Tuesday, January 21, 2014


In the world of ultra compact computers I have to admit that Apple has held the high ground for at least the past year.

By this I mean that the Apple Mac Mini, especially when you consider it's internal power supply holds for me the title of most powerful 'desktop' computer. But in the race to be compact,  enormous trade-offs were made in ease of serviceability/ upgradability

For the record:

Apple Mac Mini SSD 2nd Disk upgrade

Apple Mac Mini torture part 2

Mac-astrophe - A death in the family

But in Jan 2014 are some new kids on the block and so I started to investigate:

Gigabyte BRIX

BRIX announcements Jan 2014

New BRIX at CES 2014

Right now the Brix Pro aka GB-BXi5-4570R is the one to go for.

  • Features Intel® 4th generation Core™ processors
  • Intel Iris™ Pro graphics 5200
  • Supports 2.5” Hard Drives (1 x 6Gbps SATA 3)
  • Ultra compact PC design - 0.79L (62 x 111.4 x 114.4 mm)
  • mSATA SSD Slot, not NOT NGFF yet.
  • 2 x SO-DIMM DDR3L Slots (1333 / 1600 MHz)
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi / Bluetooth 4.0 Mini-PCIe card
  • HDMI plus Mini DisplayPort Outputs (supports dual displays)
  • 4K resolution output (4096 x 2304 via HDMI)
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • Gigabit LAN
  • Headphone jack with S/PDIF
  • VESA mounting bracket (75 x 75mm + 100 x 100mm)

Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing)

CES NUC announcements

  • 2x PCIe* mini slots (1x half-length and 1x full/half-length)
  • Support for new mSATA (SSD) card via full-length PCIe mini card
  • 2x USB 2.0 connectors on back panel
  • 1x USB 2.0 or 3.0 connector on front panel
  • Either Wired Ethernet  OR Thunderbolt 
  • Dual or single HDMI /Dual mini DisplayPorts depending on model

Asus VivoPC

The poor mans equivalent of the above but keenly priced and available
  • 3.5 inch drive support!  Odd but what can I say. And 3Gb/sec and 1TB limits :-(
  • AC wifi
  • Upto 16GB RAM
  • i3 and i5 Intel CPUs
  • Bigger than BRIX regular or NUC or MacMini, but unless you have a size fetish you should be okay
  • External 65W Power adapter

What is the target Market?

  • Technical Users who want more configuration flexibility than an Apple Mac Mini
  • Makes a great small computer that you configure and give to your parents
  • A great multi media lounge PC
  • Gamers who want to carry around portable power

WWID  (What would I do?)

  • If you have to buy now then go ahead.  I'd probably go with the Asus VivoPC
  • Within 6 months the fuller BRIX range will be shipping
  • For me the BRIX range outclasses NUC

About Gigabyte BRIX
Intel NUC overview
ASUS i5 VivoPC Digitec
Asus VivoPC VC60
BRIX Gaming