At the last exhibition Computex Gigabyte demonstrated not only new video card and motherboards, but also a concept model of a mini-PC lineup Brix. Now they began to appear in retail, so far only in Europe. In our test lab did a mini-computer Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950. It is interesting not only for its unusual design, but also an original interior design. And, of course, the productive apparatus filling, be suitable for games. In our review, we consider in detail the possible barebone-system for 900 euros.
Since the mini-PC designed for living rooms or bedrooms, these are available in different variants of colors and sizes – more manufacturers pay appearance and design attention. And Gigabyte – is no exception. The Taiwanese company at Computex in June, has prepared a number of different designs. Also very thin models strut audio / video and the usual cubes in line Brix appeared with the original body shape. One of these – Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950, we get a small cuboid of brushed aluminum. One of the vertical edges cut off, most of the interfaces located on it. On top of the black plastic cover surrounds the LED-strip, as well as the air vents on the sides. For the new model Brix Gigabyte has developed a new concept of cooling. Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950 exposed to cold air from below via a fan blows it through the body, and then ejects hot air from above. Inside the mini PC two printed circuit boards installed. First – a processor, memory and SSD, the second – a graphics processor. Buyer Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950 receive not slow an integrated solution in the CPU, a discrete graphics processor that can cope with modern games.
Namely NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory. Chip Maxwell refers to the generation, to replace that NVIDIA has introduced new chips Pascal. But the power of the GPU is still enough to display current games on the TV or monitor, except that you may need to reduce the detail settings. Mini-PC can be connected via three outputs mini-DisplayPort and one HDMI. So you can connect more than one monitor, the system is well suited for the job. The processor inside is quite a powerful – Intel Core i7-6700HQ with four cores. We have before us one of the fastest mobile processors Skylake generation.
Gigabyte Brix delivers a new barebone system version, ie the user independently purchase and install RAM and drives. Inside SODIMM modules set the standard DDR4, and two 2.5-inch hard drives SATA III. But you can add an SSD M.2 module format. There is a large number of modern interfaces: USB 3.1 Type C, USB 3.1, Gigabit LAN, WiFi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2 and the usual audio outputs. But the price is rather big – for Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950 will have to pay almost 900 euros, add memory price, storage and operating system. So the budget will easily exceed 1,000 euros.
Before we move on to testing the mini-PC Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950, let me see the hardware equipment.
“Heart” of the two boards Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950 is a processor Intel Core i7-6700HQ. Like all current models skylake, it is produced by 14-nm process technology, we have one of the fastest Intel mobile processors. CPU equipped with four physical cores, but with support for Hyper-Threading everyone can run two threads simultaneously, that is for the CPU we get eight threads. Rated frequency is 2.6 GHz. However, depending on the load and temperature, the cores can accelerate to 3.5 GHz. Note the presence of 6 MB of L3 cache and 1 MB L2 cache in total. Caches L1 instruction and data up to 32 kilobytes per core.
The memory controller Intel Core i7-6700HQ supports DDR3 and DDR4. The first time, manufacturers of notebooks and mini-PCs DDR3 prefer to use the old standard, but today prices equal, so DDR4 standard is becoming more common. Gigabyte Brix for the new model, too, has provided the installation of two brackets in the DDR4 SODIMM format. In our configuration, the module operates at a frequency of 2.133 MHz, the total capacity amounted to 8 GB. Manufacturer of modules – Crucial. But as Brix is supplied as barebone, the buyer can choose the memory strip at its discretion.
Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor contains an integrated graphics core. Namely, Intel HD Graphics 530, which is equipped with 24 execution units (GT2 level). iGPU frequency ranges from 350 to 1,150 MHz. However, the Gigabyte established in GNI7HG4-950 discrete graphics processor, more interesting for gamers.
