When it comes to ports, the NUC 9 Extreme offers most of what you'd expect from a desktop. And the same is true of its performance: This thing screams. While playing Destiny 2 in 1080p with maxed out settings, I saw between 120 fps and 140 fps. The Hitman 2 Mumbai benchmark, reached a solid 101 fps in 1080p as well. It was a decent 4K performer as well -- as long as I lowered its graphics settings to mid-range quality. I clocked around 70 fps while playing both games in 4K once I did that. As for benchmarks, the NUC 9 Extreme blew past every system we've tested over the last few years, even HP's powerful Envy 32 all-in-one.
And even though all of the NUC 9's hardware is crammed together in a very tight space, it stayed reasonably cool, without making much noise. The Compute Element features a vapor chamber cooler and an 80mm fan, while a pair of 80mm exhausts pull heat from the top of the case. It's definitely not a silent system while gaming -- you'll also hear plenty of fan noise from the GPU -- but it's far quieter than the mid-tower desktop I run every day. Temperatures were also impressive: The CPU never jumped beyond 70 Celsius during my testing, and the GPU only occasionally touched 80.
At this point the NUC 9 Extreme might sound too good to be true. It's fast and almost as flexible as a normal desktop. But there's a downside, and it's a big one: It'll cost you dearly. The high-end Core i9 kit we reviewed starts at $1,639, and that's without a graphics card, memory, storage and an OS. Everything else in our system -- an RTX 2070 GPU, a 320GB Intel Optane SSD, a 2TB Kingston SSD, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and a copy of Windows 10 Professional -- brings the total cost to an eye-watering $3,100.