Gigabyte's Brix mini PC to challenge Intel's Next Unit of Computing

Gigabyte has formally introduced the Brix small-form-factor systems we spotted last month. The mini PCs measure just 1.2" x 4.2" x 4.5", and they pack ultrabook-class Ivy Bridge processors and plenty of connectivity. Wi-Fi is included along with Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, HDMI, and Mini DisplayPort.

Although a Wi-Fi card is included, the Brix will be sold as a barebones rig sans memory, storage, and operating system. Inside the tiny case lies a single mSATA slot and dual DDR3 SO-DIMM slots. You should be able to add your own memory and mini SSD without too much drama.

The Brix lineup comprises four models, three of which are already listed on Gigabyte's site. The GB-XM1-3537 comes with a Core i7-3537U processor, the GB-XM11-3337 is equipped with an i5-3337U, and the GB-XM12-3227 sports—you guessed it—an i3-3227U. There will also be a lower-end GB-XM14-1037 with a Celeron 1037U processor. All those CPUs have dual cores and 17W thermal envelopes. Only the Core processors can execute four threads via Hyper-Threading, though, and Turbo is limited to the i7 and i5 models.

Intel's similarly small Next Unit of Computing doesn't dip into Core i5 and i7 territory. It also lacks 3.0 ports, but the top model sports a Thunderbolt jack. While Thunderbolt has a certain appeal for diminutive PCs, SuperSpeed USB makes a lot more sense given the peripherals currently on the market.

Unfortunately, we don't yet know how much the various Brix systems will cost. Intel's NUC lineup has multiple models between $165 and $330, so I'd expect the comparable Brix products to be in the same ballpark. Gigabyte should be able to charge a premium for the Core i5 and i7 variants even without Thunderbolt onboard.

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