back to article Review: Intel Next Unit of Computing barebones desktop PC

Intel must really like the sound of its own ‘voice’. How else can you explain the fact that sliding open the box containing the chip giant’s latest desktop package plays the ding-da-ding-ding-ding jingle as soon as you open it. Amaze your friends! Irritate your colleagues! Keep opening and closing the box to replay the ditty …

COMMENTS

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  1. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Nope

    A Pi can do media playback, hobby programming, and server work. The next step up for an under-the-telly box is PC gaming with e.g. Steam and this isn't really good enough.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Nope

      I use a Pi as a media player. It's running Raspbmc (XMBC 12.1). It's good at playing videos (thanks to hardware acceleration) but the UI is right on the very edge of acceptable performance. As long as XBMC is not busy its generally ok, but if I'm streaming a movie and I go into a menu, I can experience up to 30 seconds of unresponsiveness while the CPU sorts itself out and services the request. I assume that the thread doing the streaming is set to a higher priority than the UI which is starved as a result.

      I assume it would be okay for programming scripts and stuff from a console. I wouldn't like to compile anything on it, or use a desktop which in raspbian is right on the edge of performance. I think if I were programming it in anger that I would favour doing as much work as possible on a desktop, e.g. cross compiling source into a network share and accessing that from the device itself for testing.

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: Nope

        Continuing to play a movie while going back to the menus is just poor design or configuration. The fact that this goes tits up is really not terribly relevant to the usability of an HTPC in general. I always found that feature of XBMC a little annoying really.

        The "as long as it's not really busy" problem is an issue for any cheap HTPC. It's not just a limit of the PI.

        The NUC may very well suffer from the same "feature" when running XBMC.

        The NUC is going to have the same disadvantages as any other cheap low profile box.

        1. DrXym Silver badge

          Re: Nope

          I'd very much doubt if the NUC suffers the problem that the Pi does at all when running XBMC.

          The Pi is a comparatively slow, single core ARM based CPU. It's saving grace is it has hardware to do AVC and AAC decoding but the CPU has to be there to give a helping hand to shovel bits from the network connection into the decode buffers. And it simply doesn't have the juice to power other things in XBMC. And yes sometimes I do want to open a menu from XBMC, such as to flip to another episode or turn on / off subtitles, or seek. Having the UI suffer from a protracted brain freeze is annoying.

          XBMC is being ported to Android so it may well be that the plethora of Android sticks that are being sold these days with more RAM, faster dual core CPUs and other advantages might actually prove to be better for media playback.

          1. JEDIDIAH
            Linux

            Re: Nope

            The NUC is also comparatively slow. Given the general weakness of Intel GPUs, I would be worried that this thing can even manage to be an HTPC at all. Although the PI was a bit of a surprise in that regard.

            If space is not a premium, you can get so much bang for the buck.

            1. DrXym Silver badge

              Re: Nope

              "The NUC is also comparatively slow. Given the general weakness of Intel GPUs, I would be worried that this thing can even manage to be an HTPC at all. Although the PI was a bit of a surprise in that regard."

              Comparatively slow to some desktop PCs perhaps but it's still an i3-3217U, HD Graphics 4000. That's a pretty powerful combination especially for a media player. It shouldn't have trouble decoding video & audio even if it had to fallback to software.

              Where it might suffer by comparison to the Pi or other such devices is it might get a bit hot which is why it has a fan. My Pi is barely ever more than lukewarm from use which is very impressive and of course silent. If only it were a bit faster...

              1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
                Stop

                Re: Nope

                "My Pi is barely ever more than lukewarm from use which is very impressive and of course silent. If only it were a bit faster..."

                Have you overclocked it yet?

              2. JEDIDIAH
                Linux

                Re: Nope

                > Comparatively slow to some desktop PCs perhaps but it's still an i3-3217U, HD Graphics 4000.

                Slow core coupled with the worst graphics vendor in the industry.

                When you have to fallback to software, it takes quite a bit of computing power. That's why something like an ION or a PI is a problem. If you have to depend on the included CPU, you're toast.

                It takes a LOT of of computational power to make up for the lack of good specialty silicon.

                Modern codecs, High definition. High bit rates.

            2. pdxbrit
              FAIL

              Re: Nope

              Sigh. Define "comparatively slow". Compared to what? It's not going to be a Crysis rig, but it's more than sufficiently powerful for pretty much anything except high-end video games.

              You seem unaware that general 3D-acceleration and hardware-specific acceleration for video (h.264, VC1, MPEG2 etc.) are not the same. This "thing" is so overpowered as an HTPC, it's not even funny, as you'd know if you bothered to check. It plays 1080p media in its sleep. Check out the videos of XMBC running on one on Youtube.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Nope

      Intel ship another PC - same as the current PCs

      Too expensive to watch TV, to expensive for schools, too power hungry and no connectivity for projects, not powerful enough for games.

