Zotac has been making amazing small form factor DIY kits for years now, but performance has always been hit or miss. Back at IDF Intel was showing off a possible Zbox competitor to anyone who strolled through the booth, and AnandTech has managed to get their hands on a sample. Intel is calling its new 4” x 4” x 2” small form factor kit the “Next Unit of Computing”, or NUC for short. This unfortunately named new product will come in two variations, and both look like excellent options for the HTPC crowd, or for people with basic computing needs.
The two part numbers only have minor differences, and both will be powered by the dual core Intel Core i3-3217U based off Ivy Bridge. This has a power sipping TDP of just 17W, and runs Intel’s HD 4000 graphics. The primary difference between the two kits is Gigabit Ethernet vs. Thunderbolt, and the model with Ethernet also includes two HDMI outputs as opposed to just one.
If you are considering picking one of these up keep in mind you will need to supply your own mSATA drive, along with up to two 8GB DDR3 SO-DIMM RAM chips. It goes without saying, but you’ll also need to supply a copy of Windows if you aren’t into the whole Linux movement. The extra hardware will add about $100 to the $300 price Intel is asking, and Windows will likely run you another $100.
All things considered, this looks like an impressive little sub $500 PC. The Ethernet version will be available sometime this month, and the Thunderbolt variation will ship in December.