GIGABYTE is attacking the NUC sized form factor with seemingly every idea on the market.  This is a good thing in a market that loves innovation.  We have seen the original BRIX, BRIX 2 updated with newer processors, and Ganesh published part one of this BRIX Pro review earlier this week, part two coming shortly.  So while I am not at CES, I have been monitoring the airwaves for information and one of the units that stood out is the BRIX MAX, a Haswell based BRIX running Android aimed at being a NAS Server for the home.

Image courtesy of PC Perspective

The BRIX MAX is a large BRIX, with space adjustable for four 2.5” drives.  Colin from GIGABYTE stated that the BRIX can enable four 1TB drives, although 2.5” drives now come in 2TB versions, so I would be interested if it can fit the larger size drives.  Reports vary on what CPUs are going to be available inside, but GIGABYTE is saying they will come equipped with IRIS Pro graphics solutions.  Interestingly enough, the chipset is also a discussion here, as in order for GIGABYTE to fit four drives in they would have to be using either SATA ports on board or a backplane to fit the drives into, similar to what some chassis do.

From other images we can see an IR receiver on the front, gigabit Ethernet and HDMI on the back, as well as a variety of USB ports.    The fact that GIGABYTE are quoting Iris Pro graphics means that the system seems overly powerful for what it needs to do, which can suggest many things: users can install another OS and use the device as a normal PC, users can use the BRIX to transcode if needed, there is scope for HTPC duties and so on.  Along with Ethernet, the unit is quoted as supporting 802.11n, although I might imagine that could be bumped up to dual band 802.11ac by the time it hits the market.

GIGABYTE is using this initial demo model at CES to gauge the reaction of media and of readers alike, and are welcome to suggestions/opinions and requirements that any AnandTech readers have.  I know Ganesh mentioned something about making the drives hot-swappable would be good, which I can see the point of!  Personally I would make sure that it is able to fit the slightly taller 2TB 2.5” drives, and RAID 5 and 6 should be standard options in my opinion.  Perhaps an eSATA with port multiplication should be here as well.  GIGABYTE would love to hear your comments!

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  • cycomiko - Friday, January 10, 2014 - link

    This, with windows running itunes would be xcellent. Dear gigabyte... I have the licience, I can get my own drives and ram, please sent it my way. Reply
  • esoel_ - Friday, January 10, 2014 - link

    Why android? Reply
  • lmcd - Saturday, January 11, 2014 - link

    Yeah what were they thinking? Android? Windows or maybe a Linux variant (Suse?) Reply
  • aryonoco - Friday, January 10, 2014 - link

    I think this really needs a solid port of XBMC to be, and for that processor to be used. I think there's a lot of interest in a NA/HTPC combo, especially on the smaller scale of things, for people who value space/power.

    If Gigabyte can get a good, solid, port of XBMC running on this thing, whether on Android or a more traditional Linux, with hardware decoding and everything, and they have a good/easy simple interface for managing the device and the NAS side and setting up RAID, then they could have a home run on their hands.

    But unfortunately, most of the time with these things, the software execution isn't there, which lets the whole thing down.
    Reply
  • cjb110 - Friday, January 10, 2014 - link

    Agreed! My parents (went with a traditional 4 bay nas and a nuc in the end) and sister would both love this, but they aren't going to want any faffing around, it needs to work as well as any other appliance. Reply
  • MadMan007 - Friday, January 10, 2014 - link

    Hot swap bays add unnecessary expense to a home server. You aren't running a mission-critical business server that demands 100% uptime, it's ok to bust out the screw driver and open up the system to swap drives. Reply
  • lwatcdr - Friday, January 10, 2014 - link

    MadMan007 I agree but for a lot of endusers the idea of using a screwdriver is scary. I would rather see 3.5 drives but the price on 2.5 drivers are so low that it might not make a lot of difference Reply
  • hrrmph - Friday, January 10, 2014 - link

    I've been using hot-swap racks in my tower systems for years n years now. The only thing I bust out a screwdriver for anymore is to install the racks during the initial build. I don't shut my system down to change a drive...

    ... and whilst miniaturization would be welcome, I don't want to go backwards either.

    If they are serious about this, they need to make it at least 8 drive bays, and each bay needs to be able to fit 15.0mm height drives.
    Reply
  • lesherm - Friday, January 10, 2014 - link

    I'd love to see a stackable hdd enclosure based on eSATA for this thing. Then it could be a great replacement for my current define mini setup, which can hold a total of 9 drives, albeit in a different form factor. Reply
  • James5mith - Friday, January 10, 2014 - link

    I would love one of these for friends and family who don't want a giant computer some where, but who need a nice central location for data storage/backup. Reply

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