Gigabyte BRIX (Intel NUC) GB-XM12-3227 Review

So… the other day I bought this Gigabyte BRIX barebone which is basically an Intel NUC system, but manufactured by Gigabyte. I’ve tried the vanilla Intel NUC systems before and it worked great, except the older generation which had over-heating issue but resolved after adding a thermal pad to it as well as a firmware upgrade, but overall still pretty okay I guess.

Now, back to Gigabyte BRIX, specifically the GB-XM12-3227 model. I can’t talk about the other models as I have never used it before, so let’s just stick to this one.

All-and-all, it worked fine at first. It booted up Windows 10 without any problem, HDMI connected to the monitor without any problem, great resolution, etc. UNTIL I tried to use the web browser. Even though the internet status is “connected”, I still couldn’t use the damn internet on my browser.

After hours and hours of research and trials, I realized that the issue is the firmware. Not only it’s old (from 2013), but it’s supposedly for Windows 8.1, and not Windows 10. Went to Gibabyte’s website to look for the latest drivers, and guess what, they only have firmware updates up to 2014, so still, no Windows 10 support.

Further more, I downloaded the latest BIOS and tried to flash it, only to realize the BIOS utility doesn’t support 64-bit Windows, because it is a god-damn Windows XP Service Pack 2 executable file!

Then, I went to Windows 10’s Device Manager and check out my wireless network adapter’s properties. This is when I realized the WiFi adapter only supports up to IEEE 802.11b/g and not the newer IEEE 802.11b/g/n, which unfortunately is what I set on my router. So then I moved over to my router’s admin page and changed the Transmission Mode to the appropriate setting.

I have no idea what’s causing this. Outdated BIOS? Outdated drivers? I have no idea.

However, despite able to connect to the internet now, the speed is still very limited. Often time it took roughly 20 seconds or more just to load a web page.

Then, I used a Chinese software called 360安全卫士 (translated as “360 Safety Guard”) and went to the “Optimization and Speed-up” page. That particular page contains an automated scan-and-fix feature which includes “network speed-up” option.

After running the optimization process, my wireless network is finally back to usable state! What sorcery is that?? (However, IEEE 802.11b/g/n is still not supported).

Overall, the Gigabyte BRIX works okay except the BIOS and drivers are really outdated and urgently need an update. That’s all for today, have a nice day folks.

How To Fix Intel NUC Overheating Problem

Months ago I purchased an Intel NUC mini computer to use as a low power SVN server. I soon realize that it has a serious issue – overheating that causes the user interface to disappear and freezes the entire system.

I searched the web and found out many people are actually having similar problems like this. What really happened was the heat generated by the machine itself was not able to release quick enough and causes the hard drive to stop functioning. Intel NUC does have a built-in fan, but it’s on the upper side of the machine, while the lower side has no fan at all to release the heat effectively.

Intel solved this issue recently by adding a built-in thermal pad to cool down the hard drive, but it’s only available if you purchase a new machine. For older machine like mine, we need to find other solutions.

No where can I find a thermal pad as thick as what Intel is using for their newer NUCs. However, I do find a smaller one – Thermal Conductive Pad 10x10x1.0MM 20pcs. I bought a package of these which costs me only RM10 (USD 3). Looks good enough!

Here you see it’s only 12 pieces because the original 20 pieces length was too long so I cut it shorter, save the other half for future use. Then, just stick it to the back of the cover using a double-sided tape, and viola! When I put back the cover onto the machine, the thermal pad is barely touching the hard drive, which I wondered if it will work at all.

However, I tested the machine again by turning it on for few hours and the issue never occurred anymore. Cheap and easy fix!