Final Words

The GIGABYTE GB-BXi7H-5500 provided us with the opportunity to take a look at what Broadwell-U can deliver. The migration from 22nm to 14nm has allowed for higher base clocks while maintaining the same power envelop. The performance delta over the Haswell-U-based GB-BXi7-4500 (particularly, on the graphics side) is notable. That said, while migrating from Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge is a no-brainer, there is not enough on offer to recommend migrating from a Haswell-based mini-PC.

From the perspective of the BRIX itself, the GB-BXi7H-5500 has two major downsides, and both of them are related to the networking subsystem. Considering that the i7 SKU is the 'premium' SKU in this lineup, use of a 1x1 802.11ac (Intel AC3160) card is disappointing. It would have been nice to have the AC7260 or AC7265. The Broadcom BCM4352 is even more preferable. In addition, GIGABYTE should have opted for an Intel LAN chipset instead of a Realtek one for this high-end configuration.

One of the interesting differentiating features is the availability of NFC. Along with the unit, GIGABYTE also supplied a NFC tag. The accompanying driver DVD has a NFC app (Windows program) which allows creation of profiles to link with the tag. These profiles could be associated with web addresses or files / programs in the system. Tapping the tag against the unit's lid activates the profile. Right now, this is a basic application. GIGABYTE indicated that they are working on bringing more functionality to the app and making it easier to use.

The pricing of the Core i7-5500U makes it attractive for high-end ultrabooks, but the BXi7H-5500 manages to get it to the consumer in a UCFF PC at a reasonable price ($509, when Intel apparently sells the CPU alone for $393). All in all, GIGABYTE has managed to deliver the right balance of price, power, size and thermal / acoustic design in the GB-BXi7H-5500. It remains to be seen what Intel is able to offer with the NUC lineup and how the NUCs will complement and/or compete against the Broadwell BRIX units.

Power Consumption and Thermal Performance
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  • 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

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