Gigabyte surrounds Kaby Lake CPUs with Brix

Now that the first Kaby Lake CPUs are out, everyone's got new versions of their toys to show off. Gigabyte is getting in on the fun by updating its popular Brix mini-PCs to the latest Intel processors. The company is debuting six new models based on three different Intel CPUs: the Core i3-7100U, Core i5-7200U, and Core i7-7500U. Each chip is getting a home in a corresponding pair of Brixes: one with room for a 2.5" storage device, and another, thinner version without.

Besides the processor used and the presence (or lack) of the 2.5" bay, the new Brix machines are all identical. They come as barebones machines with two empty DDR4 SO-DIMM slots and an M.2 2280 slot. Right up front on the new Brixes are a pair of USB 3.1 ports: one Type-A and the other a Type-C. Those ports are powered by an Asmedia controller, so don't plug your Thunderbolt devices into these machines and expect them to work. A pair of USB 3.0 ports live on the back of the machine alongside an Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet jack. Another Intel chip delivers both 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2.

Gigabyte says the new Brixes can drive up to three displays, but doing so will require using displays that support DisplayPort chaining. Besides the mini-DP 1.2 connection, the little PCs can hook up to monitors and TVs using HDMI 2.0. The Kaby Lake chips in the new machines support hardware playback of 10-bit HEVC, so a display-mounted Brix (using the included VESA mount) could make for a neat little HTPC.

Comments closed
    • September
    • 3 years ago

    Here is a direct link to the Core i7 thin model (GB-BKi7A-7500) product page:

    [url<][/url<] The link in the article is to the listing of all BRIX models... (Something you can't see in this front picture is that the bottom USB port is RED! - ugh)

    • ForceEdge
    • 3 years ago

    When do they Actually go on sale? no sign of anything kaby here yet :/

    • danazar
    • 3 years ago

    Do we know if/when we’re going to see Linux support for these new video decoding features? This would make a good long-term investment in a new Kodi/XBMC box, [i<][b<]if[/i<][/b<] there's hope that we'll get full hardware 10-bit HEVC decode support in the near future. Otherwise there's no real advantage over Skylake.

      • stdRaichu
      • 3 years ago

      ffmpeg (which XBMC uses internally) has had hardware support for the braswell/skylake-era HEVC for about a year. Official support/inclusion for the new version of ffmpeg landed in XBMC 16 IIRC. 8b should work straight off the bat, 10b I think needs GPU decode so will probably need a new driver version to work (if it doesn’t exist already).

      Never understood all the fuss about 10bit though…

        • RAGEPRO
        • 3 years ago

        A lot of people misunderstand 10-bit video. It’s not about deep color; it’s generally downsampled and played back in 8-bit mode on 8-bit displays. The advantage is that the higher color precision helps avoid banding, particularly in content with a lot of gradients (like anime.) That’s why the anime kids were the first ones to start really using it.

        It also (slightly) reduces filesizes because the higher precision means the encoder has to use less “steps”. It’s a little confusing and I don’t really understand it all that well myself, but yeah, higher precision = slightly smaller filesizes.

    • Firestarter
    • 3 years ago

    So Kaby Lake does H265 decoding in hardware right? Then this should make a really nice HTPC

      • RAGEPRO
      • 3 years ago

      [quote<]The Kaby Lake chips in the new machines support hardware playback of 10-bit HEVC, so a display-mounted Brix (using the included VESA mount) could make for a neat little HTPC.[/quote<]

        • ChicagoDave
        • 3 years ago

        Yep I plan to build a new HTPC with the 65w Kaby Lakes in January.

        Primary reason I’ve been holding out is the dedicated hardware for encode/decode of H265 and VP9, HDCP 2.2, and 3d Xpoint support. I believe there’s four extra PCI-E 3.0 lanes as well (chipset not processor though?) which will be nice for running dual m.2 drives.

        Doubt I’ll get any use out of 3d Xpoint for a few years unless it is initially released at reasonable prices, but hey might be a good investment to have support 6-7 years down the road.

        Also looks like Kaby will be really good for laptops/tablets, which I happen to be in the market for right now 🙂

        Pulled form a PC Mag article:
        [quote<] The other important aspect of Kaby Lake is Intel’s transition to a new video engine. According to Chris Walker, the general manager for mobile client platforms at Intel, the web’s content platforms are moving to HEVC and VP9 for video encoding and decoding—and at higher resolutions. Skylake accelerated 1080p HEVC encoding and decoding natively in hardware, but it lacked dedicated support for 4K HEVC encoding/decoding at 10-bit depths, or VP9 decoding—two things that Kaby Lake does natively in hardware. These advances are important for the same reason that Netflix and Google have led the way toward using both codecs: They provide equivalent video quality at a fraction of the bandwidth, especially as 4K video becomes more widespread. On Monday, for example, [b<]Netflix performed an in-depth technical examination of three of the most popular video codecs. Netflix found that HEVC delivers all of the video quality of the older AVC codec that Skylake supported, but at 50 percent of the bandwidth. That means the amount of data your bandwidth cap chews up on account of video streaming could be half of what it is now, without a noticeable change in quality—but it would require significantly more computational horsepower from your PC. What Kaby Lake promises is that the new dedicated video block won’t actually impede your PC’s performance. [/b<] That translates into two advantages, according to Intel: first, a tangible improvement in video decoding and encoding. Naturally, a Kaby Lake system will be able to decode 4K video at 60 frames per second—or up to eight 4K streams at 30 fps.But even the ultra-low-power Y-series will be able to encode 4K video at 30 frames per second, Intel said. Otherwise, simply playing back video will consume far less power than before. [b<]Intel claims that the power consumed by the CPU and GPU combined will be up to 20 times less than in Skylake, resulting in a whopping 2.6 times more battery life when playing back HEVC 10-bit video on a notebook with a 4K panel. Streaming VP9 video on YouTube will see smaller, but still-impressive gains: a 1.75X improvement in battery life.[/b<] It was a smart decision for Intel, analyst Dean McCarron of Mercury Research said. “We’ve got a lot of transistors to spend on processor cores,” he said. “You can squeeze more transistors into more cores or higher clock rates, or you can choose specialization, as Intel did here. Video is a really common task, with common algorithms, and it’s a good way to spend those transistors. [/quote<]

    • alienden
    • 3 years ago

    No thunderbolt 3, a sad day, after seeing how well NUC works with eGPU it’s hard to undervalue TB3 on small factor devices.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 3 years ago

      It’s pretty hard to see the value, though. The chassis are all $400 on up and take up plenty of space. Might as well go mITX.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 3 years ago

      You probably meant “overvalue”, right?

    • Sargent Duck
    • 3 years ago

    Love the box. Simple, clean, stylish. Perfect.

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