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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  • gochichi - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    As was mentioned in the Mac Pro 2013 review, the desktop market needs to evolve to remain viable and relevant. While it’s nice to see these NUC systems finally start popping up, I feel like the price just isn’t right for these new systems. They are clearly as inexpensive to make as a traditional system and so I don’t understand the prices. Shipping costs from China of these tiny machines should represent some sort of savings to the manufacturer.
    I’d like to see something actually forward looking come from the PC side. Like a standard external power supply unit that is as standard as ATX PSUs are today. I like the thing, it doesn’t have to have the best design on the planet but the price is just so off. $1000 for why? We’re not even accounting for a Windows OS (and maybe we shouldn’t, Linux is actually viable) but still, Windows is another bill. I get that we could find an mSATA drive for $90 but still, it is just slow progress. I feel like if it’s cheap to make (which this thing obviously is), I’d love to see that reflected on the price on day one.
    Let me put it another way… I’d like to see a standard that is more or less a laptop without an embedded keyboard, mouse or screen or battery. I see so many laptops that I think, “If this didn’t have this crappy screen, if this had NO screen at all” I’d buy it and use it for X. I see $230 laptops with Windows installed and the only problem I see with them is that they are laptops. I know the screens, keyboard and trackpads and batteries on lower end laptops are junk, but are they really next-to-free to include?
    Looking at the shape of things, it is genius on Apple’s side to make the device circular in order to follow the shape of the gigantic fan. If we boil down the essence of what a desktop is, we say: BIGGER fans= bigger thermal capacity, bring your own monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
    The Microsoft Store carries exactly zero desktops. Now it’s nice to see what I want become available at all, but it seems strange that it would come at a huge price premium. Apple continues to lead in terms of value and in terms of understand the market (and I find this very frustrating, I wish I could just get my Apple tattoo and “switch” and be done with it, but I keep rooting for open standards that never come.
    Call it Ultradesk (vs Ultrabook), I think we’re so fantastically overdue a real update on desktops and this device is one that probably after 3-years you’ll be glad you didn’t look at the price at all but at the same time, the same could be said about a Mac Mini.
    I’m talking about a Microsoft Surface minus the touchscreen and battery… just plain desktop in a quiet and versatile format.
    Reply
  • JohnHardkiss - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    Totally agree with you, +1. Reply
  • Qwertilot - Wednesday, January 08, 2014 - link

    Desktops do definitely need to sort themselves out. I'm not sure if they should to go outright cheap mind.

    Desktops have such a long fully usable life span now - even gaming will give you ~5 years and it could be much more for other uses - so there's arguably actually more incentive than before to get everything 'nice'. Not in power terms as such but monitor, keyboard, form factor, noise etc.
    Reply
  • CknSalad - Wednesday, January 08, 2014 - link

    There just needs to be less full and mid-tower PCs and a lot more M-ATX (Silverstone TJ08-E sized) and especially ITX cases like the crowd-funded Ncase M1, SG05 or the antec ISK series (for the less-demanding tasks). I totally agree that the desktop market has been way too slow into moving towards the SFF market. Reply
  • artemisgoldfish - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    A single eSATA port would be really nice. USB 3.0 is nice and all, but it's just not as compelling as a storage interface. Other than that nit to pick, I think the lesser Gigabyte units would make nice low-power home servers once you connect external bulk storage, and the higher-specced units... Well, I would quite like one in my cubicle at work. Reply
  • ryrynz - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    Wanna see options for making this thing near silent. Reply
  • ryrynz - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    Any chance of looking into how underclocking and swapping out the fan helps with noise? Reply
  • ryrynz - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    Can you look into what options are available in the BIOS too? Reply
  • Zandros - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    Interesting total power consumption numbers and as a proof of concept. 88 W compares with Apple's stated 85 W max (actual power seems to be significantly less though) for the Mac mini. I really think the R-series could work well in a redesigned mini, if only to avoid the exorbitant prices of the mobile Iris Pro parts. Sadly, the list price of the 4570R is still about $50 higher than the current Ivy Bridge in the low end mini. Reply
  • mofo77 - Wednesday, January 08, 2014 - link

    It seems to be a great combination of size and power but one thing is really disappointing, i.e. mini DP max resolution is 3200x2000 instead of 4k (according to specification found on the Gigabyte web page). It is a huge omission in my opinion. I almost wanted to order this unit but because of that I will not do that. The other consideration is noise. I want my PC to run as quiet as possible. Reply

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