Among the many that the company GIGABYTE produces, there is a rather large line of mini-PCs based on a variety of platforms. All of them have similar body dimensions and almost the same design, but their performance until recently could hardly be compared with the performance of not only desktop computers, but also gaming laptops. Everything changed with the release of the next generation of Intel processors, based on the new Haswell microarchitecture . With the new course taken by Intel, it is expected to pay special attention not so much to the speed and time race as to the satisfaction of the needs of users of various mobile or simply compact devices.
And today in our test lab is the fruit of new Intel solutions, "grown on plantations" GIGABYTE. In it intertwined in one whole and technology for ordinary desktop PCs, and already familiar to us solutions for ultracompacts. But before you start to study this miracle of technology, it should be noted that Intel is also producing computers that are close in terms of their characteristics. The compact computers of the series Intel NUC represent a decisive step towards replacing medium-performance desktop solutions with compact computers that are no bigger than a conventional nettop. But Intel has plenty of new items and more savory. One of them was used in GIGABYTE.
| Intel Core i7-4770R; The clock speed is 3.2 GHz (up to 3.9 in Turbo Boost mode);
6 MB L3;
4 computing cores;
TDP 65 W
|The Chipset||Intel HM87|
|The graphic controller||Integrated adapter Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200 (GT3e), 128 MB of eDRAM|
|Operative memory||The package does not include: 2 x SO-DIMM DDR3L (DDR3 1.35V) to 16 GB 1333/1600 MHz|
|Hard drive||The package does not include: SATA3 drive 6 Gb / s 2.5 inches or mSATA|
|Interfaces|| 1 x MiniDisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x Ethernet (RJ45)
1 x Headphone output / S / P-DIF (3.5mm mini jack )
|Wi-Fi||802.11a / b / g / n / ac|
|The network adapter||1000 Mbit / s (Realtek RTL8111G)|
|The sound||Realtek ALC269|
|The power supply unit||135 W (19 B, 7.1 A)|
|Operating system||The scope of delivery does not include|
The main feature of the device is its central processor, which should be told in more detail. It belongs to a new family of processors of the fourth generation with the architecture Haswell which replaced the architecture of Ivy Bridge. The technological process remained the same – 22 nm, but there were many structural changes, such as, for example, increasing the capacity of the cache memory. The new architecture was developed taking into account the increased requirements for power consumption, and therefore Haswell processors have acquired new modes of energy saving.
GIGABYTE BRIX Pro mini-PC is available with two processor options – Intel Core i5-4570R (model GB-BXi5-4570R) and Intel Core i7-4770R (model GB-BXi7-4770R). Both of them belong to the fourth generation and are built on the Haswell microarchitecture. We were tested for the PC with the most productive hardware component. Both processors from the other models of the line are distinguished by a fundamentally new layout solution. Models R-series does not assume installation in the new Socket LGA1150, as the rest. They are manufactured in the BGA package (ball grid array, Socket 1364), which provides soldering to the motherboard. For mobile processors, such a solution is not noticeable, while desktop versions have always had the option of dismounting the motherboard.
But consider the R-series mobile unlikely. In official materials, the description of the Intel Core i7-4770R model is placed in the desktop solutions section. The performance of this processor is at the level of other models, and the size of the heat package is as much as 65 watts. The processor has a clock speed of 3.2 GHz, which can rise to 3.9 GHz in Turbo Boost mode. The Intel Core i7-4770R model differs from its counterparts only by the reduced size of the L3 cache (6 MB instead of 8 MB) and lack of vPro and VT-d technologies. But according to Intel's idea, this processor should find its place not so much in full-fledged desktops, as in monoblocks and all sorts of compact computers, the types and subspecies of which are developing at a tremendous pace today.
Another major difference between the new R-series and the rest of the fourth-generation processors is that it packs one of the most productive integrated GT3e graphics cores in its packaging (among Intel's products, it's exactly the most productive). From GT3 version GT3e differs by the presence of built-in memory Embedded DRAM (eDRAM) with a capacity of 128 MB. The variant with memory is called Intel Iris Pro 5200. Thus all the other series of processors of the fourth generation are equipped with a graphic core simpler – GT2, without built-in memory. The integrated eDRAM is characterized by the fact that it allows storing data not only from the GPU core, but also from the CPU cores, thereby increasing the overall processor performance.
