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
POST A COMMENT

53 Comments

View All Comments

  • jaydee - Thursday, January 29, 2015 - link

    I was hoping for a bit more here from Intel. Looking at the encoding, compressing, encrypting benchmarks, almost nothing was gained performance-wise, or in terms of power consumption. Reply
  • Flunk - Thursday, January 29, 2015 - link

    Broadwell is an incremental update so it's not a big surprise. Reply
  • gonchuki - Thursday, January 29, 2015 - link

    Doesn't even look incremental, more like a step revision of Haswell (just a node shrink and nothing else). It's the same processor Intel launched in 2013, but on a 14nm node. Reply
  • Refuge - Thursday, January 29, 2015 - link

    Tick Tock Tick Tock.

    Although I've noticed their "Tick Tock" Has been slightly off cadence since their "Mobile First" strategy.
    Reply
  • quophog - Friday, January 30, 2015 - link

    No surprise really. No competition at all at the performance end. All their effort is going in to the ultra low power & cost end where ARM based architectures currently dominate. Very sad for everyone (except intel share holders) that AMD couldn't keep up with Intel R&D and fab spending.

    It's a long way off anyway, but I really hope Intel fab advantage doesn't let them eventually monopolise mobile procs too..
    Reply
  • Haravikk - Friday, January 30, 2015 - link

    Is that really such a bad thing? Making a smaller, much more power efficient processor without sacrificing any performance is still a pretty big accomplishment. While it might not make existing machines much more exiting, the really interesting part is what new things it makes possible.

    It's for this reason I hate this new Brix machine; it's the same horrific chassis as before, the with the same anaemic cooling. It should be possible for this to be entirely passively cooled, particularly if they want for a smaller, flatter, aluminium design.
    Reply
  • eanazag - Friday, January 30, 2015 - link

    Intel has done well, but with a competitive AMD we get better prices and more features. ARM has kept Intel moving, but look at the server market. Prices run from $200+ - north of $2000 for 2P systems. And Intel has the middle filled out too. Intel is charging whatever the hell they want there. Reply
  • eanazag - Friday, January 30, 2015 - link

    It does look incremental in some benches. In others it is on par. For this type of system I would be leaning towards the 4770R. I don't care for the gaming performance on the 5500U. It is fine at 1280x1024/1366x768. I'd rather have the option to take a step up. The 4770R can do decent in 1600x900/1600x1000. For $750+ I'd like to be doing better. Broadwell Iris Pro may be what I'm hoping for.

    Otherwise, I'm a 5500U with a mobile GPU built-in - pricing and features may see which way I lean. I'm not a HTPC user.
    Reply
  • nathanddrews - Thursday, January 29, 2015 - link

    I don't think we should jump to judgment based upon multiple platforms with vastly different components. The closest competitor in this review is the 4500U, which the 5500U decimates in half the benchmarks, while leading it by at least a small margin in the rest. I'm looking forward to a more controlled, thorough review of Broadwell.

    I know that the gaming tests are set in stone and you try not to change them, but can we please drop the 1280x1024 test and replace it with 1280x720? It's 30% less taxing for these weak GPUs and is much more likely to be used by gamers - either on HDTVs, notebook displays (768p), and widescreen monitors. Nearly all 360/PS3 games are 720p, so many people are comfortable with that resolution and it scales to 1080p, 1440p, and 4K. It's just more realistic. No one games at 1280x1024 anymore unless they like pillarboxing and letterboxing at the same time. 720p and 1080p are really the only meaningful resolutions for these GPUs. You can save yourself some time, too...
    Reply
  • ATC9001 - Thursday, January 29, 2015 - link

    +1 for 720p resolution. If possible atleast add this to existing HTPC benchmarking, and of course when the benchmark is revamped for it's next iteraion, drop 1280x1024 completely! Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now