Gigabyte BRIX Pro SFF Powerhouse

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TEST RESULTS

Acoustics & Thermals

System Measurements (mSATA SSD only)
System State
Idle
MPC-HC H.264 Playback
Resident Evil 5 Benchmark Demo
TMPGEnc Video Encoding
CPU Temp
50°C
53°C
87°C
89°C
MB Temp
50°C
53°C
72°C
70°C
SSD Temp
51°C
53°C
61°C
65°C
Ext. Temp*
32°C
32°C
37°C
39°C
CPU Fan Speed
1260 RPM
~2770 RPM
~3080 RPM
18 dBA
37 dBA
40 dBA
System Power (AC)
16W
19W
62W
61W
*measured at the hottest point on the top of the machine
Ambient temperature: 20°C.

When only lightly taxed, the BRIX Pro ran a bit warm with the the internal components measuring 50~53°C, not hot enough to kick the CPU fan into overdrive. When idling and playing HD video, the fan spun at a modest 1260 RPM, producing an SPL of just 18 dBA at 0.6 meters (the distance defined as the ISO 7779 seated user position). For our load tests we used the Resident Evil 5 benchmark demo which runs a continuous loop of automated gameplay and TMPGEnc to re-encode a lengthy video. These demanding tasks took a heavy toll on the system, generating a lot of heat and noise. During video encoding the CPU temperature flirted with the 90°C mark and both the motherboard and SSD warmed up considerably as well while the outside of the casing remained cool enough to touch.

The thermal conditions inside were unsettling but the resulting noise level was our main concern. Both load tests made the system incredibly loud, with the TMPGEnc test cracking the 40 dBA level, and Resident Evil 5 not far behind. The machine can be VESA-mounted behind a monitor to limit the overall noise output somewhat, but ultimately the BRIX Pro is impossible to muffle when it's doing any kind of heavy work. None of this noise was unnecessary either, rather the unfortunate result of a small fan tasked with expelling a ridiculous amount of heat from a small, confined space. The fan speed spun just fast enough to prevent the processor from throttling.

System Measurements (mSATA SSD + SATA HDD)
System State
Idle
MPC-HC H.264 Playback
Resident Evil 5 Benchmark Demo
TMPGEnc Video Encoding
CPU Temp
52°C
56°C
87°C
89°C
MB Temp
52°C
55°C
74°C
70°C
SSD Temp
54°C
58°C
65°C
67°C
HD Temp
40°C
41°C
42°C
41°C
Ext. Temp
32°C
32°C
40°C
38°C
CPU Fan Speed
1260 RPM
~2800 RPM
~3120 RPM
22~23 dBA
38 dBA
40~41 dBA
System Power (AC)
17W
20W
63W
62W
Ambient temperature: 20°C.

We also tested the BRIX Pro with a notebook hard drive installed in the open hard drive bay to ascertain the effect of additional storage. The drive didn't block any ventilation ports but the heat it generated on its own created extra thermal load. Moderate temperature increases were observed for all the internal components, but from a noise perspective, it was only really louder in the idle and video playback states. Despite being one of the quieter notebook drives on the market, the WD Red 1TB raised the SPL by 4~5 dB. On load, the higher temperatures forced the fan to speed up slightly more but the actual sound of the drive itself was obviously completely drowned out.

The acoustic profile of the BRIX Pro was similar to most SFF PCs and notebooks. The system's only fan emits a soft whooshing type sound when the machine is idle but when stressed, it turns into a mini blow dryer with soft turbulence and an underlying high pitched whine. Honestly, the quality of the fan noise is unimportant when put on a heavy load as the sheer volume produced is completely overwhelming. No fan can sound good emitting ~40 dBA

System Measurements: Gigabyte BRIX Pro vs. Intel NUC D54250WYK
System
Brix Pro (i7-4770R)
NUC (i5-4250U)
System State
Idle
TMPGEnc Video Encoding
Idle
TMPGEnc Video Encoding
CPU Temp
50°C
89°C
37°C
68°C
SSD Temp
51°C
65°C
31°C
41°C
Ext. Temp*
32°C
39°C
37°C
40°C
18 dBA
40 dBA
11 dBA
16 dBA
System Power (AC)
16W
61W
6W
20W
*measured at the hottest point on the top of the machine
Results adjusted for ambient temperature of 20°C.

Compared to the last NUC we tested, the difference is staggering. On load, the BRIX Pro's internal temperatures were more than 20°C higher and the noise level was greater by several orders of magnitude.

Energy Efficiency Comparison (DC-DC powered systems)

On light loads, the BRIX Pro had similar energy efficiency to a thin mini-ITX build we put together with a Gigabyte H77TN board and Pentium G2120 (55W) processor. Power consumption was almost double that of the most powerful NUC we reviewed, but substantially lower than a desktop AMD combination with a 45W Kaveri chip.

On heavy load, the BRIX Pro became the most power hungry mini PC we've encountered, coming close to drawing 100W from the wall when running synthetic stress tests. However, it was actually more frugal than the A8-7600 combination when given the real world test of video encoding, showcasing the excellent efficiency of Intel's low voltage Haswell chips.



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