CES 2016: The Gigabyte BRIX series exemplifies how compact barebone systems can be and created a new small form factor which seemed impossible at the time. Recently, Gigabyte decided to update the range to add support for Intel’s latest 6th generation processors. More specifically, models come in a number of i3, i5 and i7 variants to give users the flexibility to purchase the SKU which suits their specific requirements. As expected, the many of BRIX units support for a 2.5″ SSD/HDD as well as a copious supply of USB connectors.
During CES this year, Gigabyte showcased the new BRIX units which feature Thunderbolt 3 connectivity which is available over USB 3.1 Type-C. This 40Gb/s connector can daisy chain up to 12 devices and supports Display 1.2 to cope with 4K setups. On another note, Thunderbolt 3’s Power Delivery 2.0 is so useful to quickly charge smartphones, tablets and other essential equipment.
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.
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 RTL8111G10/100/1000/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
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.
Gigabyte, together with other big hardware players such as Antec, Kingston HyperX, AOC, and Tesoro, hosted a big charity raffle during Insomnia 54 in Coventry. The deal was, you buy a ticket for the raffle and in return had a chance to win some great hardware such as AOC monitors, HyperX SSDs, Antec cases, Tesoro keyboards, and also Gigabyte motherboards and BRIX projectors. The best of all was, all the proceeds from the raffle would go to Zoë’s Place, a baby hospice in Coventry.
The raffle was a big success, actually there were two of them, one on Friday and one on Saturday of the event. The counting is done and Gigabyte could hand over a check for £1700 to Zoë’s Place.
Zoë’s place is a baby hospice that provides palliative, respite and end of life care for babies and infants aged from birth to five years and suffering from life-limiting or life-threatening conditions. There couldn’t be a much worthier cause for donating, and the Insomnia gamers thought so too.
Gigabyte also promised to be back again with a new Raffle at the next Insomnia event, i55. Let us hope that it will be at least as successful as this one and that it will raise even more money.
Gigabyte has announced its new generation of Brix barebones PCs that offer a range of Broadwell CPUs and storage options to customers wanting a small office PC solution.
The new Brixes are said to be available in two sizes, one with room for a 2.5″ storage and another without the latter option. Both solutions are said to come with Intel’s Core i5-5200U or Core i3-5010U CPUs, having a higher model upgradeable to a Core i7-5500U and coming with an additional NFC upgrade.
All new Brix models come with the Intel HD Graphics 5500 and can connect through a HDMI and mini DisplayPort output. The miniaturised PCs also come with Intel wireless-AC cards, allowing them to connect to any wireless source with ease. A small downside to Gigabyte’s Brix lineup is the lack of M.2 storage, having them rely on the mSATA technology.
Up until now, only the Brix BHi3H-5010 model has been spotted on the market with a price tag of $290. The Brix BXi5H-5200, BXi3-5010, BXi5-5200 and BXi7-5500 models are yet to hit the market, but anyone wanting to buy one of them should expect a price tag of between $250 and $500 for the latter models.
Thank you TechReport for providing us with this information
GIGABYTE announced the launch of the next generation of BRIX and BRIX s powered with Intel’s 5th generation Core processors. The BRIX are designed to fit the palm of your hand, yet deliver great performance, and now more than ever before.
The new 14nm CPU processors featuring the latest HD 5500 Graphics from Intel give it an extra punch and the devices will be available with CPUs such as the 2.1GHz dual-core i3-5010U, the 2.2GHz dual-core i5-5200U, or the 2.4GHz dual-core i7-5500U.
The BRIX also have pretty good connectivity despite their size with dual display output via HDMI and DisplayPort, wireless through AC dual-band W-Lan and Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit LAN, four USB 3.0 ports and a combined audio jack.
The Core i7 version of the BRIX is also equipped with NFC technology with support for up to 8 profiles allow users to easily set any number of commands to be executed.
