Giada D300 Mini-PC 

Giada recently launched its new D300 barebone system aimed at a number of different markets, among them home, office or even industrial applications. The small Giada D300 measures 9.3in x 7.16in x 2.0in (L x D x H), and weighs in at 3.93lbs. That is fairly, so it can fit in places where a traditional desktop PC could only dream about.

Giada D300

The Giada D300 PC supports Intel's Mobile Ivy Bridge Core i3, i5, and i7 BGA CPUs and the processors are paired with the Intel HM77 Express chipset. For memory it uses DDR3 SODIMMs, of which there are two slots, which can support up to 8GB SODIMMs for a total of 16GB.  Storage is supported by a mSATA slot, and a SATA connection for 2.5" drives.   The review sample included the Intel Core i7-3632QM quad-core processor with Hyper Threading, which means that you have a total number of eight threads.  This is a BGA processor, so there is no socket! The processor runs at a base clock of 2.2GHz and a 3.2GHz boost clock. It also has Intel HD Graphics 4000 running dynamically between 650MHz and 1.15GHz. Other highlights of the system included one 4GB DDR3 SO-DIMM, 32GB Sandisk mSATA SSD, 500GB Hitachi SATA hard drive and Windows VISTA.

D300 Mini-PC Back I/O

Externally there are a total of six USB ports; four USB 2.0 and two USB Superspeed 3.0 (front mounted).  Dual ethernet ports are found on the back panel, along with the video ports HDMI and DVI.  A total of six COM ports are found on the review sample.  Depending on the model, the configuration could be slightly different, and could include a VGA connector, and possibly remove the COM ports.  The Giada D300 series includes a 2 year warranty.  If outside the warranty period or should Giada find the issue was due to improper use, they will provide a quote to repair the system or return the D300 to the user.

D300 Features and Specifications:

Giada D300 Packaging

Giada D300 Box

With a mostly white box, the Giada presents basic information on the front of the box; which is actually the same as the back of the box.  Here you get a quick overview of some of the features, such as HDMI, USB Superspeed 3.0, Full HD 1080P, WiFi and a few other little bits of information.  There is also a tiny view of the D300 itself, just to provide a little tease.

Giada D300 Box Sides

While the front and back doesn't provide much information, the sides offer significantly more.  On one side you get a high level overview of the specifications, while the other side you get model specific information such as processor, amount of RAM, storage capability, wireless features, and whether a remote control is included.

Giada D300 Boxes

Inside the outer box are two other plain white boxes, which are labeled to their contents. 

D300 Mini PC Packaging

Each of the white boxes are clearly labeled for what they contain.  The box labeled "Mini PC" contains just the mini pc itself.  It comes packaged in some form fitting plastic foam which will protect it from damage. 

 D300 Accessories Box

While the one labeled for Accessories is exactly that, all the documentation, remote control, and other cables.  The remote control, cables, and power brick are in a plastic bag for some additional protection.

D300 Accessories

Not many accessories are needed to get the D300 Mini-PC up and running; however Giada includes a few necessary components.  First up is the remote control, a power brick, a power cord (the review sample came with a European style plug), and a HDMI cable.  The power brick uses a standard computer power connector, which I happened to have many of.

Giada D300 Exteral View

 D300 Mini-PC Front

While the body of the D300 is matte black, the front panel has a high gloss finish.  There are several I/O ports here, a headphone and microphone jacks, dual USB Superspeed 3.0, two COM ports, IR sensor, several LEDs (indicating power, hard drive activity) and the power button.

D300 Mini-PC Back I/O

For a tiny unit, the back panel has many connectors.  On the two corners on the top are the WiFi antenna connectors, below the left antenna is the power connector.  Below the right antenna is a Kensington lock.  From the left we find PS2 keyboard/mouse, two COM ports that are above the HDMI and DVI-D connectors, two sets of LAN ethernet and dual USB 2.0.  Finally, there are the audio ports, a spot for a VGA connector (not included on the review sample model), and two more COM ports.

D300 Mini-PC Side Vents

The two short sides have vents to provide a little airflow to the internal components.

D300 Mini-PC Bottom

The bottom panel of the D300 doesn't have much to look at, there are four rubber feet, the typical system information tag, and five tiny screws that allow the panel to come off.

D300 Mini-PC Internal Components

With the lid off, we can take a look at what makes the D300 tick.  Internally it is pretty compact.  In the upper left corner are the dual SO-DIMM slots, but noticed that the system is running in single channel mode as only one is being used with a single 4GB DDR3 SO-DIMM module. Next to those are the GPIO connector and an unused SATA connector. Included in the review sample is a Hitachi Z5K500-500, a 500GB SATA 2 (3.0Gb/s) 5400RPM drive.  Attached to the mSATA channel is a Sandisk SDSA5DK-032G, a 32GB SATA 3 (6.0Gb/s) SSD.  The CPU is actively cooled, by blowing air across the enclosed heat sink and out the side vents.  Under the fan is the Azurewave AW-NB087H mini PCI-e Bluetooth and WiFi combo card.

