Photos and Features
Well with the Brix GB-BXA8-5557 Gigabyte went with a full AMD theme both inside of the PC and outside. For the CPU they went with an AMD Richland Processor A8-5557M, this is where the A8-5557 in the model name came from. For the GPU they used a Radeon HD 8550G. All of that is packed into acase that has the same footprint as a standard Intel NUC but is about ¾ of an inch taller. The Brix has a black plastic top with the power button just like the NUC but the rest of the case is both red and black.
The black plastic top has a glossy finish that is going to attract fingerprints and dirt. Putting the power button in the middle of all of that isn’t going to help things as well, but I don’t think it will be to big of a deal. The chrome finished power button does have a backlit power logo that lights up when on as well.
The front of the Brix has two USB 3.0 ports along with a single headphone plug. The black trim on the front is a combination of a plastic around the USB ports and a metal mesh over on the right side. With all of the black the red really has an aggressive swoopy design going on as well.
The metal mesh on the right side of the front extends around on the right side of the Brix. We can also see that this mesh is completely functional, giving us a peek of the hardware inside while also letting everything breath. The left side of the Brix is almost completely covered in the mesh and behind that we can see the PCs two intake fans.
Really the only place that has a lot going on is the rear of the Brix. Here we have the rear I/O connections as well as additional vents above and below the I/O panel. They also slipped in a kensington lock hole up in the top right corner to help you lock the Brix to a table or cart if this is used in a public place. So for connections the first one on the far left is for the power cable. Then we have a full sized HDMI port as well as a Mini-DisplayPort as well for display connection options. From there you have the gig Ethernet and then an additional two USB 3.0 ports. This gives the Brix a total of 4 USB connections that are all USB 3.0.
As expected the bottom of the brix has a few large stickers with all of the required CE and FCC logos. The second sticker has the UPC, model number, and also the serial number. Basically everything you need for an RMA in the future if there is a problem. Also on the bottom are the four rubber feet. The Brix also supports VEGA mounting via the included mount. The way the mount works is it hangs from the hook built into the base and then there are two screw holes for the mount to be locked into place. Gigabyte even lets you know what direction should be facing up if it wasn’t obvious as well.
Being a kit not a full PC we do need to get inside of the Brix to install our RAM and SSD as well as take a peek inside to see what Gigabyte packed in it. To do that each of the four feet on the bottom also have a small screw in them. You will need a smaller headed screwdriver to get them but once you pull them out the base comes right out giving us access to the motherboard.
Once I got into the Brix I could finally see exactly why it weighed so much. Gigabyte make this brix with a very unique design. There looks to be two motherboards but really the top PCB is the motherboard and the PCB all the way at the bottom is the GPU PCB. The motherboard has all of our connections on one side then on the underside is the CPU. This design means the GPU and the CPU can share the same cooling but they have enough room to get it done. In between the two PCBs are two thick heatsinks. This is where most of that weight came from. The GPU side does have a few heatpipes as well. The design keeps the footprint small but does add to the height of the PC. To keep that to a minimum though the USB and Ethernet connections on the rear I/O are actually cut out of the PCB and installed lower.
Being such a small PC it’s no surprise that Gigabyte kept the power supply out. The power supply that comes with the Brix is made by FSP, specifically the fsp135-rsebn2. This is a 135 watt external power supply, the exact same model that Intel uses on some of their AIO Mini-ITX products as well. FSP makes great power supplies so no worries here. Size wise it is a little under an inch thick but it is a little larger than most new laptops will have (other than gaming laptops).
So to get the brix up and running I reached out to our good friend over at Kingston and they were happy to send over SODIMM RAM and a mSATA SSD as well to complete the PC. What exactly am I installing? Well for the RAM we have a KVR16LS11/8 8 Gig SODIMM. For the SSD they sent a 240 GB mSATA drive. We will see how well they perform when we get into testing, but as always we know with them being Kingston they should hold up well. So a big thanks for their support!
Before I could get installing windows I did have to get the Kingston RAM and SSD installed. We already have the Brix opened up so getting going was easy. The RAM installed like any other SODIMM, if you haven’t installed one before you put the RAM into the slot then tilt it over until it snaps into place. The key is making sure that both metal clips locks in place though, you don’t want the ram to come loose later on. For the SSD I did have to get out our screw driver. The mSATA drive installed over top of the included Wireless and Bluetooth adapter. It goes into the slot and tilts over just like the SODIMM but this time you have to make sure you remove the tiny screw before you install the drive then when you have it in place you screw the SSD into place.
Part of the reason the Brix is taller than the NUC is the mount on the inside of the bottom panel. On top of the mSATA SSD option you can also mount and install a 2.5 inch drive as well. The data and power is provided from a short cable already mounted to the motherboard. In fact to even be able to get into everything I had to remove the tape from the cable to move it out of the way. For our build I’m going to leave this open to give us the expansion room in the future.