Remember that über-small PC that Intel showed off at IDF this past September? It’s called the “Next Unit of Computing”, and with the promise of packing a Core i processor in such a small frame, it almost seemed like the product was more of a concept than a reality. But Intel is proving the nay-sayers wrong, as it plans to roll out “NUC” units to major retailers at the start of December. This isn’t a typical product from Intel, however, in more ways than one.
For the retail unit, of which there will be two flavors, the small size that was shown at IDF has remained. However, while it was mentioned we could see a Core i7 be used in a NUC at some point inthe future, the launch units feature a modest Core i3 instead. The model is unique to NUC, called the Core i3-3217U, and it runs at 1.8GHz.
What could be most interesting about NUC is not what it includes, but what it doesn’t include. You’ll need to source your own power adapter, for example, and also the memory. If you want special functionality that can be added via a mini PCIe slot, you’ll need to take care of that as well. This certainly isn’t an “off-the-shelf” product, but rather one designed for the DIY crowd – which I find kind of neat given how mainstream-targeted the NUC actually looks.
The big difference between the two NUC units (DC3217IYE and DC3217BY) is that the IYE model includes gigabit Ethernet, whereas the BY includes Thunderbolt – there’s no best of all worlds here. As an added bonus to the IYE model, a second HDMI port is included, allowing you to take advantage of a two-display setup.
Both models cost about the same, at $300~$320 USD. For a product that doesn’t include the RAM or even a power cord, $300 is a bit pricey for the performance we’re given, but this isn’t an ordinary product. It’s niche, and given its size, it could be a very attractive offering for many. While it’s not totally silent at full load, its size would allow you to virtually hide the unit behind your monitor if you wanted to. The possibilities are intriguing.
You can learn more about the retail NUC with a hands-on at AnandTech, where a tear-down video is also posted that I’d recommend watching.