The BRIX mini-PC line from GIGABYTE is an odd internal mashup within the company whereby the server business unit designs it, but the consumer arm does the marketing and sales. We’ve covered several BRIX units in the past, focusing on new technologies such as Iris Pro as well as the mobile CPU line. The BRIX design is made to offer a very small way of building a base PC, similar to the NUC. If we remember back a couple of years ago, GIGABYTE did a couple of models in red and green, with integrated mobile GPUs from AMD and NVIDIA respectively, aimed at the gaming market. These stalled for various reasons, partly because the mini-PC market isn't focused at gaming, and the power of the GPUs in play. So fast forward to 2016, and at CES this year GIGABYTE had a different take on the design and was asking for input from booth attendees.

The design is straight forward – an upgraded BRIX on the left, featuring dual DDR slots (could be DDR4 depending on the CPU) and dual M.2/SATA connections with hope on PCIe and NVMe support, and then on the right we get an MXM GPU using the built in heatsink not too dissimilar to one we would see on a laptop. This this configuration we were told that the demo unit was an i3-6100H paired with a GTX 950M, but there is obviously scope here for something both high and low end. The dimensions came in at slightly longer than double a standard BRIX, and obviously it looks like nothing is finalized yet given that GIGABYTE is just testing the waters with this sort of model. One thing I’d worry about is audio quality, especially if they are derived from mobile platforms in a small space. Aside from that, I say bring it on, and even look into professional uses in premium designs.

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  • nathanddrews - Tuesday, January 12, 2016 - link

    I'd love to see a 19" rackmount version...
  • ZeDestructor - Tuesday, January 12, 2016 - link

    I'd go even further and say I want something more blade-server like, something like a Dell C6320 or PowerEdge FX..
  • jtd871 - Tuesday, January 12, 2016 - link

    "The BRIX mini-PC line from GIGABYTE is an odd internal mashup within the company whereby the server business unit designs it, but the consumer arm does the marketing and sales."

    This would seem to be their major problem with this line. It really needs a dedicated champion to make shine - somebody who understands the power budget and cooling and is unafraid to bust and mash-up existing conventions and standards to create something unique and refine it until it is ready - if ever. They need to create a disruptive product - not an evolutionary one.
  • jtd871 - Tuesday, January 12, 2016 - link

    Seriously, have they even seen this:
  • edzieba - Wednesday, January 13, 2016 - link

    The reason compact PCs with discrete GPUs like the 950M or 870M don't take off is because they are a big price premium over a CPU-only PC (e.g. NUC), but the performance boost is minimal.
    Release one of these with a full GTX980 MXM module, and it'll be a big hit. Even a mobile quad-core is sufficient to drive a 980 with little-to-no bottleneck from the CPU, and it'll finally be a smaller form-factor than you could possibly achieve with normal components (bar to beat: the Dan A4, at 7.25L for an ITX motherboard, full-length GPU and SFX PSU).
  • owan - Wednesday, January 13, 2016 - link

    Worried about audio quality? Really? There are so many external processing options for audio (USB DAC, digital output via HDMI) that I would put onboard audio quality pretty far down the list of concerns behind things like... I dunno..... cost, temperatures, noise, performance, looks, and just about everything else.
  • yvizel - Wednesday, January 13, 2016 - link

    He meant the NOISE from the case due to the added fan.........
    I guess your last "sarcastic"-like sentence lost its charm now ha
  • Mr Perfect - Wednesday, January 13, 2016 - link

    I thought he meant the sound card too, but noise does make more sense. I think the confusion stems from the fact that I've always heard "audio quality" used to describe music or effect playback, not unwanted noise.
  • Visual - Wednesday, January 13, 2016 - link

    Curious how they are going to market this... They can easily spin it into a steam machine or a windows gaming console, bundle it with a controller or some games, etc.
    I recently got an Alienware Alpha for the so far unbeatable form-factor, but its 860M GPU is nothing to brag about. This one is a tad slower, so I am a bit skeptical as it is. But it does have a few points potentially going for it.
    The Alpha's fans are definitely noticeable once the GPU gets busy, while I don't see fans in this one. Not sure how I feel about this. The heatsink looks awesome, but then again no matter how good it is without airflow it ends up serving as a heat buffer and not a heat sink. All the surface area is pointless without proper airflow. I hope I am just missing something in the picture and it does have some low-rpm fan hidden besides the fins leading air out of the case.
    The other design win is the MXM instead of soldered in GPU. This gives hope of both stock configurations with better GPUs and also of user upgradeability in a GPU generation or two. Again it comes down to termals to determine if a more powerful card can run in this thing though.
    Regarding size, I'd be ok with stretching it a bit backwards as well. The Alpha is more like a 2x2 brixes, and it still seems tiny to me. I'm not sure what the appeal is in trying for a 2x1 brixes shape. Not saying that it's not impressive that they managed to do it, just that I'd be ok with larger if it meant better too.
  • BrokenCrayons - Wednesday, January 13, 2016 - link

    Check the second picture in the article. The case lid has a blower attached to it that, when put in its proper place, will draw air from the case interior, push it over the sink's fins and then out the vent on the other side. Passively cooled it is most certainly not. :)

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