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Pros: small form factor, quiet, low power consumption, good quality, optical SPDIF output.
Cons: Quality not quite up to other Brix models I own, performance not quite up to playing Minecraft
Other Thoughts: This is the thrid Brix I've purchased, all different models. This is the first one that has given me anything but a flawless installation experience. On this unit, the action of the clip holding one of the ram modules was not very smooth. I actually had to bend the plastic tab out a little to get it to accept the RAM module. Other than that, I have no complaints with the quality.
I am running Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS on this machine, as with my other Brixes. I haven't noticed any problems running this OS. I tested the graphics performance with glmark2, and for what it's worth, it received marks slightly lower than an Nvidia GT630 on another machine, around 1300-1400. It is more than capable of playing 1080p videos.
Under most circumstances, this Brix is very quiet. Playing a 1080p video from disk, I literally have to put my head about a foot away to hear any fan noise, even w/ the audio muted. About the only time the fan noise becomes excessive is when stressing the GPU, for example running glmark2. Maxing the CPU out w/ the cpu test program stress also produces some fan noise after a few minutes, but not much. These aren't typical conditions.
Power consumption is pretty good. It maxed out at ~29-30W when stressing the GPU with glmark2, and about 18W when running the CPU at 100% with stress. Under most circumstances, including playing a 1080p video, it typically seems to run around 15W.
I would give this unit about a C+/B- on the "minecraft test". Basically my minecraft players in the house tell me is " a little laggy". You can also hear that the GPU is working hard, as the fan noise increases quite a bit.
Overall, I think this Brix is more than powerful and quiet enough for use as a media pc, but somewhat underpowered for use as a full-fledged general desktop in my situation. However, for basic web browsing, video playing, etc,, I would recommend it.
Pros: Small footprint, price is right, low power consumption, ultra quiet
Cons: No SPDIF output
Other Thoughts: I am very happy w/ this Brix model so far. I bought it to give to a relative as a replacement for an ancient Pentium 4 machine. The Brix obviously isn't blazingly fast, but it is adequate for basic web browsing and such. It is also capable of playing movies ripped from blu-rays at HD resolution and high quality, and streaming from e.g. youtube. The build quality appears to be excellent, which is also true of the other Brix pc I have - a more expensive model w/ an AMD A8-5545M cpu.
Ubuntu 14.04 installed and runs flawlessly. I am using a 64GB SSD, which is almost overkill (~ 5GB for a full installation of the OS and standard applications), and 4GB of RAM (I could probably go w/ 2GB RAM but decided to be conservative). Being fanless, it is dead silent, and power consumption is ~11W with close to full CPU utilization.
The Brix would also be adequate for replacing a foxconn nt-a3500 minipc I have that runs a standalone music and minecraft server, or for replacing an Asus eepc R3610 media pc that runs openelec. The Brix uses less power than either, and the lack of noise is an advantage in both cases. The only thing it lacks for my purposes is an SPDIF output, which I can work around since it does have digital audio capability through the HDMI output.
This review is from: GIGABYTE GB-BXA8-5545 2 x 204Pin SO-DIMM AMD Radeon HD 8510G Mini-PC Barebone
Pros: Small, low power, pretty quiet
Cons: Relatively expensive, no cables included - I had to dig up a spare hdmi cable to fire it up.
Other Thoughts: I bought this to mainly to use as a minecraft server for my kids and their friends. I have a foxconn nt-a3500 that is looking somewhat underpowered as I expand the server. According to cpubenchmark.net, the 5545M in this unit gets a score of 2538 vs. 759 for the E-350 in the nt-a3500, and it is obvious the 5545M is quite a bit more powerful. Of course it is more expensive, but I think the big boost in performance will be worth it.
In testing it so far this unit is very impressive for general use - web browsing mainly. It is also low power, using ~15W idling, and ~2W on standby. It is quiet, but the fan does ramp up pretty quickly as the cpustarts to work hard.
Ubuntu 12.04 and 13.10 run on this pc w/o a hitch. I have not been able to install 14.04 daily build - it gives me a kernel panic and crashes on init. I assume that will be fixed by the time 14.04 is released.
I'm not particularly happy w/ the AMD graphics under ubuntu so far. I don't intend to use it for videos, but I tested it out, and have not had good luck playing a ripped blu-ray in either the default player or VLC. With the default player the sound cuts out shortly after the video starts, and with VLC, the video stalls out for several seconds quite often. I played around w/ the settings in the catalyst control center, but have not found a solution that works.