MEGATech Reviews: GIGABYTE BRIX Projector Ultra Compact PC Kit Michael Kwan May 13, 2014 MEGATech Reviews All sorts of people out there are crying out that we are entering a post-PC era and the age of the conventional personal computer is dead. I beg to differ. Computers are simply taking on all sorts of different forms beyond the traditional desktop and laptop PC. A Windows tablet, for instance, is just as much a computer as its notebook counterpart. And then you’ve got more unique offerings like the GIGABYTE BRIX Projector, a mini PC that’s not much bigger than an Apple TV… all while offering you a real computer experience, plus a built-in projector. It’s certainly a unique expansion on the BRIX line from GIGABYTE. A Tiny PC with a Built-In Projector While it certainly cannot produce the same kind of horsepower as a much larger desktop PC, the GIGABYTE BRIX Projector is no slouch either. With this particular unit, you get an Intel Core i3-4010U processor on a GIGABYTE motherboard and Intel HD 4400 graphics. If you need more power, then the double-decker sized GIGABYTE BRIX PRO might be a better fit for your needs. Connectivity options are good with two USB 3.0 ports on the front, along with a combination headphone and optical digital audio output jack. Around the back, you find the DC power port, mini HDMI-in, full-size HDMI out, Mini DisplayPort, LAN port, two USB 3.0 ports, and the projector power button. The projector supports up to 854 x 480 with 75 lumens of brightness, but that HDMI output will let you run an external monitor up to 4096 x 2304 at 24Hz. The Mini DisplayPort will support up to 3200 x 2000 at 60Hz. The BRIX Projector has the same footprint as its non-projecting counterparts, measuring about 11 cm in each direction, though it is taller (about 5 cm) to accommodate the WVGA DLP projector. You could try to achieve the same effect by pairing a regular BRIX with something like an AAXA pico projector for about $250, but having it all in one small, unified package definitely has its appeal. Inside the box, you’ll find the BRIX Projector itself, the power supply brick and cable, a mounting plate, quick start guide, mini flexible tripod, HDMI cable, and a driver CD. It is curious that the drivers come on a CD, since this obviously has no optical drive. Bring Your Own Equipment You likely noticed that there were a couple of key ingredients missing from the spec sheet above. While a wireless module is included to provide you with 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 via the half-size mini-PCIe slot, the BRIX Projector is still a PC kit. What this means is that you’ll need to supply your own RAM to fit into the two SO-DIMM slots, your own mSATA SSD for storage, and your own operating system. Our particular review sample came pre-equipped with these components and Windows 7 for testing purposes, though there does not appear to be a retail option where these components are included and pre-installed. Thankfully, accessing the RAM and mSATA slots is really easy. You simply remove the four screws to pop off the base and the slots are immediately apparently. Slide it all in an you’re ready to go. Of course, you’ll also need to supply your own keyboard and mouse as well. It is important to note that while the BRIX Projector is designed to be a mini-PC, it can also function as an independent projector. That’s what the mini-HDMI input is for, which is great for connecting your smartphone or tablet. A Uniquely Portable Computing Experience After you’ve installed your RAM, SSD and OS, you just hit the power button and connect your keyboard and mouse to one of the USB ports. The projector is said to be capable of displaying an image up to 80-inches, though it is limited to WVGA. Naturally, you’ll need to make use of the focus dial on the side to bring your image into focus. I was impressed with the overall image quality. Despite not being high definition, videos looked good and the 70 lumens is adequate for a dimmer room. Using Windows with only 854 x 480 pixels can be a challenge, especially when you’ve grown accustomed to having multiple monitors with many more pixels than that. When you leave the projector on for any period of time, you will notice that the BRIX will get quite warm. This is normal for DLP projectors, though you may have some concerns about the long-term impact the added temperature may have on the other components. The projector fan can be quite loud too. To compensate for this, the stereo speakers on the BRIX Projector are surprisingly loud, far louder than what you’d normally find on an off-the-shelf laptop. You’ll have no trouble hearing the movie or music, even if the audio quality isn’t exactly high grade. I was able to stream 1080p HD videos from YouTube without a hitch or stutter, demonstrating that this little Core i3-powered unit can stand up to most of your everyday multimedia tasks. MEGATechie BRIX Projector Perfection or MEGATechie Projected Punishment? As a concept, the GIGABYTE BRIX Projector can be quite compelling. You get a “real” computer that is fully capable of doing most of the things you need a computer to do and it comes with an integrated projector to boot. And it just so happens to be quite tiny too. Performance is decent and image quality is surprisingly good for something that only outputs WVGA. The real challenge comes from the value proposition. Consider this: the similarly-spec’d barebone version of the GIGABYTE BRIX without the integrated projector is about $300, while this BRIX Projector retails for $675. What this means is that you are effectively paying almost $400 more to get the built-in projector, which can only display up to a 480p widescreen image. It’s a convenient solution, to be sure, but it’s debatable whether or not it’s worth more than double the price. Let’s not forget that you still need to pay for an mSATA SSD and a couple sticks of RAM. It will be interesting to see if GIGABYTE considers improving the specs on the BRIX Projector line such that the projector is at least 720p and the internals would be powerful enough to suitably handle games through Steam OS. Then, you could have a really compelling portable gaming rig, don’t you think? Share This With The World!