Gigabyte BRIX Barebone PC review: Ultra-compact, designed to be invisible


Desktop computers are literally getting invisible. Those who have theirs since a while are either upgrading it with better components or simply scrapping it for a laptop in exchange. Desktop computers were usually found everywhere—they were easy to build, easily configurable according to what you need and cheaper. However, with the fall of laptop prices, desktop computers are now seen only limited to offices. Laptops are getting cheaper, easily portable and occupy a smaller footprint, not forgetting low on power consumption and also have a built-in batter that works as a UPS.

However, there are quite a few who favour desktops instead of a laptop. Many prefer to use the physical (speedy) mouse as opposed to the laptop’s (slow and clumsy) touchpad and the full-sized keyboard as compared to the small laptop keys. People who travel a lot are used to working on laptops, but when you get back to a desk, a desktop PC is what anyone would prefer. If you are a gamer, you cannot compete a laptop performance (or a gaming laptop) so easily with that of a desktop PC.

With power, price and portability issues, the desktop could see extinction earlier than usual. With all-in-one PCs gaining popularity, the threat to desktop computers is seen on the horizon. All-in-one PCs are far cheaper, but again, they are more of a laptop in camouflage. They too are bulky, non-portable and do not have a backup battery. But again, all-in-ones are preferred for their large displays and physical input devices, which a laptop cannot.

So here come compact desktop computers which can help replace the conventional PC cabinet that you see occupying the space above or below the table. Compact PCs are easier to deploy, small in footprint and low on power consumption. However, compact PCs are meant for daily computing and not for high-end gaming or graphics. They are simple computers with a mini-ITX motherboard (with CPU), RAM and a hard drive. All you need is to attach your keyboard, mouse and monitor and get on with work. The concept is great for those who have small offices, or work from home and want to save on space and power. These compact PCs are also great for large organisations which need to deploy cheaper computers on a large scale and save on huge amounts of costs in terms of power and storage.

This brings in BRIX, from Gigabyte. BRIX is a barebone compact desktop computer that is cheap and easy to deploy. The PC is smaller than a conventional Tiffin box and holds a complete desktop PC within. The BRIX is a barebone compact PC that only ships with a motherboard and a processor and the user or customer has to install his own RAM and hard drive. In this way, he is free to choose the amount of money spent on the desktop. In terms of offices, IT departments can deploy these desktop PCs without storage (or minimum storage) and have their own servers manage the entire network of PCs in the organisation.

We received a BRIX GB-BACE-3000 for a hands-on. The device is a simple barebone ultra-compact desktop computer, and is smaller than a conventional wireless router in size, but almost double in height (56.1mm x 107.6mm x 114.4mm). The BRIX GB-BACE-3000 is powered by an external 19v, 2A power supply unit that is bundled along with the unit. The BRIX can be user-assembled (if you know how to install the storage and memory modules) and is user serviceable (though you may not need it). All you need to do is open the unit, plug in the RAM modules and storage (HDD or SSD) and connect it to your existing desktop monitor along with a keyboard and mouse. Once done, connect you network cables and install your desired operating system (Windows or Linux) and you are ready to compute. Users can also connect the BRIX to an existing television or projector (using the HDMI or a VAG cable) and convert your living room into a computer-cum-entertainment area. Offices can also convert the conference room into a full-fledged video conferencing zone by additionally installing a microphone and camera respectively. The BRIX barebone ultra-compact PC kit comes along with a vesa mounting plate or bracket which can be mounted to the vesa mounting area on the rear of a monitor or LCD TV. You can also mount it elsewhere according to the convenience of your work area.

The BRIX GB-BRACE-3000 features a 14nm Intel Celeron N3000 2.08GHz processor with a fan-less heatsink, supports a single 2.5-inch HDD or SSD storage (6Gbps SATA3) and a single SO-DIMM DDR3L (up to 8GB, 1066/1600MHz) slot for RAM. The motherboard features an onboard Intel HD graphics, 1 x PCIe M.2 NGFF 2230 A-E slow (presently occupied by an optional Wi-Fi + BT card) 1 x Gigabit LAN, Realtek ALC255 audio, 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI, 4 x USB 3.0 (2 x rear + 2 x front), 1 x DC input, 1 x micro SD car slot and 1 x Kensington lock provision. The BRIX also supports dual display setups via VGA and HDMI simultaneously. The PC is compatible with Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, 64-bit and 32-bit operating systems. Installation of the operating system can be done via a USB flash drive, or a USB DVD ROM drive. You can convert your Windows DVD into a bootable Windows installation drive by using the ‘Windows USB Installation tool’ available on Gigabyte’s website. All supported drivers are available on their website, post installation of the operating system. The BRIX is an ultra compact, versatile DIY PC kit that redefines the desktop PC in terms of miniaturization with a form factor that is small enough to sit in the palm of your hand.

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