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GIGABYTE BRIX Skylake BSi7H-6500 Ultra Compact PC Review

By: Steven Bassiri | SFF PCs in Computer Systems | Posted: Apr 11, 2016 1:22 pm
TweakTown Rating: 91%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Here are key points about the BRIX BSi7H-6500.

 

What's Hot

 

Stellar Exterior: Almost all of the SFF PCs I have reviewed over the years use plastic shells, and many of those shells have glossy finishes that look great, but pick up fingerprints too easily. You have to clean those units every time someone touches them, but the new BRIX BSi7H-6500 uses a different type of plastic that resembles brushed aluminum in look and doesn't easily pick up fingerprints. The brushed aluminum look fooled me, the only indicator that it is not brushed aluminum is the lack of a cold feel when you touch it. Light even glimmers off the BRIX's surface like it would off of brushed aluminum, but the shell is less prone to picking up minor scratches compared to the microchannels on a brushed aluminum surface.

 

 

Skylake i7-6500U: Intel's latest Skylake microarchitecture provides a 5-10% performance increase compared to previous generation microprocessors (the 6500U is roughly 7-8% faster than the 5500U). The new Intel HD Graphics 520 offers HDMI 1.4a and DP 1.2, both of which support 4K. The new graphics core also supports DX12, previous integrated graphics from Intel did not.

 

Intel-based NICs: The BRIX BSi7H-6500 uses an Intel i219v for the wired NIC, the same PHY chip desktop motherboards use for Intel LAN. It also uses the Intel Wireless-AC 3165 M.2 card, which offers Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.2. The new Wireless AC card is fully compatible with Windows 10, provides the latest in Miracast technology, and Wi-Fi Direct.

 

Extra Storage Option: The BSi7H-6500 supports the ability to add in an additional 2.5-inch drive for extra storage, greatly expanding storage options in such a small device.

 

M.2 and DDR3L: It's about time that manufacturers gave up on mSATA, and GIGABYTE has finally made the leap with their latest BRIX lineup. The M.2 interface on the new BRIX supports a wide variety of the latest M.2 drives, and a heat pad has been integrated to cool down warmer M.2 devices. The use of DDR3L over DDR4L offers users the ability to use DDR3L from previous devices with the latest Skylake SoCs; it also opens up your options regarding purchasing memory since there is much more DDR3L on the market compared to DDR4L.

 

What's Not

 

This Barebones Will Cost You: The BRIX BSi7H-6500 isn't cheap. Currently, this iteration of the BRIX costs $529.99, and that doesn't include the M.2 drive (or 2.5-inch drive), DDR3L, or OS. Our configuration has a price tag of around $700 in total.

 

Wireless AC isn't the fastest: Although it's using Intel's latest Wireless AC 3165 chipset, it isn't the fastest (it's a 1x1 part), especially considering it's designed for low power devices. There are tradeoffs between performance and power, especially in this form factor, and the Wireless AC adapter is one place where power was optimized.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

Most SFF PCs based on the Intel cube form factor run anywhere from $200 to $800 fully configured. Our configuration is at the high-end of what you can spend on a BRIX, and it does feel like a true desktop replacement. You can execute almost anything (except high-end gaming or 4K video rendering) you could on a full-fledged desktop on this BRIX system, including anything used in the office. The BRIX BSi7H-6500 further closes the gap between full-tower desktops and SFF PCs; you wouldn't think that a device so small could pack such a powerful punch.

 

gigabyte-brix-skylake-bsi7h-6500-ultra-compact-pc-review_66

 

What sets this mini-PC apart from others is the new shell design. I was very impressed with the exterior of the device and the overall build quality. Although it is a lightweight plastic shell, it does an amazing job of mimicking brushed aluminum. The new Intel Skylake SoCs are quite powerful, and the mobile i7 used in this BRIX is capable of handling almost everything you might be able to throw at it.

 

The BRIX BSi7H-6500 isn't for every cubicle, but if your boss is complaining about their sluggish computer, replacing it with this system would surely put a smile on their face.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance96%
Quality including Design and Build92%
General Features90%
Bundle and Packaging88%
Value for Money88%
Overall TweakTown Rating91%

The Bottom Line: If you are looking for a tiny device that packs a huge punch, then the GIGABYTE BRIX BSi7H-6500 SFF PC will knock your socks off, but it won't be cheap.

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