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.
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.