How would you change Intel’s Next Unit of Computing?
What is Intel’s Next Unit of Computing? It’s far too bulky to be an Intel-hewn alternative to the Raspberry Pi or Arduino, nor is it powerful enough to be designed to replace a low-powered desktop. Sitting awkwardly between the two, we imagine that plenty of you bought one of these for curiosity’s sake, but have you used it? What projects did it fit into, and how easy was it to use? Share your experiences here, you're amongst friends.
Unless you want a laptop, a computer with a high powered graphics card or a computer with PCI-E slots, you should find the core-i5 Haswell NUCs are a great fit for a desktop replacement.
P.S. Why would anyone think the NUC be an alternative to a raspberry Pi or Arduino? Completely different target audience and functionality.
However other media boxes that have flooded the market are fair competitors / game. Why? Because they perform the same tasks and applications most people need and would do with a Intel NUC. People don't care about performance as long as they play a movie at 1080p @ 60p smoothly, or can browse the Internet and watch YouTube etc.
This is important. Because Intel's target audience are people who have some basic knowledge, enough to assemble the system using other parts and installing a OS. But the same people are also aware of Android TV boxes or ARM boxes on the market that are able to perform the same tasks but at a much lower price. Sometimes sub ~$100.
The factor here is price. I know that's the thing keeping me away from Intel's NUC.
2x Haswell 4010U NUC, 8GB RAM, 120GB mSATA SSD, Intel 802.11ac, Windows 8.1
1x BayTrail N2820 NUC, 4GB RAM, 120GB mSATA SSD, Intel 802.11ac, Fedora Linux
* Love the bare minimum NUC. Provides flexibility on RAM / Storage and Network
* Love the form factor
* Less USB 3.0 ports
* Lack HDMI CEC
* BIOS is buggy
* More BayTrail variants - Quad core?
* Waiting for Broadwell NUC for low power and speed
I started to look at the NUCs as part of Intel's ITP program. Most of the NUCs disappointed me because I am very familiar with Intel's graphics. Sadly even the i7-3770k's graphics left something to be desired for a high end CPU because I was losing so much of the CPU to graphics use.
That changed when they came out with the Haswell lineup. The i5-4250U was getting great reviews so I decided to pit it against the current desktop I had at home - A Quad 2 Core Q9400, 8GB DDR2 and 750GB SATA II hard drive. At this point I already had a WD MyCloud that I shifted most of the storage to so the space was no longer an issue.
I got the i5-4250U, RAM and SSD. Took a bit longer to get it set up because the memory I bought the first time wasn't right - it must be the low voltage (1.5V) DDR3 memory. Either case I purchased 8GB and a 120GB Micron SSD. Installed, allocated 1 GB to video right off the bat and then installed Windows 8.
This was good. Very good. It played every game that the Q9400 did and kept up with it - some even were able to bump up to medium settings (impressive for this little device!) But I did find one downside - the CPU maxing at 1.9GHz was just not high enough to handle some basic things.
I am one of many who have been telling Intel we shouldn't have to go to a manufacturer to get one - though Gigabyte has an impressive Brix Pro i5/i7 and I recently saw Lenovo has something similar and equally as impressive. This, to me, is a lost opportunity for Intel. Get these higher end devices out as true desktop/workstation replacements like others are - but without a $1k price tag - and I'm sure the demand will pick up. (But for end users the manufacturers that offer extended support will probably get a big part of this business.)
It is not the first time Intel has launched products they never really intend to sell widely, merely to fire up adoption in their manufacturing customers. I actually respect them for applying this strategy: it spreads their vision without (obvious) strong-arm tactics that are often attempted. They launch new markets with products at price points that can easily be beat and at the same time lower market entry risk for their customers.
The Ultrabook initiative is another ( very successful) example: set a standard for the label, produce a few laptops yourself and see what happens. In this case, their Ultrabook label sells laptops (and thus their chipsets) without Intel actually having to design and build many laptops itself.
I believe their NUC devices fit into this strategy. It is not (yet) as successful but as you pointed out at least Gigabyte and Lenovo are following Intel's leadership and producing similar products.