      Sadly it will sell for kiosks/digital signage to people who think they need windows to display a picture - and who will have a BSOD appear on their billboard on the dailywtf

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nope

        A BSOD daily? Yeah, I see them all the time. Not really, not for ages, were I not already a Linux user, I'd be seriously questioning of an OS who's fans make things up in this manner and think that maybe all of the good things they say about the OS are made up as well.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. GavinC

          Re: Nope

          I think you misread the previous post, or do not know what TheDailyWTF is (www.thedailywtf.com).

          The OP said they will suffer a BSOD and end up being featured on a website, NOT that they would BSOD daily. Granted, more accurate grammar / capitalisation by the OP may have made that point clearer.

        3. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Nope

          Ironically (and downvotes ahoy!) the self-indulgent slideshow thingy on the TV at work crashes quite frequently. It is running "the orange and brown Ubuntu" and I've seen all sorts of strange messages on the screen, though the most common result is a frozen half-drawn picture.

          Windows may have been crashy (God knows in the right circumstances ejecting a CD would bluescreen W95 (but then, farting would risk W95 bluescreening)) however Windows does not own the monopoly here; other stuff has flaws, can crash, etc.

          BTW, I'm using XP (yes, I know it is flatlining on life support, but it runs well on my little ol' Atom) and it has been in and out of standby for ages. I think I last rebooted it 2-3 weeks ago. My systems rarely bluescreen, but then I don't tend to install every bit of shit that comes my way, either on-line or the horrible horrible bloatware supplied with far too many a printer these days.

          1. jason 7

            Blue Screens are pretty rare really.

            If I hear of someone experiencing them nowadays I ask them to do a Memtest on their ram.

            Sure enough its usually faulty ram, if it isn't I then ask them what type of power supply they have in the PC.

            "erm well it's grey....says 'Takashonky Power 300 watt' on the side. Is that okay?"

            You know what I'm talking about. Problem solved.

        4. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. MacroRodent Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: "Sadly it will sell for kiosks/digital signage..."

        "Sadly it will sell for kiosks/digital signage to people who think they need windows to display a picture - and who will have a BSOD appear on their billboard on the dailywtf"

        In that usage anything seems to fail. I have now and then seen logs of failed Linux reboots on the time table displays at Helsinki railway and bus stations...

        But I agree about the ridiculous overkill of using a full-blown PC and OS just to drive a simple information display. A task that could be done with a Commodore 64 -level computer. In fact, I think at some point decades past I recall home computers like that WERE used in Helsinki time table displays, there were failures showing a familiar "READY" and a blinking square cursor or some such...

        On the other hand, going for a computer board that would be technically sufficient for the task will not save money compared to a system that is easy to program and commonly available off-the-shelf, even though 99.9% of the available computing power and features would be wasted.

  2. Prof Denzil Dexter
    Meh

    lovely, until the price

    Decent size, reasonable spec. But whoa, the price man. £225 barebones? thats a big premium for a reasonably small box.

    I had a PI running XMBC and now an ebay acer revo thin client doing the same thing (£40). Who would want to spent £300+ on this solely to stream media to the telly?

    Nive to see some lower wattage gear becoming a bit more mainstream, but wheres the niche? teach a kid to code x86 on this, or get them an old celeron off ebay for a 10th of the price? its not going to replace a laptop, and isn't powerful enough to be my main rig.

    I'm sure this has a place, i'm just not sure where. Shame as i like the idea.

    1. Marksngc
      Facepalm

      Re: lovely, until the price

      I don't know where the reg are buying their hardware, but we have a few of these in use as "desktop computers" for admin staff where I work, the last one I built came to £259 all in with 8GB RAM and a 128GB crucial SSD. As a replacement for low end desktop computer we have had very good feedback from all staff that have been issued with them.

      1. Shagbag

        It cost your employer £259 per unit?

        At the bank I work at (one of the largest 3 UK banks) our IT Dept's "purchasing power" could pick these up at £2,590 per unit. With a 6 month delivery SLA.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "At the bank I work at (one of the largest 3 UK banks) our IT Dept's "purchasing power" could pick these up at £2,590 per unit. With a 6 month delivery SLA."

          Are you buying from that outfit owned by an east end barrow boy?

          1. jason 7
            Facepalm

            It's not uncommon for large firms to get ripped off.

            I used to work for one of the very very big financial firms.

            I was often asking why our company with its huge buying power (our business was replacing things that got broken or lost) when ordering IT kit would have to pay £300 for 32MB of ram (6 week lead time) from our official supplier, when I could order it from Crucial for £30 (next day delivery)?

            Every time I was told to "shut up!"

            So I guess it was kickbacks between the IT supplier and the folks that organised the suppliers contracts.

            1. Wallsy
              Childcatcher

              Re: It's not uncommon for large firms to get ripped off.

              I used to work for a very big financial firm in England too... and we had an RFP followed by a dutch auction. It was amazing just how much further those prices dropped over an hour.

              One year based on our anticipated purchases (around 25,000 units) we knocked over five MEELLION pounds on the price (from the RFP pricing, not RRP).

