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back to article Gigabyte Brix Pro: You don't need no steenkin' Xbox... when you have 4K-ing amazing graphics

PC sales maybe on a downward trend, but it seems there will always be an interest in an alternative to buying into the console wars. Enter the Gigabyte Brix Pro, just one offering among over a dozen from manufacturers that have committed to releasing Steam gaming machines this year. This heralds the beginning of the latest …

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WTF?

How in the name of all that is holy do you need 500Gb for a Linux-based system?

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@Steve

Well, there are at least enough games on Steam Linux to warrant maybe needing that amount of HDD space.

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I would assume you need some room for the games as well.

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@Steve - 500Gb

for when you want to run windows in a VM.

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Indeed - 12GB should be enough for the OS.

As for games - if there's not enough storage just add a new HDD to the pool.

I guess Valve are enforcing an "enough free space" rule in the install, rather than just displaying warning.

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Anonymous Coward

I guess that the author is not aware that the Xbox One already supports 4K output.

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And my 10 year old PC can run Elder Scrolls Online - Just because it can, doesn't make it usable.

Given there are reports of XBone One games having to run at lower than 1080p, I would not hold much faith in it ever delivering games at 4k resolutions.

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Anonymous Coward

Xbox One is 4K enabled for future media / streaming - not for gaming.

Although within the known performance constraints there is no reason the Xbox One can't run games in 4K.

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I assumed a factor of 1024 error, after I'd caught my breath and stopped laughing out loud

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If this "Steam console" can't run GTA V, I don't see any point in this.

If you want a small gaming computer, build one inside of Silverstone's SG 08. Its a squeeze, but its as small as you can make it and still keep 2 key gaming system elements: really good low noise cooling and a high end dedicated GPU. I generally prefer aluminum cases from Lian Li, but Silverstone has them beat in regards to gamer layout and size.

Ironically, Gigabyte's own GPU cards with 3 large, slow-running integrated fans were the best I found for this purpose.

I just need a good Xbox and PS4 emulation software for windoze now :P

because no matter what games I'm missing, I'll never buy a stinking console.

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Anonymous Coward

Yep - apparently the PS4 is not 4K capable in the current version at least.

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FAIL

£550 barebones?

I think it's a mistake to compare this device to a console on the basis of size. It's a PC that has had most of the cooling systems stripped out so it will fit in a smaller case, and being sold at a higher price using the novelty factor as a lever.

Also, due to the aforementioned lack of proper cooling and the temperatures noted in the article, you should expect the components to start degrading within a few months and to burn out completely in perhaps a year if you're lucky.

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Rol
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Re: £550 barebones?

Build yourself a Midi tower PC, for a lot less.

This would give you greater upgrading options and superior cooling that would run quiet if that is your goal.

Then spend the money you save on upsizing your shoebox to a shack, so you might get the extra square foot of space to squander on your new gaming rig.

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Sir

I can't imagine why people still like consoles. You've managed to make this sound like the in-flight instructions from NtNON

"To install, pull the green tag, press the yellow button, unzip the toggle pocket, unscrew the air valve anticlockwise and yell "compile you stupid bastard"

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A shame

I'd love a small PC capable of gaming but it sounds like they're a little away from producing something which works without a flaw. These Brix devices are the closest things yet but it worries me that they should have so many issues. Perhaps when the drivers & firmware settle down it will be a compelling format. I also hold out hope that an AMD A10 powered device could also be used in a similar fashion.

As for SteamOS, it seems like a largely pointless exercise at this time. It's not hard to boot to an app in Windows, including Steam and all the games are there on Windows instead of a tiny fraction on SteamOS. It would be easy to throw other apps like Netflix, XBMC etc. in there too.

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Re: A shame

Try building one based on a Mini ITX board. You'll be able to get all of those goodies into a small ish case, run an I7 with a decent mid range graphics card and keep it relatively small and quiet. Nowhere near as small as a Brix, but the Node 304 case I'm using is tiny when compared to a full sized system.

