Giada Mini PC i51 – A Step Up From A Nettop (Updated)

Introduction and Physique

*** Updated on April 4, 2012 ***

Benchmark results are added with a conclusion, elevating the preview article to a full review.

Setting Sights On Further Expansion

Ever heard of the brand Giada? The label is actually an offspring of the company JEHE (Shenzhen Jiehe Technology Development Co., Ltd.) which is based in China. Established in 1999, JEHE has over 900 employees and owns facilities in China, Hong Kong, and the United States. After setting up a strong foothold in its native China, JEHE, through its label Giada, is setting sights on overseas expansion. We’re not sure if the company has a comprehensive plan for the market in this region, though we’ve been seeing some Giada products like graphics cards in some local stores (such as in the Philippines) for quite some time.

Giada offers a wide variety of products from across several product categories like PC components (graphics cards, motherboards, chassis) to finished computing products like AIO PCs, tablet PCs, and more. One category that has recently been gaining emphasis is their Mini PC series, of which we’ve even reviewed their A50 model that was one of the earliest AMD Fusion based systems to debut.

On the outside, Giada's Mini PC i51 espouses the form factor of a nettop. Giada bundles it with a simple plastic stand that is designed to support the entire unit upright.

This time around, we’re assessing their Mini PC i51. Like many of their Mini PC models, the i51’s physical form reminds us of nettops that we have encountered in the past (such as Lenovo’s Q110 and the ASUS Eee Box for example). The Giada Mini PC i51 may not be as small as the most petite nettop we’ve come across, but without its plastic stand, it’s still, is as small as a typical hardbound book. Because of its compact size, the i51 can be a discreet addition to any environment.

On the top panel, we find a memory card reader, a single USB 3.0 port, as well as audio jacks for a microphone and headphones/speakers. There’s a flap to hide these ports if they are not used.

However, unlike the Atom-powered nettops, the i51 unit that we got is actually packed with a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2476M mobile processor. This is the same CPU that is present on Ultrabook models like the Acer Aspire S3, ASUS Zenbook UX21, Dell XPS 13, and the HP Folio 13. This processor is leaps and bounds more powerful than any Atom processor, and consequently also produces more heat. To manage heat produced by the beefier processor, the Mini PC i51 has a fan that expels hot exhaust air through the rear.

Seen from this angle are the connectors found on the rear side of the unit. For such a compact system, the i51 packs an impressive amount of connectors. Here are the single HDMI port, four USB 2.0 ports, RJ45 Gigabit LAN port, VGA port, and the DC-in connector.

The Mini PC i51 makes use of a platform based on the Intel HM65 Express chipset – again, this is similar to that found in the above mentioned Ultrabooks. Although this is not a compact notebook, the system does not employ a discrete graphics unit from AMD or NVIDIA, but it chose to use Intel’s very own HD Graphics 3000 found within the processor. While not capable to play any serious game, it is nevertheless seamlessly able to tackle playback of full HD videos (1080p). The configured unit that we have for testing comes with 4GB DDR3-1333 RAM and ample 500GB hard drive storage and has Windows 7 Home Premium pre-installed.

The Mini PC i51 is also available in other configurations. Customers can choose from a selection of Sandy Bridge-based Celerons, Core i3s, and Core i7s for the processor, and can also opt for lesser memory and a smaller hard drive - 2GB DDR3-1333 and 320GB. However in this day and age, 4GB with 500GB of storage is fast becoming the bare minimum.

Obviously, the i51 is much smaller than a lunchbox. In this photo, we can see the Mini PC's 500GB hard drive and the heatsink that cools the board's CPU and chipset. Notice how almost every part of the system resembles those used for notebooks? That’s how the Giada system is so compact.

Removing the heatsink reveals the CPU, an Intel Core i5-2467M chip clocked at 1.6GHz (represented by the lower chip in this photo), and the Intel HM65 chipset (seen here as the upper chip in the photo). The processor used is the exact same model as those found on some Ultrabook models.

In terms of connectivity, the majority of the i51’s ports are concentrated at its rear which include an HDMI port, four USB ports, a VGA port, and an Ethernet port. There are also some ports that are placed discreetly on top of the system, which include a card reader, a single USB 3.0 port, and audio jacks for a microphone and headphones/speakers. For wireless connectivity, the i51 can connect via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Besides the standard manual, driver disc, and power adapter, the i51 is also bundled with a remote control to aid its deployment as a home media gateway/server or simply as a HTPC

Relying on our initial observation, the Giada i51 boots quickly and operates silently, thanks to its use of a mobile processor from Intel. Performance-wise, we are anticipating that its scores will be similar to those of the Ultrabooks that mentioned. We’ll update this post with more objective insights as soon as we get benchmark results.

The Good
Ultrabook-class hardware
Good connectivity options
The Bad
No discrete graphics unit
No SSD or cache to improve storage performance