Gigabyte Brix users out there?

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs' started by Ratman6161, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. Ratman6161

    Ratman6161 Senior member

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    I just ordered one of these from Amazon:

    http://www.gigabyte.us/products/product-page.aspx?pid=4604#na

    comes in Celeron, i3 ulv, i5 ulv or i7 ulv. I went with the i3 model with I3-3227u and Intel HD4000 graphics. I also ordered a pair of 4j GB SODIMS, a cruical M4 64 GB MSATA and a wireless keyboard/touch pad combo. It's got USB 3.0 so I also plan to use an existing 500 GB external 2.5 inch usb 3 external I already have. I figure I can connect the usb drive to my desktop PC for mas transfer of media files.

    Anyone out there already using one of these or am I the guinea pig?
     
  2. Ratman6161

    Ratman6161 Senior member

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    The UPS Man should be delivering mine tomorrow so I'll post a reveiw as soon as I have it set up and have had a chance to try it out.
     
  3. philipma1957

    philipma1957 Golden Member

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    how will you load the os?
     
  4. crashtestdummy

    crashtestdummy Platinum Member

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    USB key.

    OP, you're the guinea pig. I may look into one if the Kabini models are really cheap ($150 or less), though.
     
  5. cbk

    cbk Member

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    This thing looks really cool, but the high price tag will have me looking at the AMD models.
     
    #5 cbk, Jun 26, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2013
  6. cbk

    cbk Member

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    Where can you find the AMD models, and which one do you think is the best value for your money? I would like to buy one. (Online, driving to places is for chumps xD! Just kidding, driving to Micro Center to get their amazing Haswell CPU+motherboard combos is worth the 40+ min drive I have to take, but I would like to be able to order it online.)
     
    #6 cbk, Jun 26, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2013
  7. crashtestdummy

    crashtestdummy Platinum Member

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    Not out yet. It'll be a while before those models come out, and I don't know what the price will be.
     
  8. cbk

    cbk Member

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    That's what I expected, they are nowhere to be found on the web.
     
  9. Ratman6161

    Ratman6161 Senior member

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    OK, so here is the quick review.

    Just looking at it as I took it out of the box, the unit appears to be of high quality construction. It is very solid and well put together and looks nice too. The first step is to remove the 4 screws that hold on the bottom cover. From there you can see the WiFi card already installed. All I had to do was pop in the 64 GB Crucial M4 mSata (purchased separately) and bolt it down with the provided screw. Then install my two sticks of RAM. I'm using an 8GB Crucial Kit. The RAM is standard SODIMM's for notebooks and plug into the slots exactly the way they would in a notebook. Overall, pretty much anyone with a screw driver and some basic computer knowledge could easily put this together. But beware...as is the case with so many of these products the documentation is next to useless. More on that in a moment. Anyway that was all there was to the hardware setup as far as internal stuff.

    Next, I plugged it in and hooked it up to a desktop monitor. I popped the usb dongle for my Logitech keyboard/touch pad combo and fired it up. Hit delete to go into the BIOS. The BIOS is minimalist so if you want to be tweaking it, this probably isn't the product for you. On the other hand it doesn't really need any tweaking. It recognized my RAM and mSATA immediately so no problems there. So, time to install the OS. Shut it down, hooked up a USB DVD/RW drive which I planned to boot the Windows 8 install from.

    This is where the lack of documentation caused me about 20 minutes of delay. Newbies who haven't built a computer before might have been calling tech support at this point. I was back in the bios and looking at the boot order settings. It did not seem to be aware that my USB DVD was out there and there did not seem to be a way to boot from it. After fiddling around with it for a while and many reboots I finally figured it out. Note that it boots REALLY FAST! So fast that most of the time you don't even get a chance to see the options fly by. If you buy this product, remember that F12 is your friend. That gets you to the boot menu where you can choose something other than the mSATA - in my case the USB DVD. Even now I have only ever seen that screen saying F12 for boot menu fly by one time and I'm still not sure how I got there. It is definitely not the same scree where it says DEL to enter setup. Also note: It will not recognize the Logitech keyboard/touch pad until after the OS is installed so to install the OS, I had to plug in a USB keyboard I had laying around.

    Anyway, after that little glitch it was a normal Windows 8 install that was completely seamless. All hardware was recognized and was working immediately after the install. Gigabyte includes a CD with all the drivers which even seem to be fairly current but they are not really needed.