      2. Prof Denzil Dexter

        Re: lovely, until the price

        Maybe your work has the celeron barebones version which seems to retail for around £130 a pop?

        quick google and look on the main retailers suggests the pricing is pretty similar around the £240-£250 mark

        1. Marksngc
          Happy

          Re: lovely, until the price

          No, they are definitely the i3 version, I placed the order for them, the barebones unit was just under £180, for just over the £250 I think they are quite a good deal.

      3. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: lovely, until the price

        They are quoting RRP I believe

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: lovely, until the price

      I'd love one of these boxes but it is does seem expensive for it is. I think the small form factor (and the price of existing sff kits / products) has a lot to do with that.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: lovely, until the price

      They are spectacular for watching pr0n through the telly.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gahhhh, when will people learn kettle style IEC leads are different to others?

    A pedant writes:

    Kettle connector? KETTLE CONNECTOR?

    A kettle connector is *never* used on equipment like this, it's only ever used on, er, a kettle or equipment that gets [very] hot. It has the special cut out which means IEC 60320-1 C15 type connectors cannot be used.

    The clover-leaf style of connector is also an 60320-1 connector, but style C5.

    Sheesh, and I thought this was a tech site!

    1. Paul 181

      Re: Gahhhh, when will people learn kettle style IEC leads are different to others?

      Cloverleaf's are also known as 'mickey mouse leads'

      Turn it upside down to see why.

    2. Piro Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Gahhhh, when will people learn kettle style IEC leads are different to others?

      We know. Everyone knows.

      But it's still fun to say "kettle lead" even though we know (or I'd hope everyone does) that the kettle type itself has a notch in the socket on the device to prevent the use of what we call Kettle Leads that you get with a PC, because, as you say, temperature rating.

      I still like calling it a kettle lead. It's fun. Kettle lead.

      1. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: Gahhhh, when will people learn kettle style IEC leads are different to others?

        A kettle lead is handy when you take them out for a walk. My kettle likes nothing more than chasing toasters around Richmond Park

        "Breville? Breville! Oh Jesus Christ, Breville!"

        1. J. Cook Silver badge
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: Gahhhh, when will people learn kettle style IEC leads are different to others?

          *awards Frankee Llonnygog an internets*

          You sir, owe me a new keyboard.

        2. Down not across Silver badge
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: Gahhhh, when will people learn kettle style IEC leads are different to others?

          Now, I wasn't prepared for that.

          Perhaps I should have been. But I wasn't. I now have screen and keyboard soaked in coffee and I'm all out of straws.

    3. Graham 24

      Re: Gahhhh, when will people learn kettle style IEC leads are different to others?

      If you're going to be pedantic, at least be correct...

      You *can* use a kettle lead to power a computer. What you can't do is use a standard PC power cord to power a kettle, since the PC power cord won't have the cut out required for it to fit in the kettle, but the kettle lead will fit in the computer. Saying that a C15 connector cannot be used for domestic computer applications simply isn't true.

      C13/14 - no cutout, rated to 70C, usable in computers.

      C15/16 - with cutout, rated to 120C, usable in computers and kettles.

      You may be thinking of C15A/C16A, which are a slightly different shape.

      1. Dom 3

        Re: Gahhhh, when will people learn kettle style IEC leads are different to others?

        Kettle leads do nicely for things like guitar amps too. As a student I soon learned that it was a hell of a lot easier to ask "can I borrow your kettle for a couple of hours" than it was to request just the power lead...

      2. Andus McCoatover
        Windows

        Re: Gahhhh, when will people learn kettle style IEC leads are different to others?

        Where would we be without a Stanley knife?

        There! Fixed.

    4. Ross K
      Facepalm

      Re: Gahhhh, when will people learn kettle style IEC leads are different to others?

      A pedant writes:

      Kettle connector? KETTLE CONNECTOR?

      A kettle connector is *never* used on equipment like this, it's only ever used on, er, a kettle or equipment that gets [very] hot. It has the special cut out which means IEC 60320-1 C15 type connectors cannot be used.

      Do you tell your wife off when she asks you to make yourself useful and hoover the house?

    5. Wallsy
      Happy

      Re: Gahhhh, when will people learn kettle style IEC leads are different to others?

      Or if you're from Nuu Zuuland you can call it a "jug plug" instead...

  4. jabuzz
    FAIL

    Chromebox is cheaper

    Really get a Samsung chromebox for £250 which includes 16GB od SSD storage and 4GB of RAM. In addition the PSU is built into the box no some separate add on.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ODROID-U2

    If you want more horse power than a Pi but don't want to be ripped off by Intel, you might want to give the Odroid-u2 a shot, it has a Samsung Exynos4412 Prime Cortex-A9 Quad Core 1.7Ghz and cost $89 plus shipping.

    http://www.hardkernel.com/renewal_2011/products/prdt_info.php?g_code=G135341370451

    1. Stephen 2

      Re: ODROID-U2

      I was using a MK802 as a home server. Similar specs to what you quoted (a little lower though). They cost about 20-30 quid brand new on ebay and you just have to download and flash linux to a microsd card. They're pretty capable but I found myself putting up to its limits quite often so ended up upgrading. Still far more powerful than my raspberrypi though and it has 1GB RAM. Graphics capabilities are lower though.

