PAX East 2016

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GIGABYTE USA

22 - 24 April 2016 | Written by Maxxum

Having spoken with GIGABYTE USA at last year's PAX East, I was intrigued by the tiny PCs known as "Brix" systems, but I was not impressed, nor interested in pursing a follow-up of these devices as my mentality at the time was, "how powerful could they be?". However, since then I now have two mini-PCs similar in form factor to the Brix systems, and could not imagine working without them in my home lab as these two systems house my Windows virtual machines in one, and a Linux file server/VPN in the other within enclosures not much larger than three cellphones stacked on each other.

Moreover, the two systems combined consume less power than just one of the servers they replace, and you wouldn't see them because they can fit behind a monitor using VESA mounts, which also makes them ideal for people who simply need a home system for regular browsing, home theater, or light-gaming.

The Brix systems are unique amongst mini-PCs offered by their competitors in that there is a much wider variety from which to choose; some models use discrete video cards instead of the on-board Intel eGPU, and several of the previous generation of Brix systems use desktop Intel CPUs instead of less powerful mobile versions - so if gaming or video editing were the principle reason for purchasing a Brix system, one could legitimately expect to see comparable desktop performance from a system you can hold in your hand.

Additionally, these systems can to a degree be customized to fit specific performance needs. For instance, they support HDD as well as SSDs, and in the newest generation the M.2 PCIe form factor of SSDs, and DDR4 RAM. As mentioned above, they support both Linux and Windows, so users aren't locked into a specific OS. There haven't been many hardware related offering I've been excited enough to buy after reviewing them, but these certainly have met that criteria... twice.

This year's offerings from GIGABYTE USA cover the 6th Generation of Intel Core i3 and i5 processors, with an upcoming i7 model.

Follows my interview with Jon Lin.

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Videography by Dominic Apodoca