Intel's high-end Crystal Well, the Core i7-4770R, has remained out of reach for consumers despite being introduced back in June 2013. While Apple's notebooks use the mobile Crystal Well parts, the 2013 iMac restricts itself to the Core i5-4570R. Users wanting to stay out of the Apple ecosystem have been left in the cold. Gigabyte is coming to the rescue with the launch of the BRIX Pro in the NUC form factor.

The BRIX Pro is a barebones desktop machine. We had looked at the various BRIX models before, and this model, while maintaining the length and width of the existing BRIX units, is equipped with the 65W TDP i7-4770R, and the unit comes in the NUC form factor! This means that the unit is really tiny. The length and width are almost the same as the other NUC form factor machines (as shown in the picture below). The BRIX Pro builds upon the BRIX s, which has support for a 2.5" drive. The height is still more than that of the BRIX s, in order to accommodate the thermal design for a 65W CPU.

Our review unit landed last Friday. With CES this week, and limited time at our disposal, we decided to split the coverage of the BRIX Pro into two parts. In today's article, we will look at the performance of the CPU and GPU, as well as the thermal performance of the package along with some power consumption numbers. In the second part towards the end of the month, we plan to go into more detailed benchmarks and how to outfit the BRIX Pro to get a well rounded system.

Gigabyte's BRIX Pro Kits Comparison
  GB-BXi5-4570R GB-BXi7-4770R
CPU Intel Core i5-4570R Intel Core i7-4770R
RAM 2 x DDR3L SO-DIMM slots 2 x DDR3L SO-DIMM slots
Display Outputs 1x HDMI 1.4a, 1x mini-DP 1.2 1x HDMI 1.4a, 1x mini-DP 1.2
USB 4 x USB 3.0 4 x USB 3.0
Gigabit Ethernet Y Y
mini PCIe (half-height) 1 1
mini PCIe (full-height, mSATA support) 1 1
Internal SATA 1 (with power) 1 (with power)
Power Supply External 19V / 7.1A DC External 19V / 7.1A DC
Suggested Pricing $529 $649

Since we wanted to get up and running quickly, the RAM and mSATA SSD were just transferred from the recently reviewed NUC kit to the BRIX Pro. In our second part of the review, we will evaluate the BRIX Pro with different SODIMMs / SSDs. For now, the benchmarks presented in the rest of this piece are based on the configuration below.

Gigabyte GB-BXi7-4770R Build Components
  Component Price
Chassis / CPU / Motherboard / PSU GB-BXi7-4770R $649
Memory Crucial CT51264BF160B 2x4 GB Kit $96
SSD Intel mSATA SSD 530 $183

Total   $928

Synthetic Benchmarks
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  • elian123 - Thursday, January 9, 2014 - link

    I wonder whether 3200x2000 may be the max resolution with single stream transport and that multi stream transport does allow for 4K?
  • Gadgety - Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - link

    So I'm expecting to see a Kaveri APU equivalent available for less.
  • zodiacfml - Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - link

    Wow, one powerful machine. I did not consider NUC kits before, until this one.
    It's inevitable to see a kit with the heatsink as part of the case which should give better performance or fanless designs.
  • theuglyman0war - Sunday, February 2, 2014 - link

    vesa mounted behind a center monitor the mount/heatsink design dpesn't care how noisey the stock fan is/was! Time to dust off the dremel...
  • philipma1957 - Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - link

    So it is loud and overheats when maxed. I fail to see the value to a home owner. Business it looks pretty good as many stores have a high sound level. It is pricey. 650 + 200 + 100 + 100 = 1050
    I put 200 for the msata 100 for 8gb ram and 100 for a windows 7 / 8 os.
    I use pc's and macs for a home owner's ht the quad core mac mini may be a better deal. I still like the idea of a small system pushing limits. Maybe in 3 more generations it will be a lot nicer for home owners vs businesses .
  • DryAir - Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - link

    The i5-4570R costs only $8 more than the i5-4200U (acording to ARK Intel), but the i5-4570R brix is $140 more expensive than the i5-4200U brix. Why? More plastic? The extra money did not went in the cooling solution, judgind by this results.

    Ayway, i think that form factor is the better than the ULV one. Still tiny but with a much better processor and 2.5" HDD option.
  • philipma1957 - Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - link

    well that is business , you pay more because it is faster and you need the speed. they gouge you because the extra power is worth it to you. I do agree that the small size is nice but I rather it be a little bigger with better cooling. Plus 650 stripped naked is not cheap. The quad mac mini is 679 from apples refurbished store and come with an os 4gb ram and a 1tb hdd. the prcoessor it not far behind the cpu in here.
  • Wall Street - Monday, January 13, 2014 - link

    It went into the extra 128 MB of cache needed for the graphics, there literally is an additional chip in there for this. If you don't want 'gamer' graphics than don't get the Iris Pro. You are paying for in game FPS, with little benefit from the cache in other uses. If this isn't your use, don't get the Iris Pro, the HD 5000 model for a lot less. Of course this one is louder too because Iris Pro is 35 W instead of the 15 watts for the other models. If you don't need Iris pro, then get the smaller quiet model and don't pay for it. Of course, while Iris Pro is loud during games, the low end NUC computers will be < 20 FPS in a lot of games where Iris Pro is ~40 FPS, so the noise definitely gets you something.
  • tabkron - Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - link

    Please test Linux on this. Maybe SteamOS, Ubuntu or anything that's using a fairly recent kernel and graphics software.
  • Galatian - Thursday, January 9, 2014 - link

    I wish there would be cases with room for at least a slim line ODD. I mean those things are supposed to be used as HTPCs. For me they completely miss their point by trying to be as small as possible.

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