    2. David Hicks

      Re: ODROID-U2

      I like the ODROID, but exynos has no SATA, so I'm erring towards something like this - http://boundarydevices.com/products/sabre-lite-imx6-sbc/

      But that's $200, which is a bit of a leap.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ODROID-U2

      costs $89 plus shipping.

      Plus local taxes, plus FedEx's charge for bringing the thing through customs. Also, that $89 is the bare-bones price. You'll need to add the 2A power supply that hardkernel sells and flash storage (micro SD or the faster, more expensive eMMC). You might also want a fan if you intend to OC it and run it at full tilt all the time. It probably doesn't need a case, as the heatsink doubles up as a sort of enclosure. A minimal order (U2, PSU, 8Gb micro SD) is going to cost $110 plus $40 shipping plus local/PayPal/FedEx taxes, so a single system costs close to $200, but since a big chunk of that is shipping, you can save by ordering several at once.

      I actually own both a U2 and an X2 and I think that they're excellent machines for the price. Although the CPU is about 10x more powerful than the Pi, they're still closer to the Pi than they are to this Intel box. They're ARM for one thing, along with being flash-based, its internal data bus is limited to USB 2.0 speeds and there's no way to upgrade the RAM (from 2Gb) or connect any SATA/PCI peripherals. If you can live without such things then the ODROIDs are better value for money, while the Pi has better support (full warranty period instead of the ODROID's two weeks, tech support, forums) and hardware drivers (OpenMAX, OpenGL ES and hardware-accelerated video codecs, whereas the ODROIDs' GPU drivers still aren't 100% there yet, it seems, though it does have an accelerated 3D OpenGL driver for the pretty powerful embedded Mali processor).

      As the article says, it's horses for courses. I think this Intel box is just too expensive, though if expandability is important, it might suit some people's needs. Just not mine :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ODROID-U2

        @AC

        Thanks for the low down on the U2, I was thinking about one of these but I think I'll hold off and see what is coming else might be along in the next few months. Hopefully a Pi multicore

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Celeron version

    There's also a Celeron 847 version around that you can pick up for around £135

    1. GreenOgre
      Stop

      Re: Celeron version

      or, for much better value, the Core i5 version.

      2.5GHz i5, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, FULL thunderbolt, HDMI, 1G ethernet, 3 x USB3, SD card slot, Firewire 800, built in power supply.

      Only 100 quid more than the NUC tested here.

      Vendor? The fruity one.

  7. Zimmer

    Zotac rival?

    Can only see this as a rival to the Zotac Zbox Nano ....

  8. Gary F

    No USB3?

    Without USB3 it should be called the "Previous Unit of Computing", not the Next! The form factor is its best feature but I'd prefer to buy an Acer Revo because it's better value, has USB3, more ports, and cheaper.

  9. Cucumber C Face
    Unhappy

    zOMG - you can only learn to program on a Pi

    >Running Ubuntu means there’s no reason why the NUC can’t be used to learn programming the way the Pi can<

    Is there any reason that one can't learn most second or later generation languages on just about any mainstream OS running on any piece of hardware?

    1. Alfred

      Is there any reason ...?

      If you're including hardware made by Apple, because they will try their best to stop you. I bet it tears them up inside that you can still write your own code on the desktop machines.

      1. JaimieV
        FAIL

        Get your twaddle here!

        Absolute twaddle! Get it while it's hot! Pour some FUD on that for you madam? Laaaavely!

      2. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: Is there any reason ...?

        "If you're including hardware made by Apple, because they will try their best to stop you. I bet it tears them up inside that you can still write your own code on the desktop machines."

        @Alfred - so true. Apple must be gutted that some saboteur gives away a free IDE and full set of developer tools, system wide scripting language and graphical automation tool, LAMP stack, PERL and so on with every Mac. I bet when they find him, they'll crucify him.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Is there any reason ...?

          "@Alfred - so true. Apple must be gutted that some saboteur gives away a free IDE and full set of developer tools, system wide scripting language and graphical automation tool, LAMP stack, PERL and so on with every Mac. I bet when they find him, they'll crucify him.

          That would be a Famp stack

      3. Toxteth O'Gravy

        Re: Is there any reason ...?

        Eh? You reckon that's the case even though all Macs ship with Python pre-installed and Apple's (good) IDE, Xcode, is a free download? You have to cough up if you want to distribute applications through the App Store, but it's easy enough to distribute through other channels for nowt. Plenty of other options/languages out there too.

  10. mastodon't
    Gimp

    Not a Pi rival, more a Mac-mini clone

    Thunderbird option is interesting though, is it going to breakthrough where firewire didn't

    1. Steven Raith
      Coat

      Re: Not a Pi rival, more a Mac-mini clone

      It'll be fun fun fun till your daddy takes it away.

