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post #1 of 40 Old 07-21-2013, 08:35 PM - Thread Starter
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I recently had some time to do a project for a close personal friend of mine. He wanted an extremely small HTPC after seeing my Intel NUC. He also wanted to attach something to it that would be easy to use and store all of his movies and media.

So I built him a Gigabyte Brix and 4 bay external hard drive enclosure.

Parts list:

Brix HTPC:
Gigabyte Brix i3-3227U GB-XM12-3227 (Includes CPU, iGPU [HD4000], Motherboard, Wireless card, Case and Power Supply [external] for $299
Plextor 128GB M5M mSATA (note that these use mSATA and not SATA interface) for $115
G.Skill 2x4GB DDR3 1600 204 pin RAM (note that this is laptop RAM) for $69

That's it. 3 parts. It took about 10 minutes total (if that) for the build including opening the box.

Here is a look at the Brix (beverage shown for scale)


4 screws come out and the cover lifts off. The CPU and fan are on the other side of the motherboard and this does NOT need to be accessed at all for the build. You can see the wireless N card that comes pre-installed at the top center with the 2 black wires coming from it. To the right of this is the mSATA slot. At the bottom center are the two RAM slots.


1 screw needs to be removed to install the mSATA SSD. Once it is in the slot you re-insert the screw to hold it in place. Here is a picture of the mSATA SSD which is about 1" x 2" in size.


Here is the finished product


Installation of Windows was done using the USB 3.0 port via flash drive and was lightning quick. No issues at all.



The external hard drive housed two Seagate 3TB hard drives in 2 of the 4 bays. The other two are left open for future expansion. This is a simple JBOD.



After installation of Windows 7 Professional and all of his media this is how his storage looked (plenty of room on the SSD obviously)


He wanted to use XBMC so I loaded this up for him




Now on to some comments.

Build was a breeze. Literally 5 screw total and 3 snaps of cards into slot and you are done. Plug it into the wall with the supplied power cord, hit the power button, hit DEL on your keyboard and you are in bios.

Appearance is fantastic. I like that they kept it simple and muted which fits my style.

Noise was minimal as it was with my Intel NUC. I do have to say that I had it right next to my server which is quiet but isn't completely inaudible at 3 feet or so. Temps were never an issue and stayed in the 50-55C range while I was tinkering with it.

Overall if you are in the market for a NUC type device then the Gigabyte is a serious contender. It adds USB 3.0, Wireless N, and the power cord/supply for roughly the same price as the i3 Intel NUC.

I still have the device and am happy to answer any questions before I give it to him in the next few days/weeks.

Here is the happy pair together.
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post #2 of 40 Old 07-21-2013, 10:03 PM
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Please comment on the Ethernet performance between the Realtek in the BRIX and Intel in the NUC.

External storage is the way to go with these ultra small form factor PCs. If you want big storage far away, then a NAS that supports iSCSI is about the best you can get.
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post #3 of 40 Old 07-22-2013, 04:03 AM
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It looks like the Brix would fit into one of the empty slots in the drive enclosure.
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post #4 of 40 Old 07-22-2013, 05:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shortcut3d View Post

Please comment on the Ethernet performance between the Realtek in the BRIX and Intel in the NUC.

External storage is the way to go with these ultra small form factor PCs. If you want big storage far away, then a NAS that supports iSCSI is about the best you can get.

I've use Realtek versus intel in 10 different machines. I don't use the BRIX but I can probably help answer this.

There is very little difference between them.

I have Intel NIC LAN card in my server and INtel LAN in my desktop. I have Realtek in three other machines on same network and I've tested them all. There is very little difference in network speed real world.

I'd expect there is no issues at all regarding that. I believe that Realtek chip is widely used in most motherboards these days.

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post #5 of 40 Old 07-22-2013, 05:32 AM - Thread Starter
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I also have an Intel nic in my server and realtek everywhere else. No real issues over the last few years. I did notice increased reliability from the server connection side after adding the Intel nic.

I had the Brix connected to my network through a gigabit switch and it worked perfectly.
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post #6 of 40 Old 07-22-2013, 07:29 AM
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Nice I was curious about these units.

I think I read they are going to have more cpu options compared to the NUC (at least for the time being).
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post #7 of 40 Old 07-22-2013, 08:15 AM
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I assume you need to add an IR receiver or is there one built in?

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post #8 of 40 Old 07-22-2013, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bryansj View Post

I assume you need to add an IR receiver or is there one built in?

For an IR remote you need to connect an IR receiver.

I had the Harmony One + IR receiver and the $35 Lenovo N5902 laid out to use for many many months and both my wife and I use the Lenovo 99% of the time. The Lenovo is RF (no line of sight), backlit, media buttons (stop, play, volume, etc) and obviously has a keypad. The small blue rectangular RF receiver is seen on the front of the Brix in the last picture above.
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post #9 of 40 Old 07-22-2013, 12:42 PM
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If they had a simple little IR window on the front of that box then it would be a very clean install.

My only issue with moving to something like this would be that I have a 2TB HDD local just for recorded TV. I would need to use iSCSI with my server to be able to drop the drive.