Thanks to GIGABYTE for providing us with this information
Christmas time is almost here and as we wrap up warm over winter, we’re also wrapping up on a year of incredible products here at eTeknix HQ. We’ve had hundred of reviews this year, but no doubt many of you are eagerly writing your letters to Santa, or at least dropping hints to your parents, partner or friends for what you want for Christmas. Of course, there’s no doubt a fair few of you who are eager to treat themselves to something cool this Christmas. We’ve scratched our heads and had a really good think about what some of our favourite bits of technology are from this last year, and if you’ve still got some money left after the manic Black Friday sales, perhaps some of these products will be perfect for you.
While I admit that I couldn’t fit all of our favourites onto this list, its certainly a killer list of great products and they’ve all won awards from us here at eTeknix for one reason or another. If you’re after a headset, a chassis, a new keyboard, graphics card, or other cool gadget, you’ll find something that’s right for you in our guide.
Astro A38 Wireless Gaming Headset
The Astro A38 headset really stood out for me, not only is it one of the more stylish looking headsets I’ve ever reviewed, but the sound quality is nothing short of incredible. They’re a little expensive, but you certainly get what you pay for and Astro have yet to create a product that was anything less than stunning. They’re a perfect gift for yourself or someone else and ideal for those who love to listen to music and play games on the go, and the wireless technology and NFC pairing makes them very user friendly.
A great PC deserves a great chassis and the H440 is certainly one of my all-time favourites. It’s not the biggest, and it may not even be the best chassis ever, that much is subjective, but it’s certainly got a lot of great features. From the PSU shroud that helps keep cable management looking neat and tidy, to the comprehensive set of dust filters, thick sound dampening material lined panels and the large side panel window; you’ll find a lot to love about this chassis.
Not all chassis’ are created equally, the Core V71 packs an incredible range of features that make it an ideal choice for high-end systems. The Thermaltake Core V71 looks great, but the real magic comes from its extreme flexibility. It has class leading radiator and fan mounting support and there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to build a stunning air-cooled system thanks to its array of 200mm pre-installed fans, or an incredible custom water cooling loop thanks to its modular interior. If you need extreme performance without spending crazy amounts of money, this chassis needs to be at the top of your list.
Treating yourself to a high-quality mechanical keyboard is a solid investment for anyone who uses their computer a lot. Mechanical keyboards are expensive, but their overall build quality and performance goes a long way to justifying the cost. The NovaTouch TKL isn’t your average mechanical and features something called Hybrid Capacitive Switches that offer a truly premium and luxurious typing experience. If you want to treat your fingers to a more enjoyable typing experience, try out this keyboard!
I have yet to use a Zowie mouse that wasn’t impressive and the FK1 is by far one of their best. While this mouse only offers minor revisions over its previous model, such as a slightly larger body and an improved sensor, it’s performance is second to none. It’s ambidextrous, has one of the best performing sensors available, great ergonomics and a stylish design. If you’re serious about your gaming and want something that offers eSports levels of performance, then you’ll love what the Zowie FK1 has to offer.
Mobile gaming is something that never really excited me, but Nvidia have really pulled out all the stops with their Shield Tablet. It’s powered by the incredibly powerful Tegra K1 graphics chip and it’s one of the fastest tablets on the market. It recently received an update that added the latest Android 5.0 operating system, as well as enabling Nvidia’s GRID cloud gaming service and all this comes on top of features like in-home game streaming, 4K video output, wireless controller support and a whole lot more. The Shield Tablet is easily one of the most versatile portable on the market.
Nvidia are on our list once again, first they dominate the mobile gaming market, now they’re showing their worth once again in the desktop GPU market. While we admit that the GeForce GTX 980 is an incredible graphics card, you’ll not be disappointed by their GTX 970 as it offers most of the performance of its bigger brother at a much more affordable price tag. This card is packed with the latest features, it looks fantastic and for gaming, it’s one of the best cards you can buy right now. If you want to welcome your computer into the world of high-end PC gaming, this is a great place to start.
Intel really set a new standard for PC performance this year with the launch of their consumer X99 chipsets. It’s not a cheap upgrade right now, but a new support for the latest high-end CPUs, DDR4 memory and a wave of new features make this motherboard perfect for the enthusiast and professional markets. The Asus Rampage motherboard series has long been a popular choice and the V Extreme is certainly one of the best available right now.
Extreme motherboards are one thing, but they’re a little out of the reach of your average consumer. The Gigabyte X97X Gaming 5 series of motherboards offers a lot of exciting features that make them a great choice for high-end gaming PCs, without the colossal price tags that you’ll find with enthusiast grade products. We loved this motherboard when we review it and while the black and red colour scheme is getting a little bit repetitive in the gaming market, it’s still a great looking board that is perfect for a wide range of systems.
A lot of the fame and glory goes to big gaming rigs with multiple graphics cards, loads of hard drives, water cooling and all that other crazy stuff, but this system turns all that on its head. The Brix may be small, but it packs enough power to be worthy of our Extreme Performance award! When space is limited, this little rig will fit on the back of your monitors VESA mount and it packs enough performance to get through a heavy workflow with ease. It’s a little expensive, but for a full-fledged PC that’s small enough to fit in a backpack, it’s a bargain!
If you’re looking to upgrade to an X99 equipped system, then it’s likely that you’ll also be investing in DDR4 memory, a new CPU and a whole host of other components, so why not take all the fuss out of the process and invest in one of the best systems we’ve reviewed this year, the PC Specialist Vortex 440. We loved this system, partly because it was packed full of high-end hardware, but also because it was incredible value for money. Despite what the high price tag may suggest, the Vortex 440 actually worked out cheaper to buy than it would to build it yourself; now that’s a deal we can get behind!
There’s a lot of SSD hard drives on the market right now and there are so many great ones that it’s now very easy to find one suitable for your system. The OCZ ARC 100 really stood out for us as it offers excellent performance, solid reliability, lots of features and it’s also competitively priced (per GB). Upgrading to an SSD is a great way to give your system a new lease of life, your system will boot faster and all of your games will benefit greatly from the speed boost. There is a cheaper 120GB model available, but the 240GB is the best balance of storage and value, making it a great choice for a boot drive.
A really great router is something a lot of people overlook, it can be daunting spending a lot of money on tech like this, but the rewards soon pay for themselves. With more and more devices becoming internet connected, it’s likely that you’re not reaching the full potential of your devices networking capabilities. If you’re wanting to stream movies around your house from a NAS, play games online, while browsing the web from smartphones, tablets, consoles and other devices, then you’re going to see huge benefits from a router that can handle the most demanding workloads without sacrificing performance. The Asus RT AC68U looks great and offers a simple way to improve your home network. It’s expensive, but you certainly get what you pay for.
DDR4 memory marks the first major update to RAM memory formats in desktop systems in years, but it comes with a steep price tag. However, should you choose to make the leap for your high-end X99 platform build, then you should really consider the Crucial 32GB 2133MHZ kit. If you’re not too bothered about the aesthetics, this memory really does impress in terms of performance and offers excellent value for money vs many of the other DDR4 products on the market.
Since the launch of the Intel NUC platform, there has been a lot of discussions about its small form factor and how more power could be harnessed from it and GIGABYTE managed to give a solution to this in the shape of the BRIX.
Though its evolution, the BRIX has been transformed plenty of times and has since overtaken the Intel NUC on the higher-end platform. Fast forward to the present day, and we can see that the range of BRIX products has been expanded upon with the latest GeForce GTX 760 creation with Haswell Core i5 processor.
The latest iteration includes a 47W TDP Intel Core i5-4200H processor clocked to 2.8GHz (3.4Ghz with Turbo) and GTX 760 from the green team with a TDP of 170W which as we know in a device of this size, is vitally important due to cooling issues. Other features of the new NVIDIA powered BRIX is support for mSATA and 2.5″ SSD and HDD storage solutions, 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 and Gigabit Ethernet.
