Up for consideration today is the Giada i53-i5 – a small, robust casual computing machine made by Giada Technology. The size of a young adult hardcover book, the Giada is a very interesting machine that is available in a number of configurations in approximately the same form factor ? with processors ranging from an AMD APU or Intel Atom to the model provided to us today running an Intel i5-3317U. Previously, we reviewed Giada?s AMD-based A51 mini-PC.

With that, let?s take a look at the specs of the current model.

  • Intel Core i5-3317U
  • 4GB RAM
  • 500GB HDD (with an option available for an SSD)
  • Wifi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth Audio

Which is comparable to what is listed on Giada’s website:

  • Compact yet powerful ? 3rd Generation Intel Core i5 processor ? runs apps up to 20% faster than previous Core processors
  • 1080p Full HD Graphics with HDMI port
  • 4GB of high performance DDR3 RAM (Expandable to 8GB)
  • 320GB or 500GB 2.5? HDD or optional SSD
  • Built-in 802.11b/g/n wireless networking, Gigabit LAN port too
  • Bluetooth Audio
  • USB 3.0 & 2.0 ports for maximum connectivity
  • 4-in-1 Card Reader (SD / MMC / MS / MS PRO)
  • Low 35 Watt power consumption
  • Quiet operation
  • Compatible with Windows® 8 Pro

In the grand scheme of things, the specs themselves are nothing to write home about, but for the form factor that this machine is offered in, I would consider it a perfect solution for anyone looking for a small machine that’s just as at home mounted on the back of a monitor as it is tucked away next to a television as a home media device.
As you can see, the i53-i5 comes packaged intelligently: one of the matching boxes containing the computer itself, and the other holding the accessories.

Accessories included are the User Manual, Driver CD, an HDMI Cable, the AC Adapter and power cable, a plastic stand, a remote control, and a user?s guide.

The machine itself is, as promised, very small (7.5 x 6.1 x 1 inches, because millimeters are un-American.)

Most of the ports are located on the rear along with a small heat vent.

Left to Right: Power, LAN, VGA, USB 2.0 x4, HDMI, Kensington Lock

Left to Right: Power, LAN, VGA, USB 2.0 x4, HDMI, Kensington Lock

The top of the machine also has a few I/O ports protected by an attached dustcover.

Left to Right: Microphone in, Audio out, USB 3.0, 4-in-1 card reader

Left to Right: Microphone in, Audio out, USB 3.0, 4-in-1 card reader

As far as usability out of the box goes, our machine was not provided with a ?real? operating system from factory. Instead, we were treated to the blinking CLI of FreeDOS, which I promptly wiped and then installed #! (Crunchbang) Linux instead.

#! performed admirably on the Giada. I even got Steam for Linux set up and a bit of Minecraft play in without any hassle until I was prompted to wipe the machine again and install Windows 7 so we could run a few name brand benchmarks on it. The CD provided does contain the necessary drivers to get the system functioning under Windows, and installs easily so long as you have an external CD Drive to install from.

With that, I updated the Intel graphics drivers to build 9.18.10.3165.
I ran the entire gamut of 3DMark?s test suite.

3DMark Ice Storm score of 22857

3DMark Ice Storm score of 22857

3DMark Cloud Gate score of 2934

3DMark Cloud Gate score of 2934

3DMark Fire Strike score of 380

3DMark Fire Strike score of 380

By the time I was running Fire Strike, the video was slowed down to just above a slideshow, but it soldiered on and managed to complete the set.

Yes, I am aware that the drivers I was using were not approved and 3DMark approved up to 9.18.10.3071 at the time. I was unable to use that build, however, since it caused a few other benchmarking tools to crash.

Next, I tested it in the Home and Work suites of PCMark8.

PCMark 8 Home score of 2502

PCMark 8 Home score of 2502

PCMark 8 Work score of 3812

PCMark 8 Work score of 3812

I then attempted to run the Creative suite benchmark, however that just made PC Mark 8 crash consistently.

AIDA64?s Cache & Memory Benchmark test yielded a Read of 10368 MB/s, Write of 10438 MB/s, Copy of 10065 MB/s, and Latency of 95.9 ns on the Memory.

A Read of 152964 MB/s, Write of 76555 MB/s, Copy of 152789 MB/s, and Latency of 1.6 ns on the L1 Cache.

A Read of 82134 MB/s, Write of 49859 MB/s, Copy of 73397 MB/s, and Latency of 4.7 ns on the L2 Cache.

A Read of 59533 MB/s, Write of 47116 MB/s, Copy of 49735 MB/s, and Latency of 12.6 ns on the L3 Cache.

AIDA64?s Disk Benchmark on the Hitachi HDD yielded an average Read of 97.58 MB/s across 5 different tests, and a latency of 17.81 ms.

Crystal Disk Mark yielded fairly middle of the road results.
This machine is definitely not trying to compete in the high end computing sphere. However, for a $550 computer it performs exactly as anyone would expect. I personally found this to be a great little machine to do some quick distro hopping on for Linux, and I?m sure it would make for a decent home media controller set up, given that it has the remote control accessory included. Aside from Minecraft, I?m sure that this particular computer would be more than able to chug along on something like Left4Dead or Team Fortress 2 set on low, even though it definitely was not designed with anything more than workstation or HTPC use in mind.

If you?re looking for a small and light computing alternative that?s not named after a fruit pastry pun and are willing to spend a little more, the Gida i53 is the perfect choice.