Last week I had a disk corruption which proved to be somewhat catastrophic. My main server had an apparent corruption of the Directory database, and even after I’d run a system restore, still could not bring Active Directory back up. To cut a long story short, my journey would have ben far shorter if I’d had a backup directory sitting on some cheap hardware. This brings me to my new solution..
Are you looking for a low cost computing option, but feel constrained by the hobby nature of the smaller options like the Raspberry Pi? What if you could pay a bit extra and get something with a genuine Intel 64bit processor and support for mobile architecture hardware? If this sounds like you, you might want to try the Gigabyte BRIX.
I’d read about these little “workstations in a box” last year, they blazed the trail for small footprint machines. For a reasonably low price, these tiny boxes which almost fit in the palm of your hand (your hand size may vary) pack a powerful punch.
|CPU||Intel® Celeron J1900 4 Core Up to 2.4GHz (1.99GHz realised)|
|Memory||Patriot 1333GHz 8GB SO-DIMM|
|Disk||SanDisk SSD Plus 128 GB SSD|
- I’m using a SanDisk SSD Plus 128GB 2.5” SSD 
- I’m using Patriot 1333GHz 8GB RAM 
The BIOS supports UEFI secure boot for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, but you can disable secure boot and install via IDE configuration to get other OSes onto it. Apparently you can run Windows 10 on one, but I have not attempted this just yet.
When you purchase a new BRIX, it comes without a hard drive and memory, i.e. buy these separately. Once you’ve unboxed your shiny new BRIX, you’ll need a small screwdriver to undo the base of the box to access the internals. Installing the HDD and memory is trivial if you have only the slightest modicum of experience with electronics or laptops.
Once you’ve got your HDD and memory seated and connected, screw the base back on (making sure that the “This Side Up” instruction is pointing the right way!). All you need to do now is plug the BIRX into a monitor, and perhaps a keyboard and mouse.
I’ll cover the BIOS and OS installation in a separate article. Here’s a nice link to a PowerShell script you can use to dump OS and hardware info.
Once you are happy with the OS configuration, it’s entirely possible to run the BRIX “headless” (sans monitor, keyboard and mouse). My intention was always to sit it near the network switch, and courtesy of the VESA mounting plate, it was trivial to wall mount:
You can see the BRIX relative to the Router (bottom) and the HP switch (bottom left). All that’s required is the ethernet cable and power. It is now my little DMZ environment!
-  http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=5118
-  http://ark.intel.com/products/78867/Intel-Celeron-Processor-J1900-2M-Cache-up-to-2_42-GHz
-  http://www.sandisk.com/products/ssd/sata/ssd-plus/
-  http://www.patriotmemory.com/product/detail.jsp?prodline=10&catid=34&prodgroupid=248&id=1339
-  https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/scriptcenter/Powershell-Script-to-get-b716c3f4