Intel’s Next Unit of Computing, or NUC, was a revelation in space-saving computing. Your investment Small Form Factor PCs from the likes of Shuttle; Intel’s original NUC delivered desktop performance in a chassis only slightly larger than a pack of cards. It’s received several refreshes since ﬁ rst launching in 2012, and the latest version now comes packing Intel’s Core i5-5300U vPro processor, along with a selection of improvements throughout the board. It’s still carrying a rather hefty cost label though, which doesn’t include any RAM or hard drive, so let’s see if it can justify the price it’ll price to save a chunk of desk space.
For the price, you will get a Computer that measures just four inches square. Inside resides the new Intel CPU, and unlike other NUCs uses a small fan for cooling. It remains relatively quiet even under intensive workloads, perfect for those who hate noisy computer systems. Getting rid of the bottom of the truth reveals the twin DDR3L SODIMM slots, which run at either 1333MHz or 1600MHz, and can accommodate no more than 16GB of memory. A small 2.5 inches hard drive slot is built into the base, with a SATA expansion cable to connect it tidily to your system’s mainboard, but no drive is included. Additionally, there are twin M.2 connections for these small new SSDs, one supporting the 22×42 format, the other the 22×80 type. Twin USB 3.0 connections on the front are supplemented by another two on the rear of the situation, with another two internal USB 2.0 headers.
There really isn’t any room to set up additional components within the chassis, nor to include another two USB ports on the outside of, but the inner headers can be used to connect with many different third-party replacement lids. Video duties are handled by double mini DisplayPort 1.2 outputs, while a single Gigabit Ethernet port delivers connectivity to your network. While DisplayPort is becoming the newest standard in display connectivity, it is still rather limited in its availability, especially the mini variety. We had to visit several stores to ﬁ nd a mini DisplayPort adaptor, as we couldn’t ﬁ nd a miniDisplayPort to DisplayPort cable, which restricted our output to just 2560 x 1440, well short of the 4K resolution supported by this connection type. We wish Intel had of replaced one of the miniDP ports with an HDMI port alternatively, as it would prove to be much more usable to a wider audience. Interestingly there’s no Wi-Fi support built-in, unlike competing mini-PCs from Gigabyte, which is a bit of an oversight for home users. You’ll either have actually to shell out for the optional Wi-Fi card, or connect the NUC to your network via Ethernet cables. Audio is also handled by the miniDisplayPort, which will show to be a killer blow for all those searching for a HTPC machine, as the only real other audio output is a 3.5mm stereo minijack. It should be apparent by now that Intel is aiming this device at corporate and office users instead of home customers. The Intel Core i5-5300U vPro CPU that powers this NUC is a twin-cored model blessed with HyperThreading. The beds base frequency of 2.3GHz ramps up to 2.9GHz when Turbo mode is enabled, yet the TDP is a meagre 15W. This includes Intel’s HD Graphics 5500, which are capable of 4K decoding. As a result of using the new Intel chip, this NUC has Intel vPro support, which o£ ers a range of technologies that deliver added protection and cordless connectivity… provided you install the optional Wi-Fi adaptor. Potential owners can add on another $350 or more to the price to install memory and storage, combined with the WiFi adaptor necessary to maximize vPro’s wireless connectivity options. It’s not aimed at house users, but corporate buyers who rely heavily on Intel’s business focused-features will ﬁ nd this to be a potent desktop.