Gigabyte Brix S BXi7H-5500 Broadwell Mini PC Review
Introduction and Features
Gigabyte's Brix line-up of small form factor systems is the company’s answer to the teeny, tiny NUC from Intel. These ridiculously small PCs pack all the power of a laptop, or a budget desktop, into a box small enough to fit in your palm. These wee PCs are marketed to non-gamers and people who need a basic, no-nonsense PC with a tiny footprint. Think people who need a PC for a kiosk or for basic, day to day computing. These little brick PCs are basically made to mount behind a monitor, and use mobile parts and solid-state components to keep the noise and heat to a minimum.
One big difference between these Ultra small form factor PCs and traditional PCs is that these little boxes are mostly sold as barebones PCs, meaning they come with some but not all the components needed to run. The basic loadout consists of a CPU, power supply, motherboard, chassis, and wireless card, so it’s up to you to install your own memory and storage. Once you drop them into their slots inside the chassis and install an OS, you have yourself a fully-functional PC.
The last time we examined the Gigabyte Brix in April of last year, it performed quite well, but was somewhat noisy and ran hot. Gigabyte has learned from this experience, and has outfitted this latest model with a shiny new Broadwell CPU from Intel. Yes, Broadwell, which are the all-new 14nm CPUs we’ve been salivating over since before Haswell hit the scene.
The particular chip that's the star of the show today is dubbed the Intel Core i7-5500U. This is a dual-core chip with hyperthreading, 4MB of L2 cache and a super-low TDP of just 15w. The CPU includes onboard graphics care of the on-die Intel HD Graphics 5500 series engine.
These chips are Intel’s 5th generation Core processors, and because of the die shrink from 22nm to 14nm they should offer better performance-per-watt, a smaller footprint, and stronger integrated graphics compared to the previous generation.
You can see the full specifications below:
In addition to its Broadwell CPU this Brix model also sports a wireless card that supports 80211.AC (and older flavors) as well as Bluetooth and NFC. It offers two empty SO-DIMM slots that can hold up to 16GB of DDR3 clocked to 1866MHz, and it also has an empty mSATA port as well as a traditional SATA port that is on a flexible cable in case you want to add an mSATA SSD and a 2.5” drive. There’s also an M.2 PCIe slot but the wireless card occupies it.
Let's take a look around, shall we?