back to article Intel pulls plug on mini-PC NUCs

The sun is setting on Intel's Next Unit of Computing, the chipmaker's tiny PCs better known as NUCs by devotees. "We have decided to stop direct investment in the Next Unit of Compute (NUC) Business and pivot our strategy to enable our ecosystem partners to continue NUC innovation and growth," Intel's spokepeople told The …

  1. EvaQ

    Pity. But to be honest: I have two NUCs at home, at both are not Intel: a Gigabyte and a GK3.

    1. Sampler

      I have an actual NUC at home, but I received it from work (or was that relieved it..) but quite like it, the tiny form factor made it a great little HTPC back in the day before 4k chromecasts were a thing, but it's still sat there, hooked up to a UHD blu-ray drive (that's ironically got a larger footprint) for the times it's needed.

      Was even contemplating getting one of the newer models so I can use the UHD part of the blu-ray drive (as the rather old i5 in it doesn't support the security instruction set needed, which is a bone-headed way of preventing people from legitimately purchasing your products that can already be ripped and shared on the internet anyways..).

  2. fb2k

    realy? comparing Aliexpress trash like Minisforum to NUCs? When did Intel ship NUCs with liquid metal sprayed all over the motherboard, when did NUCs randomly shut down under load due to abysmal thermals?

    In terms of engineering and attention to detail, it's a world of difference between these two manufacturers.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      I'm sure the one's made by (eg) MSI are fine, but what I've liked about all the Intel NUCs I've used at work is that they're really well made, and really well supported in software. Oh, and Intel are still releasing BIOS (UEFI) updates for models they discontinued years ago.

      We'll probably save someone money moving to a different brand, but I suspect that will be offset by me having to deal with flimsy hardware and odd software. It's less of a problem if you just want an HTPC, but reliability is much more important when you have hundreds of machines spread across the whole country to support.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Meh

        One of our clients has a large number of NUC-like devices from a well know "name-brand" OEM. On the whole, they are quite nice, screwed to the mount on the back of the screen, but the fans. Oh, the fans! I'd not say there's a large number of failures, but at least half of the hardware failures are the fans.

      2. FatGerman

        I recently bought one of the ASUS ones, because I wanted an AMD machine in a NUC form factor. It's dreadful. Windows Update insists on installing a shedload of ASUS crapware that can't be removed and for the purpose it was bought for - real-time audio - it's useless because the hardware has multiple buggy drivers. I'm going to miss the NUCs, there isn't anything close in terms of quality with the possible exception of the Lenovo Thinkcentres, but they're slightly bigger and still not as good as the NUCs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Windows?

    2. tony72

      I concur about Minisforum. I have one of their fanless mini PCs at home. I soon found out that "fanless" means it doesn't have a fan, not that it doesn't need one (I run it with an undervolted external 60mm fan blowing air into the side vent). It also dies sometimes when I plug something else into the mains, then I have to take it apart to pull the BIOS battery to get it to boot up (except now I just run it without a BIOS battery at all, then just a power-cycle unbricks it). Trash indeed.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      They're great for business, public sector, education, and lately home when RPis became unobtainium. Then Intel wondered off into gaming NUCs and unsurprisingly it turned out that they weren't as good as real gaming PCs and so the entire line got the chop instead of just the gaming NUCs. They threw the baby out with the bathwater, for a change.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Your Next Unit of Computing will now be your Last Unit of Computing

    1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      Old meme is old

      I guess you could say...

      (puts on sunglasses)

      ...they're out of LUC.

      YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Anyway, does this mean that Intel are going to NUC the whole thing from orbit?

  4. sten2012

    > And with fewer PCs being bought these days, Intel exiting that aspect of the personal computer market seems obvious

    As a NUC owner I've been eyeing up NUC like form factors with AMD processors but haven't pulled the trigger. But options are somewhat limited. With this gap crowbarred into the market that seems likely to change I've no reason to go Intel next time around, now.

    So when it comes to selling chips while this certainly won't kill them, it will surely not benefit Intel either?

    Fundamentally I suspect it's good change for the individual consumer. Less so or bad for corporate customers.

