At Computex last year ASUS formally announced its mini-PC platform in the shape of the GR8. It was designed to fit within a bookcase on a shelf and act as a mini-Steam PC for gaming and streaming duties with its i7 U-series Haswell processor and integrated GTX 750Ti. The GR8 was ultimately designed to accelerate a niche where small form factor gaming was at the heart of the home. While we haven’t reviewed it at AnandTech as of yet, one could easily predict that it was going to end up getting a refresh for Broadwell, which is the case today. The i5-5200U isn't right at the top of the Broadwell-U stack, but it certainly falls more on the side of the gaming family of mini-PCs with today’s announcement.

ASUS ROG GR Series
  GR8 GR6
CPU Core i7 4510U Core i5 5200U
GPU GTX 750 Ti 2GB
Intel HD 4400
GTX 960M 2GB
HD 5500
DRAM 8GB, Up to 16GB
DDR3L-1600 MHz
SO-DIMM
8GB, Up to 16GB
DDR3L-1600 MHz
SO-DIMM
Storage 2 x 2.5-in
500GB-1TB 7200RPM /
128GB-256GB SSD
2 x 2.5-in
500GB-1TB 7200RPM /
128GB-256GB SSD
WiFi 802.11ac
Miracast Receiver
802.11ac
Miracast Receiver ?
LAN Intel Gigabit Intel Gigabit
Audio SupremeFX w/5.1
DTS Connect
SupremeFX w/5.1
DTS Connect
Front IO Headphone/Microphone
2 x USB 2.0
Headphone/Microphone
2 x USB 2.0
Rear IO 4 x USB 3.0
HDMI
DisplayPort
RJ45
Audio Jacks
Kensington Lock
4 x USB 3.0
HDMI
DisplayPort
RJ45
Audio Jacks
Kensington Lock
Power Supply 120W Power Adaptor Power Adaptor
Dimensions 60 x 245 x 238 mm
1.284 kg
60 x 245 x 238 mm
1.28 kg
Price (US) $920 with 1TB HDD N/A

The heart of the GR6 beats with an i5-5200U, a 15W Broadwell processor which is paired with a Maxwell GM107 derived GTX 960M with 2GB of GDDR5. This is partnered with two SO-DIMM slots which can hold up to 16GB of DDR3L at 1600 MHz. Given that this is a ROG device, I wonder if those SO-DIMM slots could actually hold XMP timings for some of higher frequency SO-DIMM modules that are on the market.  Nevertheless the rest of chassis can hold two 2.5-in SSDs/HDDs, there is an integrated gigabit Ethernet port, dual-band 2T2R 802.11ac WiFi and four USB 3.0 slots on the rear.

The specifications chosen highlight an important part of Intel's strategy with the Broadwell-U series, whereby Atom and Core-M fit into the sub 6W category of ultraportables, but the 15-28W range of mobile processors are for beefier portable designs as well as mini-PCs which don't need to rely on batteries. We discussed Core M's issues with chassis design previously, but Broadwell-U in a desktop chassis should easily not have to worry about turbo throttling.

Power is provided by a 19V DC-in and a power brick, and a Kensington lock module is provided for gaming LAN protection. All the major ROG software and packages are bundled, such as SupremeFX Audio, SoundStage, SenseAmp, Sonic Radar, GameFirst III, AI Suite III. The 2.5-liter chassis is set to weigh in at 1.28kg.

As the announcement today is just for the device, pricing and availability for different regions has not been released. With Computex only six weeks or so away, I assume we will see it at the show to get some quick hands-on time.

Source: ASUS ROG

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  • Hace - Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - link

    That price tells me that Steam machines will never take off Reply
  • dj_aris - Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - link

    I can understand why OEMs that want to make small systems use custom boards with soldered graphics, but what I really don't get is why they choose to use expensive mobile cpus in desktops (which run off the mains anyway). i5-5200U is a 281$ cpu and performs worse than a 72$ LGA Pentium G3258. OK, maybe the system would be an inch wider, but then again it would be faster, cheaper and even upgradable. Reply
  • Laststop311 - Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - link

    i agree 100% I would not mind a system even 4 inches wider if it meant desktop cpu and desktop gpu. Reply
  • 8steve8 - Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - link

    I like SFF and NUC, but being thicker than a laptop is a good thing if it means you can use a current gen cpu with a higher TDP.

    15W is excessively low, if apple can put a 28w cpu in their 13-inch mbpr, then SFF machines can handle a 28w cpu too... and probably with a few inches of thickness, a 65 or even a 95W cpu would work just fine.

    the stock cooler for 95W cpus is only a couple inches high.
    Reply
  • Samus - Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - link

    They're using what they can get. Currently Apple has dibs on the 28w chips (I haven't seen them in any other shipping devices) Reply
  • Ananke - Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - link

    OEMs are building such machines, because they already have main board design handy from their laptops, CPUs are already bought in large quantities /comes with volume rebates and other marketing incentives/. Essentially, Asus only needs to design a case and put already free R&D components inside. That overall decreases the marginal cost of Asus laptops, since they may increase their volume sales. Asus and everybody else, is after the laptop sales, "gaming" etc is just marginal cost decreaser. This is the same as Ford building electric vehicles to decrease the marginal fleet polution, so they can sell more F trucks - which is their core business. Reply
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - link

    That's a bit of a non sequitur, since this is not a Steam Machine. You're thinking of the ROG GR8 and ROG G20:
    http://www.asus.com/Microsite/rog/GR8_G20/
    Reply
  • Samus - Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - link

    I agree. If this is a steam machine, it's a steam machine on steroids. Many of them use integrated graphics lol. Reply
  • Samus - Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - link

    This is an awesome lanparty box. You'd be hauling ~3kg with a 22" monitor, that's lighter than some gaming notebooks/DTR's. It does need to be a few hundred bucks cheaper: a custom ITX system with less flair could be built for nearly half as much, while maintaining upgradability. It'd be much heavier, though. Reply
  • DryAir - Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - link

    The only good steam machine is the alienware alpha, which has better specs (35w desktop i3, gtx 860m) and retails for $500 (currently 449 on amazon). All the others are either too expensive or too underpowered. It even has a special Console-like UI! Reply

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