      (apologies)

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Not a Pi rival, more a Mac-mini clone

        >Thunderbird option is interesting though

        As would Stingray, Scarlet and Fireball sockets! Now I know what my laptop has been missing! : D

        1. Diamandi Lucas
          Coat

          Re: Not a Pi rival, more a Mac-mini clone

          @ Dave 126

          Will this mean it can play the latest game from Nintendo, Super Mario Nation?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Price point but no real point

    Somebody in management towers decided they need to get some "more intel boxes in the hands of those foreign guys and long hair types" and so it was born, but then came the nasty accounts fairy who said if it's going to be that price you need to take out half of the useful stuff or we will never get our fat bonuses.

    So little NUC was let out into the big bad world of computing and people laughed because he didn't have any memory or anywhere to put his files, a screen or anything to control him with but what he did have was a price just about the same as other units with all those things, aw poor little NUC and poor little marketing department who failed to see the opportunity for a loss leader.

    and some lived happily ever after, consuming quite a lot of PI.

  12. russsh

    Chocolate mud cake anyone?

  13. 6 inches long, handle.

    Viability?

    With the proliferation of pocket-change single-board computers such as the following, how viable is the Intel offering?

    http://cubieboard.org/

    http://www.marsboard.com

    http://www.raspberrypi.org/

    https://www.olimex.com/Products/OLinuXino/

    http://www.hardkernel.com/renewal_2011/products/prdt_info.php

    https://www.miniand.com/products/Hackberry%20A10%20Developer%20Board

    https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/getting-started-with-pcduino/hardware-tour

  14. IHateWearingATie
    Thumb Down

    Form factor is nice...

    .... the price is not.

    Can't see too many applications for this at the stated price.

    Not really 'normal' consumer friendly if you have to add RAM, storage and an OS , and technical types are likely to choose something less powerful but cheaper for media center applications. Plus the Apple TV and Mac Mini will have hoovered up part of the 'computer connected to a TV' market already.

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch

      Re: Form factor is nice...

      Speaking of form factor, the first thing I noticed about this is that the power switch is on the top. That's either a design flaw, or perhaps a tacit admission that the heat output of these is such that stacking multiple units would tend to cause overheating. IF these things were cheap enough to use in a small cluster (and if it weren't crippled by only having USB 2) then I'd have thought being stackable would be a virtual necessity. I note that neither the Mac Mini nor the Chrome boxes have power switches on the top. I don't know if they have heat dissipation problems if stacked, but at least the power button placement doesn't stop you from trying it out.

  15. Mage Silver badge
    Windows

    Fruity?

    How quick before Apple sue if they do a white version?

    This is a "Meh" product.

  16. Stephen 2

    Atom Server

    I recently replaced my home server with a intel atom variation (dual core 1.8ghz). The finished box is just as small as the NUC and consumes 15 watts with a spinning disk inside (less if you use an SSD or similar). I like the look of the NUC but it's gonna take awhile before they become available in the Philippines.

    It's more than capable as a home server downloading my torrents over night, streaming to multiple devices as a samba share, work development stuff (regular LAMP style). Cost about 150 quid :)

  17. Gordon Fecyk
    WTF?

    You need some Win8 consulting then?

    The bottom line: I can’t recommend installing Windows 8, and a long list of Windows Update failures, not just on the NUC but on other Windows 8 machines I’ve tried, including Lenovo’s otherwise gorgeous ThinkPad X1 Carbon, makes me even less likely to do so.

    I must be the only Windows 8 user on the entire internet that isn't having problems running the thing. Heck, I can run it on a VM on a HP Microserver. Would you like some consulting?

    1. ShadowedOne
      Alert

      Re: You need some Win8 consulting then?

      If that is the case then I suggest that it's Microsoft that needs the consultant.

    2. JaimieV
      Go

      Re: You need some Win8 consulting then?

      VM's are easier than hardware - much reduced variation in the drivers needed.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Gordon Fecyk
        WTF?

        OK let's try this again: It's Intel hardware though

        I also tried Windows 8 Pro, but despite installing all of Intel’s driver updates, I was still unable to get a realistic score out of Futuremark’s PCMark 7. Windows 8 itself refused to give me an Experience Rating, bailing out on the video part of its tests.

        So 8 wouldn't give a rating without a supported video driver, then. This is Intel we're talking about, so this will get sorted in a hurry. Does the 7 driver work in a pinch?

        Wouldn't be the first time with driver problems. Intel's latest Win7 HD driver (March 2013) introduced mouse pointer lag on an HP Elite 6200 desktop PC. Had to revert to their December 2012 driver to undo it. Other commentards would blame IE10 for that.

    3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Thanks, you made my day

      Gordon Fecyk: I must be the only Windows 8 user on the entire internet that isn't having problems running the thing.

    4. JeffyPooh
      Pint

      Re: You need some Win8 consulting then?

      "I must be the only Windows 8 user on the entire internet that isn't having problems running the thing."

      I believe that this is a true statement.

  18. vmistery

    I was quite interested till I got to the price. I saw the Pi mentioned and though oh something for £50!

  19. Steve Evans

    Power lead...

    I thought it was a legal requirement to provide a UK plug on all goods sold in the UK intended to be connected to the mains.

    1. handle

      Re: Power lead...

      Interesting thought, but isn't that a UK plug as opposed to bare wires?

