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How to: Hacking a Chromebox for limit performance

Samsung Chromebox

Google’s brazen pull with Chrome OS has been delayed and steady. They’ve expelled several new pieces of hardware, giving companies some-more options to select from. Most recently, Samsung and Google offering a desktop resolution with a Chromebox Series 3.

This $330 small form-factor desktop is utterly a package. It offers tons I/O, including a span of HDMI ports and DVI, 4GB of RAM, and an Intel Core i5 CPU, creation this Chromebox significantly some-more absolute than prior Chrome OS hardware. Still, with a square of hardware like a Chromebox, we start to consternation what is indeed going on in that small box.

Breaking into a Chromebox

I was over astounded to find that it requires positively no bid to open a Chromebox. You don’t need tools, and we don’t unequivocally even need to know what we are doing. The bottom vessel pulls right off, it’s not even reason in with clips. As distant as we could tell, there’s not a singular “warranty VOID if removed” stickers anywhere on a device, so we motionless to take a serve demeanour and see what was going on.

Once we non-stop a cover, we could see that all on a house was mounted with unchanging Phillips screws. No special collection indispensable — we could take a Chromebox detached with an eyeglass correct pack if we wanted to.

Samsung Chromebox

It didn’t take me prolonged to comprehend that fundamentally all was removable and replaceable. This enclosed a Intel Core i5 processor, a span of 2GB RAM cards, and a 16GB mSATA SSD on a other side of a board. The Atheros WiFi label was replaceable, and even a USB 2.0 label was usually screwed into place. It seems like, notwithstanding a stipulations of Chrome OS as an handling system, a Samsung Chromebox had some critical potential.

In fact a usually critical reduction was a energy supply, and that is usually a reduction for as prolonged as we wanted a Chromebox to say a strange form factor. So presumption that we did wish to keep all in this small box, and presumption that we still wanted to run Chrome OS for now, we motionless to give a RAM and a SSD on this appurtenance an upgrade.

16GB of RAM… since we can

The span of 2GB RAM cards that came with a Chromebox are some-more than adequate to run Chrome OS. In fact, unless we accumulate your possess chronicle of Chrome OS, a limit that a handling complement can support is 4GB. If you’re a form to wish to dual-boot with Linux, or usually blow divided Chrome OS altogether, maybe you’d like some some-more RAM.

Thanks to a group during Kingston, we perceived dual 8GB sticks of DDR3-1333 SODIMM RAM to put in a Chromebox. If all we are doing is putting some-more RAM in a box, there’s unequivocally small left for we to do. The helmet leaves a RAM exposed, and they usually cocktail right out. Replace a RAM and you’re all finished — it’s as easy as upgrades get.

Samsung Chromebox

Supersize a storage

The SSD is on a other side of a board, so that requires a small some-more work. The helmet comes off unequivocally quickly, exposing a board. From here we need to undo a orator and energy supply, both of that come out unequivocally easily. You need to unscrew a Atheros WiFi label and detach it from a house too, though we can leave all else attached. When we unscrew a motherboard from a cosmetic ascent frame, a whole house rises out unequivocally simply. Here we have a whole computer, sans energy supply and WiFi, on a singular board.

Flip a house over and we will see a SSD connected to a mSATA port. With a singular screw a open installed pier releases a chip, and allows we to slip another in a place. we put a Kingston SSDNow mS100 64GB SSD in a place, usually to give us a small some-more bend room for installing a OS and a few programs. The new section slides right into place and screws behind down. Everything on this house looks like it was intentionally designed to be intensely user serviceable.

Final Thoughts

We’ve unequivocally usually scratched a aspect of what this box is indeed able of. There’s an dull mSATA port, for example, that could reason anything from another SSD to USB 3.0. The heatsink and a processor are both totally removable, that means we could put an Intel PGA988 quad-core Core i7 processor in there if we unequivocally felt a urge. In fact, a i7 would substantially make it so we could implement some-more than 16GB of RAM. Chances are that many of these modifications would surpass a capabilities of a small energy supply that is offered, not to discuss a surrounding would expected no longer be sufficient for your use.

Samsung Chromebox

The open inlet of this hardware lends itself unequivocally easily to Google’s early declarations that they wanted a hardware height to be easy for complement administrators to manage. With boxes like these, it would be zero to reinstate tools that were shop-worn over time, generally when these pieces need unequivocally small ability or time to install. All told, replacing a RAM and SSD usually took about 20 minutes, and that was but ever carrying finished this before. With experience, swapping hardware on a Chromebox would take positively no time or effort.

As we pierce ever closer towards hermetic computing, with machines that don’t unequivocally have user workable parts, opening a Samsung Chromebox was a exhale of uninformed air. The subsequent step is rather some-more complicated. Since a Chromebox lacks a standard BIOS, there are usually hacks and workarounds for removing something other than Chrome OS on a system. Recently, ExtremeTech showed us how to dual-boot Chrome OS and Ubuntu, and if we demeanour around in some of a Google Groups for Chrome OS it looks like support for crazy people like me isn’t that distant away.

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