In short: Oregon computer manufacturer CTL has a new variant of its Chromebox CBx1 - the CBx1 Core i7 version - that offers top-tier specs and is available for pre-order now for just $599. As its name suggests, the most notable feature of the new CTL Chromebook CBx1 is its use of an 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8550U processor. That's a quad-core CPU that starts with a base clock of 1.8 GHz with a maximum turbo boost of up to 4 GHz across up to eight threads. Moreover, with CTL's latest Chromebox, that's backed up by 8GB of DDR4 RAM which can be expanded up to 16GB of memory and 32GB solid-state storage that can be expanded up to 256GB. Aside from Wi-Fi 802.11 AC and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, the plastic frame sports a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, and a USB Type-C port that can be utilized to power multiple displays.
Background: Chromeboxes have been around almost since Chrome OS was first launched in 2011 and effectively represent one branch of the "desktop" segment of the category. That's because they typically ship in a micro PC form factor, similar in size and shape to a router or sometimes a cube, requiring an external monitor and wired or wireless keyboard and mouse to operate. Although they have failed to break into the mainstream consumer market, for the time being, their small size makes them well suited for education, business, and enterprise uses. This latest CTL gadget is no exception to that but its specs, price, and the fact that it's listed as being available in bundles with a monitor or keyboard and mouse set it apart. It is, in fact, one of the most powerful Chromebox devices yet launched and similarly-specced Acer CXI3 Chromebox with 16GB RAM and 64GB storage can currently cost as much as $200 more.
Impact: Beyond that, the CTL CEO Erik Stromquist has reportedly indicated that another version is also in the works that will offer 16GB of memory and 128GB of solid-state storage out of the box. However, no pricing has been given for that version, as of this writing. In the meantime, the CTL Chromebook CBx1 Core i7 Version is set to begin shipping at some point the course of the next month.