Benchmarks and Performance

Before jumping into a few benchmarks, let's take a quick look at the specifics of the D310 as reported by CPU-Z.

D300 CPU-Z Results

All testing was done with a fresh install of Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit.  No additional software was running during the benchmarking process.

D300 Windows Experience

Microsoft has developed a generic rating system, called the Windows Experience Index.  While it's nice this is available, it has built-in caps depending on your hardware.  With that in mind, it does give a quick view of what the hardware is capable of.  The lowest score was 5.0 which happened to be the Graphics score.  Overall, the scores the D300 received for the Windows Experience Index are pretty standard for a business class machine with similar specifications.

Crystal Disk Mark 3.0.2 x64

CrysalDiskMark is a benchmark for drives and does a quick measurement of sequential read and write tests, in addition to a random read and write test with in 512k and 4k increments.  Finally, it will also do a 4k read and write test at a queue depth of 32.

32GB Sandisk U100 SDSA5DK-032G SATA III SSD:

d300_cdm_ssd

500GB Hitachi Tracelstar Z5K500 SATA II Hard Drive:

d300_cdm_hd

Benchmark Results:  Pretty average results here for a SATA II hard drive and a small 32GB SSD that doesn't have enough MLC NAND and lanes to need the SATA III bus speeds.  The HM77 chipset is capable of SATA 3 speeds, so keep that in mind if you are wanting a faster storage drive, be sure to buy a proper drive! For a mini system where it’s not expected to be doing any high performance tasks, the speed of the drives should be fine for most users.

D300 3D Mark

3D Mark 11 is one of the most popular gaming benchmarks; using the default settings the D300 was tested.  The results show that it would support very basic gaming, with the Ice Storm score of 23,950; however for the more advanced gaming the Fire Strike score of 461 shows it doesn't do very well for heavy gaming.  Keep in mind that the D300 wasn't designed for gaming, so these scores shouldn't surprise anybody.  With these scores, it put the system at 46%, which means that 46% of the systems in the 3D Mark 11 database scored lower than the D300.

D300 PCMark 7 Results

PC Mark 7 is another benchmark by Futuremark, it does a good job at providing an overall view of a system more from a business viewpoint rather than a gamers.  The scores provided are pretty common for a business oriented system, especially one running the Intel i7-3632QM processor.  The overall score received was 2,448.

  Power Usage
Off 2 - 3 Watts
Idle 26 - 30 Watts
Load 55 - 60 Watts

Using a P3 Kill-A-Watt meter, the power usage of the D300 was monitored.  While there was some fluctuation, the power usage above was the average range that was used during the test.  For the idle test, the D300 sat at the desktop with no screen saver or other software running.  The load test was done by running Futuremark 3D Mark 11 and took the reading during each of the tests.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Giada D300

The Giada D300 is a complete mini system that is backed by a 2 year warranty.  While it is not capable of running graphic intensive games such as Crysis 3, Skyrim, or Metro: Last Light.  If it can't run graphic intensive games with the Intel HD4000 integrated graphics, what could it be used for?  As a Home Theater PC it would be a perfect fit, running a web browser, browsing pictures, playing music, streaming video such as Netflix and even some games that do not need a powerful GPU.  In addition, the HD4000 graphics was also more than capable of handling a 3D MKV video file.   Another option would be to use the D300 as a digital signage unit, automation control system, or even as a security system.

The D300 includes everything necessary to get it up and running quickly.  The included HDMI cable ensures that a video connection is easily obtained, while the remote control is a good fit for those using the D300 as a HTPC rather than needing to connect a keyboard/mouse.  However, if a keyboard/mouse is desired it can either support PS/2, USB or Bluetooth keyboard/mouse combination.  Storage is limited by the size of mSATA drive, which can be up to 480GB or 2.5" hard drive, which can provide over 1TB of storage capacity.

D300 with Antennas

The biggest limitation to the D300 is obviously the graphics; it would be great to see a model with a more robust graphics system.  Keep in mind that would increase the price of this mini-PC.

Speaking of price, there wasn't a price immediately available on the Giada D300, since the specific configuration will determine the price.  Looking at similar systems, I would expect the D300 to start around $400 and go up from there depending on the selection of mSATA, hard drive, and CPU.  An included 2 year warranty will help ensure the Giada D300 remains operational for some time.

Legit Bottom Line:  The Giada D300 is a small mini-PC that is capable of running web applications, Netflix, standard office type applications, and other non-graphic intensive applications.  It is small enough to fit in tight spaces, such as a dorm room, a cabinet as a digital signage unit or in an industrial environment.