  20. GitMeMyShootinIrons

    Interesting product....

    I think it has some uses, for CPU heavier loads in particular. Might make a nice box for a tiny vSphere/Hyper-V test lab - that kind of thing.

    Price is a tad heavy though. The description of it being a bit too polished seems pretty accurate.

  21. ilmari

    Unboxing?

    Come on, where's the unboxing video?1

    The new unboxing experience (*puke*) sounds like more important news than the actual contents in the box, which was fairly uninteresting.. :)

    Imagine if intel shipped this strapped to a pallet, they'd beat HP's record :)

  22. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    2 steps back, one step forward

    Fan: it may be quiet now, but a year from now, the noise will be annoying. It sounds like it is not a standard size, so replacing it will be a pain.

    I have 5.6TB attached to a Pi via USB2. Fine for video playback, but for anything else, you really notice it is not SATA. Copying from one disk to the other rubs it in, and the network connection sharing USB bandwidth really hurts. At ten times the price, and Intel's NUC missed the opportunity to do better. After a minute of searching I found a $220 thunderbolt hub to get 1GB ethernet and some USB3 ports. That hub has DVI/HDMI, audio in/out, and must has a decent CPU inside - without a fan. What a pity that it needs a computer to use it.

    The most outstanding feature of this product is that it comes with no OS installed. People can decide for themselves if they want to pay Microsoft tax. Ubuntu installed without hassle, but Windows didn't. Does Microsoft's current 25% market share mean they still deserve to be called mainstream? I think 'legacy' is a more appropriate adjective.

    1. Darryl

      Re: 2 steps back, one step forward

      Where do you get 25% market share? According to NetMarketShare, the various Windows versions add up to 91.49%

  23. Oninoshiko
    Go

    I have one

    The "other" one (dual HDMI, GigE, i3), not this one.

    It is a bit pricey, but it is a nice little box for places you dont want a big machine/dont need the power. It sits in my bed room for watching "TV" online. By "sits" I mean, "Is attached using the included VESA mounting bracket to the back of the screen."

    Frankly, I can't understand why anyone would get the "red" version over the less expensive "black" version. Thunderbolt is a solution in search of a problem, and the extra connectivity of a GigE port it nice. The one thing I wish it did have, was USB3. (Intel is pushing thunderbolt as an alternative, I know, but still, I can dream)

    Personal experience comparing it to a mac mini, my NUC seems to run circles around the mini they have stuck me on at work. The mini should match or exceed it in every way, but it just doesn't. I'm chalking it up to OS though. OSX seems to chew on memory for no apparent reason. I suspect if they'd let me install a useful OS on the mini, it would be better.

    There is also a grey version, which uses a celeron, and is a bit cheaper. I am evaluating the grey version for use as thin-clients now.

    Don't understand the comparison to the Raspi though, The price on this is WAY to high for a comparison to be on the same planet as valid.

  24. Alan Brown Silver badge

    for that money....

    I'd prefer to buy an all-in-one. There are a number around which cost about the same as one of these plus a decent screen (with or without 10-point touch, so your windows really can be GUI if you want) with a i5/i7 installed.

  25. heyrick Silver badge

    Flat NO

    I can see management types reacting with abject horror at the success of the Pi (OMFG that's not an Intel(ding-ding-ding-ding) chip inside!!!!!) and demanding that a suitable equivalent be made and released ASAP.

    Well, here it is. It seems like a competent enough bit of hardware albeit with some bizarre omissions for the price. But there you have it.

    The price.

    Oh God, the price.

    And the lack of GPIO, bits to fiddle with. Bare circuitboard in a baggie. Ability to swap between Linux, RISC OS, and whatever else by simply swapping the SD card. Etc. Etc. Et-bloody-cetera.

    Intel - when you can make a functional machine with, like, three chips on it, run it off some double-As, and sell it for thirty quid - then you can say you have a competitor for the Pi.

    This is clearly Intel's attempt to bandwagon the popularity of the Pi and while there will be applications for this device, they appear to have singularily failed to understand what it is about the Pi that made the Pi popular.

  26. Wang N Staines
    FAIL

    hahahahahahahaaaaa

    Nice price, but they can keep it.

    Knock £220 off it and we'll talk.

    1. Fatman

      Re: hahahahahahahaaaaa...Nice price, but they can keep it.

      I bet that Intel took a page out of Cisco's pricing strategy book when they priced this unit.

  27. Ramazan
    FAIL

    Yet the NUC’s CPU is actively cooled

    I stopped reading at that point.

    1. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Re: Yet the NUC’s CPU is actively cooled

      >> Yet the NUC’s CPU is actively cooled

      >

      > I stopped reading at that point.

      If you are doing anything remotely interesting, you will need that cooling or else the unit will cook itself. Fanless is a nice idea in theory but once you do some computing or employ a decent GPU, you quickly realize the value in effective heat management.

      Ignoring heat issues really isn't a bright idea.

      My nv based Mac Mini did itself in like that. Cooked itself.

      My Asrock machines will outlive everything (Zotac, Apple, Asus, Giada, NUC) and all because of an ability to cool themselves off.