    Edit: also suspect something like a NUC that's modern, cheap but with a 10 support lifespan (a thin client with serious grunt) is what windows 365 is targeting and how much this affects the decision?

    Sorry for the complete speculation.

  5. Simon 49

    Small Edge compute clusters are ideal fodder for ARM already

    There are a whole bunch of ARM platforms from Pi up to much pricier and more NUC comparable ARM based platforms - not good for gaming/PC use so much but if you're wanting to run a K8S cluster of 3 low energy nodes in a retail store then way more suited than anything Intel have. X86 was ubiquitous, you needed it to run what software you needed without horrible emulation penalties if it could even be done. Now much less so - MS and Apple both have ARM desktops, ARM is available as a target in the big clouds and it already owned phones and embedded devices. I'm just not sure how Intel gets back on top now, GPUs are encroaching the high end, RISC the low.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Small Edge compute clusters are ideal fodder for ARM already

      It depends what you need that cluster to do. A cluster of Pis really doesn't have anything near the computing power that one of NUCs would have. Yes, there are SBCs with more powerful ARM processors on them, but not as much as you'd expect. A computer built around a flagship smartphone chip would probably be pretty good, but you won't find that very often (Qualcomm has occasionally released development kits like that, though not with the best they have, but they don't tend to sell them in large quantities or provide support). The most powerful ARM SBCs that can be purchased commercially are quite a bit faster than the Pi, but still not as much as an X86 box would generally be. The other problem is that many of those boards do not offer consistent software support or production guarantees. For an X86 box, you don't really need production guarantees because you can run the same software on another one, but if you use a variety of ARM-based boards, you'll have to have custom images for each one.

      1. Simon 49

        Re: Small Edge compute clusters are ideal fodder for ARM already

        It's a way longer list than you may realize, I've sold/deployed two major competing platforms, one of which brags about some very big name customers. In both cases end customer had a hundred odd sites with a need for a reliable compute cluster - but were rolling out their homebuilt containers. Yes target had to be switched to ARM but beyond that the containers don't care. These were both little plastic stacking servers with 16GB RAM and a couple of M2 each, personally I wish there were 1U and not bright colors but whatever. Looking at the ESXi ARM fling HCL there are more chunky boxes out there now than a couple of years ago too.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Small Edge compute clusters are ideal fodder for ARM already

          I don't doubt that they exist, but I do doubt how economical they are if you're not buying thousands at once. The benefit of other boxes is that you can buy them a few at a time and, if necessary, from the retail market (though that should only be done if it's really urgent). If I am mistaken, I'd like to know what machines you have in mind and where I could buy one or two of them (not at a ridiculous price from someone trying to resell them to someone who got locked in).

          I also doubt that the machines you describe support portable system images, simply because ARM has failed to get that even after hundreds of different organizations focused on Linux users, who would appreciate such things, have not provided it. I don't like being locked in to one provider when a cluster of two NUCs and some other X86 box works just as well with little technician work required.

          I've dealt with computing hardware specifically built for niche business purposes before, and I have frequently been disappointed. They sometimes have an advantage in repairability and long-term support, but not in price, specifications, or openness. Oh, and that "long-term support" I was talking about means that you can call the support number five years after buying it and they'll answer and acknowledge that the devices exist, not that they will release any meaningful updates after they've made the next model.

          1. Simon 49

            Re: Small Edge compute clusters are ideal fodder for ARM already

            Agreed that the vendors really want you locked in, Sunlight et al do indeed base node cost on at least a triple digit purchase. At that scale you can roll your own with open source but the maintenance cost won't be insignificant and yes you have to re-roll for a change of platform, but then at least containers are portable. Be nice if the ARM ESXi build was a thing and could be consumed with ROBO licensing...

    2. fb2k

      Re: Small Edge compute clusters are ideal fodder for ARM already

      ARM SBCs that have enough CPU/GPU power, memory, 1Gbps LAN and a M.2 NVMe slot are actually more expensive than a basic i3 NUC and come nowhere near in terms of performance.

    3. sten2012

      Re: Small Edge compute clusters are ideal fodder for ARM already

      Let's say I'm looking for this (spoiler alert-I am) what is there, specifically better than the Pi but affordable? When I look as an individual the options for decent performance are awful. I've looked a few times before without luck but you're describing what I'm looking for.

      Right now even single node cluster K8S is a non negligible portion of the NUC resources. And while I'd keep the NUC going generally, I've no need for the K8S portion to be x64.

  6. Martin M

    Real shame

    I’ll miss them. I bought one of the early NUCs intrigued by the form factor and have had two since, less because of the size and more because the engineering is great for the money.

    There’s just something about them that feels almost workstation or server grade, rather than typical home PC trash.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Real shame

      We run them for monitoring [REDACTED] engines under test, in drawers on a enclosed rack without much ventilation in a glass cockpit enviroment....does rather tend to fry them at times & resulting in non booting systems (Fans would help, but that was prior to my starting here).

  7. Phil Kingston

    Best NUCs ever were the ones with the little gadget in the box so when you slid it open it played the Intel chime

  8. PaulHayes

    That's a shame but inevitable I suppose, less and less money in desktop PCs of any sort.

    Our whole office ran on NUCs pretty much from when they came out until about 18 months ago when most swapped to laptops. I'm still using a NUC though and have a couple in use at home (one for work, one for retro gaming). Much better than having a big beige box in the way or some daft LED lit monstrosity taking up space.

    RIP NUC

  9. Lazlo Woodbine

    We used a few NUCs to make display boards around school, along with a couple set up for video conference units during lockdown.

    They were a huge step up from the Dell SFF PCs we'd used in the past.

  10. Cardinal Fang

    Domestic use

    Lets see, 65" TV, my old gaming box does fine as a set top box hidden behind that.

    That was the problem with NUC's, there weren't that many uses where a cheap PC (in my case free) wouldn't do the job so pushing them at a premium price wasn't going to work. I'm sure there were some use cases but when push came to shove they weren't compelling enough on anything but size and there a Pi was even smaller.

    1. fishfingers77

      Re: Domestic use

      NUC has much cheaper running costs then a normal pc though. Electricity usage is very low.

      1. NewModelArmy

        Re: Domestic use

        I looked at the NUC's - they are expensive for what they are, but as you state, they are very low power consumption - essentially a laptop based processor.

        Looking at the latest 13th generation i5 processor, they are 65watts general use with 154watts peak power. A laptop is 20watts to 30 watts - as per a NUC. Much lower power usage for everyday usage, where the NUC is in general much more upgradable in terms of memory, SSD size etc. (for the ones i looked at), than a laptop.

        Although, Intel desktop processors which are lower power such as peak 35w TDP are for sale, albeit in Germany and not the usual UK outlets, they are still very expensive.

  11. Jim Willsher

    Shame. I run a couple of NUC8i5BEH units in the house, both running ESXi 8 and serving up a mixture of Windows DCs, Windows servers, Linux servers etc. All fun hobby stuff, nothing critical. But they just work, consume only 9 watts each, are silent, and have been bombproof. ANd thye take 64GB RAM, even though the spec says 32GB max. Whilst they are serving me well, at some point I'll need to renew them.

  12. Steve Graham

    Just as I was thinking of buying one...

    I've just replaced 2 home "servers" -- security and media streaming -- with Raspberry Pis. Both were antique laptops. (I was spurred into action by the fan failing on the Thinkpad for the second time.)

    My everyday computer is also a laptop, driving two screens, but also long in the tooth. I was thinking that a small, fanless unit would be a good upgrade, but I'd want more power than a Pi.

    I wonder what this decision will do to prices.

    1. Peter Ford

      Re: Just as I was thinking of buying one...

      Find a second-hand intel Mac Mini and put windows / linux on it...

  13. Scene it all

    I have a NUC and am quite happy with it. It is on all the time and runs security camera software, as well is pihole for the entire LAN. I see that System76 has a very similar product called the Meerkat and I have always been impressed with System76 build quality. I wish they offered it with an AMD processor though as they do their larger systems.

    What I really want is something in that form factor powered by a RISCV processor, but people seem to only be making bare SBCs still, and in small quantities.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " see that System76 has a very similar product called the Meerkat "

      Ahhh... compare the meerkat dotcom

  14. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Gimp

    I thought about it, I really did...

    I have considered getting a NUC multiple times. The intention was as a source for streaming to HDMI televisions. The only problem is I would be stuck running Windows 11, and that is a whole different level of regurgitated tripe. Sure, I could do the Penguin route, but I just didn't feel up to the fight of nuke / pave / drivers / compatibility / config / etc. These are media PCs, and I am using them during R&R time, and I don't want to be perpetually tinkering with them.

    Ended up doing Mac Mini's. Four TVs, one Mini each. M1, M2, and a couple Intel based. So there is definitely a market for small form-factor PCs with bring-your-own keyboard-video-mouse. (Along with bring-your-own advertisement & tracker blockers).

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: I thought about it, I really did...

      Out of curiosity, what did you want to be running? If you started knowing you would only use Mac OS, then why consider a NUC? If you hadn't decided that was the only software you would choose, what alternative had you considered? If you reject Windows because Windows and Linux because it's complicated (I'm guessing we can exclude most of the other options on the same basis), what was left?

    2. FatGerman

      Re: I thought about it, I really did...

      I used a NUC running Kubuntu for precisely that purpose. Had it up and running in under 20 minutes, no tinkering, no messing about. The thing with Intel hardware is it has Intel graphics, which is very well supported under Linux and even does H265 in hardware if you use almost any of the common video players.

      That said, these days a Raspberry Pi 4 with LibreElec will have you up and running in almost the same time and give you a media centre that takes care of itself. Haven't tinkered with mine in 3 years except to upgrade it to the latest release.

      Linux isn't scary any more if you choose the right distro (let's not start a war about that ;) ) and the right hardware.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NUC D54250WYK

    i5 in an Akasa fanless box.

    Been running all media to the TV for the last 10 years.

    Only just bothered upgrading it from Win8.1 to 11 this year.

    Still going strong.

  16. Roj Blake Silver badge

    The Best Thing About NUCs...

    ...was the way the Intel tune played when you opened up the box they came in.

    Someone at work once took out the chip responsible and put it a mug at the back of a cupboard in the office kitchen, with hilarious consequences.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Best Thing About NUCs...

      That was damn cool.

      Wasteful, but cool.

  17. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    I've always wanted a NUC, but never really been able to justify it. I have no real need for what would essentially be another PC.. I know a lot of people use them as HTPCs, but I have an Apple TV, and use Emby to stream media from my main PC to that. Emby also offers the advantage that it will stream to any device that has a recent web browser. I could also use it to stream games from my PC, but, TBH, most of my games are on Steam, and I have a Steam deck for that. Which is also essentially another PC, just running a custom Linux install (Steam OS).

  18. pawantanwar

    Intel is saying goodbye to their mini-PCs, the NUCs. They've decided to stop putting money into the NUC business and instead focus on helping their partners with NUC innovation. So, no more new NUCs directly from Intel, but there might still be cool stuff coming from other companies in the future.

    thanks and regards

    pawan tanwar

  19. richard1756

    Laptops > NUCs IMHO

    When the price of electricity shot up last year I looked into replacing my desktops with NUCs, but I found that there is a very good second-hard market in laptops on a well-known online store. Such laptops sell for a fraction of their first-hand cost but seem to be in decent condition (not been bitten yet), they are generally more powerful than NUCs, they are much cheaper to run than desktops, and I haven't looked back. Since you're using them as desktops with external keyboards and monitors, you don't care if the screen or keyboard is faulty or if the battery life is low, so you can sometimes pick up an even more bargainacious bargain if you find one being sold as faulty. In theory NUCs should be more cost-effective than laptops because they don't need to bother with the screen, keyboard or battery, but somehow I've never found NUCs that give a decent bang for the buck. I guess they're up against the enormous economy of scale in laptop manufacturing.

  20. pear

    ASU’s taking over

    They’ve done a deal with asus so the NUC line will sort of continue under them.. which is probably ok

  21. Adam Inistrator

    pfsense

    They make superb pfsense routers.

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