Intel on Thursday debuted its next-generation chips, dubbed Meteor Lake. Immediately following, the Asus Chromebook Plus CX54 appeared online as the first Google Chromebook with an Intel Meteor Lake chipset. With the 14th generation Intel CPU, this 14-inch Chromebook Plus laptop should offer a noticeable boost in overall performance and graphics.
This laptop new laptop is officially called the ASUS ExpertBook CX54 Chromebook Plus Enterprise (CX5403). There’s more information on the non-U.S. version of Asus’ site, but this model does have a landing page in the U.S. With “enterprise” in the name, it’s obviously meant for business. That usually means good, if not excellent performance, and a more premium design.
Details on the Asus Chromebook Plus CX54
The design of the Asus Chromebook Plus CX54 isn’t a big departure from the company’s current offerings. It does look a little sleeker and wow, does that trackpad look huge for a 14-inch laptop.
The 14-inch screen uses a 2560 x 1600 resolution panel, making for a 16:10 aspect ratio. Brightness is a fantastic 500 nits. I like how the display’s bottom bezel is hidden by the keyboard. I’m not a fan, however, of displays that dig into my legs. And currently, the non-U.S. tech specs say this is not a touch screen. The backlit keyboard has 1.4 millimeters of travel, which is plenty.
There are also plenty of ports. A USB Type-C is on the left side, next to a micro SD card slot. The right side has a second Type-C port, two Type-A jacks, a headphone/microphone jack, and an HDMI output. Both of the Type-C ports are also designated as Thunderbolt 4.
Various storage capacities are expected and all of them use an M.2 2280 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD. I’m a bit surprised the PCIe 4.0 standard isn’t used here as the Meteor Lake chipsets are capable of using it. Perhaps this is done to keep the cost down.
Since this is a Chromebook Plus laptop, you know the webcam should be above average. Asus is using an 8-megapixel sensor, along with a privacy screen. The dual speakers are tuned by Harmon/Kardon although I couldn’t find the power usage of the speakers. Connectivity is provided with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth.
The 3-cell battery has a power capacity of 64 WHrs. The included power adapter can only provide 45 W of power though, so it may take a bit longer than expected to fully charge this Chromebook. Even with a metal chassis, the weight is only 2.84 lbs (1.29 kg).
Intel Meteor Lake inside a Chromebook Plus
In terms of performance, the new Intel Meteor Lake chipset looks good on paper. According to Asus the Chromebook Plus CX54 is offered “with up to Intel® Core Ultra 7 processor and 16 GB of fast, efficient LPDDR5x 6400 MHz memory.”
Note that the old Core-i3, -i5, and -i7 naming is gone after years of use. Intel Meteor Lake chipsets now use Intel Core Ultra branding. Here are all of the new Meteor Lake chips and their overall specifications:
With regards to the Asus Chromebook Plus CX54, the four U-series options in the above chart will be available. All are based on 12 core chips capable of 14 processing threads. Each is comprised of a pair of P-cores for high performance with eight E-cores for less intensive tasks. Intel says that Meteor Lake chipsets use roughly 20 percent less power than previous chips.
If you look at the chart above, you’ll note that the Intel Core Ultra U-Series chips all use standard Intel graphics. That’s unfortunate since the new Intel Arc GPU is promising twice the performance of the current one. I realize that the Asus Chromebook Plus CX54 is an enterprise model so gaming performance isn’t high on the list of wants. Still, it would be nice to have a better GPU in a Chromebook. Perhaps a consumer version will offer it.
Pricing and availability are unknown at this point, so I expect that information in a few weeks at the Consumer Electronics Show.