HTPC Credentials

The GIGABYTE GB-BXi7H-5500 is a compact PC, but, thanks to the 15W TDP CPU inside, it doesn't require a noisy thermal solution like what we saw in the BRIX Pro and BRIX Gaming units. Subjectively speaking, the unit is silent for most common HTPC use-cases. Only under heavy CPU / GPU loading does the fan become audible. However, as mentioned before, it still makes a good HTPC for folks who don't want to pay the premium for a passively cooled system.

Refresh Rate Accurancy

Starting with Haswell, Intel, AMD and NVIDIA have been on par with respect to display refresh rate accuracy. The most important refresh rate for videophiles is obviously 23.976 Hz (the 23 Hz setting). As expected, the GIGABYTE GB-BXi7H-5500 has no trouble with refreshing the display appropriately in this setting. In fact, in our recent tests, Intel's accuracy has been the best of the three.

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. Since YouTube now defaults to HTML5 for video playback, we have stopped evaluating Adobe Flash acceleration. 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 in Mozilla Firefox (v 35.0).

YouTube Streaming - HTML5: Power Consumption

Differences in the power consumption numbers for the Broadwell and Haswell BRIX units can be attributed to changes in the version of Firefox as well as the drivers. Ideally, the Haswell-based unit ought to consume more power for the same workload - something brought out by the Netflix power consumption numbers shown below.

GPU load was around 13.03% for the YouTube HTML5 stream and 4.25% for the steady state 6 Mbps Netflix streaming case.

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, madVR and Kodi. We already know that EVR works quite well even with the Intel IGP for our test streams. Under madVR, we used the default settings (as it is well known that the stressful configurations don't work even on the Iris Pro-equipped processors). The decoder used was LAV Filters bundled with MPC-HC v1.7.8. LAV Video was configured to make use of Quick Sync.

GIGABYTE GB-BXi7H-5500 - Decoding & Rendering Performance
Stream EVR-CP madVR - Default XBMC
  GPU Load (%) Power (W) GPU Load (%) Power (W) GPU Load (%) Power (W)
480i60 MPEG2 23.28 12.54 65.46 14.79 12.93 10.34
576i50 H264 20.18 11.46 74.94 15.44 22.15 10.73
720p60 H264 28.03 14.56 72.32 18.64 27.91 11.65
1080i60 MPEG2 29.87 14.40 48.78 19.73 27.75 11.88
1080i60 H264 32.24 16.06 49.99 20.24 31.04 12.21
1080i60 VC1 31.01 15.23 49.06 19.91 28.77 12.20
1080p60 H264 31.87 15.88 65.89 18.54 30.58 12.07
1080p24 H264 12.71 13.47 20.95 12.49 11.58 10.39
4Kp30 H264 29.87 20.01 93.85 38.24 17.67 12.32

The Intel HD Graphics 5500 throws us a nice surprise by managing to successully keep its cool with the madVR default settings. Only the 4Kp30 stream downscaled after decode for 1080p playback choked and dropped frames. Otherwise, there was no trouble for our test streams with either Kodi or MPC-HC / EVR-CP.

Networking and Storage Performance Power Consumption and Thermal Performance
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  • voicequal - Saturday, February 07, 2015 - link

    The frequency and temperature characteristics are the most interesting and uniquely Anandtech parts of these reviews. Please keep up the good work.

    I'm puzzled as to how a CPU with a base clock specification of 2.4 GHz can drop to 1.6 GHz during the CPU+GPU loading test? Doesn't that make the base clock effectively 1.6 GHz at the given TDP of 15W?

    It's disconcerting that the GPU can steal power from the CPU, and yet this doesn't show up anywhere on the spec sheet but is continually exposed by these reviews.
    Reply
  • xchaotic - Monday, February 16, 2015 - link

    Actually for the most obvious scenarios I can think of - gaming and other GPU accelerated tasks, I think it's better to give GPU priority, but I think there should be a software option to control how this works, along with other power saving features like idle timers...
    I can think of scenarios where both the CPU and GPU are loaded and the CPU should be given priority...
    Reply
  • BtotheT - Monday, March 30, 2015 - link

    I'm thinking the next big leap for Brix will be the Skylake H series processors(Q4'15-Q2'16). The Broadwell model here was a dual core, with non edram graphics(HD5500 series no less, Broadwell's low end) , you can't expect it to keep up with a quad core with edram the 4770R had. Reply

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