In case you haven’t noticed, the PC is getting smaller. But it’s not getting smaller in the way the PC fatalists see it. If anything, enthusiast PCs have gotten larger. Witness Corsair’s 900D, Cooler Master’s Cosmos SE, and Digital Storm’s Aventum II.
Note: This feature was originally featured in the March 2014 issue of the magazine.
Xi3 may have found a willing partner in the SFF space
There was quite a bit of mystery and intrigue surrounding Xi3 Corporation's Piston PC at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) two years ago, not to mention confusion over whether or not it would become Valve's rumored (at the time) Steam Box. It wasn't mean to be -- Valve has since launched a Steam Machine initiative, but Xi3 hasn't given up on SFF systems. Instead, Xi3 has partnered with Intel to build and sell next-generation "Micro-Mini PCs," which will include Intel's NUC line, the company announced today.
Intel's attempt at infiltrating the mini PC market with its Next Unit of Computing (NUC) device has been met with some growing pains, one of the first of which is it had a tendency to lock up unless you removed the internal Wi-Fi card. That's long been fixed, though there have been reports of other issues, such as a USB 3.0 bug. A new revision NUC is supposed to squash the USB 3.0 bug, along with a few other issues.
Newest NUC boasts support for a single 2.5-inch drive
Intel has its eye on the mini PC market with the introduction of its Next Unit of Computing (NUC) systems, though a limitation of early run versions is that they all used mSATA solid state drives. That in itself isn't a deal killer (though mSATA may not be long for this world), but what did cause problems is having the Wi-Fi card plopped right on top of the mSATA SSD. There were several reports of Wi-Fi issues with first run models (which is something we observed ourselves), possibly as a result of overheating, but with the newest NUC kit, Intel added a 2.5-inch drive bay.
We liked the idea of Intel's original NUC (Next Unit of Computing), which delivered a full-fledged computing experience in a tiny chassis that you could hold in the palm of your hand. Freezing issues plagued earlier versions, and while we had success swapping out the mSATA SSD to alleviate the issue, it didn't solve the problem for everyone. Intel has since supposedly solved the issue, and just in time to launch an upgraded model built around Haswell.
Revised design should stop the NUC from freezing up due to heat
Intel's Next Unit of Computing (NUC) is an intriguing device. The NUC is a mini PC built around an incredibly small 4-inch by 4-inch by 2-inch chassis that Intel would like to see become the standard for miniature systems that pack a punch. Though it's small, it offers residence to a 1.8GHz dual-core, Hyper-Threaded Core i3 processor, two SO-DIMM RAM slots, mSATA SSD slot, and a built-in Wi-Fi card. That's a lot to cram into such a tiny device, and as it turned out, first generation models had a problem with overheating.
The unique $35 Raspberry Pi computer set the PC world on its ear last year. Part computer science project and part incredibly cheap PC, the DIY single-board computer is such a hot item, some retailers are charging double what the unit originally cost. Of course, where there’s money, there’s Intel. The chip giant has formally introduced its $320 “Next Unit of Computing,” or NUC, PC concept—basically a bare-bones, hobbyist kit PC. While this is admittedly an apple–to-orange comparison in many respects, we felt that hobbyists deserve to see an accounting of the pros and cons of each in a head-on fight.
Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of the magazine.
Intel and ARM go head-to-head in the small-PC arena
We got a review unit of Intel's tiny Next Unit of Computing(NUC) HTPC in the office and decided to compare it to the ever popular Raspberry Pi. While the unit is significantly larger and more expensive than the popular credit-card sized computer, the Next Unit of Computing is also much more powerful. It features a 17W Core i3-3217U 1.8GHz processor on a QS77 motherboard, four USB 2.0 ports, a thunderbolt port, and a HDMI port. The device supports up to 16GB of DDR3 laptop RAM and has PCI-e slots for a wireless card and m-SATA SSD.
First at PAX East and then at the inaugural Intel Platinum Summit in London, a diminutive PC designed by Intel managed to get a lot of eyeballs back in April. Dubbed “Next Unit of Computing” by Intel, this small PC stood out due to both its small size and powerful entrails. At 4x4”, it lies somewhere between the Raspberry Pi and traditional mini-desktop PCs, but has just about enough space for powerful Ivy Bridge innards.