Shuttle Unveils XPC SH170R6 Barebones Desktop

Shuttle is one of the first companies I encountered offering cube-sized barebone PCs and continues to impress in this particular sector. The latest addition to their product line-up is the XPC SH170R6 which supports Intel’s Skylake processors, and four DDR4 DIMM slots. Additionally, there is a 32 Gb/s M.2 slot, four SATA 6 Gb/s ports and an 80 Plus Bronze rated 300W power supply. This should be perfect for a HTPC or non-gaming, portable PC.

In terms of rear I/O, the system has 2 DisplayPort connectors, six USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, eSATA, HDMI, CMOS reset button and standard audio jacks.

The motherboard is a custom-design and based on Intel’s H170 chipset. As you can from the board layout, there is a single x16 gen 3 PCI-Express slot and a x4. On another note, the motherboard opts for reliable capacitors, Mini-PCIe and enough room to easily work around the CPU socket.

On the front section, there is room to mount a 5.25-inch optical bay and two 3.5-inch drives. The barebones system has an estimated price of €258 excluding VAT and should be available later this month. It’s always fascinating to see barebone PCs which help novices to choose compatible components.

What do you think of barebone PCs?

Acer Demonstrates ‘Building Block’ Revo PC

The Acer Revo is an extraordinary small form-factor PC which features a wealth of upgradability through LEGO-inspired hardware tiers. Each expansion block magnetically clips into position after removing a plastic cover. Once unclipped, a discrete connector is unveiled which allows you to neatly connect cables between various tiers. Subsequently, this makes the cabling surprisingly easy and provides a clear, professional look. Currently, Acer’s range of optional tiers includes an external GPU, mini-speaker and headphone amplifier with more modules expected in the future.

In terms of performance, the Revo has the potential to be a small but powerful beast and incorporates either an Intel Celeron or Skylake CPU. Furthermore, the device allows up to 32GB of flash storage and 8GB RAM. Coupled with the dedicated GPU module, this could become the perfect LAN rig or Steam Box. It’s unknown what grade of GPU will be offered but I expect Acer to utilize the GTX 965M, GTX 970M and GTX 980M at different price tiers.

Connectivity-wise, the Revo features HDMI, full-sized DisplayPort, 3 USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The device is scheduled for an October release within the UK and priced around £200. Personally, I think the Revo is a marvellous concept and demonstrates how powerful tiny PCs can be. However, how much of a premium will there be to purchase Acer modules? To be a successful venture, Acer must be careful when it comes to pricing and the premium over traditional upgrades. For example, if a Blu-Ray reader costs £100, when you can purchase one yourself for £50, it could deter many people from investing in the Revo’s closed upgrade path.

Thank you Alphr for providing us with this information.

Corsair Bulldog DIY Gaming PC Coming Holiday 2015

Corsair has unveiled its production version of the Bulldog DIY 4K-capable Gaming PC and expects shipments to begin during the 2015 holiday season. The Bulldog is essentially a barebones PC and sets the foundations for creating an extremely powerful and quiet console-sized rig which fits perfectly in the living room. Corsair’s pre-configured DIY kit features a SFX power supply, CPU and GPU hybrid liquid cooling and an ITX motherboard. To make the system fully functional, simply add a 6th generation Intel Core processor, memory, graphics card, storage and finally, an operating system.

The concept behind this creation is to simplify component selection and allow the less-experienced builders to select a dependable, quiet case for their PC. Additionally, Corsair have partnered with MSI to produce liquid cooled GTX 980Ti graphics cards available from Corsair.com. However, this scheme is restricted to USA customers until further notice. The Bulldog’s complete specifications and key features are as follows:

Bulldog DIY kit specification:

  • Bulldog chassis – Highly ventilated, stylish, compact console design enhances living spaces and keeps PC components cool and quiet
  • 600 watt SFX power supply – Highly-efficient, cool and quiet in standard form factor
  • Hydro Series H5SF small form factor liquid CPU cooler – Quietly cools the fastest CPUs while exhausting heat from the chassis.
  • Mini-ITX motherboard
    • Intel® Z170 chipset with support for 6th generation Intel Core processor
    • PCI Express 3.0 16x slot
    • 2 memory slots with support for 32GB of DDR4 at 2400MHz+
    • USB 3.0 and SATA ports
    • 7.1 channel audio, via S/PDIF optical or 3 analog ports
    • Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, and Bluetooth 4.1
  • MSRP: $399 USD (available late 2015)

Personally, the black colour scheme with dynamic edges looks quite appealing and should entice users wanting a premium looking case which works as a Steam Box.

Is your next PC going to utilize a smaller form factor than traditional ATX systems?

Gigabyte BRIX GB-BXi5H-5200 Review

Introduction


Today we are taking a look at Gigabyte’s Intel i5 5200U powered BRIX. Gigabyte has an impressive array of BRIX models that come in at all different performance levels with many CPU options and even options with discrete GPUs. The small form factor computer business has been exploding the last few years due in part with parts shrinking and their abilities skyrocketing. Many people have been buying small form factor units deciding to use them as business or daily workstations due to the low power consumption, helping to lower costs. Others love these small boxes for use as home theater PCs (HTPCs) since they can be tucked out of the way and will generally not be heard over ambient sound in the home theater. The specs for this BRIX look promising for use in both situations so let’s take a closer look and see just how well it would perform in these tasks.

