The Chromebox CXI is a very compact package measuring 1.3 x 5.1 x 6.5 inches overall. The Intel NUC, on the other hand, is more of a squared off puck with 4.6 x 4.4 x 2 inch dimensions. The LG Chromebase is by far the largest device next to these two micro PCs, thanks to it's included 21.5-inch display. As such, you'll need to clear off some more room on your desk to make way for the 20.8 x 15.6 x 7.4 inch all-in-one.
Here is the Acer Chromebox CXI configuration given to TechRadar for review:
- CPU: 1.4GHz Intel Celeron 2957U (dual-core, 2MB cache)
- Graphics: Haswell Intel HD Graphics (200 -1000 MHz)
- RAM: 4GB DDR3 RAM
- Storage: 16 GB SSD
- Ports: 4 x USB 3.0, SD card reader, headphone/mic jack, Ethernet, DisplayPort, HDMI
- Connectivity: 802.11bgn with Bluetooth 4.0 + Low Energy
- Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Size: 1.3 x 5.1 x 6.5 inches (W x D x H)
For this review Acer, shipped us the top of the line version of the Chromebox CXI with 4GB of RAM – double the base unit's still decent 2GB of memory – which normally retails for $219 (£195, AU$359). Both of these configurations share the same 1.4GHz Intel Celeron 2957U processor with integrated HD graphics, and 16GB of SSD storage.
For a higher-end system the Chromebox is also available with an Intel Core i3-4030U processor, which Acer claims can drive 2K (2048 x 1536) and 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution displays. The CXI-i34GKM comes with 4GB memory and retails for $349 (about £229, AU$447), meanwhile, the Acer Chromebox CXI-i38GKM sports 8GB memory for $399.99 (about £261, AU$511).
The LG Chromebase, unsurprisingly, comes at a much steeper $319 (£250, AU$599) premium on Amazon. However, dropping the extra 100 clams nets you a decent 1,920 x 1,080 IPS panel outfitted with a very similar 1.4GHz Intel Celeron 2955U processor with 16GB of SSD storage, but only 2GB of RAM.
Users looking for a completely barebones computing experience can pick up the Intel NUC DN2820FYKH for $134 (£99, AU$159) at Newegg. It's the cheapest device in this bunch, but keep in mind it only comes with the hardware inside, which includes a 2.13GHz Intel Celeron N2820 processor with 1GB of RAM, and that's it. Users will have to supply their own keyboard, mouse, screen, operating system and even the storage device.
Despite being powered by just an 1.4GHz Intel Celeron chip, the Acer Chromebox CXI is no slouch. The compact computer handily kept up with an intense web browsing session in which I opened 30 Chrome tabs open across three browser windows while streaming Google Play Music and editing images in yet another window streaming the Photoshop beta for Chrome OS.
The Acer Chromebox also had no problems driving a 1,920 x 1,200 display and playing YouTube clips, Jack Reacher on Netflix or local HD files I had on tap.
After living a week mostly using just Chrome OS, the Acer Chromebox CXI proved to be solid for micro computer at home and work life. There still a few notable omissions in Google's cloud-based world – most notably gaming and media playback – that will make a Chrome OS desktop unappealing to all users.
But for those who need a no frills home computing experience for relatively little money, the Acer Chromebase CXI is an easily recommended option.
The Acer Chromebox CXI is an attractive little system. The Chrome OS desktop's inherently small shape makes it easy to place anywhere on or off a desk already littered with electronics. What's more, if you have a spare screen on hand, this is an affordable way to add yet another capable computer to the house.
I was pleasantly surprised with how well the Chromebox CXI handled itself despite running with some rather meager components. Whether it was opening 30 Chrome tabs, streaming 1080p YouTube videos or editing images in the Photoshop streaming beta, this little rig rose to the challenge and performed admirably.
I only have a few nitpicky issues with the Chromebox CXI. The position of the ports could use bit of revision, especially with the headphone port being located around back. Additionally, it's hard to hide the power cord. And finally, the small fan on the back of the Chromebox can wind up to an annoying whir in a quiet room.
The Acer Chromebox CXI was made with affordability with mind for users whose digital lives gravitate to the web, and it delivers spectacularly on this promise. For $219 (£195, AU$359), this compact Chrome desktop comes at a major bargain compared to building your own mini computer.
Of course, users who don't have a spare display lying around should look to the LG Chromebase for a more complete all-in-one PC package. Conversely, the barebones NUC comes with the absolute bare minimum leaving users with greater freedom, and expense, to supply all the other essentials, including everything from a storage drive and OS to the keyboard and mouse.
The Acer Chromebox CXI fits into a neat middle ground. It's the perfect device for users who want a smaller device that they can plug into nearly any screen and peripheral setup, with the simplicity of Chrome OS.