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Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC) review

by Tarinder Sandhu on 28 September 2012, 08:33 3.5

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabmyj

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Final thoughts

HEXUS Snapshot: ..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.

The Good

Tiny box of tricks
Based on proven Mobile Core technology
More than adequate for everyday use

The Bad

Pricing could be a thorny issue
Not much more than a screenless Ultrabook

HEXUS Rating

3.5/5
Intel NUC (Core i3-3217U)


HEXUS Where2Buy

TBC.

HEXUS Right2Reply

At HEXUS, we invite the companies whose products we test to comment on our articles. If any company representatives for the products reviewed choose to respond, we'll publish their commentary here verbatim.



HEXUS Forums :: 15 Comments

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I'm cautiously optimistic, I hope manufacutres will make a harder push for NUC than previous attempts at other small form factors, such as Nano and Pico ITX. Both of which I thought had great potential but were massively overpriced yet in most cases featured hardware which was far too slow, at least this NUC board has got the performance bit right.
I don't know, in my mind there is a very big “why?” floating around wrt this. There are plenty of form factors around, I'm not sure we need to go much smaller for a general purpose computer. Cost is up, flexibility is down, and Intel just don't have the right system balance compared to AMD to pull it off atm.
Interesting. Commoditisation proceeds apace.
There will come a time when bringing your PC to a LAN will consist of taking your phone out of your pocket and wirelessly teethering it to your monitor and input devices, maybe sitting it on a wireless recharge pad.

That's when we will have the fully mobile desktop. I just don't really see a need for these, if you want portabilty you have a laptop or tablet. You can't get portabilty and desktop power yet. The only reason I see these being useful is for space saving. But when you can get so much more power and customisation on slightly bigger (but still considerably smaller and ATX) form factors I would struggle to justify something like this, and intel certainly don't have the product yet.

If AMD did this they might have more success - puncher graphics capability and cheaper pricing, but even still I can only imagine you'd choose something a little bigger, but considerably better, for the same cash.
I agree with Captain <ahem>
We're not there yet, but we are certainly moving towards the SF Slate that does everything.