I could see this being a good solution for a wall mounted TV with this unit slipped in between the wall and TV.

Is the beer there to show the elapsed time? Looks like it took half a beer to built it.

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post #10 of 40 Old 07-22-2013, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bryansj View Post

Is the beer there to show the elapsed time? Looks like it took half a beer to built it.

Ha! I hadn't thought of that! Yes, it took about half a beer to build. Of course the much more involved software setup took many beers of time! wink.gif
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post #11 of 40 Old 07-22-2013, 02:33 PM
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Its cool to see more NUC style system pop up.

I saw that Silverstone has an NUC case as well: http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=437&area=en

I was hoping to find the actual NUC boards not integrated into a chassis to use with the Silverstone, but there aren't any available like that.


This one looks nice, so I'll consider it for my next build.

One question about the ir receiver. Is there an ir receiver you recommend for use with a small form factor build like this? Finding a case with it built in is about impossible, so I have been using a usb ir receiver that comes with a Rosewill remote kit from Newegg. It would be nice if there was a way to just buy the usb receiver by itself. I don't need a bunch of remotes laying around.
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post #12 of 40 Old 07-22-2013, 03:40 PM
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XBMC Idle - ?? W
1080 playback - ?? W
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post #13 of 40 Old 07-22-2013, 05:08 PM - Thread Starter
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post #14 of 40 Old 07-22-2013, 07:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trooper11 View Post


I saw that Silverstone has an NUC case as well: http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=437&area=en

I was hoping to find the actual NUC boards not integrated into a chassis to use with the Silverstone, but there aren't any available like that.


Apparently the boards are supposed to ship in August. I'll believe it when I see it...

But I'm interested in the Silverstone case / home built NUC route as well.
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post #15 of 40 Old 07-24-2013, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

For an IR remote you need to connect an IR receiver.

I had the Harmony One + IR receiver and the $35 Lenovo N5902 laid out to use for many many months and both my wife and I use the Lenovo 99% of the time. The Lenovo is RF (no line of sight), backlit, media buttons (stop, play, volume, etc) and obviously has a keypad. The small blue rectangular RF receiver is seen on the front of the Brix in the last picture above.

Just a question: does the IR solution you adopted allow the HTPC power on from complete shut down?

Thx,
Dakkar
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post #16 of 40 Old 07-24-2013, 09:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dakkar View Post

Just a question: does the IR solution you adopted allow the HTPC power on from complete shut down?

Thx,
Dakkar

No. I am an opponent of this approach. Just let your HTPC sleep (the remote can wake it up) and it will use about 3 watts.

You can purchase hardware to allow your HTPC to be turned on from off but its not going to work in the NUC/Brix platform (it won't fit). The cost is about $25-$30. Even if it were to fit this would a) take a long time to recoup the money saved by decreasing those 3 watts to 1 watt [yes, even when completely off it still draws a watt or two], b) create more e-waste by purchasing a part that you don't really need and c) be more annoying waiting for it to powerup and down instead of just letting it go to sleep and waking it up quickly.

That's always been my take on it anyway.
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post #17 of 40 Old 07-24-2013, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

No. I am an opponent of this approach. Just let your HTPC sleep (the remote can wake it up) and it will use about 3 watts.

You can purchase hardware to allow your HTPC to be turned on from off but its not going to work in the NUC/Brix platform (it won't fit). The cost is about $25-$30. Even if it were to fit this would a) take a long time to recoup the money saved by decreasing those 3 watts to 1 watt [yes, even when completely off it still draws a watt or two], b) create more e-waste by purchasing a part that you don't really need and c) be more annoying waiting for it to powerup and down instead of just letting it go to sleep and waking it up quickly.

That's always been my take on it anyway.

Agreed yet everyone wants (demands) it and it's hard to talk them out of it. It's a constant struggle.

 

 

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post #18 of 40 Old 07-24-2013, 09:34 AM
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Not me. I don't even let mine sleep. All my PCs are on 24/7. I'll just change out a couple light bulbs to something more efficient and make it a wash.

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post #19 of 40 Old 07-24-2013, 11:34 AM
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I don't sleep mine either due to WAF smile.gif But, probably 4 out of 5 inquiries I get ask about turning the HTPC on with a remote. It's actually a bit of functionality that's a PITA (not the questions but the implementation of it and what it costs, etc.)

 

 

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post #20 of 40 Old 07-24-2013, 11:41 AM
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Stupid question, but what skin is that on XBMC?

I dream of a better tomorrow... where chickens can cross roads and not have their motives questioned.
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post #21 of 40 Old 07-24-2013, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trooper11 View Post

Its cool to see more NUC style system pop up.

I saw that Silverstone has an NUC case as well: http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=437&area=en

I was hoping to find the actual NUC boards not integrated into a chassis to use with the Silverstone, but there aren't any available like that.


This one looks nice, so I'll consider it for my next build.

One question about the ir receiver. Is there an ir receiver you recommend for use with a small form factor build like this? Finding a case with it built in is about impossible, so I have been using a usb ir receiver that comes with a Rosewill remote kit from Newegg. It would be nice if there was a way to just buy the usb receiver by itself. I don't need a bunch of remotes laying around.

