..the idea behind having ultra-small desktop PCs isn't new, but Intel's focus on this niche market certainly is. The NUC has the ability to succeed if managed properly, with low-priced Atom boxes sitting side-by-side with Core i7s
The Next Unit Of Computing (NUC) is an ultra-small-form-factor PC that's a harbinger of things to come from Intel. The chip giant takes the guts of a thin-and-light laptop and houses them onto a PCB that's 10cm square. Underscoring this point, our pre-production sample came equipped with a Mobile Core i3-3217U CPU, two SO-DIMM, mSATA and mini-PCIe slots. Think of it as a modern laptop that's bereft of a screen.
Intel's pedigree in producing quality mobile parts is in evidence with the technically-competent NUC. The system works well and is more than capable of meeting the needs for a wide range of consumers, from running everyday tasks to casual gaming on the built-in graphics.
We come away with the feeling that NUC's acid test isn't one of a technical nature; it has those bases covered. NUC's success will depend upon pricing above all else. Our configuration, complete with SSD, WiFi and memory, is likely to retail at over £400, perhaps £500, and such pricing may be difficult to stomach when cheap-and-cheerful Ultrabooks - using much the same technology - don't cost much more. And let's not forget that AMD, too, has competitive low-power solutions in the form of its Brazos APUs.
The idea behind having ultra-small desktop PCs isn't new, but Intel's focus on this niche market certainly is. The NUC has the ability to succeed if managed properly, with low-priced Atom boxes sitting side-by-side with high-powered Core i7s - all presented in the same form factor. Intel, get our particular configuration down to £399, all in, and we may well take a bite.
Tiny box of tricks
Based on proven Mobile Core technology
More than adequate for everyday use
Pricing could be a thorny issue
Not much more than a screenless Ultrabook
Intel NUC (Core i3-3217U)
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