GIGABYTE BRIX Gaming BXi5G-760 mini-PC Reviewby Ganesh T S on September 15, 2014 2:30 PM EST
BXi5G-760 as a HTPC
Thanks to its discrete GPU, the BXi5G-760 has to tackle a much higher thermal workload with its cooling mechanism. To accommodate this, a few extra fans have been thrown in compared to the BRIX Pro. It goes without saying that the acoustic profile is not entirely suitable for most HTPC applications (unless the gaming aspect gets precedence). Despite this, the HTPC credentials deserve coverage. We didn't take the trouble to look into the refresh rates. NVIDIA has one of the best custom resolution / refresh rate creation tools in the industry, and even minor deviations from the expected refresh rates in one's particular setup can be worked upon for more accuracy. We concentrate on two aspects - network streaming efficiency and decoding / rendering benchmarks.
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. The power consumption at the wall as well as the GPU usage while playing them on Mozilla Firefox are provided in the table below. Note that NVIDIA exposes GPU and VPU loads separately. This indicates whether any playback issues are due to the post-processing aspects (GPU) or the video decoding block's inability to handle the stream (VPU). 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.
|GIGABYTE BXi5G-760 Network Streaming Efficiency|
|OTT Stream||GPU Load (%)||VPU Load (%)||Power (W)|
|YouTube - HTML5||15.54||10.43||31.68 W|
|YouTube - Adobe Flash||12.71||26.26||30.25 W|
|Netflix - Windows 8.1 App||5.66||27.18||30.18 W|
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. Under madVR, we used the default settings for one of the passes. In addition, we also set up a 'madVR stress configuration' with the upscaling algorithms set to Jinc 3-tap with anti-ringing activated and the downscaling algorithm set to Lanczos 3-tap, again with anti-ringing activated. The decoder used is from the LAV filters integrated in MPC-HC v1.7.6.
An important point to note regarding the GPU loading is that the values reported by NVIDIA's drivers don't take the clock speed into consideration. For example, the 20% GPU loading reported for 1080i60 H.264 with EVR-CP is at a higher clock rate compared to the 45% reported for the 1080i60 MPEG-2 stream. The power consumption at the wall is the true metric of how much the system is stressed. The loading factors should be used only to determine if the stutters in playback are due to the hardware's incapability.
|GIGABYTE BXi5G-760 - Decoding & Rendering Performance|
|Stream||EVR-CP||madVR - Default||madVR - Stress|
|GPU Load (%)||VPU Load (%)||Power (W)||GPU Load (%)||VPU Load (%)||Power (W)||GPU Load (%)||VPU Load (%)||Power (W)|
The results show that the BXi5G-760 is the most powerful madVR-capable HTPC we have reviewed in its form factor. The only stream that it couldn't handle was the 4Kp30 H.264 clip when played on a 1080p display with the stressful madVR options.
In the gaming benchmarks, we found it tough to make a call between the AMD R9 270X-equipped VisionX 420D and the GTX 760-equipped BXi5G-760. In the HTPC benchmarks, though, the GIGABYTE model emerges a clear winner. However, if acoustics are a concern, the ASRock VisionX 420D may make a better choice.