      1. Prof Denzil Dexter

        Re: Yet the NUC’s CPU is actively cooled

        *IS* actively cooled. it has a fan. If only you hadn't stopped it would confirm:

        "Yet the NUC’s CPU is actively cooled: there’s a small fan unit venting out to the back of the box"

  28. Cody

    Get an Apple Mini and....

    Get an Apple Mini, get rid of that silly OS and put in something sensible, and you have a much better buy. Better processor, no cooling problems, plenty of storage. This is too much of a niche and the tradeoffs are not sensible. But, they are not stupid, they must have some reason for it. Don't really get it.

  29. Alan Firminger

    Price

    Is it is for OEMs, who will receive 65 % discount ? Goodness knows what for, perhaps bespoke media centres will become fashionable as something to brag about in the pub.

    Or is it simply to secure column inches ? That would explain the musical box.

  30. Bilious

    Build your own

    Buy yourself an ITX cabinet, slap in a E350N mainboard, a DVD burner, 8 GB RAM and a 3 TB HD and put Debian on it. I'm sure both price and performance will be competitive.

  31. Interceptor
    Coat

    Why is the Intel NUC passively cooled?

    Because the graphics capability blows.

    1. Prof Denzil Dexter

      Re: Why is the Intel NUC passively cooled?

      it isn't passively cooled

      "Yet the NUC’s CPU is actively cooled: there’s a small fan unit venting out to the back of the box"

  32. JeffyPooh
    Pint

    Raspberry Pi "$35"

    Delivery $15. Case $20, delivery $8. Monitor $150. HDMI cable $5. SD Cards $5 each x 4. Wifi USB stick, $10. Powered USB hub (not really optional) $20. Keyboard $10. Mouse $5. Mini desk $39. Chair $100. Beer $4. Some of these may be YMMV.

    Amusing fun. Worth having. But not really $35. Budget $50 ~ $100.

    1. heyrick Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Raspberry Pi "$35"

      RaspberryPi. Not quite the quoted $35, more like a flat $=€ rate with postage on top. Monitor? TV capture card (yes, composite video, how retro, I'm tempted to push it through a UHF modulator for old time's sake). Keyboard? Generic USB one, ditto mouse. Had them around, else a tenner in a supermarket. Desk? Chair? You don't already have a suitable worksurface?

      Powered USB hub? Maybe if you're running a harddisc or something; however I'm using an unpowered hub with a Pi connected to the keyboard, mouse, my Yamaha keyboard (the black'n'white key type), a 1Gb USB stick, and RISC OS on the SD card and I'm powering the whole damn lot off the USB port on my eeePC! (except Yamaha, that's running off some AAs)

      More adventurous people stick them inline with sharers, or ditch the monitor and set up VNC or the like and talk to it from something else. Budget? Starting at €45ish if you have stuff to recycle, and going up to hundreds. It's like collecting animé boxsets, stamps, model cars, etc etc - there's a start price and a hardcore price and reality is someplace between the two.

      Either way, your estimate of $50-$100 for a full setup is way less than the pitch price of the Intel box; and note the difference - that's a price for everything. Unlike the Intel price.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Raspberry Pi "$35"

      My mileage does indeed vary. My son has a pi plugged into the back of our ADSL box and he can reach it via RDP from an existing machine. Quite a lot of households have *that* amount of hardware lying about. As and when he is ready to play with sticking something on those GPIO pins, we can wonder about additional costs. Until then, the cost of a usable pi has proven to be exactly the cost of a pi.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing the basics

    Been using one of these for a while. It's fine as a mini-desktop, but just plain braindead in too many areas.

    First, whoever thought that it was a good idea to ship a version with Thunderbolt and no networking at all? Having to add a network card is rather too 1992.

    Second, and this isn't widely publicised, the power spec is 19V +/- 10% at 3.5A. That's fine as a desktop box, but it's a nightmare using it in an embedded application. What chassis power supply gives off 19V at 70W? And the most common DC-DC converters are the 'run your laptop in your caravan' kind - not exactly industrial quality. They advertise it for 'digital signage'. Are they expecting all signs to have the power brick trailing out the back? And, just maybe, some embedded applications aren't run off the mains.

    And finally, it has three USB sockets. So bank on having a USB hub trailing out the front if you have the temerity to want a keyboard, mouse and more than one peripheral.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VESA monitor plate

    Thing is about doing it this way is how will you use your monitor arms? Most of my users have two monitors on double arms. Could screw the thing under the table, but that's where the MicroATX case is anyway.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I use a zotac zbox nano for XBMC (OPENELEC). That comes with 2gb ram and a 64gb SSD, some dual core AMD processor and is more than up to the job.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did Intel just make a Mini ?

    It is smallish, oblong and has something remotely resembling rounded corners.

    Litigation is in the air !

    On a slightly more serious note, I've built two systems with HD4000 graphics, notably a 3570 mini and a 3225 HTPC, and on plasma and led big screens the picture quality is really bad (the color and contrast/sharpness make everyone look like zombies) and quite impossible (at least for me) to tweak into something remotely acceptable.

