Introduction

Intel's high-end Crystal Well, the Core i7-4770R, has remained out of reach for consumers despite being introduced back in June 2013. While Apple's notebooks use the mobile Crystal Well parts, the 2013 iMac restricts itself to the Core i5-4570R. Users wanting to stay out of the Apple ecosystem have been left in the cold. Gigabyte is coming to the rescue with the launch of the BRIX Pro in the NUC form factor.

The BRIX Pro is a barebones desktop machine. We had looked at the various BRIX models before, and this model, while maintaining the length and width of the existing BRIX units, is equipped with the 65W TDP i7-4770R, and the unit comes in the NUC form factor! This means that the unit is really tiny. The length and width are almost the same as the other NUC form factor machines (as shown in the picture below). The BRIX Pro builds upon the BRIX s, which has support for a 2.5" drive. The height is still more than that of the BRIX s, in order to accommodate the thermal design for a 65W CPU.

Our review unit landed last Friday. With CES this week, and limited time at our disposal, we decided to split the coverage of the BRIX Pro into two parts. In today's article, we will look at the performance of the CPU and GPU, as well as the thermal performance of the package along with some power consumption numbers. In the second part towards the end of the month, we plan to go into more detailed benchmarks and how to outfit the BRIX Pro to get a well rounded system.

Gigabyte's BRIX Pro Kits Comparison
  GB-BXi5-4570R GB-BXi7-4770R
CPU Intel Core i5-4570R Intel Core i7-4770R
RAM 2 x DDR3L SO-DIMM slots 2 x DDR3L SO-DIMM slots
Display Outputs 1x HDMI 1.4a, 1x mini-DP 1.2 1x HDMI 1.4a, 1x mini-DP 1.2
USB 4 x USB 3.0 4 x USB 3.0
Gigabit Ethernet Y Y
mini PCIe (half-height) 1 1
mini PCIe (full-height, mSATA support) 1 1
Internal SATA 1 (with power) 1 (with power)
Power Supply External 19V / 7.1A DC External 19V / 7.1A DC
Suggested Pricing $529 $649

Since we wanted to get up and running quickly, the RAM and mSATA SSD were just transferred from the recently reviewed NUC kit to the BRIX Pro. In our second part of the review, we will evaluate the BRIX Pro with different SODIMMs / SSDs. For now, the benchmarks presented in the rest of this piece are based on the configuration below.

Gigabyte GB-BXi7-4770R Build Components
  Component Price
Chassis / CPU / Motherboard / PSU GB-BXi7-4770R $649
Memory Crucial CT51264BF160B 2x4 GB Kit $96
SSD Intel mSATA SSD 530 $183

Total   $928

Synthetic Benchmarks
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  • 8steve8 - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    +1
    if it can be replaced by a better cooler even if it increases size, i'd like to know . there is simply no other way to get iris pro.. (besides macbook pro 15 and imac 21.5).. but those are not the higher end 65W ones...
    Reply
  • japtor - Wednesday, January 08, 2014 - link

    The iMac uses the 65W i5-4570R actually. Reply
  • 8steve8 - Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - link

    you're right... so i guess there is one other way on planet earth to get these 65W iris pro parts... but a 21.5" screen is attached... i hope apple makes an imac mini iris pro.

    Also it's such an epic fail gigabyte fumbled the fan/noise situation on this... anyone have a photo of what the cooling solution is? or any photos of the cpu area?
    Reply
  • JohnHardkiss - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    (1st post here)
    I am suprised it isn't mentioned here that Gigabyte is planning to release BRIXs with mobile dGPUs as well. This is interesting and I hope Anandtech will cover this as well and compare their performance with the 4770r. Obviously, having dGPU in a BRIX format defies the need for 4770R somewhat. the combo-setups will be 1) AMD A8 APU + Radeon HD 8890M, 2) Intel CPU + Radeon HD 8890M, 3) Intel CPU + Nvidia GTX 880M. You can even see the stickers Gigabyte put on their BRIX models showcased at the CES in your own gallery here: http://anandtech.com/Gallery/Album/3311#8 .

    A request for the full review is also to please have some clear pictures of the BRIX stripped down. I mean, how is the cpu connected to the heatsink and how is the fan exactly positioned? I can imagine myself building a simple, sleightly larger case with some Vesa compatible holes drilled in it to fix the Brix Pro in. This way one could hopefully exchange the stock fan with some quiet 140mm fan and not have to live with the probably insane amount of stocknoise. (And, i could glue the psu inside this larger case as well ;) - Gigabyte, take note of this idea!)

    I would also like to suggest to look at how the dimensions of the Gigabyte Pro motherboard relate to the NUC dimensions. Is it 1:1 as far as size goes? Or 1:1 as far as formfactor goes: are the screwholes dimensioned the same?

    Lastly, I would like to suggest this: In a lot of the practical gaming tests that are done with iGPUs, I don't see 1080p resolutions being tested. Today this is becoming outdated, since not only the 4770R in this BRIX Pro unit, but also the Kaveri a10-7850k (as well as the 65W(!) rated a10-7800 which I believe shares the same iGPU but is clocked a bit lower cpu wise) are capable of gaming at these resolutions. I mean, see this for what we have coming our way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axyHkKn_e80 pretty insane.
    So, please Anandtech, start incorporating 1080p gaming in your benchmarks. A game like cs:go on 1080p would be awesome. I am planning to use either the new kaveri or this 4770r for this game but I'm not sure it will handle it.

    A rather long first post, but you can understand hopefully that I try to bring some free thoughts to this table. I hope you incorporate these in your review Anandtech!
    Reply
  • rhx123 - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    Wow, didn't know about the 880M one.
    It looks smaller than this one though, and the TDP of the 880M will probably be arround 100W alone, doesnt really seem to add up to me.
    Reply
  • fluxtatic - Wednesday, January 08, 2014 - link

    I'll second the call for 1080p benchmarks. 1440p benchmarks are fine, but the latest Steam Hardware Survey has 1440p at less than 1% still. 1080p has 32%. Next down is 1366x768 at 23%.

    So, yes, I can get an idea more or less what I can expect at 1080p from 1440p benchmarks, but the picture is less than perfect - 1440p is pushing half again as many pixels as 1080p.
    Reply
  • amb9800 - Sunday, January 19, 2014 - link

    Very interesting- hadn't seen the dGPU BRIX models. Wonder if they'll ever actually make it to market though- Gigabyte has a pretty poor track record showing things that end up either too late to be relevant, or never. Also wonder how the cooling would work in that footprint, given the GTX 880M would almost double the TDP. Reply
  • jasonelmore - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    thanks for the review, i would have like to seen at least 2 or 3 gaming benchmarks (non-synthetics).

    Battlefield 4
    Metro LL
    any Valve game
    Reply
  • JohnHardkiss - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    another reason to test cs:go is that it is a steam-released game (by Valve). Seeing how the BRIX Pro is presented at the CES as a steambox as well, testing itt would make sense.
    I also would like to +1 the suggestion of JasonElmore above to benchmark Battlefield 4 since it is already benchmarked in the youtube video I linked to in my previous post. a clear comparison could be drawn this way.
    Reply
  • patterson32 - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    Please test Linux on this. Use whatever distro you feel is good. Reply

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