Namely NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950, which was introduced in the middle of last year. The chip is based on the Maxwell architecture. NVIDIA recently unveiled the official successor of Pascal architecture – GeForce GTX 1050 (Ti). NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 in the mini-PC Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950 based on 1,024 stream processors, 64 texture units and 4,096 MB of GDDR5 memory, which is connected by a 128-bit interface. memory frequency is 1.253 MHz, resulting in bandwidth exceeds 80 Gb / s. GPU works with a base frequency of 935 MHz, a Turbo mode is increased, at least up to 1.150 MHz. In practice, the graphics processor has always reached Turbo frequency.
Probably, in the near future there will be an upgraded version of the mini-PC with a graphics card Pascal. But do not think that Maxwell chip seriously outdated. NVIDIA, the GeForce GTX 950 is quite enough for high frame rates in most games in the resolution of Full-HD, the maximum power consumption is 90 watts, so cool it is not so difficult.
In the rest of the hardware Gigabyte has provided a fairly large space to maneuver. You can install two 2.5-inch hard disk or SSD with SATA interface 6 Gb / s, to which you can add an SSD M.2 format. As for RAM, two SODIMM slots support modern standard DDR4, they operate in dual channel mode. We installed the drive Crucial MX300 to 275 GB, as well as two 4 GB strips on 2.133 MHz, also from Crucial. Notice and an abundance of modern interfaces, namely USB 3.1 (including Type C), mini-DisplayPort and Gigabit LAN, a built-in WLAN and Bluetooth module for wireless communication.
Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950 enclosed in the body of the cuboid-brushed aluminum with very compact dimensions of 220 x 110 x 100 mm – particularly given the rather powerful set of “iron”.
Top mounted plastic cover with a lacquered finish piano, framed by a strip of LEDs that light up white at work. Can be seen around the lid vents.
On the front panel, you can see the Brix sticker Core i7 processor. But Gigabyte did not focus, for example, to install a discrete graphics card GeForce GTX class.
Behind one of the vertical edges cut off to make room for the interfaces. At the other edge of the left can be seen the video outputs, namely, three mini-DisplayPort and one HDMI.
Mini PC Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950 equipped with four interfaces USB Type A, Gigabit LAN port, two connectors for WLAN antennas, a 3.5mm audio connectors and a modern port USB 3.1 Type C. It is located on and connect the connector button 180 Watt external power supply. Finally, we note a Kensington lock hole to prevent theft.
New Mini-PC Brix takes fresh air from below. You can also get to the installed components by removing the bottom with a rubber layer. But setting the memory and drives are not as simple as in other mini-PCs in this class of price and performance.
If you want to install components, the first Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950 have to completely disassemble. To install the memory strips, HDD and SSD any compartments with doors not provided. We’ll have to remove the bottom of the case, after which the two side panels are removed. Finally, remove the two screws, you can remove the graphics card.
We’ll have to disconnect not only the two cables that connect the two boards, and fan power cable. For novice users similar process is too time-consuming, especially as the connection can be easily damaged.
After removing the video card, you can insert two memory strip. Here, as in laptops, used SODIMM modules DDR4 standard, two slots allow them to operate in dual channel mode. Next set M.2 SSD.
The two 2.5-inch drive installed behind and connected via SATA snap. It is already possible to install the video card back in and connect it to the motherboard.
The processor and graphics card are cooled by a semi. Fresh air is blown from below through the fan 80 mm, after which it passes through the aluminum radiators. Hot air ejected from the housing from above.
With the new system Brix Gigabyte decided instead Skylake integrated graphics processor core to use a discrete graphics card. It is designed as a module MXM, in this case, a graphics card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory.
With this hardware stuffing Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950 can offer a lot of, you can count on high frame rates in modern games with a full level of detail in Full-HD. But turn to the results of tests.
Due to the fast Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor, performance SSD and 8 GB of memory DDR4, Gigabyte Brix GB-NI7HG4-950 gives a high level of daily performance. The operating system boots in seconds, the program and the game will start without delay. Crucial SSD capacity will be about 490 MB / s. Memory at a frequency of 2.133 MHz bandwidth provides nearly 25 GB / s. In two tests, Cinebench CPU Skylake showed 679 and 7.48 points, respectively, leaving many of the mini-PC behind. Performance CPU Brix new system is really excellent, at the level of high-end notebooks.