Connectivity wise, you’ll find dual HDMI ports and a single mini DisplayPort and a whopping four USB 3.0 ports (native thanks to the Haswell processor).
Availability is a bit scarce on dates right now, but end of May/June is looking likely with Computex right around the corner and with rumours of an i7 based processor possibly being added in, GIGABYTE have got a mammoth machine with this new model, and it’s still stupidly tiny too.
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.
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
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.
Gigabyte enters the mini-PC market with its Brix PC, having USB 3.0 standard on every Brix variant and AMD APU, compared to other competitors like Inte’s NUC.
The Brix GB-BXA8-5545 features AMD’s A8-5545M APU (based on Richland chipset), having four CPU cores clocked at 1.7GHz and can go up to 2.7GHz when in Turbo Core mode, which is not bad for a 19W part. Best of all, it features Radeon HD 8510G graphics, with 384 VLIW4 cores. Although 384 cores sounds like a lot, bear in mind that this is a ULV part, so the GPU is clocked at a relatively modest 450MHz, although it can hit 554MHz on Turbo. Basically it should be as fast as entry-level discrete cards from a couple of years ago, like the HD 5570 or GT 620.
According to early EU listings, Gigabyte has the Brix mini-PC at a price tag of €249. This makes it about 20 percent more expensive than a Jaguar A4-5000 barebones mini PC from Zotac. As for Intel NUC kits, you can get a Core i3-4010U system, i.e. a dual-core Haswell clocked at 1.7GHz with Intel HD Graphics 4400.
Sadly we still don’t know much about AMD’s Kaveri ULV plans, but thanks to better thermals we expect to see quite a few AMD-based mini PCs later this year.
Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information Image courtesy of Fudzilla
Gigabyte have taken Intel’s IDF as an opportunity to unveil their latest BRIX PCs which features Intel’s enlarged graphics processing chip Iris Pro 5200 according to LegitReviews. Intel’s Iris Pro 5200 integrated GPU features 40 execution units, level 4 eDRAM cache and roughly speaking it is about twice as fast as Intel HD 4600 graphics and isn’t that far behind a desktop class GT 640 graphics card.
As you can see this extra GPU power doesn’t come without some design penalties. In fact the design is almost twice as thick as the normal BRIX because of all that extra heat that needs to be dissipated from the additional graphics power. These Iris Pro graphics are paired up with the following Haswell embedded CPU choices:
Core i7 4770R 3.2GHz stock 3.9GHz turbo
Core i5 4670R 3.0GHz stock 3.7GHz turbo
Core i5 4570R 2.7GHz stock 3.2GHz turbo
In effect this system runs a desktop class 65W CPU that would be comparable to fully fledged desktop equivalents of the same clock speed. If you then factor in the Iris Pro 5200 graphics then you’re actually looking at a PC with pretty potent potential and arguably this kind of solution blows one of AMD’s A10-6800K APUs out of the water. There is of course one catch – this is going to cost a small fortune. Gigabyte have said pricing will start above $500 and remember that doesn’t even include a storage drive.
The extra size does bring one advantage which is that there is room for a 2.5 inch SATA drive which smaller BRIXs and NUCs don’t have – that is in addition to the two mSATA slots, though this SATA drive will support SATA II 3Gbps only. Dual displays are also supported via the HDMI and mini DisplayPort.
Gigabyte have just unveiled their latest generation of BRIX systems powered by Intel’s fourth generation Haswell Core Series processors. These new BRIX mini PCs now offer improved CPU and graphics performance plus native 4K display support. Gigabyte are releasing four new BRIX models based on four Haswell mobile processors. All of the processors are “U” processors based on an ultra low voltage design.
The new BRIX systems retain extensive connectivity with HDMI out, Gigabit Ethernet, mini Display Port, four USB 3.0, SPDIF audio out and a Kensington lock. The Gigabyte BRIX models detailed below come pre-fitted with everything but an mSATA SSD and SODIMM memory which you can configure yourself. Unlike the Intel NUC the Gigabyte BRIX comes with a WiFi Bluetooth 4.0 module as standard.
