Price Analysis & Conclusion
At $1,100, the Gigabyte Brix Gaming GT desktop is a value buy for a system with an Intel Core i7-6700K and a GeForce GTX 1070. Overclocking either of these components is out of the question (despite the normally overclockable CPU and chipset) thanks to a locked BIOS, but the platform still provides excellent 1080p and impressive QHD gaming performance at a price that’s difficult to beat. Even at its original $1,700 price tag, it was a unique and compelling choice in the GTX 1070-equipped SFF marketplace. Now it’s simply a great deal.
Aside from the possibility of being mistaken as a trash receptacle by one of your friends holding a mostly empty solo cup (don’t ask, it was a close call), the thing that sets it apart from the pack also makes it incredibly difficult to work with. The case is hard to grasp (both physically and mentally, for some) and awkwardly weighted; for something so small, moving it around seems more tedious than it has to be. Plugging in the power and display cable extensions can also be an awkward affair until you tie them all together, but even then, you need to mind the wires as you set the system upright. Getting inside the chassis for a potential upgrade is equally awkward, but it is nice to know that you can access the components if needed (unlike some other big-box brands).
The Intel Core i7-6700K and Z170 chipset may not be overclockable, and the BRIX power phase design may hold the CPU back from prolonged boost states, but the CPU still performs at a higher level than a system with a locked Core i7-6700. Furthermore, the Core i7-6700K has seen its day, and we're already anticipating the arrival of Coffee Lake processors. For those who want the absolute latest and greatest technology, the 6th-generation chipset may turn you off to the Gaming GT when you realize we're about to get 8th-generation processor products. (There is not a Kaby Lake version of this product.)
The 16GB of DDR4-2133 may be standard with its speed, but the capacity (and the fact that it is a dual-channel kit) makes it appealing to gamers looking for more than just the standard 8GB. The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 G1 Gaming graphics card also provides above-average performance thanks to a beefy factory overclock, and you wouldn't expect a GPU that powerful (or that large) to fit into the case without a severe impact on performance. Although it may heat up, the graphics card doesn't throttle, and the fact you can upgrade down the line gives the Gaming GT a degree of longevity.
The cooling system was an experiment on Gigabyte’s part, and we’re impressed that we didn’t see any thermal throttling. CPU and GPU temperatures were indeed high, but well within operating parameters. Under a heavy load, the vents opened once the CPU hit 80°C and cooled both components back down to the low-mid 70s. We wouldn’t call these great temperatures, but they are technically safe. The only downside is the jet engine-like noise you get when the components heat up. We could take or leave the automated (but not really automated, because they don’t close on their own) hinged panels at the top of the case, but we do enjoy the RGB LED lights that are exposed when they are open.
The 240GB SSD isn't the fastest drive around, but it sports MLC NAND flash (which is more durable than TLC-based SSDs) and is more than adequate for average consumers. We wouldn't mind if it were slightly larger in size, but the 1TB 7,200RPM SATA HDD makes up for this and provides a modest starting point for your game library, music, and other applications. You can also add another 2.5" drive down the line if need be.
We were concerned that the 400W power supply would throttle the performance of the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 G1 Gaming graphics card, but it turned out that the only loss of performance we saw was from the CPU, which hardly ever switched to its max turbo frequency of 4.2GHz during our testing. It would occasionally reach its single-threaded boost speed, but the BIOS-locked CPU power settings (likely deployed by Gigabyte to maintain the delicate balance of available power) prevent the processor from maintaining it for any significant length of time. Using the same power phase design as the BRIX-branded mini PCs may have made it possible to cram the powerful components in the SFF chassis, but it also seems to hold back the CPU's full potential.
However, the slight shortcomings don't affect the end result: The Gigabyte Gaming GT performs admirably in our benchmark suit, highlighted by exceptional productivity scores, above-average GPU performance, and a reduced price tag that makes it a compelling choice for average consumers looking for a powerful 1080p and 1440p SFF gaming machine. We realize that the Gaming GT isn't everyone's cup (or can, if you will) of tea, but it's hard to debate the merits of a Core i7 platform with a GTX 1070 under the hood that goes for just $1,100.
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