Let me stop you right there.
Especially the i5 D54250WYK.
Depending on what you mean by "low-powered desktop", I think it is one the best. It is a great alternative to buying "ALL-IN-ONE" desktops, where you want to minimize cable mess and bulk. Could be cheaper than AIO's for similar specs, and lets you choose the display independently from the guts.
The one problem I have had is with the Intel Wireless AC-7260 card. With Win 8.1's default latest drivers, it is slow and intermittent. Even with Intel's 2014 drivers, it was slow. Hope Intel can fix this with drivers soon.
1. Headphone jack on back (for speakers). The addition of the front jack is nice, but it looks messy to run a cable up front.
2. Matte top. The shiny top scratches easily & picks up dust & fingerprints too easily. All of mine are scratched within minutes of coming out of the box, no matter how careful I am.
3. Desktop CPU versions (ex. BRIX Pro): The cooling fan is too noisy. I would buy more if they were silent like the Laptop CPU versions, but they can really rev up at times, which is annoying in quiet office environments. With a full-sized desktop tower, the whir of the fans is usually a non-annoying sound, and also isn't typically sitting on the desktop, but rather under the desk (it's easier to setup the NUC's on the desktop next to the monitor, so noise becomes more of an issue)
4. Intel Haswell NUC's: Needs at least one standard port like the BRIX series. For dual monitors, I do HDMI + a MiniDP-to-HDMI adapter (from there, I can use an HDMI cable or an HDMI-to-DVI cable, depending on the monitor). With the Intel Haswell NUC, only a few monitors have the Mini-HDMI & Mini-DP ports natively, so I have to buy adapters or adapter cables for everything. I specifically buy the BRIX over the NUCs in business for this reason - one less adapter to purchase.
5. Would like to see a version with one of the newer mobile graphics units (GTX 860M & Quadro K5100M) for enhanced gaming & light CAD usage. That would be amazing in the "Pro" models that have the desktop quad-core CPU's in them - they could replace everything outside of custom workstations for gaming & CAD.
6. The IR port needs Windows software, no one has any idea how to actually use it with an infrared remote control. No clear answer from Intel on how to implement this functionality.
7. From a consumer standpoint, I would like to see a cheaper motherboard-only version (which is more expensive than the entire kit, for some reason) along with a lot more aftermarket case options. These are great for replacing your parent's & grandparent's computers, small biz computers, etc., and some added customizability would be nice.
8. Would like to see Thunderbolt back in more models.
Things I would change are:
- cheaper price. $380 for the barebones unit is too much
- Add more USB 3.0 ports. 6 or 8 would be ideal since it's the only expansion available.
- Redesign the case so it's easier to clean out the CPU fan.
- Move the headphone audio jack to the rear.
- Switch to full HDMI port instead on mini HDMI.
- Offer all black case again, instead of two-tone.
- Get Intel and Google together to make an official Chrome OS installer for NUCs.
This is a great product. It's very small and also light enough to easily transport around. Easy to hook up at a friend's place and start playing. I comfortably carry it in my laptop bag with my Xbox controllers when I want to transport it. With portable gaming consoles like the nvidia shield out there, you can't really call this thing bulky =P
2) Optional form factor to support full 3.5 inch hard drive? May be even SoHo NAS friendly version with 2 SATA and 2 HDDs?
3) eSata port?
4) Full size HDMI, or at least cheap adapter from mini-HDMI included?
5) Better QA? A lot of complains (by high Intel standarts) on malfunctioning device.
6) Price. After one buys RAM, storage, wireless and Windows license, you may question if getting notebook, which has screen, keyboard, and batteries wouldn't make a better option moneywise, if size is not so critical.
Also agree that discrete video cards would be great support but doubt you're going to see it. When I asked Gigabyte and Intel about it the biggest issue mentioned is cooling in that form factor. Wonder if that has changed with Devil's Canyon as they've been overclocked to 4.6GHz fanless.
Intel skimped on a few things though.
NO Second USB header was ever installed even though the port is there.
NO CEC support on the HDMI, Big Drawback.
