We Love The Intel NUC!

hartsook | January 23rd, 2014

Blog post by Wayland Siao

After blowing up my custom-made computer, I decided to look for a new replacement for myself.  I was looking for something that was much more compact than my previous bulky desktop, yet was powerful enough to satisfy an IT tech.  Upon research, my eye caught onto the Intel NUC (DC3217BY).  It so happens that Telnexus had recently ordered one to run as a test environment for a virtualization server.  Here were the specs per Intel:

  • nuc11Intel Core i3 3217U (2 physical cores, 4 virtualized cores)
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000 w/ one HDMI port
  • Three USB 2.0 ports
  • One Thunderbolt Port
  • Size is approx.:  4in x 4in x 1.5in
  • Slots for: one mSATA SDD drive, one wireless card, and two SODIMM RAMs. (These were not included)

Just at one glance, these specs don’t look spectacular at all; it seems like a normal entry level computer.  You wouldn’t be playing the latest games or be doing any hard-core media editing on the NUC.  But nonetheless, I was still intrigued because of its size and the amount of hardware that was packed in, so I decided to do a trial run on it. Out of the market, the NUC does not come with a hard drive and RAM, so one of my colleagues inserted whatever was lying around in the office to get it going.  We installed:

  •  A Mushkin 60GB SDD mSATA card
  •  4GB 1033MHZ Samsung SODIMM DDR3 RAM
  • Intel Centrino Wireless Card

We put the newest Windows 8.1 OS afterwards and I began using it… and I was absolutely impressed.  The first noticed that the blazing boot time of this device.  From the moment I pressed the power of the machine to the appearance of the Windows Login Screen, it took about 10 Seconds without any user optimization.  That is fast.  Afterwards, I took a look at the BIOS which was pleasantly user friendly.  There was an integrated mouse in the interface, and there was so much information available about the internal hardware, including the fan speed, temperatures, voltages, and more that were easily accessed.

Later, I started to run day-to-day programs on the NUC, like Google Chrome, Microsoft Office, and Remote Desktop.  Everything loaded almost instantly and there was no slowdown or issues while running it.  I even ran a virtual instance of Ubuntu 13.10 through VirtualBox; it started out slow, but was stable upon installing the guest additions and allocating enough resources to it.

How Intel was able to pull such a great computer so little resources is still beyond me.  But I am thoroughly impressed of both the design and engineering that made this device.  I can definitely envision the NUC to be a new alternative to desktop computer for home and business users these days.  These little machines are even VESA mountable and can be hidden behind compatible monitors.  No more clutter one and under your desk!

My final verdict:  The Intel NUC lives up to its name as the Next Unit of Computing.  It’s computing for the future and this device is going to continue to be improved and upgraded.  The NUC is ultra-quick, budget friendly, compact, easy to use, and aesthetically pleasing.  I highly recommend replacing your desktops, especially those out-of-date, with these little powerhouses.  I, myself, was so thoroughly impressed that I convinced myself to buy my own personal NUC at home and I was able to customize it to my own needs.