Early computers filled entire rooms. Since then, there has been a huge drive among computer manufacturers to make things smaller and smaller. Even the regular desktops can be replaced with mini PCs these days.
We have covered several Linux mini-PCs in the past. Today we shall take a look at Chuwi GBox Pro.
Chuwi is a computer manufacturer based in China. They are known for making good-looking but inexpensive devices. A few years back, some resellers used to rebrand Chuwi computers and sell them under their own brand name. Chuwi is now trying to expand its own brand visibility by selling Chuwi systems to a global audience.
Chuwi contacted It’s FOSS and offered us the GBox Pro device to review for Linux users. Just because they offered something for free, it doesn’t mean we are going to favor them unnecessarily. I used the sample GBox Pro device with Linux and I am sharing my experience with this device. It’s up to you to make a decision about purchasing this gadget.
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Chuwi GBox Pro
The Chuwi GBox Pro has a pretty small form factor. At 7.4 x 5.4 x 1.5 inches, it is about the size of a hardcover book. The body is made out of aluminum, so it is light. weighing only 1 lb 4 oz. It comes with an Intel Atom X7-E3950 quad-core CPU, Intel HD 505 graphics, 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, and 64 GB of storage on an eMMC. If that is not enough storage, you can add a 2.5 inch SATA drive to increase storage.
The GBox Pro is a fanless computer, so it depends on its special design to keep it cool. It has vents around the top and bottom to let air circulate.
Besides using it as a desktop computer, you can also use the GBox Pro as a media center. It comes with a VESA mount so you can attach to a wall or behind or TV or monitor. Then, all you’d need is a No products found..
The GBox Pro comes with a good number of ports. It has 5 USB ports total: one for type C, two for USB 2.0 and two for USB 3.0. It also has a built-in MicroSD reader. For video output, you can choose between VGA and HDMI. It also has an Ethernet jack and an audio out port. WiFi and Bluetooth is also included.
The system came with Windows 10 preinstalled, but they mention on their website that it also supports Linux. So, I tested it with two distros: Ubuntu and Manjaro.
Overwriting Windows 10 with stock Ubuntu was fairly easy. The only worry I had during the install was a message that one of the partitions was mounted and needed to be unmounted to continue. This was the first time I install Linux on an eMMC and I wonder if that was the issue.
The GBox Pro didn’t run Ubuntu as well as I would have liked. I think GNOME might have been a little heavy for it. Overall performance wasn’t too bad, but when I had a couple of processes running at once (such as installing snaps and watching videos on YouTube) I felt a noticeable slowdown. Keep in mind, the GBox Pro has an Intel Atom CPU, not the more powerful core i3 or core i5.
Experiencing Linux on Chuwi GBox Pro
Overall, the GBox Pro is a nice little device with a few niggles that should be expected for this form-factor, chip setup, and general price.
One of the main talking points of the GBox Pro is its ability to run high-quality graphics, both for movies and games. I tried out several games, including Super Tux Kart, Warzone 2100, and Mr. Rescue. (Yes, I’m not much of a gamer.) These games ran fine, except I ran into an issue with Super Tux Kart where some of the maps flickered so much that they were almost unplayable.
I also wanted to try HD movie playback. I don’t own a lot of digital movies and the one site I do use isn’t quite Linux friendly. However, I was able to watch a couple of 1080p videos on Rifftrax without issue. Chuwi claims that GBox Pro supports 4K hard-decoding. I couldn’t test it though.
As I mentioned above, you can add storage space by adding a SATA drive. I did not realize that was a feature until I started writing this review and I was looking at the pictures on the GBox Pro's Amazon page. As a result, I removed the bottom panel to take a look. I like the fact that this is an option, unfortunately, they used six tiny screws to hold the bottom panel in place. I was worried I’d lose a couple. It also looks like the bottom panel keeps the drive in place. There is no room to screw it into the mounts.
Final Thoughts on Chuwi GBox Pro
Overall, I like the GBox Pro. It has a nice small form factor, which makes it easy to set up and move. On the website, they say that you can carry it in your pocket, but I would not want to risk it. The case has a cool design and I like the fact that it has a place to add a larger drive.
It may not be as powerful as the Intel NUC but it is still a good enough device considering its modest price tag. You can use it for a media server or for medium to light computing. I didn’t use it as media server but it works well for an entry-level desktop system.
It’s FOSS has also requested Chuwi team to launch Linux version of their devices with a relatively reduced pricing than the Windows ones. Let’s see if they consider it in future.
If you think Chuwi GBox Pro is a good fit for your needs, it is available to order from Aliexpress and Amazon. I recommend ordering on Amazon though. Please refer to this page for warranty information.
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Have you ever used the GBox Pro or any other Chuwi products? Please share your experience with us in the comment section.