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HARDWARE

Intel NUC D54250WYK 2013 (Part 2)

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Getting back to the NUC itself, it’s roughly 11cm square and 3.5cm deep, and this latest version seems to have taken its styling cues from the iPhone 4 and 4S handsets. There’s an alloy central band topped and tailed by gloss black. Okay, the build quality isn’t in Apple territory, but it’s still a nice bit of kit for the fashion conscious.

Anyway, on the front you get a pair of USB 3.0 ports. You’ll find another two on the rear, along with a LAN port, a mini-HDMI and a mini-Display-Port. The latter, incidentally, supports 4K resolutions, which is the first hint at the latest NUC’s all-round performance prowess. It’s all very nicely laid out inside, and this time there’s a conventional internal SATA port – something that was missing from the original NUC.


It’s all very nicely laid out inside, and this time there’s a conventional internal SATA port – something that was missing from the original NUC.

Bare Bones

What you don’t get is storage, memory or wireless connectivity. At least, not as standard. Those items are all extra, and that’s where the NUC’s major malfunction kicks in: it’s far too expensive. UK prices haven’t shaken out as we go to press, but based on the previous generation NUC, we’re thinking roughly $579 for this bare bones box. Add a decent SSD, some memory, wireless and a Windows licence and you’re probably looking at the thick end of $992 – and you still don’t have a screen.

In mitigation, one of the most attractive usage models is hooking the NUC up to your TV, so that’s the screen sorted, and the NUC’s price looks reasonable compared to other really tiny PCs. In the end though, that’s academic; the NUC needs to be cheap enough to be bought on a whim if Intel wants it to reignite the notion of PCs all over the house.


the NUC’s price looks reasonable compared to other really tiny PCs. In the end though, that’s academic; the NUC needs to be cheap enough to be bought on a whim if Intel wants it to reignite the notion of PCs all over the house.

In that context, $992 is just off the map; it needs to be about $579 all in. The price is even more of a pity when you consider what the NUC is capable of. Our benchmarks don’t look all that impressive on paper, but the subjective experience is of a full-function and responsive PC. The SSD – which for our review is Intel’s own mSATA 180GB effort – does a lot to deliver that impression, but the dual-core CPU is decent and HD Graphics 5000 show that Intel is very much on the right track. It’s still not what we’d call genuinely gameable, but it’s not far off. Crush the settings a bit and it will just about run most games. It’ll make mincemeat of any HD video content, of course, and the general web-browsing and Windows juggling experience is pretty indistinguishable from a full-on tower PC.

The NUC is exactly the sort of thing Intel should be doing. It’s the sort of thing Intel can do better than anyone else, and the NUC very well might be the best ultra-SFF system you can buy, but it doesn’t make sense at this price.


The NUC is exactly the sort of thing Intel should be doing. It’s the sort of thing Intel can do better than anyone else, and the NUC very well might be the best ultra-SFF system you can buy, but it doesn’t make sense at this price.

 

Vital Statistics

 

·         Price: $496

·         Manufacturer: Intel

·         CUDA: Intel Core i5-4250U

·         Graphics: Intel HD 5000

·         Storage: mSATA and SATA

·         Ports: 4x USB 3.0, mini HDMI, mini DisplayPort, LAN

·         Memory: 2x DDR3 (Max 16GB)

·         Audio: Intel HD Audio

·         Dimensions: 117 x 112 x 35mm

 

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