About a month ago, ASUS shocked us a bit with a surprise announcement of not just a new Chromebook, but a new Chromebook Plus that looks pretty awesome in every way possible. Built to take on devices like the HP Dragonfly Pro, the new ASUS ExpertBook CX54 Chromebook Plus is every bit the high end, gorgeous device we love to see hit the market, but compared to the existing Chromebook Plus competition, wouldn’t a device like this completely go against what Google is trying to do with Chromebook Plus in the first place?
With all the new models introduced in October of 2023, the theme was quite clear: create a new breed of Chromebook that keeps the price in check and delivers a solid, enjoyable overall experience. In different ways across the lineup, I’d have to say Google has accomplished this feat. Every Chromebook Plus branded device I use comes with its own trade-offs, but each one delivers a solid, all-around experience that I’d feel comfortable recommending to just about anyone.
With the ASUS CX54, however, I’m not quite sure how that experience will play out. Looking at this thing, you’d immediately assume a $999+ price tag, right? It’s so well made, feels fantastic, is packed with all the specs you want, and similar Chromebooks in the past have jumped over a thousand dollars quickly when delivering this sort of hardware. But look again and I think there could be a scenario where ASUS surprises us all.
All in a landing page
You see, when ASUS first announced this new, monster Chromebook Plus, there were 2 distinct landing pages: one for the global audience, and one for the US. The global landing page had all the requisite “up to…” language regarding RAM, storage and processor while the US page listed no specs whatsoever. It was odd, but this sort of thing happens from time to time for sure with Chromebook launches, so I thought nothing of it.
When we receieved our early hands-on unit, it struck me as a tad bit odd that the model sent over was of such average spec. While 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage in a $399 Chromebook is just fine, those are low numbers for a device in the upper echelon like the CX54. Even still, I just shrugged it off and thought this was the version that was around and available for ASUS to send over.
And then I happened upon that US-specific landing page again. This time, it had a spec sheet, and there was no “up to…” language to be found. Instead, the specs were exactly what I have in the version in my possession right now. No variations are listed, and for the US version of ASUS’ landing page for this new Chromebook, 8GB/128GB is the only option, and that also applies to the screen.
While gorgeous and bright, our model doesn’t come with a touchscreen. Again, I didn’t think too much about it, but now that the only model listed on the US landing page also eschews touch input, I’m coming to the conclusion that this specific build of the CX54 Chromebook Plus from ASUS is the one we’ll see initially in the States. And that could be a very, very interesting thing.
Why it could be more affordable than expected
If this version of the CX54 arrives somewhere like Best Buy, for instance, it could be a halo device that still manages to stay within the upper bounds of the understood Chromebook Plus budget. Does it feel a little higher class than the competition? Sure, but the build quality of the chassis is really the only separator versus other high-end Chromebooks on the market, and that means the price may end up reflecting that.
Think about it: a device like the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 actually offers more than what you get in this current version of the ASUS CX54 we have in the office. Where the CX54 is a clamshell-only with no touchscreen, the Acer Spin 714 offers a convertible form factor, touch/pen input, and has the same 14-inch 16:10 screen. Acer’s 714 packs in a 13th-gen Core i5 (that is faster than the Core Ultra 5-125U in quite a few areas), a similar 8GB of RAM, and double the storage of the CX54 at 256GB. You can likely see where I’m going, here.
Though the ASUS CX54 is built a bit better than the Spin 714, Acer’s top dog still feels great, is rigid in the hand, and even opens up with a one-finger lift: an impressive feat for a convertible. Build quality is important, but so is overall performance and usability, and when I compare the version of the ASUS CX54 we have right now to the Spin 714, I can’t make the case that it should cost more.
The only real advantages the ASUS would have are the fingerprint scanner (a very small cost addition), an 8MP webcam, and a QHD screen. Acer has a model of the Spin 714 with a QHD screen, a fingerprint scanner, and a stowed stylus included and it is $999. And again, to further my point, that device offers a lot more in the features department than the ASUS CX54 does.
And this is why I’m hopeful that ASUS is delivering this calmer version of the CX54 in the US. While upgraded versions absolutely will be available, I’d imagine they might be saved for the enterprise market. But this non-touch, 8GB/128GB model could be destined for the consumer market, and very well might show up far cheaper than we initially thought.
What I think ASUS should sell the CX54 Chromebook Plus for
Looking at comparable (perhaps even better) Chromebooks currently on the market, I think there’s a real reason to think affordability could happen. If this version of the CX54 shows up with a $999 price tag, it’s simply DOA. No one in their right mind would drop $999 on this device when the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook exists in the world for the same price and the Spin 714 is out there for $699 most days and down to $530 on others. It would simply make no sense.
What would be competitive, interesting, and effective for a device like this would be a $699-$749 price tag. And it would need to be available at Best Buy, too. As ASUS has done with their first Chromebook Plus models, this one needs to get in front of consumers. Period. Hopefully it won’t be stuck at Target like the interesting Chromebook Plus CX34, but I’d even take that over only being able to find this device in enterprise sales channels.
The ASUS ExpertBook CX54 Chromebook Plus is a device that could really set the tone for the top end of the new, branded Chromebook Plus market. This configuration in particular fits right into the Chromebook Plus equation and for those looking for a beautiful, functional, powerful device, it could be the one to beat. But the things I’ve outlined in this post have to happen for that future to play out. Will it end up happening? At this point, only ASUS knows that answer, but I truly hope so.