Of course you'll probably end up paying slightly more, but not much. The system I'm building will come in at under £800 including SSD, HDD, OS and 16gb RAM.

It's still early days for Steam OS and Valve have been clear about it. Games are going to be developed with Steam OS support from the start. At some point I'm expecting to have a box that boots into SteamOS and runs Windows in a VM.

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Re: A shame

I've done exactly this in the last couple of weeks. All in around £600 quid. That bought me:

Core i5

8GB RAM

120GB SSD

1TB HDD

GTX 760

mITX Motherboard

Antec ISK 600 mITX case

Corsair 500W Modular PSU

It sits handsomely under my TV, is smaller than my receiver, and so far has no problem running everything I've thrown at it in 1080p 60fps.

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Re: A shame

"It's still early days for Steam OS and Valve have been clear about it. Games are going to be developed with Steam OS support from the start. At some point I'm expecting to have a box that boots into SteamOS and runs Windows in a VM."

I don't believe that. A very small fraction of games might support SteamOS, but the market will never be there to sustain more. Look how many games get ported to the Mac. I really don't see SteamOS challenging the Mac let alone Windows in any forseeable point in the future.

I suppose Linux benefits from whatever games it can get but to me it seems more likely that SteamOS is just a forerunner for some kind of cloud gaming service.

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Re: A shame

Main issue atm seems to be the AAA titles, of which there are none on Linux Steam that I'm aware of, other than ones published by Valve themselves.

But for Indi titles, there are lots. and at the moment, a lot of these indi games seem to be way more fun than a lot of the churned out, AAA clones we see.

Last online article (Feb) I saw confirmed there were well over 300 Linux compatible games on Steam, which should all run under Steam OS of course. Compared with 60 games a year earlier. So the numbers are going up and most of the smaller indi titles do seem to be cross platform from the outset.

Obviously there must be people using Steam on Linux, otherwise no one would bother supporting the platform at all. This should mean once we see the official final version of SteamOS launch, there will be a large library of games already and this will also increase the Linux userbase as well, encouraging more developers to support the platform.

I probably won't bother with Steam OS myself, at least not any time soon, but I could see me setting up Linux Steam on my Linux XBMC media PC under the TV, which would essentially give me the same thing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A shame

Can't see why you would want to - Windows 8.1 is consistently faster than Linux (the latest Ubuntu at least), is a lot easier to work with, has far more games, and gets the highest on graphics benchmarks, and the gap is only likely to widen with the forthcoming release of Direct X 12.

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Re: A shame

What cooling are you using on this?

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Anonymous Coward

PC gaming - gaming for people who like fixing broken crap.

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yes some PC games require patches

just like consoles which also get broken games requiring in some cases gigabytes of patches to get them working properly.

These days with local installs on consoles and widespread internet access no-one worres about releasing a broken game on most platforms

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"PC gaming - gaming for people who like fixing broken crap."

When was the last time you fixed your _hardware_ ?

Let me fix it for you:

"Windows gaming - gaming for people who like fixing broken crap."

That's basically the whole point of a steambox.

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Trollface

quote: "PC gaming - gaming for people who like fixing broken crap."

XBox One - basically an x86 PC running a custom OS

Playstation 4 - basically an x86 PC running a custom OS

Brix Pro - basically an x86 PC running either a custom OS (SteamOS) or Windows

My current gaming rig - basically an x86 PC running Windows

So, how do I move from a broken crap PC to something non-broken? :)

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re: PC gaming - gaming for people who like fixing broken crap.

Sorry for your poor luck with choosing equipment.

Other than broken down drives, which are also present in consoles, I seem to have no issue between the times when I decide things have advanced enough since my last build, to build a new system.

And building them is kinda more fun than most games ^^

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm...?

Quote

There are only two RAM slots and according to Intel the Core i7-4770R processor will accommodate up to 32GB of RAM.

Anyone see the problem there?

Can the CPU take 16Gb SO-DIMM's?

will they cost less than the usual arm and a leg?

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Re: Hmmm...?

