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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  • johnny_boy - Friday, January 10, 2014 - link

    Not too interesting really, unless you desperately need something this small with this much power, but I can't imagine who would. It's too loud and throttles. You can get a marginally larger ITX build with far better cooling, much quieter, and never throttles, and doesn't look as cheap. Reply
  • Laststop311 - Friday, January 10, 2014 - link

    Shame about the noise level. Other than the noise this is an HTPC dream machine. Reply
  • boto - Friday, January 10, 2014 - link

    I like Linux testing to be done. Also, please see how easily the fan can be replaced for a quieter one. I'm not interested in fanless cases since they're often bigger and very expensive. Reply
  • Andresen - Monday, January 13, 2014 - link

    The homepage for Gigabye.com is not very accurate about the amount of eDRAM. The version for Great Britain says 128 MB (see http://uk.gigabyte.com/press-center/news-page.aspx... and the same announcement on the Danish page says 64 MB ( http://www.gigabyte.dk/media/13441 ).

    In any case the unit could be interesting for a small HPC setup. I hope there will be some computational tests that stress the memory bandwidth in the further coverage.
    Reply
  • Ktracho - Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - link

    It looks like my comment from a few days ago didn't get posted. I currently have a desktop computer and a small NAS box. Something like this could combine both while drastically reducing physical space and power consumption. Noise wouldn't be as critical as in a HTPC, provided it didn't make a lot of noise while performing light tasks, such as web browsing, e-mail, word processing, etc., which is the bulk of what I would do with it. I don't use my desktop PC very intensively, but there are times when I absolutely need to have it around, and being able to do more than just light tasks is definitely a plus. I'd look into using Windows 8.1 Pro under the included Hyper-V in combination with Linux or a second copy of Windows, with one VM for personal use and the other for the NAS side.

    As for HTPC, I'd prefer something that can also be used for gaming, so I'm thinking of taking over my daughter's mini-ITX box when she goes to college, and have one VM for HTPC use, and another VM running Windows with its own dedicated graphics card for gaming. It also has a blu-ray player, so I'd eventually be able to get rid of our PS3. In my situation, this box would not work so well for what I have in mind for HTPC.
    Reply
  • oviano - Friday, January 17, 2014 - link

    Is the noise really a huge issue I wonder, for HTPC use?

    Ok so maybe you need to reencode some video files or whatever from time to time and this will be presumably nice and quick (and noisy) with this vs say the NUC, but for general day-to-day use presumably it's not going to be pushed to the limit?
    Reply
  • kgh00007 - Friday, January 17, 2014 - link

    Any sign of part II yet? :-) Reply
  • DriesV - Saturday, January 18, 2014 - link

    I just ordered mine. Couldn't wait for a final review. :-)
    Thermal performance under combined Prime95 and FurMark load is not very relevant, I think. You just KNOW that these units are not going to have the best cooling. The question is: will the cooling suffice for everyday (non-OC) usage? I strongly believe it will.
    I'll be using mine as a networked render node (KeyShot). So I'm interested in thermal performance @ 100% CPU load in a real-life application.
    Reply
  • jgstew - Sunday, January 19, 2014 - link

    Is there a good reason for intel to release Iris Pro as OEM only? Are they worried about motherboard compatibility / specific tuning to take advantage of it, or perhaps worried about supply issues? I don't see why intel cannot release these parts at retail as well as OEM, at least eventually. Reply
  • lco45 - Monday, January 20, 2014 - link

    Shame there's no micro format for graphics cards.
    I thought mITX would be a nice size reduction for my new system, but these NUC/BRIX form factor boxes are so much smaller than even the most compact mITX system.
    If only there were system builder versions of these tiny pcs, especially with a mini GPU option, such as the mobile GPUs that come on gaming laptops.
    Basically I want a gaming laptop without the laptop!
    Reply

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