HTPC Credentials

The GIGABYTE GB-BXBT-1900 does have a small fan (as shown in one of the pictures in the hardware gallery on the first page), but it is quite inaudible compared to even the quiet GB-BXi7-4500. As such, for users unwilling to digest the premium pricing of passively cooled PCs at this performance level, the BXBT-1900 is an ideal choice. The only issue, as we will see in this section, is that the HTPC capabilities offered do not go beyond what the lower priced ECS LIVA can deliver while being fanless. Since both are based on Bay Trail chipsets, this is not an issue.

Another aspect that HTPC users need to keep in mind while considering Bay Trail systems is the HD audio bitstreaming capability. The hardware is indeed capable, and we do get Dolby Digital Plus bitstreaming with the Windows 8.1 Netflix app. However, XBMC and other commercial software Blu-ray players are unable to bitstream DTS-HD and TrueHD audio on Windows 8.1 due to a missing software component for the Bay Trail chipset. OpenELEC (and other such bootable operating systems) has no problems, though, because it doesn't rely on the Windows component (obviously) for HD audio support.

Refresh Rate Accuracy

AMD and NVIDIA have historically been able to provide fine-grained control over display refresh rates. The default rates are also quite accurate. Intel used to have an issue with 23 Hz (23.976 Hz, to be more accurate) support, but that was resolved with the introduction of Haswell. As expected, the GIGABYTE GB-BXBT-1900 has no trouble with refreshing the display appropriately in the 23 Hz setting.

The gallery below presents some of the other refresh rates that we tested out. The first statistic in madVR's OSD indicates the display refresh rate.

Network Streaming Efficiency

Evaluation of OTT playback efficiency was done by playing back our standard YouTube test stream and five minutes from our standard Netflix test title. Using HTML5, the YouTube stream plays back a 720p encoding, while Adobe Flash delivers a 1080p stream. Note that only NVIDIA exposes GPU and VPU loads separately. Both Intel and AMD bundle the decoder load along with the GPU load. The following two graphs show the power consumption at the wall for playback of the HTML5 stream and the Adobe Flash stream in Mozilla Firefox v32.0.1. For HTML5 streaming, the GPU load averaged around 36.96%, while it was 24.31% for the Flash version.

YouTube Streaming - HTML5: Power Consumption

YouTube Streaming - Adobe Flash: Power Consumption

Netflix streaming evaluation was done using the Windows 8.1 Netflix app. Manual stream selection is available (Ctrl-Alt-Shift-S) and debug information / statistics can also be viewed (Ctrl-Alt-Shift-D). Statistics collected for the YouTube streaming experiment were also collected here. The GPU load averaged around 4.74%.

Netflix Streaming - Windows 8.1 Metro App: Power Consumption

Decoding and Rendering Benchmarks

In order to evaluate local file playback, we concentrate on EVR-CP and madVR. We already know that EVR works quite well even with the Intel IGP for our test streams. Given our results from the evaluation of ECS LIVA, we decided to test only EVR-CP with DXVA2 native decoding for the BXBT-1900. The decoder used was LAV Filters bundled with MPC-HC v1.7.7.

GIGABYTE GB-BXBT-1900 - Decoding & Rendering Performance
Stream EVR-CP
  GPU Load (%) Power (W)
480i60 MPEG2 24.56 8.02
576i50 H264 45.74 8.89
720p60 H264 63.79 10.44
1080i60 MPEG2 82.65 12.25
1080i60 H264 93.68 13.32
1080i60 VC1 89.07 12.83
1080p60 H264 76.63 11.49
1080p24 H264 32.99 9.38
4Kp30 H264 91.91 12.46

Entries in bold indicate visible dropped frames. For non-4K and non-interlaced material, the system has no trouble keeping up with the playback. The target market for this type of system will probably not be interested in anything other than vanilla 1080p24 content, and for those folks, the system can act as a good HTPC with EVR-CP as the renderer.

Networking & Storage Performance Power Consumption & Thermal Performance
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  • nathanddrews - Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - link

    Size doesn't matter. Reply
  • vailr - Saturday, October 25, 2014 - link

    This review is too scatterbrained. The reviewer says "Intel HD Graphics" but doesn't specify which version; "not being sold in the North American market", yet also says: "a US power cord".
    Wut? Anand is seeing his old web site go down the drain.
    Reply
  • nickb64 - Sunday, October 26, 2014 - link

    "Intel HD Graphics" is exactly what Intel calls it. No number or anything.

    http://ark.intel.com/products/78867/Intel-Celeron-...
    Reply
  • sjprg2 - Saturday, October 25, 2014 - link

    Why would any company make the SSD controller a SATA 2 instead of a SATA 3?
    also a 5 GHZ wireless would make this a great remote backup.
    Reply
  • abufrejoval - Sunday, October 26, 2014 - link

    You'd need to ask Intel that: This is a system on chip or SoC and SATA comes off that chip.
    Intel might say that SATA 2 saves power and that might even be true. More likely they are just afraid they'll sell less mainline CPUs and chipsets if these SoC were too powerful.

