Gigabyte BRIX Pro SFF Powerhouse

Complete|Mobile Systems
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Wireless Performance

Pit against a couple of desktop boards and notebooks, the BRIX Pro's Realtek-based wireless adapter was a bit of a disappointment. Transfer speeds over 802.11n were much faster downstream, but the overall result was underwhelming. It would be probably beneficial for Gigabyte to have included external antennae.

AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 5~10 second segments of product at various states. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The BRIX Pro is an audaciously powerful mini PC, the likes of which we've never seen. Gigabyte deserves credit simply for having the gumption to squeeze an i7-4770R into such a petite form. The CPU is an absolute beast, a high frequency quad core chip with a modest 65W thermal envelope that easily competes with the mainstream Haswell CPUs found in much larger desktops. The Iris Pro 5200 is impressive as well, a capable integrated graphics solution that makes entry level discrete video cards redundant.

It's much faster than any of Intel's NUCs and it shows in the acoustics. The more modest Core i5-4250U powered NUC was very quiet when executing even the most stressful real world tasks. The BRIX Pro is louder than that when doing absolutely nothing, and the heat generated by stressful applications causes the fan to wail like a banshee being chased by bigger, even scarier banshee. Its noise output is so high when doing heavy work, we wouldn't keep it on our desk, even VESA-mounted behind a monitor. The system's single fan is hopelessly overburdened even though the fan control is relatively lax, allowing the internal components to heat up so much that the CPU comes close to throttling. Its an unfortunate consequence of the physics involved, and impossible to avoid without an extravagant cooling solution.

If you're looking for a compact desktop with serious speed and the ability to do some casual gaming, the BRIX Pro should be considered as long as you can tolerate the noise. It's only quiet when it doesn't have a lot to do, but for that usage pattern something simpler would be more appropriate like a NUC, or one of the many lower tier BRIX units offered by Gigabyte. More serious gamers should take note of the BRIX Gaming series which features midrange discrete graphics.

The i7-4770R version of the BRIX Pro is currently selling at around the US$600 level with some retailers also throwing in a US$50 mail-in rebate. This sounds expensive but a custom thin-ITX configuration with similar components would be in the same ballpark but the case would be much larger and it would be lacking in the graphics department as Iris Pro 5200 is rather exclusive and not available with any socketed CPU.

Our thanks to Gigabyte for the BRIX Pro sample.

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Articles of Related Interest
Haswell comes to NUC
Logic Supply LGX ML300 Fanless NUC
Gigabyte GA-H77TN Thin Mini-ITX Motherboard
Intel Next Unit of Computing Kit DC3217BY
Intel Core i7-4770K Haswell Processor

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