While Chromebooks get all the love -- and the vast majority of sales -- manufacturers are still trying to bring Chrome to your desktop with Chromeboxes. Acer has committed to Chrome PCs more than most, and it's continuing that support with a pair of new models.
As with Chromebooks, Chromeboxes have become increasingly more powerful over the years, despite the promise of the Chrome OS needing minimal specs to run efficiently. Whereas ARM or Intel Atom processors were once sufficient, Acer has emphasized adding higher-performance chips to its Chrome devices, being the first to add an Intel Haswell processor to a Chromebook and the first to use an Intel Core i3 chip in a Chromebook.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Acer's new Chromeboxes are equipped with Haswell (or fourth-generation) Core i3 processors -- in this particular case, the dual-core i3-4030U. In its press release, Acer touts its power and energy efficiency, though the Haswell generation has already been supplanted by the Broadwell processor family. Nonetheless, the Haswell Core i3 should provide more than enough performance to run Chrome OS.
Likewise, whereas Chromebooks and and Chromeboxes used to come with 2GB of RAM in most cases, manufacturers have more recently bumped that total up on some systems, and Acer's new Chromebox CXI models are no exception. The CXI-i34GKM ships with 4GB of RAM, while the CXI-i38GKM includes a whopping 8 gigs of memory, as much as a mainstream Windows desktop often comes with.
One spec that has mostly stayed the same is built-in storage capacity. With the Chrome OS heavily dependent on the cloud, there's not a huge need for hundreds of gigabytes of local storage. These Chromeboxes each include a mere 16GB solid-state drive, though they also feature an SD card slot for additional capacity. As the picture above shows, the units are VESA mountable so they can be hidden away behind your monitor.
You can subscribe to Google's Management Console for remote managing of multiple Chromeboxes, such as mass deployment of apps. A Powerwash features allows the new Chromebox CXIs to be wiped clean and restored to factory defaults with a single button push, and the included Trusted Platform Module 1.2 chip encrypts the user's data.
Acer's new Chromeboxes aren't quite dirt cheap, but their pricing is in line with many low-end small-form-factor PCs. The CXI-i34GKM is now available for $349.99, while the CXI-i38GKM costs $50 for twice the RAM.