Specifications
  • Name: Gigabyte BRIX GB-BXi5H-5200
  • CPU: Intel i5 5200U (2C/4T, 2.2 GHz w/ 2.7 GHz Max Turbo, 14nm, 15W)
  • RAM: User Supplied – We tested with Crucial Ballistix 2x4GB DDR3-1600 9-9-9-24 1T 1.35v 
  • SSD: User Supplied – Crucial MX200 SSD 250GB
  • GPU: Integrated – Intel® HD Graphics 5500
  • LAN: Realtek RTL8111G 10/100/1000/Gigabit Base T
  • WLAN: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Built-in Bluetooth V4.0
  • I/O: 4x USB3.0, 1x HDMI, 1x Mini isplayPort, Headphone-out, Microphone in, RJ-45/GbE LAN
  • OS: Supplied Barebones, Windows 10 preview used in this review
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: $364.99

Retail Packaging

Printed materials and hardware that the BRIX comes with. You will get a power adapter and power cord to hook up the BRIX as well as all the screws that you will need to mount your SSD or HDD and use the VESA mount if you wish. The DVD and printed materials are toss away materials in my opinion since the most up to date drivers and materials can be downloaded from the support website.

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

Gigabyte Brix Pro GB-BXi7-4770R Ultra Compact Barebones System Review

Introduction


In the early stages of last year, Intel released one of the biggest products of 2013 into the market place and no – it was not Haswell. What I am referring to here is the Next Unit of Computing, or NUC as it is more commonly known. Part of what makes this product so special is its ultra compact design, but on top of that, the system that’s tucked inside has a little more to offer over what one would expect from a system of its size. When we took a look at the first generation NUC and also Gigabyte’s own first generation Brix, the results that we got back showed the performance to be somewhat average, leaving them at the entry-level end of the scale. Consequently, these systems are ideal for basic home office use, but if you want a little more grunt from your system then sadly these early units just won’t cut the mustard.

Since those reviews went live, we have seen a number of Brix branded systems come out of the Gigabyte factories and towards the end of last year we caught wind that there was something special on the way which could potentially remodel the entry-level image that the first generation systems have given us. The question is though, can we really get desktop performance out of a unit this small? Granted this new creation is twice as tall as the first generation Brix, but are we getting substantially more performance as well? Bring forward the Brix Pro GB-BXi7-4770R.

When we take a look at the spec list that the Brix Pro has on offer, the biggest difference that we have to note is the step up to Intel’s high performance i7 Haswell CPU. Obviously we shouldn’t be expecting a 4770k to be residing in a system of these dimensions, however the 4770R that we do have is actually not a million miles off what its bigger brother has to offer. With a TDP of 65w and a core clock speed of 3.2GHz boosting up to 3.9GHz, there is certainly a lot of poke beneath the covers so we have got the spirit of a 4770k, although overclocking is not present and the power envelope has been reduced to save on the power consumption.

  • Model: GB-BXi7-4770R
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-4770R @ 3.9GHz
  • Cooler: Copper heatsink with blower fan
  • RAM: Support for up to 16GB 1333 /1600MHz DDR3 SODIMM
  • Storage: mSATA slot plus SATA header for 7.0/9.5mm 2.5″ drives
  • GPU: Intel Iris Pro 5200 Onboard GPU
  • PSU: External 135W DC adaptor
  • Network: Realtek RTL8111G Gigabit LAN, AzureWave AW-CB161H mini PCIe 802.11ac WLAN / BT 4.0 combo
  • Misc: HDMI & mDP display outputs, 4x USB3.0, 3.5mm audio / SPDIF, VESA 75 & VESA 100 compatible
  • Warranty: 2 Year Standard
  • Price: £510.20 inc Vat @ Scan / $649.79 @ Newegg.com

Naturally it is a little hard to test a barebones system as it is so we need to add in a couple of key components before we can put everything through its paces. Over the specifications listed above, a 240GB Intel 525 series mSATA SSD and a 1TB WD Red 2.5″ HDD have been added for storage along with 8GB of Kingston’s 1600MHz ValueRAM.

In addition to the i7 processor, the other key component that the Brix Pro has to offer is Intel’s latest Iris Pro 5200 series graphics. Now at this point I can imagine that a few of you out there are shrugging your shoulders at the thought of Intel graphics, but Iris Pro is nothing like the HD4000 series graphics that we find onboard a 4770k for example. Simply put Intel have stepped up their game with Iris and reworked the way in which their graphics core works to offer up much more power and performance. In simple terms this means that there is the potential for gaming at an average level of detail and this is there for the reason why the Brix Pro has been featured recently as part of the Steam Box era.

Whilst I do state that gaming is a potential application for the Brix Pro, the more modest graphics performance that Iris has to offer is not going to make the Brix Pro the perfect alternative for your full-fat pixel pushing gaming rig – it is just a more tame alternative. Where the Brix Pro is also suited is with the prosumer user group, where image editing and design work requires the more powerful Intel processors and where applications such as Adobe Photoshop relish when surrounded by the higher specified components. By the time we take the price of the bare system and add on the extra components that we have used here (not including operating system) we are looking at a ball park purchase price of around £880 in the UK or around $1080 in the US.

Like the Brix Pro, the packaging is condensed right down with almost no space going to waste. Tucked neatly inside the box, Gigabyte include a full driver set and setup guide, regional power adaptor, VESA bracket and screws for mounting the system to the back of a monitor and finally a small rubber bung to close off the SPDIF output on the front of the system.