    So, why Windows 8? Two reasons. 1. Anand's reviews have been showing noticeable advantages for 8 over 7 in terms of power usage 2. I've been using the NetFlix app on my Surface Pro tablet and like it a lot. Also, I have a Technet subscription and this is ....er...for test and evaluation. For people wanting to build a lowish cost solution, the cost of Windows could be a deal killer. Of course you would be in the same boat with any bare bones system or DIY system you build. But with the hardware being pretty much standard/generic stuff, I would suspect you should be able to load up any x86 OS such as whatever your favorite Linux variety is with no problems.

    Performance wise, this thing is a screamer - at least within the usages I intend for it. It boots up in no time flat - though I've kept the amount of crap I've got installed down to a minimum. I've got it hooked up to a 60 inch Sony TV and have so far been watching NetFlix and Hulu on it. I've got a 500 GB external USB 3 hard drive hooked up where I've copied my music and video library and all that runs flawlessly. FYI I've got a number of Movies (which I legally own the DVD) ripped to ISO images on the USB drive. I've also got Virtual Clone Drive installed that can mount the ISO's where they can be played in whatever your favorite player is - I'm using PowerDVD. Of course you could hook up a usb DVD or Blueray player but then you end up with more boxes and cables. Using the disk drive, I can do the ripping on my desktop system and then use the USB drive to sneaker net the movies etc.

    Anyway, weather its streaming from NetFlix and Hulu or ISO's or MP4's from the disk drive, the Brix seems to have plenty of performance for these tasks. I have the i3 version and seriously considered the i5 but it was $100 more. Looking back, for my usage I made a good choice. The i3 seems to have plenty of power and the i5 or i7 would have been completely wasted.

    Also, I did install Hardware Monitor and CPUz on it to get an idea of what its doing. At idle it runs at just under 800 Mhz and bouces up to its rated 1.9 Ghz as needed. Temperatures hover around 55 to 56 C all the time which seems a bit hot but not really much more than what I often see on Intel based notebooks. Still, seems to me like cramming an i7 that turbos to 3.1 Ghz in there might be asking for trouble. I does have a fan in there somewhere. You can't see it or the CPU when you have the cover off but you can hear it. Its not loud however. You have to almost put your ear up to it to hear it and you never notice it otherwise.

    One issue I'm still trying to figure out. I don't know if its a problem with the Intel graphics drivers or if its with Windows 8 or something else. But the display is actually a hair larger than the screen when hooked up to a TV. This is a pain in Windows 8 when you pull your mouse to the lower right to bring up the settings, search, etc menus on the right side cause they are about 75% off the screen. Same with the edges all the way around. I thought it might be because my big TV is kind of old and only does 1080i instead of 1080P so I hooked up the Brix to our newish Samsung TV. As expected the display quality was better but there was the same issue of things going off the edges of the screen. it does not do this when hooked up to a computer monitor.

    Anyway, other than that, there is not a lot to say about it. It's an i3 with HD4000 graphics, an mSATA and 8 GB of RAM - and performs exactly as you would expect from any other system with those specs. I would highly recommend it if you are looking for this type of device and don't want to be messing with the hardware a lot. Its just a matter of plugging in your mSATA and RAM and then setting up as you would with any other computer...just remember that pesky F12 key.
     
  10. cbk

    cbk Member

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    Looks awesome. Now I just have to wait for the AMD models, damn Intel is too expensive for me.. :'(
     
  11. Ratman6161

    Ratman6161 Senior member

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    I have not seen the AMD models anywhere. Based on my experience with the i3, it seems to me like you don't need a lot of CPU power for my usage so perhaps an AMD version would have worked for me. As I mentioned the i5 or i7 would be complete over kill.

    Even the Intel models don't seem to be widely available. New Egg seems to only have the i3. Amazon has more choices but are they needed? I'm wondering if the AMD variants will actually be enough cheaper that you would choose them over the i3? Hard to say. On Amazon they have an Intel NUC (similar box) with a 1.1 Ghz Celeron for $165 but there you are going to take a hit on the GPU side.
     
  12. Ratman6161

    Ratman6161 Senior member

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    Prices seem to vary widely. Even on Amazon the prices vary widely. Mine was $308 vs the MSRP of $479. Of course you have to take into account the other components you will need too.
     
  13. cbk

    cbk Member

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    Yeah, I think the things I need are a mouse, some RAM, and a mSata drive, as from what I am seeing, this thing has no storage or memory unless you install some.
     
