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GIGABYTE GB-BXi3-4010 2 x 204Pin SO-DIMM Intel HD Graphics 4400 Integrated by CPU Mini-PC Barebone
  • Owned For: 1 month to 1 year

Pros: First pro: size. It makes the Mac Mini look like a ship's anchor! I go to an art school where most people blindly follow the cult of Mac, and it's fun to be able to point at their gigantic Mac Minis they use for art installations, and say "still using those old behemoths?

Second pro: performance. I use this to run art installations, usually running programs written in Processing, which sometimes have a bit of a performance overhead, since they use Java. I was able to run an installation that pulled data from a webcam using computer vision libraries, amplitude information from a microphone, and then threw GPU accelerated 2D visuals on the screen. The CPU usage never exceeded about 30%, which really is quite good considering everything going on. Haven't tried it with 3D yet, but it seems to be moderately capable in this department.

I also draw on it using Inkscape, which doesn't slow down until I get maybe 3500 nodes on the screen, which is pretty respectable.

The only time it showed its limitations was really when it played Shadowrun: Dragonfall for Linux. The game was playable, but could be better. However, it's my opinion that this game isn't as optimized as it could be, considering it lagged a bit on a 6-core overclocked AMD Phenom II with a Radeon R7 260X.

Third Pro: stylish and quiet. Frankly, I think the design is not only smaller than the Mac Mini, but more stylish. Unlike many stylish PCs, it's not even derivative of Apple stuff. The polished black plexiglass top is as nice as it looks in the pictures, the black aluminum on the sides has a nice silver bevel cut into the edge. The black aluminum sides also have a nice, apparently durable flat powdercoat. Oh, and it's quiet. Mostly, you hardly hear it. If the CPU usage clears maybe 30-40%, it's possible to hear the fan, but this is only a problem if you are in a virtually silent room. In my installations, you can't hear the fan if there's even a little background noise (like chatter, or the ventilation system).

Fourth pro: regular HDMI port. No buying special mini HDMI cables like the Intel NUC, or any of that mini DisplayPort bogosity. Just plug in your HDMI cable and go. Does HDMI audio out, and regular headphone jack out too.

Fifth pro: works great with Linux. No problems with installation or hardware recognition. Runs very smoothly. I don't think it's ever crashed since installing Linux (Mint KDE) in November. By that I mean I've had a few programs crash (mostly Inkscape), but never a total freeze that required reboot. No, I tell a lie, the other day it inexplicably froze on boot, but these things happen with any machine.

Cons: If there's a con, it's POSSIBLY the wifi card. Sometimes I have problems with the wifi dropping, though this has become more rare. It seems to happen mostly when I'm on an encrypted network at some distance from the router. There is talk this may be the fault of how Linux works with encrypted Wifi in general, as this is not the only machine to report these issues. Hasn't happened in a few weeks, but I've been using it much closer to the router. I will point out in its favor this is likely a Linux issue, as I tried a USB wifi dongle that had the same problems. So if you're running Windows, you'll most likely be fine. I also found that sharing the Wifi connection from my table via bluetooth was a viable option for basic web browsing and music streaming, but insufficient for Netflix (which works *directly* through Chrome with Linux now, FYI!) or torrent downloads.

The other con, and this is a nitpick, is that if you wall mount it (which works great!), the power cable has to slightly sit on top of the HDMI cable. It doesn't cause it to stick out from the case or anything but that could've been done better.

Other Thoughts: My life feels more fulfilled since getting this little thing.

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G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM DDR3L 1600 (PC3L 12800) Laptop Memory Model F3-1600C9S-4GRSL
  • Owned For: 1 month to 1 year

Pros: No memory errors, or indeed crashes of any kind since installation in November 2014. I don't get into benchmarking of memory, since its effect on real-world performance of most applications is fairly minimal. So I won't speak to its speed. Hasn't caught fire. Not much more to say! Oh, came with a nice G.Skill sticker for my case!

Cons: Wasn't free. Also, its atoms have the property of mass, so they make it slightly more difficult for me to accelerate my microdesktop from a stop when I take it to work. Perhaps if I'd been willing to pay for a more premium memory, it would've been made of massless particles, but you know.. budgets...

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SAPPHIRE 100366-2L Radeon R7 260X 2GB 128-Bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 CrossFireX Support Video Card
  • Owned For: 1 month to 1 year

Pros: Quiet, works well. Great performance with Metro I & II at 1080p.

Cons: I guess it's not the world's highest end video card, but I haven't bumped up against obsolescence either. My hunch is it wouldn't hold up well for 4K 3D. That's not much of a con in my book, but maybe it is if you own a 4K monitor!

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Matthew S.'s Profile

Display Name: Matthew S.

Date Joined: 06/24/08

  • Reviews: 7
  • Helpfulness: 3
  • First Review: 06/28/12
  • Last Review: 01/24/15
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