Taking advantage of Ivy Bridge's efficient operation, Intel accompanied its third-generation Core processors with a new small form factor platform dubbed Next Unit of Computing (NUC).

Although we welcome SFF machines from industry heavyweights like Intel, the company's NUC products have been grossly overpriced, initially starting around $400 for a complete build based on the Core i3. Even today, a barebones version of the i3 NUC system still costs almost $300, and that's without memory, storage, Wi-Fi and an operating system, which could easily add a couple hundred bucks.

Recognizing its pricing issue, Intel introduced an option based on the 1.1GHz Celeron 847, but that chip is awfully slow and at $180, the barebones box it comes inside still isn't a particularly good value. To date, we think it's safe to say that NUC is a cool idea that has been hamstrung by poor hardware choices and unattractive prices -- a trend that Gigabyte hopes to buck with its new NUC offerings.

Gigabyte's pint-sized "Brix" systems come in four different processor configurations, including the 1.8GHz Celeron 1037U, 1.9GHz Core i3-3227U, 1.8-2.7GHz Core i5-3337U and 2-3.1GHz Core i7-3537U. Those seem much more powerful than Intel's lineup. But are they a smart purchase compared to budget desktops/laptops?

Read the complete review.