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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98 Comments

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  • laif - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    This please. Also, please specify the kernel and graphics stack versions. Thank you. Reply
  • patterson32 - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    Please add LZMA2 compression/decompression tests to your benchmarks. Maybe use Pixz ( https://github.com/vasi/pixz ) for both parallel compression and decompression. I tar.xz often so this would be useful for me. I don't remember the last time I used RAR. Reply
  • Subyman - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    Strange they would call it the BRIX. Reply
  • JDG1980 - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    The fan noise is extremely disappointing, since it pretty much rules out using the Brix Pro as a HTPC. I had hoped, especially given the price point, that this system would be fanless. Reply
  • DIYEyal - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    a 65W TDP part in that size to be fanless?! I don't think so.. I bet you can swap the fan to some aftermarket fan, like a noctua for example (not sure if it's possible without a modding).
    Also, gigabyte are the first to use the 4770R and the 4570R, but I bet other OEMs go on board..
    Reply
  • JDG1980 - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    65W fanless in a small case is doable if you design the entire case as a heat sink, with heat pipes attached to the CPU core. This has been done before. Reply
  • Qwertilot - Wednesday, January 08, 2014 - link

    There's a smallish streamcon one for ~100 pounds even. I'd rather that (and being able to use standard SSD's) than truly tiny and noisy, but I guess it wouldn't fit the theme :)

    Although this chip does seem like it might be pushing the limits of what works. Give it a couple more generations of intel ramping up power efficiency and we might really be talking.
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    Does this system have a regular Gigabyte BIOS/UEFI with options? If so try to lower the iGPU voltage: about -0.1 V should be possible at ~1.25 GHz from what I've seen from Ivy. The CPU could probably also take some tweaking. This should help noise and drive performance up. I'd be curious how far this could push such a thermally & power constrained system. Reply
  • Acarney - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    I REALLY hope we get a detailed gaming test with this running the fastest ram possible. I thought a decent sized issue with the previous Iris Pro test was that the CPU was a good bit slower then all the recent desktop graphic card reviews AND that the TDP limit of the mobile chip might have been limiting Iris Pro some... Also very curious for a proper HTPC review of this, especially the hardest we can push MadVR with it... Yes people are moaning about fan noise but it's NOT impossible to cool a 65w TDP chip via passive means & I'm sure HDPlex or someone else will retrofit their case to accept the guts of a Brix Pro for passive cooling... Then that chip is a monster! Reply
  • edbless - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    Intel has made this difficult for system builders.
    In reality the i7 4850HQ may be a better CPU option.
    It is still Iris 5200, it is 47W, same form factor/mounting, and it does not cost much more.

    I agree with many of the comments, if this is noisy it looses almost all value. It must in unobtrusive in all aspects, size and volume in order to fit in to most environments.
    Reply

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