Over the last couple of years, the ultra-compact form factor (UCFF) has emerged as one of the bright spots in the troubled PC market. Intel kickstarted the category with their Sandy Bridge NUC kits in early 2013. Recognizing the popularity of this segment, other vendors also began to promote similar products. GIGABYTE targets this market segment with an extensive lineup of products under the BRIX brand. Late last year, GIGABYTE sent us their high-end vanilla BRIX, the GB-BXi7-4500. Unlike Intel's top-end Haswell NUC (based on the Core i5-4250U), this BRIX family member brings a Haswell i7 ULV processor into the UCFF market. Since the sample arrived along with the Iris Pro-equipped BRIX Pro, the GB-BXi7-4500 fell off our radar. Recently, we had the chance to subject the unit to our suite of benchmarks (as part of a comparison study against the Bay Trail-based GB-BXBT-1900).

Similar to other BRIX units, the BXi7-4500 comes barebones. An important point to note is that the GB-BXi7-4500 doesn't support 2.5" drives. So, users will need to bring in a mSATA SSD along with suitable DDR3L SO-DIMM sticks. At the beginning of the year, mSATA SSDs carried an unreasonable premium over 2.5" drives, but the situation is much better now. Avoiding support for a 2.5" drive allows GIGABYTE to reduce the height of the kit. We configured the review unit to end up with the following components.

GIGABYTE GB-BXi7-4500 Specifications
Processor Intel Haswell Core i7-4500U
(2C/4T x 1.80 GHz (3.0 GHz Turbo), 22nm, 4MB L2, 15W)
Memory 2 x 8GB DDR3L-1866
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4400
Disk Drive(s) Plextor PX-128M6M 128 GB mSATA SSD
Networking 1x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x1 802.11n/BT 4.0 mPCIe
Audio Capable of 5.1/7.1 digital output with HD audio bitstreaming (HDMI)
Operating System

Retail unit is barebones, but we installed Windows 8.1 Pro x64

Pricing (As configured) $490 (barebones) + $256 (DRAM + mSATA SSD)
Full Specifications GB-BXi7-4500 Specifications

The BXi7-4500 kit doesn't come with any pre-installed OS, but does come with a driver CD. In recent kits, GIGABYTE has moved to USB keys for the drivers. In any case, we ended up installing the latest drivers downloaded off GIGABYTE's product support page. In addition to the main unit, the other components of the package include a 65 W (19.5V @ 3.43A) adapter, a US power cord, a VESA mount (along with the necessary screws), a driver CD and a quick-start guide.

The gallery below takes us around the hardware in the unit.

We have used A-DATA mSATA SSDs in our previous UCFF reviews. In order to make readers aware of other alternatives, we chose to go the Plextor route this time around. We configured our unit with a Plextor PX-128M6M 128 GB mSATA SSD (sporting a Marvell 88SS9188 SSD controller) for the boot drive and put in two Corsair Vengeance 1600 MHz DDR3L SODIMMs for the DRAM.

In the table below, we have an overview of the various systems that we are comparing the BXi7-4500 against. Note that they may not belong to the same market segment. The relevant configuration details of the machines are provided so that readers have an understanding of why some benchmark numbers are skewed for or against the BXi7-4500 when we come to those sections.

Comparative PC Configurations
Aspect GIGABYTE GB-BXi7-4500
CPU Intel Core i7-4500U Intel Core i5-4250U
GPU Intel HD Graphics 4400 Intel HD Graphics 5000
RAM Corsair Vengeance CMSX16GX3M2B1600C9
9-9-9-24 @ 1600 MHz
2x8 GB
Crucial CT51264BF160B (Micron 8KTF51264HZ-1G6J1)
11-11-11-28 @ 1600 MHz
2x4 GB
Storage Plextor PX-128M6M
(128 GB, PCIe Module mSATA 6Gb/s, 19nm, MLC)
Intel SSD 530 Series
(180 GB, PCIe Module mSATA 6Gb/s, 20nm, MLC)
Wi-Fi Realtek 8723AE Wireless LAN 802.11n
(1x1 802.11n - 150 Mbps)
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260
(2x2 802.11ac - 867 Mbps)
Price (in USD, when built) $746 $680
Performance Metrics - I
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  • torp - Thursday, October 9, 2014 - link

    That's a nice power brick over there, as long as the case :)
    When will they learn and integrate the PSU?
    Reply
  • kevith - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    I´m afraid it won´t happen, it´s much easier and cheaper to put a brick in the box, as long as there are multitudes of different voltages from the wall around the world.

    Would be nice, tho´.
    Reply
  • Shiitaki - Thursday, October 9, 2014 - link

    It is reviews like this that point out Apple isn't over priced. This thing is 750 dollars? No it's not! Are you telling your readers to steal the operating system? You need to be including that in the final price unless you expect your readers to be thieves.

    I love the idea of a miniaturized computer, but the premium intel charges for those parts is too much, and for significantly less performance no less. It's one of those rare times when a Civic costs more than a Cadillac!

    And to make matters worse, your build doesn't even include AC networking. And networking is going to be important to a machine that doesn't have much local storage. Intel integrated graphics, so this won't be good for more than a general purpose computer.

    Use the more reasonable cost and performing laptop parts, make the computer 50 percent taller to accommodate a slow spinning fan, and price it according to the less expensive parts and you'd have a winner. If you can make a 500 dollar laptop with screen, a hard drive, and memory; you can make a 250 dollar bare bone small computer.

    Even at twice the size, it could be a much more compelling product. At what these things cost, a Mac mini is better deal, after you add a SSD.

    Great idea making a small computer, carried too far.
    Reply
  • stunta - Thursday, October 9, 2014 - link

    I got myself a Zotac ZBOX-CI520NANO with Core i3 (Haswell), CRUCIAL 256GB SSD and 4 GB RAM. This a fanless unit with 802.11ac built in. Connectivity options are plenty. All this for around $450. This is a solid performer. Although Gigabyte UCFF PCs get good reviews, they don't seem to compare favorably to the latest Zotac units with respect to bang-for-the-buck. $490 just for the barebones is pretty steep. Reply
  • D. Lister - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    I wonder if it is really good marketing to call an electronic device "Brix". Reply
  • milkod2001 - Monday, October 13, 2014 - link

    imagine this box twice in size(still smaller then mini/micro atx systems) with some decent proper desktop CPU(not necessary the latest, the greatest), 970m Maxwell, 8-16gb ram, 256 gb SSD, build in PSU. All that for $1000(including OS). Is it doable?

    It would not replace heavy workstations but it might be enough for most content creators and it would also play any 1080p games with ease if needed.
    Reply
  • speculatrix - Monday, November 24, 2014 - link

    I'd avoid the Intel AC 7260 WiFI card listed for the NUC, I've had one and it was very troublesome. Reply

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