NO internal Hard Drive. Big Drawback!
And What is up with no Power cord! You have got to be kidding me!
I wish I had more than an couple hours time playing with the NUC because with the right combinations of ports installed (ideally DisplayPort 1.2/Thunderbolt/USB 3.0) it would definitely be more of a standout. In fact, most tech people I know aren't even aware that Intel makes something like the NUC.
NUC DC3217BY HTPC with 12TB Parity Storage Space - Please bring back Thunderbolt!!
NUC DC3217BY with 16GB Ram
Windows 8.1 with iTunes (yes, I have had iTunes since the beginning)
Thunderbolt daisy chain >> LaCie 5big with 5x3TB drives >> LaCie Little Big Disk with 2x32GB Intel X25E SSD's >> Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adaptor
We have done a lot of interesting things with NUC's over the years at my work but this recent addition to my home was a fun exercise using leftover "bits" from around the office. We never found a use for the LaCie 5Big because Mac's have given up on Raid 5. The 5x3TB Hitachi drives were left over after we upgraded our NAS to 4TB drives. The Little Big Disk was my travelling editing drive. The two old (and once VERY expensive) Intel X25E 32GB SLC SSD's have been gathering dust for what seems like ages.
For those of you who have never used Microsoft Storage Spaces, now is probably a good time to start. With the release of Windows 8.1 (and Server 2012 r2) Microsoft introduced the concept of using SSD’s as write-back cache which has improved the write performance of their Parity Spaces considerably. All I had to do was use the Storage Spaces GUI to combine all seven drives into one space. Then I used the following PowerShell command to create the Virtual Disk:-
New-VirtualDisk -StoragePoolFriendlyName iTunesPool -FriendlyName iTunesLibrary -UseMaximumSize -ResiliencySettingName Parity -ProvisioningType Fixed -NumberOfColumns 5 -WriteCacheSize 30GB
(Update: Please ensure that you open PowerShell using "run as administrator" or you will have permissions issues)
Microsoft then automatically finds the two SSD’s for the write-back cache and combines the 5x3TB drives to give me 11.2TB of parity protected high speed Thunderbolt-attached space on my tiny little i3 NUC.
Over the past 24 hours I have been using iTunes HomeSharing to transfer my current work iTunes Library (on an old Mac Pro – with Raid 5) consisting of just over 8TB of content to my new NUC based home library. For most of the time, the transfer is limited by the network pipe running at around 90MBytes/sec but every so often it drops to 20MBytes/sec for a short while. During this time the poor little NUC i3 runs at 100% CPU while (I have now determined) Microsoft flushes its write-back cache to disk.
If Intel had only had the foresight to continue with a Thunderbolt port on my new i5 NUC’s, this probably wouldn’t have been a problem.
So when is my new Thunderbolt 2 i7 NUC being released?
Keep LEGO in mind, this will make sense later.
Does any of you recall the Thermaltake Level 10 PC case with BMW concept?
Not exactly confined to the restricted space of this unit, I would shift things a little:
1) Either flip the orientation of the CPU socket so that a close circle water cooling system could be installed (think of an additional box of similar size, half the height of this box, sitting beneath acting as a water tank, pump and being shaped as a radiator.
Or open the roof of the case so that a bigger heatsink could be installed.
Goal: normal desktop cpu, without any issue of throttling, and having a cpu that supports HD5200.
Now we could stop right there BUT:
2) About that LEGO, consider the above a module that replaces the red roof (and heatsink) of the one that is found in the original picture, now think of an option where you could attach this "cpu + port box" to one, or two additional GPU cases (that could fit up to GeForce Titan Black)
3) And obviously an alternative PSU box needs to be available, one that can actually support such components.
4) also yeah... regular RAM (not low voltage), thunderbolt 2.0, integrated BT4 and WiFi AC, with an optional jack for triple external antennas
TLDR: a different take on the regular dekstop pc, where instead of replacing\adding parts inside the case, you add small cases depending on your specifications and needs.
As clumsy\big as you need it to be, very elegant, and thanks to good design reduces overall heat by separating the hardware.