    In practice I find the difference only important on jobs I wouldn't want to do on this system anyway.

    The wireless card isn't soldered on: In theory you could get another card that supports 5GHz for minimal bucks.
    Reply
  • nothing immortal - Sunday, October 26, 2014 - link

    No kabini result? i want to see this cheap amd chip compared with this expensive intel box. Really, it should be there. Reply
  • abufrejoval - Sunday, October 26, 2014 - link

    As much as I love the BRIX in terms of form factor, case look and sturdyness etc. I could never quite fathom their choice of notebook type active cooling systems, especially since they are full metal cases (top cover also has metal under a cover which is plastic for "looks").

    Well of course these notebook fans are cheap, being mass produced in incredible numbers, but they get far too noisy under load. I tried a 15Watt Haswell BRIX and had to return it heartbroken: I loved the little box, but I couldn't stand the constant fan speed changes, which gave me far too much feedback on just how hard the CPU was working.

    I run the GIGABYTE GA-J1900N-D3V which is completely passive and I thus know it's possible to design a passive box in the BRIX form factor.

    And if by all means they need to share a fan design with the bigger boxes, why can't they put a bigger one in, say something Noctua, which never more than whispers?

    Although one of the biggest attractions of these BayTrails is that you can design systems all passive which just run forever somewhere in a corner completely silent and sealed with no chance of choking on dust.

    BTW: I'm glad you finally measured clock speeds and power consumption! Yes, the J1900 (and the J1800 likewise) *never* run at anything but turbo clocks under load. The "official" clock rates are simply bogus numbers, perhaps designed to keep people away from these SoCs or to "manage performance expectations": With Intel everything is possible.

    Idle power clearly speaks for the BRIX and the integrated power supply, which is probably a far better match than the Pico-PSU and external 12V brick that I am using on the GIGABYTE GA-J1900N-D3V, which gives me 10/28 Watts on idle/full load.

    BTW: I've never noticed that a single DRAM channel limited the BayTrail SoCs in any way: Most likely that's because they only ever have a single channel DRAM interface anyway.

    And for Core 2 comparisons: I didn't run too many benchmarks but the J1900 at 2.41 GHz matched 80% of my QX9100 @ 2.40 GHz on all pure CPU benchmarks I tried (POVray and Cinebench R15 raytracing) at 28 vs. 65 Watts.

    If they managed to make this completely passive and silent this would be the perfect desktop. It runs pretty much every x86 OS right out the box with decent but not awe inspiring performance at 1920x1200 or below. Video at least on Windows with is great with all that hardware support from an Intel HD VPU including QuickSync and 3D is limited only by speed not by feature availability, which often enough is all you want (e.g. Compiz 3D effects on Linux).

    Can't expect gaming performance from a system costing less and using less power than an entry level grapics card.
    Reply
  • chizow - Monday, October 27, 2014 - link

    @Ganesh T S: did you get a chance to test this with WMC? Specifically, high bitrate CableCard streams where you change the resolution from windowed to fullscreen or portrait/landscape. My Asus T100 wasn't able to handle this well at all so I ultimately stopped using it as a WMC device and finally sold it. It would hang for up to 60 minutes changing context/resolution and I could never figure out if it was the slow eMMC storage, the GPU, single-channel RAM or what.

    I wanted to get a Celeron NUC for an HTPC but ultimately this scared me off and I went with the i3 NUC instead, which cost more than 2x as much.
    Reply
  • zlandar - Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - link

    I know Celeron is just a name but every time I've used Intel chips below i3 the performance sucks.

    Rather pay the price premium for an i3 than risk being unhappy with a stuttering NUC.

    The comparison with other NUCs seem way off as you mostly compared it against i5/i7 systems and no i3. It's like stacking a HTPC video card against a mid to high range gaming video card.
    Reply
  • leonhk1 - Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - link

    Hi,
    I have stock of Brand New Samsung GALAXY Note 4 for sale at $500 only, sealed in box with 1year warranty.
    Interested buyer should E-mail me at: megas83@yahoo.co.uk
    Reply

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