The new Gigabyte BRIX systems support up to 4K via the HDMI output, or dual displays by the HDMI and DisplayPort outputs. To top off its functionality as a small form factor PC the Gigabyte BRIX also uses a VESA mount so you can easily put it behind a TV or computer monitor – Gigabyte also include the bracket for this.
Intel’s NUC has spawned a new generation of mini PCs. We recently took a look at the Next Unit of Computing (NUC) from Intel and we found it to be a very impressive unit but was marginally let down by components lacking performance, a high price tag and a missing wireless module. Gigabyte’s BRIX looks set to take on two of those major flaws in Intel’s new reference NUC platform as they have opted for a Core i5 and have included a wireless module.
Today we are reviewing the Gigabyte GB-XM11-3337 BRIX which is like Intel’s NUC except Gigabyte have redesigned the chassis, changed the I/O, changed the BIOS and opted for some higher spec hardware. While Intel’s NUC measures in at 1.55 inches thick Gigabyte’s BRIX is much smaller at 1.18 inches thick. In fact the Gigabyte BRIX is just a generally more compact unit than Intel’s NUC. Furthermore the wireless module is included as standard and USB 3.0 has been added too. Finally there is a DisplayPort and HDMI instead of two HDMI meaning you have slightly more flexibility when it comes to display outputs.
Additionally the main change comes in the form of the CPU. The Intel NUC we reviewed had a dual core 1.1GHz 32nm Sandy Bridge based CPU whereas this Gigabyte BRIX uses an Ivy Bridge 22nm i5 3337U processor that has 2 cores and four threads at 1.8GHz stock and 2.7GHz turbo. It also supports more memory bandwidth at up to 1600MHz compared to the 1333MHz on the Intel NUC we looked at that had a Celeron 847. Finally it also boasts Intel HD 4000 graphics which aren’t going to play any games that well but are still a huge leap forward over the graphics part of the Sandy Bridge ULV processors like the Celeron 847. However, this comes at a cost as the Core i5 3337U has a tray price of $225 which is more than the entire Intel Celeron 847 based NUC system costs – straight away we know this isn’t going to be cheap but let’s see how much performance this device offers.
Below you can see the full specifications of Gigabyte’s BRIX GB-XM11-3337 system and without any further ado we will now proceed through the rest of this review.
You may have seen our news post on the BRIX here, but we decided to dig deeper and get a video with marketing guru Colin Brix.
The name may have some similarities to the host of our video, the BRIX is a new NUC style device from Gigabyte giving a small form factor option to consumers that is faster, smaller and cheaper than the original Intel NUC. We get the run-down on this new product and what is on offer.
Gigabyte have already recently unveiled their BRIX ultra compact PC which we brought you a news story about if you are interested in it. The Gigabyte Brix is essentially a bare bones Ultra compact PC kit that features an Intel CPU, GPU and motherboard based off the reference NUC platform design from Intel. It measures in at just 29.9mm by 107.6mm by 114.4mm and has a piano black finish. It packs a lot more performance than the Intel NUC because Gigabyte have opted for mainly Core i3, i5 and i7 models as opposed to Intel who offer a lot of Pentium based models. In fact you may want to stay tuned in the coming weeks as we have a review of an Intel Core i5 based Gigabyte BRIX mini PC.
You can add your own mSATA SSD and SODIMM RAM to the system and it supports up to 16GB of RAM. Connectivity includes Intel LAN, two USB 3.0, Display Port, HDMI and integrated Wi-Fi unlike the Intel NUC which requires you to purchase an additional Wi-Fi module.
This design is really about giving you an ultra compact yet powerful PC and the inclusion of VESA mounting means you can really put this anywhere and even use it as a potent media player, file server or HTPC. Gigabyte haven’t announced pricing or availability yet but you can expect that to come soon.