The working frequency of the GT3 core is 1300 MHz, which is slightly higher than the clock frequency of the GT2 core used in other desktop processors with Haswell architecture. The new kernel works with DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4.0 and OpenCL 1.2 packages. Theoretically, it allows you to combine up to three displays in a common workspace, but the GIGABYTE BRIX Pro has only two video outputs: HDMI and Mini DisplayPort. At the same time, the maximum resolution that can be achieved when the monitor is connected to the HDMI video output is 4096×2304 with a sampling frequency of 24 Hz. The frequency of 60 Hz can be achieved by setting the resolution of 3840×260 pixels.
The GIGABYTE BRIX Pro mini-PC does not come with either a memory module or a drive. For the former, two SO-DIMM DDR3L slots are provided on the system board, in which DDR3-1333 / 1600 modules with a total capacity up to 16 GB can be installed. For the second, a SATA interface with a short thin cable is provided to connect ordinary 2.5-inch HDDs or SSDs. In addition, the mini-PC also has an mSATA connector, which can also be connected to its drive.
Onboard GIGABYTE BRIX Pro there is a full set of network interfaces. The Gigabit Ethernet interface is represented by the Realtek RTL8111G controller. Wireless communication is represented by Mini PCIe AzureWave AW-CB161H card. Its Wi-Fi component works in all modern standards, including high-speed IEEE 802.11 n / ac, and the Bluetooth module has version 4.0. Thus, this mini-PC can quite claim to be a home entertainment center. Almost any network client can be connected to it. As for the USB ports, in this case the manufacturer did not economize and equipped the novelty exclusively with the third version of this interface. The total number of USB 3.0 ports for GIGABYTE BRIX Pro is four.
The audio subsystem is represented by the Realtek ALC269 controller. To connect headphones or speakers, a 3.5 mm audio output is provided, combined with an S / P-DIF connector. But the most common audio input for connecting a microphone from GIGABYTE BRIX Pro for some reason is not provided. Perhaps this is the first and only drawback of its hardware.
The device is delivered in a compact cardboard box in black, inside of which, in addition to the mini-PC itself, we found the following accessories:
- power supply unit with removable power cable,
- mount standard VESA for the monitor,
- a set of fixing screws for mounting the drive and mounting the VESA mount,
- CD with drivers,
- a brief paper installation manual in different languages, including Russian.
Pleasantly pleases the eye of a good metal mount for mounting the device on the back of the monitor. In the rest, the delivery kit of the mini-PC is not noticeable.
The first thing that comes to mind when looking at GIGABYTE BRIX Pro: "Stylish nettop!" Somehow it is hard to believe that in this small, practically fits in the palm of your hand, an almost cubic box beats a large "desktop heart". All models from the GIGABYTE ultracompact line have the same dimensions as the base of the case. All of them are very similar to each other, but GIGABYTE BRIX Pro is almost twice as high as the others. On the back of the monitor, such a mini-PC will stand out quite enough, but it's still not possible to call it a large one.
The case has a metal base, and on the outside is lacquered plastic, which can be either dark gray or bright red. We got the first option for testing. The gloss of the side surfaces and the gloss of the upper part of the body differ markedly. On the lateral surfaces fingerprints are poorly visible, but from the top they are quite striking.
Outside of the metal parts of the body, the user can see only the base, which has four rubber feet, on which this small but quite heavy ultracompact rests.
The only button is located in one of the corners of the top panel of the case. This is the power button of the device, which has a bright blue backlight. On the corner in the front part of the case and on the back wall there are ventilation grilles, which, besides a purely practical role, also carry an aesthetic function. They have different shapes and even the size of the cell. Like the usual full-sized PC, the front panel of the GIGABYTE BRIX Pro has only a pair of USB 3.0 ports and an audio output.
All other interfaces specified in the specification are located on the rear wall, between the upper and lower row of ventilation openings. In addition to a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a network interface and two video outputs, there is also a power supply socket and a Kensington security lock slot.
To mount the drive and memory modules, remove the four screws from the bottom of the case and remove the metal base plate from the back of which the slide for the 2.5-inch drive is attached. The drive is closely adjacent to the metal part of the housing, which dissipates heat perfectly.
A tiny motherboard with dimensions of 100×105 mm is located above the base with a skid. It is addressed to the user by memory slots, SATA and mSATA ports, and a mini PCIe interface with a wireless module installed in it. It is assumed that the user will not remove the system board from the case, since there are no serviced elements under it.
Nevertheless, under the motherboard there are two thirds of the useful volume of the whole case, and this volume is occupied by a massive copper radiator of the central processor with a fan of the "snail" type. The whole construction looks not only monolithic, but also very attractive. Although how effective such a cooling system will be – it will be possible to say only after testing.
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