    #13 cbk, Jun 30, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2013
  14. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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    You can make them using other cases. I dunno what you'd put in there though. Every suggestion over at XBMC hardware section suggests intel. You can make a box for $350 complete using intel.

    It just seems people prefer the lower power consumption of the intel processors over there for small form factor HTPCs. Although people do use AMD over there as well.
     
  15. Aikouka

    Aikouka Lifer

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    I noticed that it only has USB 3 ports on it. Does it have proper legacy support? It's a bit of a pain to install Windows 7 without proper legacy support as you have to embed the drivers for your specific USB 3 controller into the Windows installer. Can you tell that I've had to do this before? :p
     
  16. Ratman6161

    Ratman6161 Senior member

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    I used a USB 2.0 DVD drive to install Windows 8 on it. You just have to know to press F12 during boot to get to the boot menu. It goes by so fast I've only seen the "press f12 for boot menu" one time.

    As I mentioned in my review, it did not like my Logitech wireless keyboard/touch pad combo until Windows was running at which point it worked fine. So I did hook up a very very old (from the days of usb 1.0) wired keyboard to get the install done.
     
  17. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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  18. cbk

    cbk Member

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  19. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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  20. Ratman6161

    Ratman6161 Senior member

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    Cheap to build yes. But after that it depends on how much heat, power consumption, etc mean to you. That's a 65 Watt CPU as compared to 17 watts for the Intel i3xxx "U" CPU's. All depends on what you are looking for.
     
  21. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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    He requested AMD. I think the best price to performer ratio is the G1610. At 43 dollars, it's hard to beat. It's a 45W CPU that gets up to 65 watts maximum at full system load in a small build (there are links to the build in that forum). It's also cheaper than the two I posted.
    http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=166627

    The AMD builds can hit up to 100 watts power consumption under complete load. Although that's hard to do obviously, I just don't like their power consumption at all. Personally, after seeing reviews in which the G1610 isn't too bad for power consumption I would take it. However, the intel NUC builds sip power and aren't too much more expensive. The Celeron 847 though isn't really my cup of tea.

    I'm excited for Haswell based mini PCs though. The Performance per Watt will be great I imagine and hopefully cheap enough at the low end.

    Currently, the G1610 is my personal favorite.

    Edit: This build isn't bad either for a much lower power requirement:
    http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=165955
    and you can upgrade to 4GB of ram if you want to use windows (I prefer that to be the minimum as I'm sure most others do too).

    AMD has it's uses though, but since I already have an HTPC for gaming, I don't need graphics performance nor care for it. I also don't really like subpar gaming on PC.
     
    #21 tential, Jul 3, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2013
  22. crashtestdummy

    crashtestdummy Platinum Member

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    The other thing to note is that the future AMD Brix models will be 15W Kabinis.
     
  23. Digger007

    Digger007 Junior Member

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    Hi

    Started my Brix this night and with the help of F12 the USB ISO of Win8 was loaded.

    Now to my issue's:
    I can't get the WiFi to work, Win 8 doesn't find any WiFi device.
    and
    How to get the sound via HDMI

    Anny suggestions?

    Best Regards

    Digger
     
  24. fanjoMTL

    fanjoMTL Junior Member

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    Hi guys,

    I just purchased and received a Gigabyte BRIX GB-BXI3-4010 that I want to use as htpc with Windows 8.1.

    I installed ram and mSata hardrive. Unit powers up but my tv screen stays desperately black. I tried the same cable, same TV same Input with a laptop and that works, so it must come from the Brix.

    I tried to plug a keyboard and press F12 but nothing happens. A mouse that I plugged in usb also doesn't power on.

    The blue led around the power button is on though... Any idea?
     
  25. jirages

    jirages Junior Member

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    I have the bxi5:
    When you install the msata ssd and the 1.35 volt RAm, you press on button and you should have two lines on screen that there is no OS.
    If you have black only, something is not good
    The memory stick and ssd should go in diagonally and then down horizontally.
    You do not need the F12 key unless you are installing OS
    The first button to use, is the "Del" key on keyboard to go in Bios just when you turn machine on.
    you do not need the mouse before you install the OS
    If you are installing windows 32, remember your maximum ram recognized is 3.2 gb
    On gigabyte support, you have a patch so that usb 3.0 plugging does not turn machine on.
    If you want to install firefox, and the browser does not work, open firefox in safe mode by pressing shift button, and click firefox icon.
    In firefox options, disable hardware graphics acceleration, then firefox will work
     
    #25 jirages, Dec 9, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2013
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