I wish Silverstone included an IR receiver. I use the Micrsoft ehome IR receiver which looks almost as big as the Intel NUC. OR it would be nice to have an IR dongle the size of those USB micro Bluetooth or micro wireless receivers.
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post #22 of 40 Old 07-24-2013, 06:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shortcut3d View Post

I wish Silverstone included an IR receiver. I use the Micrsoft ehome IR receiver which looks almost as big as the Intel NUC. OR it would be nice to have an IR dongle the size of those USB micro Bluetooth or micro wireless receivers.


Well I didn't like the size of that either. I recently built a slim htpc for my parents that used the lian li case here:

http://www.lian-li.com/en/dt_portfolio/pc-q05/

its a great case, but no ir built in. So I looked around and found this Rosewill remote/receiver combo:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA0ZX0TR6398

It works just fine with Media Center, etc on the pc and it is about as small as you can get for an external receiver. Its out of stock at Newegg right now, but its sold on Amazon as well. I just wish it was sold on its own, without the remote control.
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post #23 of 40 Old 07-24-2013, 06:57 PM
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HOw is the performance of that 4 bay unit?

I'm looking to expand storage on my HTPC by a few HDD's without building a dedicated server. Just want something I can plug in via USB 3.0 or eSATA and the HDD's pop up. Already have 4 2tb hdd's...NEED MOAR!
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post #24 of 40 Old 07-24-2013, 07:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Stupid question, but what skin is that on XBMC?

ACE
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post #25 of 40 Old 07-24-2013, 07:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bimmerfreak0 View Post

HOw is the performance of that 4 bay unit?

I'm looking to expand storage on my HTPC by a few HDD's without building a dedicated server. Just want something I can plug in via USB 3.0 or eSATA and the HDD's pop up. Already have 4 2tb hdd's...NEED MOAR!

Excellent while I had it on and accessing data. Transferred data overnight over my gigabit connection with no hiccups. No issues with playback or stuttering on any of my test files.
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post #26 of 40 Old 07-25-2013, 06:59 AM
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See...I don;t want to build a dedicated server for multiple reasons:

1. No space really in my living room to support it. No way to wire it otherwise.
2. I'm afraid of setting up unRaid or Flexraid or Traid
3. I don't want to waste money on more cases and power supplies, etc when all I need is litterally more HDD's and my current Thermaltake DH102 won't support more

I just want something I can plug in via ethernet, USB 3.0 or hell...maybe even SAS external if needed.

I've read reviews that the unit auto shuts down HDD's after a while. Is this true?

Could I use the 4 or 8 bay unit as a software raid setup?

Regards,

Ryan
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post #27 of 40 Old 07-25-2013, 11:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bimmerfreak0 View Post

See...I don;t want to build a dedicated server for multiple reasons:

1. No space really in my living room to support it. No way to wire it otherwise.
2. I'm afraid of setting up unRaid or Flexraid or Traid
3. I don't want to waste money on more cases and power supplies, etc when all I need is litterally more HDD's and my current Thermaltake DH102 won't support more

I just want something I can plug in via ethernet, USB 3.0 or hell...maybe even SAS external if needed.

I've read reviews that the unit auto shuts down HDD's after a while. Is this true?

Could I use the 4 or 8 bay unit as a software raid setup?

Regards,

Ryan

It detects when your computer has been shut down and turn itself off. Not sure if it does the same when your HTPC goes to sleep. One way to fix that might be to not let your HTPC sleep. When I have it out again I will see if there are any settings that I can change and test drive it a little bit.

Can't comment on if you could use it with flexraid as I did not test it in this manner.

My buddy had the same request --- I tried to talk him into a server and he didn't want to commit the space (in the cramped area where this is going) and money for a server.
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post #28 of 40 Old 07-26-2013, 10:20 PM
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Mmmm Dead guy. A favorite, been a few years since I've been to Newport.

I use a Mediasonic probox 4 USB3 (not hardware RAID) and it is a quite good JBOD box for 4 drives with USB 3. I've heard of eSATA troubles, but I've not tried that.

What I have found, is no matter what I try I can not get it to auto shut-down when I power off the computer. I've tried a bunch of different USB ports on my Gigabyte board. I've now forgotten if I ever got it to power-down from the thinkpad - I believe no.
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post #29 of 40 Old 08-10-2013, 06:59 PM
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The wireless and usb 3.0 included for the same price as the NUC is great. What would be the benefit in buying a NUC?

Also, has anyone seen a release date and prices for the AMD versions? I've searched but can't find anywhere.
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post #30 of 40 Old 08-11-2013, 08:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TeflonDog View Post

The wireless and usb 3.0 included for the same price as the NUC is great. What would be the benefit in buying a NUC?

Also, has anyone seen a release date and prices for the AMD versions? I've searched but can't find anywhere.

Component differences (USB, NIC, WiFi). Intel uses all their own components which some prefer. Also, there's a slight difference in CPU choices. Lastly, the asthetics are different. My preference was the i5 NUC, but honestly had orders for both and went with what was available first.
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