Breaking it Open
Breaking open the BRIX S is as simple as removing four long screws and prying at the bottom of the bottom metal plate. Remember that the BRIX devices come as a bare bones configuration with only the M.2 slot containing an Intel 3160NGW combination wireless/Bluetooth adapter. You will have to buy and install your own mSATA storage device (or 2.5-in drive) and DDR3L memory.
For our testing, Gigabyte included in the box a pair of Kingston HyperX Impact DDR3L-1600 4GB SODIMMs and a 120GB Kingston SSDNow mSATA drive. Installation is as simple and basic as you can get for a DIY user and even the most introductory user should have no problems getting things up and running.
The M.2 wireless card is actually located under the mSATA SSD. The ribbon cable next to the wireless card is for the NFC integration on the top cover of the BRIX, and it is optional, so be sure you look for that detail in the product pages if you are looking to purchase one with or without it.
Taped down during shipping and next to the DIMM slots is a standard SATA data and power connection used for connecting the 2.5-in hard drive. The cable is short, by necessity, so you'll need to be careful during the installation process.
The 2.5-in bay can obviously hold either a hard drive or an SSD and mounts to the bottom metal plate of the BRIX. Likely the best use case for a typical desktop user is to install either a smaller mSATA SSD and then include a 1TB-2TB 7200 RPM hard drive OR go with a larger 512GB SSD in either mSATA or SATA form.
Removing the motherboard from the chassis isn't necessary for any kind of normal installation but we don't like like to leave things without a full warranty invalidation. The underside holds the Broadwell processor and board power delivery hardware, all covered by the small heatsink and blower style fan.
With all the hardware tucked in nicely, it was time to power it on and see how the new architecture performs and what to expect from a user experience.