updated 06:20 am EST, Tue February 4, 2014
Intel aims for PC and HTPC enthusiasts with the Intel NUC Kit
Simply put, the Intel NUC Kit is a "bare-bones" Mini PC desktop. It is aimed at do-it-yourself PC enthusiasts as well as users interested developing a customized home theater PC solution. The Next Unit of Computing (NUC) model that we have been provided with by Intel is the second-generation model and features a number of marked improvements over the original unit that debuted in 2012. It is an intriguing product for Intel and we were keen to take a first look at it ahead of a full review.
In its "bare-bones" PC form, the Intel NUC Kit (D54250WYK) comes partially assembled and requires just a small amount of tinkering as well as some additional parts to make fully operational. It ships in a very compact brushed aluminum and plastic enclosure that houses a 4-inch by 4-inch motherboard. This features a fourth-generation 'Haswell' Intel Core i5-4250U dual-core processor with Turbo Boost 2.0 and an integrated Intel HD Graphics 5000 GPU soldered to the motherboard. The GPU supports media editing with Intel Quick Sync Video and HD playback with Intel Clear Video HD technology. Also included is an integrated Wi-Fi antenna and a power brick, a VESA mounting bracket and some excellent visual instructions, all for a starting price of $360.
To this foundation, you will need to purchase your own RAM, storage and wireless network card. Intel helped us out by shipping our NUC review unit with an Intel dual-band Wireless-AC card (incorporating Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) (Model 7260HMW), 4GB of ADATA DDR3L 1600 SO DIMM RAM and a 120GB Intel mSATA SSD (Model SSDMCEAC120B3). We haven't fitted it out yet, but it all looks like a very straightforward process with the RAM set to be slotted into one of the two available SO-DIMM slots on the motherboard that can support up to 16GB of RAM. The motherboard also includes dual PCIe mini card connectors that will support the wireless card and the SSD.
The second-generation Intel NUC is also packed with external connectivity options as well. Along with a consumer infrared sensor, you will find a Mini Display 1.2 port and a Mini HDMI 1.4a port. To is added dual front and dual rear USB 3.0 ports, Intel Gigabit LAN port and a headphone/microphone jack. In addition to the hardware components required, you will also need to get yourself set up with either an operating system and/or media center software. Intel has tested the NUC with MS Windows 8 32/64-bit and Windows 7 32/64-bit, although the unit will also support alternative operating systems including Linux distros. These can be installed over as USB flash drive or USB optical drive, though Intel's Visual BIOS is preinstalled to help you get up and running.
We can't wait to get work (and play) with our Intel NUC and will have a full review posted in the coming days. Stay tuned.
By Sanjiv Sathiah