Should your next desktop PC be a Chromebox?

At $180 it's a hard deal to pass up

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Acer just announced a new Chrome-based desktop PC to sell for $180. That makes at least the third Chrome PC from a big-time PC vendor. Does it mean your next desktop computer should be a Chromebox?

The Acer Chromebox CXI has specs much like the Asus Chromebox. The older Samsung Chromebox, released in 2012, is higher end, more expensive, and Samsung has largely given up on it. In fact, if you check out the Samsung Chromebox's product page, you'll find this text at the very top: "Samsung recommends Windows." Not exactly a ringing endorsement for its own product.

So if you're looking for a desktop PC, and are considering a Chromebox, either the Acer or Asus is the one to get. Their specs are nearly identical, so for the purpose of this article, I'll write about the newer Acer Chromebox, although the same things hold true for it as do for the Asus one.

Price

This may be the biggest reason to buy a Chromebox: They're inexpensive. Only $180 for a full-blown PC? That's quite a deal, even if it doesn't come with a keyboard, monitor or mouse. And you don't need to worry that it'll be a laggard, because its specs match up nicely with the Chrome operating system.

Size

You can tuck the Acer Chromebox into a tiny space, considering that it's only 6.51 x 5.12 x 1.3 inches. You can even mount it onto the back of a monitor, so that it takes up no space at all.

Fast bootup

Chromeboxes boot up fast -- it takes the Acer only eight seconds. Compare that with bootup times of competing operating systems. And the Acer also has a nice feature called Powerwash, which let you wipe out all local data immediately. That makes it easy to repurpose.

Value

When you buy the Acer Chromebox you're not going to get cheapo hardware. There's an 1.4GHz Celeron Haswell processor, 2GB of RAM, a 16GB SSD hard disk, and 100GB of free Google Drive cloud storage. And you've got plenty of ports, including four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and DisplayPort, and a combo audio in/out jack. There's also an SD card reader. and two of the USB ports still have power even when you're turned off your Chromebox. That way, you can use it to recharge tablets and cell phones.

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