Price Analysis & Conclusion
The Gigabyte Brix Gaming VR is one of the smallest gaming PCs we've ever tested. It's about the size of a Google Home or Amazon Echo, and it packs considerable gaming horsepower. The Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor and GeForce GTX 1060 6GB graphics card will get you in the door for VR gaming and will provide excellent framerates in many AAA game titles at 1920 x 1080. However, you may have to back down the details to get the most out of Gigabyte's SFF gaming PC. 4K gaming is not the ideal intent for the Brix Gaming VR (or any other GTX 1060 equipped PC).
Size is the primary consideration factor for the Gigabyte Brix Gaming VR. It doesn't get much smaller than this. The tiny chassis can easily find a home in a living room entertainment center, and at full load the sound is comparable to a full-sized desktop PC at idle (it's not noisy). As a barebones PC, there is also an appeal to enthusiast consumers looking for an ultra-compact PC that requires a bit of technical knowledge to use (you have to install your own memory, storage, and operating system).
The chassis is easy to open, but we thought accessing the component interfaces (M.2, SATA, memory SO-DIMMs) was a bit awkward (the included instructions were also of little help). The best advice we can offer is to mind the attached cables when removing the main panel to install RAM and M.2 storage; our review sample's main power cable clip (attached to the removable panel) was broken (presumably from a prior review) from what appeared to be too much pressure on the cable when the board is pulled away to expose the interior. We were able to reattach it and use the device, but it's important to detach all the visible cables as you delicately open the system.
The compact design and quiet fans don't come without drawbacks. There's not much USB connectivity to go around. With only four Type-A ports, you'll have a problem connecting an Oculus Rift with Touch unless you opt for a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.
Another serious issues is thermal performance. We observed GPU temperatures reaching 85°C (the maximum operating temperature before it throttles), which resulted in lower peak sustained clock rates compared to the direct competition, the MSI G25 Vortex (which also features an MXM GTX 1060). As such, the Brix Gaming VR falls behind the pack ever so slightly in our GPU-intensive benchmarks. That performance drop appears to be the price of ultra-compact PC gaming.
At $1,150, the Gigabyte Brix Gaming VR comes in at an attractive price on paper, but you'll spend anywhere from $250 to $600 more to add your own memory, storage, and OS (depending on how crazy you get with your memory and storage performance and capacity). This brings your total cost of ownership more in line with what the competition is asking for its fully assembled SFF PC (the G25 Vortex, priced at $1,500). Consequently, the Gigabyte Brix Gaming VR doesn't have as strong of a price-to-performance ratio as its base pricing may suggest. If performance is your primary deciding factor, there are other options in this price point that offer better thermal (and therefore, GPU) performance.
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