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Intel made a high-end reference design laptop for small brands to copy

The company's partners will start selling NUC M15 systems in 2021.
Kris Holt, @krisholt
November 19, 2020
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Intel Corporation
Intel Corporation

Intel is expanding its line of NUC (Next Unit of Computing) systems with its latest laptop reference design. Its partners will be able to sell the NUC M15 with their own branding and configurations. The laptop kit could give smaller brands another way to take on big hitters like Dell and HP.

While pricing will be up to Intel's partners, the company told The Verge the M15 will likely sell for between $1,000 and $1,500, depending on the specs. It should be available early next year.

The laptop includes an 11th-gen Core i5-1135G7 or i7-1165G7 processor with Iris Xe integrated graphics, and a standard or touchscreen 15.6-inch 1080p IPS display. You can opt for 8GB or 16GB of RAM, though you won't be able to upgrade the memory later. Intel says the 73 watt-hour battery should provide up to 16 hours of use on a single charge.

The M15 boasts dual Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 Type-C ports (either of which you can use for charging), a pair of USB-A 10Gbps ports, an HDMI port and a 3.5mm headphone jack, but no SD card reader. It weighs 3.64 pounds and it's 0.59 inches thick. 

The system also includes an LED light bar that glows blue when you're using the Windows Alexa app — the M15 has four built-in microphones that can detect your voice from across a room. The laptop's webcam is compatible with Windows Hello, so it can use facial recognition for logins.

The NUC line is best known for mini-desktop PCs. However, this isn't the first laptop Intel has made under the NUC umbrella and supplied to smaller brands. It pulled a similar trick with the MAG-15 gaming laptop in 2019. Intel told The Verge it's likely to make more NUC laptops for brands to sell.

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