No, I don't see a problem, seeing as most games are still 32-bit executables.

There's little sense in having more than 8GiB RAM in a gaming machine.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmmm...?

Not everyone would use this for gaming you know.

SFF PC's have other uses.

I'd love a small quiet and powerful server to replace the tower that sits by my desk.

At the moment I'm running 9 different VM's Lots of CPU to spare but no RAM.

Something like this would be even better if it could take 64GB of RAM.

Yes, I know that this is a different niche to gaming...

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Re: Hmmm...?

Windows or osx (ahem) in a vm?

A game, a game server and the base OS?

How about libreoffice always on or (with 802.11ac / wires) an xterm server, asterisk...

Multiple simultaneous logins?

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Minecraft anyone?

"This display module generates sixteen 64 character lines from data stored in a 1024 8-bit byte on-card RAM memory (random access memory). Alphanumeric and control characters (the full 128 upper and lower case plus control ASCII character set) are displayed in a 7 x 9 dot matrix. with its EIA video output, the VDM-l can be used with any standard video monitor." - circa 1976

In 10 years time 4k resolution is going to be obsolete ... but our kids will still be playing Minecraft. Of course, my generation prefers Steve Dompier's Target..

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£900 ???

Am I unreasonable in my expectations, but £900 seems really expensive to have a moderately powerful PC that is quite small.

That's more than my desktop cost - granted its an ATX case, but I could have easily plumped for the same components in a mATX case so it could be hidden behind the TV cabinet rather than under my desk in the study, and it is much more powerful for running games.

Can't see this displacing consoles any time soon.

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Re: £900 ???

Once you factor in game costs, this is cheap compared to consoles. It's normal PCs this will struggle against. I don't see the point of a quad i7 paired with intel graphics. Surely an i5 is enough to feed that gpu. I want a pciex16 graphics slot, even if it sits in an expansion bay.

When will someone give me an i7 laptop with pciex16 external links an a little NAS which does the downloading? I want a download-only login for steam and download scheduling with something more elegant than cron.

I want them to succeed but this needs refinement. Maybe water-cooling too.

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Re: £900 ???

You'd have to buy an awful lot of games to make up for the £500 price difference between a PS4 and this (PS4 is approx £400 which for me was £350 + a year on PS Plus). From what I've seen of the games I buy for my PS4 (typically blockbusters like Call fo Duty) the price difference is rarely more than £10-15 on launch day (much less after a couple of months). I'd need to buy around 40 games just to break even (assuming I buy into PS Plus every year). That's as many as I have in total for my PS2, PS3 and PS4!

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Re: £900 ???

> I'd need to buy around 40 games just to break even

This is where we meet the difference between PC and console. PC games last between generations, so its quite easy to acquire 100+ games, especially in the steam sales. I think I picked up all the CoD series up to MW for $25. I moved from a core2 duo with a GT 9800 to a hex-core cpu and GT680 (5-6 times the performance) and everything still works. Even better, I can also load up on my laptop and take the games with me. I've got Monkey Island, which I played in the 1990's. (I could go back to the 1980's with kings-quest though I prefer to leave that as a happy memory!) I can let my kids work on their problem solving skills in MI on whatever hardware I have - I don't need to keep old tech around or risk losing the game because some power supply with a proprietary connector has blown. I don't lose my games because the original game ran on something with analogue video hardware and now I can't get a screen that isn't digital.

Also, did I mention Steam Sales? Humble Bundle?

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Re: £900 ???

I don't think I have more than 30 or so PC games that work on my current PC either. I certainly don't get time to play more than a couple (bloody kids).

To my great annoyance I had to buy the command and conquer full set (only £10 admittedly) to get Tiberian Sun working, as my old copy simply refused to work with my modern graphics card. And I don't like to think of the hours I've spent trying to get the original Carmageddon working....

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Flame

Seems fairly pointless...

You could pick your components and build a much better PC than this for the price. True, it might not be as compact, but it likely won't be as noisy or apparently prone to cook itself either.