Games thanks to the discrete graphics card are also great, especially if you only have permission Full-HD, namely 1.920 x 1.080 pixels. The latest version of GTA worked with a frame rate of 60 fps to nearly, twice as fast as game consoles, despite the great distance viewing and a higher level of detail. In DiRT Rally frame rate exceeded 100 fps, in Tomb Raider performance was also excellent – almost 90 fps. Only in Total War: Attila and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor frame rate was slightly lower. But no one bothers to slightly reduce the level of detail.
On the other hand, recently tested the mini-PC thanks to the ZOTAC ZBOX EN1060 video card GeForce GTX 1060 gives better performance in games, and is almost the same.
High-performance processor and graphics card, predictably led to a significant level of noise. Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950, unfortunately, proved to be one of the noisiest systems ever visited our lab. Under stressful load the noise level up to 74.6 dB (A), it can be called an irritant, particularly in quiet environments. even on the phone next to the mini-PC will be difficult to talk with such noise. However, we got a noise level only under stress both Prime95 and Furmark. Under load game system showed a significantly lower noise level – 55 dB (A), although it can not be called quiet. Under the regular Windows desktop noise it was also very significant – 43.6 dB (A).
Due to the different GPU and CPU power saving technologies, idle system consumed a little less than 20 watts from the power outlet. If you load the processor Intel Core i7-6700HQ, the power consumption of the bar exceeds 100 watts. With additional stress load on the graphics card we get 165 watts. The game system is consumed less energy – around 95 watts.
Coolant Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950 worked for example, it was evident that not only noise, but also on temperature. The components get very hot. Processor Intel Core i7-6700HQ under peak load reached 97 ° C temperature, while the video card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 remained significantly more cold – 64 ° C. However, despite the high temperature of the CPU, we are not faced with throttling. Mini PC Gigabyte has always provided the highest level of performance. High temperatures also occurred in the motherboard and M.2 SSD, namely to 58 ° C or 56 ° C.
With the mini-PC Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950 Taiwanese company Gigabyte has opted for a more innovative approach than many other manufacturers. Instead of the simple “blocks” or flat buildings, Gigabyte chose to cuboid. As a result, a relatively small footprint, but the height significantly above most mini PCs. Gigabyte chose a beautiful textured aluminum, so the body will easily fit in the living room, and on the desktop. Unlike many competitors, the design does not seem to “plastic”. So, look, we have attributed to important advantages.
Performance through Intel Core i7-6700HQ speed processor is also at altitude. The new model is Brix was one of the fastest ever visited our lab. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 Video Card becoming obsolete, but because of the relatively low TDP and adequate performance in Full-HD games Gigabyte solution can be understood. Most modern games will go on a mini-PC is excellent, although some may need to reduce the graphics settings detail. Most likely, in future versions of the Gigabyte Brix move to more modern video Pascal.
Among the most serious shortcomings we have noted the noise level. The processor and the graphics card in idle mode consumes only 20 watts, which imposes a small burden on the cooling system, but a mini-PC Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950 still worked quite noisy – more than 43 dB (A). Under load, the noise level increased rapidly. For a long time we did not get to test the model so noisy mini-PC. In addition, the components inside the very hot – the processor Skylake load showed a temperature of 97 ° C. However, by throttling it did not result, performance has always been at the highest level. We are more than confident that in the next version of Brix Gigabyte improve the cooling system.
Price, of course, also “bite”: for a new Gigabyte Brix will have to pay almost 900 euros, but only for a Barebone system – Memory and Storage to buy separately. In addition, the assembly process is quite complicated – it can recommend that only experienced users. As a result, the system can easily exceed the price of 1.000 euros. Recently tested ZOTAC ZBOX EN1060 provides a higher level of gaming performance for the same price, is much quieter, but on the performance of CPU it is still lagging behind, and the dimensions are not as compact.