Chrome OS is one of the world’s most popular operating systems, and it hasn’t achieved this status without a good number of convincing reasons. It comes preinstalled on specialized devices called Chromebooks. We’re sure you’re already well aware of if you’ve been following our site and small-scale, portable, and highly compact computers called Chromeboxes. The latter paves the way to provide a desktop Chrome OS experience on a workstation.
While the words Chromeboxes and Chromebooks may sound synonymous, they aren’t. People who have gotten enticed by this sleek operating system often run into an impasse when deciding which type of Chrome OS running device they should get. Is a Chromebook capable enough to meet their requirements, or can they do great with a Chromebox instead?
This guide will go over all you need to know about a Chromebox and how it mainly differs from Chromebooks.
What is a Chromebox?
To perfectly understand the concept behind a Chromebox, think of it as a computer that has Chrome OS installed on it. If we divide the word Chromebox, we get “Chrome” and “Box.” Chrome refers to Chrome OS—the lightweight operating system we all know and love, while “Box” is a hint toward PC.
Chromebox devices are usually small and boast a portable form factor despite being exempt from an internal battery and subsequent charging pangs. You can hook up Chromeboxes to a power source, connect the relevant cables, and transform your monitor into a Chrome OS desktop.
The prospect is quite similar to a full-fledged Windows PC in terms of the working mechanism, but there are substantial differences between the two operating systems. The very first Chromebox surfaced in 2012, which was more or less a decade ago. Since then, several manufacturers have focused their attention on these neat little gadgets while starting to come out with more technically enhanced Chromeboxes.
That is to say, each Chromebox has its technical specifications or hardware components, you can presume. You’ll find the configuration of these PCs going as specced-out as having an Intel Core i7 processor with a 16 GB RAM and 64 GB storage setup. On the contrary, there are purchasable Intel Celeron-powered Chromeboxes, too, with minimal specifications. The developers analyze the market and release products accordingly.
Users purchase Chromeboxes while putting their requirements first, gauging how much hardware power they genuinely need to employ one of these devices. As advancement is starting to manifest now that we’re in the ripe tech-forward age of 2022, we’re beginning to see highly enhanced Chromeboxes in the market take shape today.
Furthermore, a Chromebox is loaded to the brim with ports depending on the model. It allows users to form wired connections using their keyboard, mouse, and other peripherals, while Bluetooth-based wireless functionality is already a norm in Chrome OS. Last but not least, a Chromebox also supports wireless printing.
Now that you have a brief idea of what actually are Chromeboxes and how they genuinely function, let’s get on with the main differences between them and Chromebooks.
- In the meantime, though, we encourage you to check out the best Acer Chromeboxes that you can buy in 2022.
How do Chromeboxes differ from Chromebooks?
We’ve rounded up the following factors determining major differences between Chromeboxes and Chromebooks.
A Chromebook is a laptop that runs Chrome OS. It comes preconfigured from the manufacturer’s end and comprises a certain set of technical specifications. Being a laptop, Chromebooks have a dedicated display, a set of speakers, and house rechargeable batteries inside them. Although it’s another thing that a Chromebook is charmingly adept at being power-efficient and lasting users 8-12 hours of runtime on a single full charge.
In the other corner of the ring, we have Chromeboxes. Now first off, these aren’t laptops by any means. A Chromebox, as iterated earlier, is simply a PC that you can connect with an external monitor or any other capable device to transform into a desktop operating system. While these minimalistic computers aren’t as universally acclaimed as Chromebooks, they do prove to be nothing short of excellent for dishing out reliable performance daily.
It might surprise you to know this, but Chromeboxes are usually more upgradable pieces of hardware in a direct comparison with Chromebooks. Usually, these desktop Chrome OS PCs comprise a more excellent port selection, including a cooling fan and a specialized heatsink. Given that Chromeboxes are constantly plugged into a power source, there’s little to no thermal throttling that these devices undergo.
Thermal throttling or dynamic frequency scaling is a power-conserving measure taken by CPUs. The idea is to decrease the performance levels at specific periods during the computing process so more power can be saved for later use. This is commonplace for laptops, including Chromebooks, but not for a Chromebox, which is permanently attached to a power outlet and therefore doesn’t need to reserve anything.
Popularity and availability
While Chromebooks have gained a strong foothold in the market and come in all shapes and sizes, Chromeboxes are still relatively niche. They have a fewer variety of purchasable models available. Chromebooks have been around longer than Chromeboxes, probably about a year earlier than the release of the first Chromebox.
Their highly versatile form factor, availability, and easy accessibility have made Chromebooks stand out in a space dominated by Microsoft Windows laptops and Apple’s macOS devices. A Chromebook provides an exceptional option for users to experience fast networking, tip-top security, and the world of Android applications all merged within a single computer.
Topping that off is the widespread affordability of Chrome OS, and you’ve got yourself a real winner here. Chromeboxes, on the other hand, aren’t exceedingly well-known, mainly because not many manufacturers are developing these devices in countless numbers. You don’t get a lot of options to choose from when you’re out in the market to buy a Chromebox, but that may change down the road someday.
With that being said, it’s blatantly clear which device, either a Chromebook or a Chromebox is more popular and universally available. At Chrome Ready, we’ve compiled tons of different best-Chromebook-oriented articles that you can feel free to look at for more details. Doing so should hint at how Chromebooks are simply unmatched when it purely boils down to distribution and availability in the market.
The following are links to some of the listicles we’ve covered over time, showcasing the firm grasp of Chromebooks in the PC market today:
- Top 10 Chromebooks with best trackpads
- Top 10 Chromebooks for best performance
- Top 10 Chromebooks with best keyboards
- Top 5 Chromebooks with best displays
Chromebooks are well-regarded for how flexible and portable they are in the computing world. Quite impressively, a heavy chunk of all Chromebooks weigh somewhere around the 1.5-3 pounds range and are exceptionally sleek and comfortable to carry. In addition, you’ll find some of these devices have a detachable form factor. The keyboard can come off and allow you to use the Chromebook screen in a specialized tablet mode with dedicated controls.
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet and the Asus CM3 Detachable are two solid examples in this case. However, bearing in mind all that, you cannot beat how portable Chromeboxes are. These are exceedingly compact and small and miniature-sized PCs that you can even carry around in your pocket. Chromeboxes provide a full-fledged desktop operating experience without packing a lot of body with them.
Chrome OS measures up to be a highly feature-rich operating system as time progresses, thanks to the swath of updates Google regularly drops for it. However, a bit of confusion sparks when you decide to opt for Chrome OS, mainly between Chromebooks and Chromeboxes.
In this guide, we’ve outlined the major differences between the two different devices, so you can acknowledge them and realize the perfect fit for your use case. We hope that you’ve found this helpful article for your cause. Chrome Ready wishes you good luck!