Are we so space-conscious that we can't find a spot for a standard micro-ATX case somewhere? It seems the whole point of this is to run SteamOS and yet it's not specced out to do so. And only 4 USB ports on a modern machine is a bit scant IMHO.

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Re: Seems fairly pointless...

The small form factor is attractive to me, at least. I built my first PC, this year (about the size of a VHS player, replacing the mahoosive tower that I used to have), and a major motivation was to get the size down (and bring the spec up so I could play some more modern games).

What this Brix teaches me, is that I was probably wise not to go for the smallest possible case!

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Intel 5200 at 4K?

It might support 4k but it won't game at 4k - passmark score puts it in the Radeon HD 5670 class (a three generations old mid range card good for 1680x1050 resolutions) .

Given as you can get a low profile version of the HD7750 I suspect a weaker CPU plus small discrete card would be a better combination.

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Re: Intel 5200 at 4K?

I recently replaced an HD5450 in my mATX case with a R7, which is (I understand) about as far as it's possible to go with ATI^H^HMD graphics in low profile at a reasonable price.

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Windows 8, really ?

I really hope they'll remove the Windows tax, as the whole point of the Steam boxes is exactly this: remove the middle-man.

I also would really like to know how this kind of boxes performs with Planetary Annihilation. The game is very demanding and it seems 8GB would be a minimum requirement to play with comfort.

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Not quite there

Sounds like we'll need another iteration or two before these things become more credible.

An AMD APU would probably be more balanced for gaming.

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No Thunderbolt = No sale!

Oh, actually I got that wrong. What I meant was I couldn't give a t*ss about Thunderbolt*

Could probably be quite a cost-effective little mining machine.

*I was vaguely interested when Thunderbolt was going to be optical and potentially be a cost-effective way of pumping digital a/v around large convention centre halls. But it turns out it's just a faster version of USB (which I wouldn't really need), with another different a/v connection built-in, much higher licensing costs, and very few peripherals.

Surprising that Intel's not blowing its own Thunderbolt trumpet with this unit though.

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Emo

I've SteamOS running fine on a 320gig hard drive, I'm sure it will be happy on a smaller one too.

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I've got it running in a 20gb VM from when I was doing early testing - I've not had time to drop it on real hardware as yet, though, thanks to work demands.

The '500gb' thing comes from those early days when the only - and I mean only - way to get SteamOS was to use a recovery image - which, due to being mostly open source, was torn apart and a custom installer created that could install on anything bigger than a few gigabytes, within a couple of days.

The installer ISO now supports this (as referenced in the article) with a custom installer, and has done since the the second or third official update about a a fortnight in!

Steven R

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Coat

Right form factor

Now, put in an AMD APU and a reasonable AMD addon video card, Dual Gig Ethernet (why does no one do this?) and an eSATA connector.

Firewall/OwnCloud/Slingbox/CIFS/NFS head.

Just toss intel out of the box and cut the price by at least 1/3.

I'm still happier building a gaming box myself. I can build a better, quieter, longer lived unit by hand for less than that price.

Steam wants 500Gb for install? Sounds like they need some real admins on the dev/qa team.

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Meh

Seems horribly underpowered. It wouldn't have a hope of running Crysis at max settings, let alone that upcoming torture test Star Citizen.

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Pint

Re: Meh

I'm saving up my pennies for a full on water-cooled rig and surround sound and I'll be building it just as soon as OR goes retail.

I've seen some decent gaming chairs (for driving) that I can adapt, plus some custom switching gear to put the cockpit controls where they appear to be in-game (which will be modular to account for differing cockpit layouts).

I have no idea if will all hang together but who cares? Building it will be a hoot :)

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Nice box

Shame to put Win8.x on it.

No good for living room with noisy fan though. Long HDMI & USB cables and put it under stairs or in Attic?

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FAIL

Power draw? Noise measurements?

What is the idle power draw? And under load? Noise measurements at both?

This would be most interesting to me as a small powerful server including tasks such as running builds and tests for software under development not just file serving so having a low idle power draw would be important.

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