Next-gen Gigabyte Brix barebones lineup boasts Haswell CPUs

Haswell seems perfectly suited to Intel's Next Unit of Computing. The small-form-factor PC is basically an ultrabook in a box, and Haswell brings lower power consumption and improved integrated performance to that class of CPU. All of Intel's current NUC models have older Ivy Bridge chips inside, but Gigabyte has updated its range of similar Brix systems with a host of Haswell models.

The incoming Brix series includes models based on the Core i7-4500U, Core i5-4200U, Core i3-4010U, and Celeron 2955U. All of those chips are 15W parts, and the Core models have HD 4400 integrated graphics. The Celeron's "HD Graphics" should be considerably slower.

Apart from differences in their underlying CPUs, the new Brix barebones look all but identical. They each feature HDMI and Mini DisplayPort video outs, four USB 3.0 ports, and Realtek-powered Gigabit Ethernet. Inside, the half-height Mini PCIe slot is occupied by a wireless card with 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. There's also a mSATA slot for storage and a pair of SO-DIMM slots for memory.

Most folks will be passing audio over HDMI, I suspect, but it's nice that Gigabyte throws in a 3.5-mm headphone jack up front. That jack also doubles as a digital S/PDIF output.

Gigabyte wraps everything up in a tiny 4.2" x 4.5" x 1.2" chassis. It also throws in a bracket compatible with 75- and 100-mm VESA mounts. This bracket can be used to affix the Brix to the back of some PC monitors or pretty much anywhere you can drive a few screws.

Although it would be nice to see a Brix variant with Intel's Iris integrated graphics, that IGP is only available on higher-wattage Haswell parts. The HD 4400 should be sufficiently potent for basic computing and perhaps even some light gaming. We may have to get one of these mini PCs in house for a closer look.

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