A few months ago we reviewed the GIGABYTE BRIX Pro, a very compact desktop PC kit that allows you to put together a Windows PC that has all the horse-power you would expect from a full tower, but in a form factor that could sit comfortably in the palm of your hand. Today we look at the latest version of the BRIX which GIGABYTE is aiming squarely at the enthusiast PC gaming segment, the BRIX Gaming.
Marketed as the BRIX Gaming, the full product name being the BXi5-760, this baby appears to defy both convention and physics to cram a high-performance Intel Core i5 processor with a desktop-class Nvidia 760 graphics processor. It arrives as a barebones system (an old fashioned term these days, I know) that requires the end-user to install his own drives, RAM and operating system. This is pretty cool as it stays within the DIY PC ethos that GIGABYTE knows so well, allowing any time-served geek like myself the opportunity to configure and setup my own ultra compact gaming rig according to my personal tastes and budget.
The GIGABYTE BXi5G-760 is certainly not a cheap option, but then again good quality PC gaming equipment seldom is, especially if you want to reduce it down to something this compact. The device can currently be had on Amazon for just under $770 USD, you then have to factor in the cost of the hard drive and system memory, so you could easily end up with a $1,000 rig if like us you go all out and add a high capacity 512GB SSD and a healthy 16GB of DDR3L. But the point of this device is not about being cheap. The BRIX series, especially the BRIX Gaming models, address a more discerning consumer that appreciates having a high-end components in miniature form, and is willing to pay for it.
BRIX Gaming: High-end Hardware in Focus
The BX-i5G-760 is loaded with some very impressive hardware, especially when it comes to the silicon installed within. Let’s start with the CPU, the Intel Core i5-4200H which is a dual-core chip built on the latest Haswell architecture. It’s two cores are clocked at 2.8GHz and even though the chip is soldered onto the board (there is no socket as per a regular desktop motherboard/CPU), it is actually a full desktop part that has been designed for low power and low heat operation – it has a TDP (power envelope) of 44 watts, which makes it a beast compared to most true mobile CPUs. The Intel Core i5 CPU is going to give you great performance, but when it comes to gaming, we need to check the GPU.
The BX-i5G-760 relies on the Nvidia Geforce GTX 760. Let me just reiterate that for a moment. I’m not talking about the 760M, which is the lower power, mobile variant of the 760 series. No. I am referring to the full desktop graphics chip that is basically an enthusiast level performer, and the same chip that we find in full sized cards used in much, much larger desktop PCs.
The Nvidia Geforce GTX 760 is based on the Kelper architecture from Nvidia and offers really impressive gaming performance. In terms of specifications, the base clock for the GTX 760 is 980MHz and it provides an incredible 1152 CUDA cores for all your GPGPU applications i.e. Adobe productivity apps are going to be very, very slick, leveraging the power of the GPU’s CUDA cores to do all the heavy lifting. Another great thing about the graphics array here is that you are getting 6GB of GDDR RAM that is dedicated just for the GPU. Pretty sick, no?
When it comes to display connectivity we have the opportunity to really stretch our feet with dual Mini HMDI ports plus a mini DisplayPort, all of which can be connected simultaneously for a triple display set up. This is once again possible because of the Nvidia GTX 760 which can pump out 3840 x 2160 pixels across three screens.
Check out this video we shot at Computex earlier this year where we caught up with the GIGABYTE BRX Gaming at the GIGABYTE booth:
Other features include support for mSATA drives which means that you can install a small mSATA drive, perhaps 128GB, and use it as the primary partition for your OS. This means you can install a 2.5-inch drive as your storage drive for you games and media. We didn’t have a mSATA drive on hand and just went ahead and installed a decent sized 512GB SSD in the 2.5 inch enclosure… no too shabby.
In terms of other specs and features we should note that the BRIX Gaming arrives with a Mini-PCIe WFi/Bluetooth combo card already installed. The card itself is an AZUREWAVE AW-CB161H which is giving you b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi (nice to see ‘ac’ grade included) and Bluetooth 4.0 low power which is handy for connecting things like keyboards and mouse, headsets or even your smartphone. Device connectivity is fairly plentiful with 4 USB 3.0 ports (two front, two rear), a Gigabit Ethernet port plus headphone jack. The power port is located on the rear of the device where you will also find a Kensington lock.
The full retail package includes quite a bit. You are getting a pair of display adapters – a mini HDMI to HMDI plus mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort adpaters. There is also quite a hefty power brick (that is almost the size of the BRIX itself) plus instruction manual, VESA mounting kit (yes it can be mounted on a display or TV)… plus there’s also on every nice touch that I certainly appreciate; a small BRIX-branded USB stick that contains all device drivers and utilities. I have seen plenty of optical drive-less devices before that ship with a damn DVD ROM. Nothing can stir up the rage inside me more than an instruction manual that says ‘Insert Disk’ when no disk insertion is supported! This is a wise move from GIGABYTE and one that I whole-heartedly applaud. Good call GIGABYTE.
GIGABYTE BRIX BX-i5G-760 Specifications
Intel 4th Generation (Haswell) Core i5-4200H
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 GPU (w/6GB GDDR5)
2 x Mini HDMI, mini DP Output (supports triple displays)
2.5” Hard Drives (1 x 6Gbps SATA 3)
1 x mSATA SSD Slot
59.6mm x 128mm x 115.4 mm
2 x SO-DIMM DDR3L Slots (1333/1600 MHz)
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
4 x USB 3.0
Headphone jack with MIC
VESA mounting bracket (75 x 75mm + 100 x 100mm)
You can expect plenty of more coverage of the BRIX Gaming as we are going to pass it on to our Mobile Geeks gaming guru Ines who will be putting the BRIX through some real-life testing in the coming months and weeks, using it as her main Windows gaming rig. We look forward to her reaction to what must surely be one of the most innovative and cool gaming PCs out there. It might cost a pretty packet, but for those of us who want no compromises on performance or size, the GIGABYTE BRIX Gaming is ticking all the boxes.
Don’t forget to watch our full review of the GIGABYTE BRIX Pro here: