There's plenty of alternatives out there. I can't think of a use case where only a NUC will do except maybe an industrial use built with a space exactly designed for a NUC sized device with sockets in NUC designed spots. And if that's the case, they are doing it wrong since even NUCs have changed over the generations.
Intel has begun purging its Next Unit of Computing (NUC) lineup, issuing a slew of product discontinuation notices just weeks after abandoning its mini-PC division and handing the reins to Asus. As of August 18, Intel's NUC 12 Enthusiast kits, X15 and P14E reference laptops — yes, Intel made notebooks — will officially be …
Monday 14th August 2023 21:04 GMT stiine
Monday 14th August 2023 21:37 GMT John Brown (no body)
Depends on what you plan on doing with it and what, if any, expansion abilities you may want.
If it's just to watch TV shows, anything capable of running KODI, from a Raspbery Pi 4 upwards will do or even go with OSMC who will also sell you NUC-a-like pre-installed for the job if you don't to just download an image to install yourself to your chosen device.
After that, a quick search of the interwebs on fanless tiny PC indicates a wide range of kit of varying power and price depending on how deep your pockets are, how much you are prepared to compromise and whether it needs to be ruggedized for a marine environment in case you live near the beach and are expecting heavy swells. (I saw one specced as "marine environment" for over £2500!)
Monday 14th August 2023 21:47 GMT Catkin
Depends how small but I've had great results with an Akasa Turing case on a NUC board for a true fanless build. A bit of creative tuning of the power limits can keep you from hideous temps or throttling and, while I built that one with a 10th gen, the 11th (in its standard case because I find the fan noise just fine) gen eeks out a decent jump in performance so even the i3 nicely handles all the 4k content I've thrown at it. The thunderbolt ports are terribly handy if you want to add a JBOD array.
I can also confirm that a pi 4 will handle almost any content (it does have a slight struggle with remuxed UHD blu ray) but the interface on Kodi isn't buttery smooth like it is on the NUC.
Tuesday 15th August 2023 11:01 GMT LybsterRoy
Wednesday 16th August 2023 14:09 GMT collinsl
Seconded, USFF PCs are a great way of doing (nearly) silent low-power deployments. With most of the modern ones you can throw a 2.5" HDD plus an M.2 SSD in them so can have plenty of local storage, inbuilt graphics can handle most video formats (the newer you get the more it can handle) but anything core i3 of 7th gen and above can play pretty much anything.
You can also use them for a low power homelab in a cluster, and buying them 2nd hand is reasonably inexpensive in most places because 5-year-old ones are being kicked out by corporations all the time.
And higher power versions are available with up to i7s in some configurations, plus some of them have 1x PCI-E x8 slot (via an adapter most of the time) for half-height cards in place of the 2.5" drive.
Tuesday 15th August 2023 08:25 GMT phuzz
The reason I've been using them at work over other options is mostly the support. The hardware is really robust, it happily accepts whatever RAM etc. we put in it, and the Linux support has been perfect.
When we've tested alternatives we've had problems with machines which only work with certain brands of RAM, or a NIC which is only supported on the very latest kernel (at the time we were using it).
Of course, it's easy to like them when someone else is paying for them, but on the other hand small foibles that are easy to fix/work around on your home machine, become a big problem when you have tens of machines in remote locations.
I guess next time I need to buy more hardware we'll have to see how the Asus ones turn out, or if there's any reliable alternatives.
Tuesday 15th August 2023 01:08 GMT BinkyTheMagicPaperclip
Most NUCs have the virtue of only being relatively small. They're rarely fanless, aren't incredibly fast, or noticeably inexpensive.
On the other hand, a second hand Wyse 5070 off ebay (cost, under a 100 quid with power adapter) is fanless (if you choose the non extended edition with an expansion slot and a fan), as fast as a pretty decent PC from 2009, and perfectly adequate for web browsing, video playback (although I've not tried to a 4K monitor), productivity, and some (old, the GPU is very weak) gaming. I stuck in an extra 16GB memory to take it up to 20GB, a 1TB M.2 SSD, and it's been flawless as a daily browsing box running FreeBSD. Total cost, under 200 quid, although I did also re-use a Displayport to HDMI adapter. It's Displayport+ so it shouldn't even need an active adapter.
I tried for months with a Pi 4. For a desktop (running Raspbian) it was sluggish and required frequent reboots due to graphical corruption. So glad to see the back of it.
Tuesday 15th August 2023 15:01 GMT Yet Another Anonymous coward
Re: No loss
>Most NUCs have the virtue of only being relatively small. They're rarely fanless, aren't incredibly fast, or noticeably inexpensive.
They are great for building into kit.
We used them for a medical device, small, cheap (for a medical device) and come with a "made by Intel" sticker to wave at CE/TuV/UL
Ironically you couldn't buy Intel branded ones at launch, they seem to have had an agreement not to sell their own brand for a year after the format started - we had to prototype with Zotac and then replace them all with intel for certification
Wednesday 16th August 2023 15:49 GMT abufrejoval
At current prices you cannot only enjoy their quality, they become a steal!
Originally I hated the NUCs, because they had everything I wanted, except the Mini-ITX form factor I was after. I wanted the ability to control their noise via self-selected (Noctua) fans and the extra expansion space and flexibility Mini-ITX offers.
But nobody sold mobile chips in that form factor and eventually even Atoms became Unobtainium.
I really wanted low-idle-consumption µ-servers, which could deliver a bit of a punch at peak on a budget: is that too much to ask?
I eventually got one of each, a NUC8, NUC10 and NUC11 each with the top-of-the-line i7, added 64GB of DDR4 RAM, NVMe and a 10Gbit NIC on the Thunderbolt port to create a RHV/oVirt HCI cluster.
But when the prices on the enthusiast variants started dropping near their iGPU cousins, it got my attention!
Currently the Tiger Lake i7-1167G5 based NUC11 Enthusiast (NUC11PHKi7) with an 6GB RTX 2060m included sells at the same €450 price as the same without or an Alder lake brethren. That's an DLSS 2 capable dGPU which runs every game up to Cyberpunk 2077 at ultra settings on THD near 60Hz or better.
And even as a NUC it's so much better than the Panther Lake NUC11 (NUC11PAH), which I also have, because it's much quieter, even when you push it to 64Watts of near permanent PL2.
The classic Furmark+Prime95 worst case runs both fans, but hard to notice and never a bother.
The BIOS of all these NUCs btw. is much more generous than Intel generally is with overclocking: PL1, PL2 and TAU as well as fan curves can be set to anything physically possilbe on ever NUC since Gen8. But on the older NUCs I did have to play with these settings to achieve a similar level of unnoticeability to make then home-lab compatible, 24x7.
I got my Serpent Lake NUC12 for €777, but it currently sells at €600 with German VAT included and at that price it was already to much to resist at least giving it a 14 day trial: I didn't return it, because again, it's an i7-127000H based µ-server with a plethora of ports and internal options with an ARC A770m thrown in for free!
You basically get a 16GB VRAM RTX4060ti with a full system included... except that XeSS isn't quite DLSS nor will it do CUDA: but I got an RTX 4090 based workstation for that.
Serpent lake has the same loving attention to physical details, e.g. the screws you need to loosen to add RAM and NVMe drives won't come out but hang on, so they can't get lost (too bad that's impossible for the M.2 drive). Gen8 to Gen12 you can just see how engineers tirelessly tried to improve every aspect of the design.
In my testing the Serpent Lake was good enough to drive a 27" 2560x1440 curved and game optimized Samsung display near its 144Hz limit with practically everything except Cyberpunk, where it at least exceeded the 60Hz base line beyond which I mostly don't care.
But with 100 Watts more to cool the two small fans which did such a great job on its predecessor are much harder to ignore when and if it got near the limits of the 300 Watt power brick, that seems to weigh more than the system.
Still it's hard to build a system more powerful for less money, and near impossible one with as little idle power and noise, when used as a µ-server or office desktop.
At list prices they were hard to recommend, at the current prices you almost can't go wrong: you get a fully competent gaming computer at the price of a console.
I've tried other NUCalikes like BRIX, and they were never near as good and feature complete as Intel's NUCs: fan control, BIOS options, sockets and ports, they'd "economize" everyhwere and the customer value suffered more than they seemed to save.