    The old Brazos and even the old nVidia 9400 HTPC (which I reinstated after being unable to improve the 3225) I have deliver a much better picture quality.

    YMMV.

  37. uridium
    FAIL

    Dual HDMI version bites if you like decent ethernet transfers

    Well, I bought my dual HDMI+Ethernet version of the NUC with 16gb RAM, a bundled intel wifi card and 256Gb SSD as a low end dual-head desktop for FPGA design tools so I could stretch over two monitors.

    Problem 1:

    Heat. The wifi card would overheat. Lock Windows 7 solid during sustained 3-4Mb/s transfers to the internal SSD. Solution: This was easily proved by removing the wifi card. Verdict: Grumpy.

    Problem 2:

    With the HDMI port closest to the ethernet controller, large file and data transfers (eg.. a 1gb avi movie) would work for a few seconds then the link would go up/down. I was watching this on my cisco 3950G. It'd then get a few kb a second, drop link, resume (sometimes). I tried different HDMI cables, shielding it with tin-foil and at once stage lead sheet flashing left over from roof works. Also tried CAT-6 STP cables. Solution: Unplug the HDMI cable closest to the ethernet port and *EVERYTHING* works fine. Just .. now I have a second LCD that I wished was connected to the NUC and can't use. Verdict: Peeved right off.

    Quibble 3:

    Heat. It gets externally quite hot. Internally scorching. It won't run stably if you have a moderate load on it without leaving the entire case open on the desk. Verdict: Grumpy.

    Overall:

    Other than that.. wonderful machine! If mediocrity rocks your world.. I'd enthusiastically encourage it. My ultimate solution was to chuck it in the corner, buy a tower workstation again and wish I hadn't wasted 700$ thinking it'd be lovely and portable.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They don't get it.

    If this is a Pi competitor then Intel don't get it, where are the GPIO ports? where's the hackability?

    Why can't you just boot from an SD card? it's dead easy to write an OS image to an SD card with a PC.

  39. Kforce

    Poor review

    The Pi / NUC comparison is of no value. Pi excellent for education, unusable desktop m/c.

    NUC excellent non-gamer unit, i replaced a noisy budget tower PC (£250) with the NUC + 1Tb NAS.

    Much lower power, faster, silent, 10x smaller, rocket boot time.

    Setup looks great bolted on back of monitor with wireless keyboard/mouse & allows much better flexibility than a all-in-one pc (& cheaper).

    Setup 4Mb 1600 RAM+128Mb mSata SSD, total cost <£300.

    The reviewer would better serve their readers by focusing less on packaging, benchmarks & odd comparisons.

  40. CAPS LOCK

    Too hot and too expensive...

    ... otherwise just right.

  41. Volker Hett
    Thumb Down

    The Mac Mini doesn't look as expensive anymore

    i5 and enough USB 3 ports to do something with it. No need to wast one for connectivity ...

  42. CAPS LOCK
    Alert

    Dear Mr. Intel, can we have something like this but...

    ... lower power, so passively cooled, and with EEC memory. Thanks. Signed, lots of people.

  43. Azzy
    Thumb Down

    Disappointment...

    1) Where are the USB 3.0 ports? It has thunderbolt. What the hell good is that? The cables cost more than a USB 3.0 cable + USB 3.0 SATA enclosure, or a 64GB usb 3.0 flash drive - and that's if you can find peripherals that use it at all! Meanwhile USB 3.0 is cheaper to implement, and peripherals are readily available.

    So why are we stuck with ancient USB 2.0 ports instead of 3.0? (Answer: Because intel is pulling a microsoft and trying to throw their weight around to promote theirs and apple's pet standard)

    2) External powersupply? Thanks - I'm buying a miniature computer because I want more ugly bulky electronic objects. While power bricks have gotten smaller, they're still bulky, and they're still another item that you're screwed if you lose. And they usually have those cursed ferrite beads on them which makes them a lot more awkward.

    This should take a standard power cord. I'd prefer an IEC plug, but I realize these are bulky, but the ones used with lots of household/kitchen devices would work fine. Powersupply should be internal, and the slightly increased bulk of the unit would be a small price to pay for not having another non-standard power brick.

    3) They want HOW MUCH for it?! For that price, I could buy an acer laptop with better specs, and it would come with RAM, a harddrive, a screen, and a keyboard. They're demanding a truly ridiculous premium just for the polish and form factor.

  44. FireWorks
    Go

    more to the NUC

    Sad that a tech site can't be bothered to install an OS correctly. Win 8 gives a Win experience index score of 5.5 on due to the low video score... but it does give a score.

    The NUC boards are also sold in 10pks so ODMs can make their own products, including passively cooled models. (I work in the distribution channel in the states) There are close to a dozen 3rd party chassis for these boards already.

    This is a proof of concept product, intended to establish the form factor. They'll play with it for a few years until the business is established then they will duck out and go back to making just the chips.

  45. vlc

    Would be more interesting if it had some special provision for being clustered or stackable to easily increase its power and versatility.

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