the same seamless way and have mostly the same set of features.

So what makes a Chromebox "Enterprise-grade?" Are companies really using these? How? Why? That's a lot of questions, and a few of the Chromebox Mini 2's features tell the entire story.

Ready for business

Aopen Chromebox Mini 2

(Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand)

Buried among the specs are a few things that you won't find on most Chromeboxes or Chromebooks. Let's have a look at each for a better idea of what makes the Chromebox Mini 2 ready for commercial use:

MIL-STD, fanless construction. The Chromebox Mini 2's body is a solid chunk of aluminum that acts as a heatsink. Combined with a low-power chip like the Celeron N4500, that means as long as you provide ambient air, it's never going to overheat. 

50,000-Hour MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures). That means the Chromebox Mini 2 was designed to run for 5.7 years without interruption. Attach the power supply to a UPS solution, and it will run until it's time to be replaced five years from now.

External Power Switch. The front panel has a set of connectors, so a normally open remote switch can be wired in. This will act as a power button that you can mount remotely, allowing the Chromebox Mini 2 to be placed out of the reach of curious fingers like mine.

 APAR (AC Power Auto Recovery). If the Chromebook Mini 2 loses power, it will return to the state it was in once power is restored. The board has a rechargeable battery and software to enable this, eliminating the need for a technician to be present during start-up.

Aopen Chromebox Mini 2

(Image credit: Aopen)

You've probably seen a Windows error screen on a sign or menu somewhere. These features are all designed to make sure you only see what a company wants you to see.

You'll find Chromeboxes used for things like POS terminals and control/informational displays in factories. But they're really popular for powering digital signs. You may not know it, but you've likely seen a sign or menu powered by a Chromebox because it's easy to set up and well-designed for the task.

When you hear the words "enterprise Chromebox" this is what you should think of. Commercial grade is probably a better term because a Chromebox is perfect for many commercial applications. One designed especially for the task, like the Chromebox Mini 2, makes things even better.

A simple-to-understand but common scenario: I want to place a menu above the bar in my establishment. The best way to do it is to create a simple backend that builds a viewable webpage in any browser because it's easy to make quick adjustments.

If I place a Chromebox behind a large display, I can point the browser to that webpage. I can even use two monitors for another view, an ad, or a menu at the other end of the bar. 

If I can wire a remote switch, know that I won't have to attach a keyboard and do anything if it accidentally loses power. Know it will run for five years without any issues and that you won't ever have to worry about cleaning a dusty fan intake. When things aren't more expensive—the Chromebox Mini 2 retails for $260—I know which model I am buying.

Also ready for your living room

"Hulu on Disney Plus" announcement.

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

You probably don't own an establishment with a bar, so you don't need a digital sign or menu. But I'll bet you own a television. Everything that makes the Chromebox Mini 2 perfect for a business also makes it great for your entertainment center.

Maybe you have gone all-out with a surround system and built-in audio receiver stored inside a dedicated media cabinet in your house. Or maybe you just have a big television on a stand in the living room. A Chromebox is a great way to make the most out of it all.

With a Bluetooth or wireless keyboard combo remote, you should have a full desktop-class web browser attached to your television and audio system that's also a Chromecast target. I love my Nvidia Shield TV and use one in the bedroom, but this is how I control my media in the living room.

It would be great to have a Chromebox that never needs to be dusted and will run forever as long as I give it a little bit of air. I could even wire in a switch mounted on the outside of the cabinet, allowing me to mount the Chromebox to the television or inside a cabinet out of sight. 

I get access to streaming services and my own media, minimal network latency thanks to an Ethernet connection, and a great 4K picture on the television I spent too much money on.

An Enterprise Commercial Chromebox is just what I've been looking for I just never wanted to spend more money for one. Now I don't have to.

This isn't a "regular" review of the Chromebox Mini 2. If it were, I'd tell you that if you need a Chromebox and are interested in any of the extra features designed for commercial use, this one is for you. Five stars all the way.

Aopen Chromebox Mini 2: $260 at CDW

Aopen Chromebox Mini 2: $260 at CDW

Built as an Enterprise Chromebox, the Mini 2 is designed to be tough and worry-free. It delivers everything a Chromebox has to offer and more at a reasonable price.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.