The NUC's small size, reasonable price and solid performance make it an ideal PC for tinkerers on a budget. Just be prepared to roll up your sleeves in setting it up.
- Fast and simple hardware setup
- Great performance for common tasks
- Small size, VESA-mountable
- Barely audible fan noise
- No native USB 3.0
- Pricey once you factor in all the components
More Info Intel enters mini-computer fray with Core i5-powered NUC Intel's Core i3 NUC mini-system bares it all for IDF (hands-on video) Intel's NUC mini-PC internals exposed, available for around $300 in early December The name says it all. Late last year, Intel quietly introduced the Next Unit of Computing (NUC): a miniature, barebones desktop PC that represents a modern take on the traditional beige box. The NUC sits a mere two inches tall and comes nestled within a 4-inch square chassis. It also retails for just shy of $300. Don't let its diminutive size or price fool you, though. The Core i3 system is speedy, stable and more than capable of handling day-to-day computing tasks. Yes, it's a hell of a departure from the noisy monstrosities we lusted after just a few years ago. And it's a lot quieter, too. Before you get too excited, though, let's temper that enthusiasm just a bit. As with any bare-bones kit, you'll need to install your own memory, storage, wireless networking components and operating system. In other words, unless you're willing to get your hands a bit dirty, the NUC isn't for you. And then there's the question of its price, which becomes a lot less tempting once you factor in the laundry list of necessary components. So, is the NUC deserving of its "Next Unit of Computing" title? Let's explore this question together.