Remember that mini Maingear Steam machine we saw at CES a couple weeks ago? The tiny system combines a quad-core AMD APU with discrete Radeon graphics, and enthusiasts will soon be able to build their own version of it. Gigabyte has formally introduced a Brix Gaming barebones with the same chassis and motherboard. Behold the Brix Gaming GB-BXA9G-8890.
Like the Maingear build, this overgrown NUC sports an A8-5557M processor. The quad-core chip has a 2.1GHz base clock speed, a 3.1GHz Turbo peak, and a 35W power envelope. Surprisingly, though, it's based on AMD's older Richland silicon rather than the latest Kaveri APU. We haven't seen 35W versions of Kaveri yet, so perhaps that's why Gigabyte went with the older chip.
Richland has its own integrated graphics, but this Brix configuration features a discrete Radeon R9 M275X, as well. Although the M275X isn't listed on AMD's website, Gigabyte's spec sheet suggests that the GPU is derived from the Radeon HD 8800M series. That family has 640 shader processors, clock speeds in the 575-775MHz range, and a 128-bit path to 2GB of GDDR5 memory. We were told at CES that the R9 275X has roughly equivalent performance to the desktop Radeon HD 7750, which has fewer shader processors but a higher GPU clock speed.
Gigabyte pairs the R9 M275X with 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 RAM. The system also has a couple of SO-DIMM slots for system memory, an mSATA slot for mini SSDs, and a 2.5" bay for larger SSDs and mechanical hard drives. There's a separate Mini PCIe slot, too, but it's occupied by the system's wireless card. 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 are both on the menu.
The Brix Gaming's wired connectivity includes HDMI and Mini DisplayPort video outs, a Gigabyte Ethernet jack, an analog headphone connector, and four USB 3.0 ports. Everything is squeezed into a diminutive chassis that measures only 4.5" x 5.0" x 2.3" (115 x 128 x 60 mm). Gigabyte's press release doesn't mention pricing details, but we've asked the company for clarification. We're also due to receive one of these units for testing. Stay tuned.
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