Intel’s Next Unit of Computing DC3217IYE Kit on the Outside
We know Intel primarily as a manufacturer of processors, mainboards and solid state drives. However, NUC is not just a mainboard with a processor in it, but an almost complete computer system with not just a mainboard and a CPU and additional controllers, but also a system case. In other words, this is a classical barebone system, where the user needs to add system memory, disk drive and an expansion card if necessary. Of course, Intel NUC system cases are not manufactured by Intel, but are ordered from contractors. Nevertheless, company engineers undoubtedly monitor the entire process closely, so you won’t be disappointed with the quality of the NUC system case.
The design of this compact system case is fairly simple. The skeleton that holds the computer system together is a black anodized frame made of 2 mm thick steel. It is covered with plastic panels at the top and bottom reinforced with metal plates on the inside. The bottom panel has four rubber feet and vent holes.
The top panel is a purely decorative component. It has a storage drive status LED and a Power On button with a built-in diode inside. The top panel has glossy surface (in the negative way), and in our particular sample it is also black, just like all the other parts of the case.
However, besides the DC3217IYE model, which we are discussing today, Intel also offers a DC3217BY model in beautiful burgundy color of the front panel.
Of course, I would like to draw your attention to the size of the Intel NUC system in the first place. It is really hard to adequately describe it, because NUC is so tiny that it can hardly be associated with a fully-functional computer system. And this isn’t because black makes anyone look slender. The dimensions of the Intel NUC, which are 117x112x39 mm, are more common for something like an external optical drive, for instance, that is why your first impression is that this is a toy computer system, but hardly a real one.
However, we are old stagers, and we are already familiar with Zotac ZBOX Nano XS computer with comparable dimensions before, so we were much calmer this time. Moreover, I have to admit that the Zotac system case seemed a little more refined due to contrasting colors and soft glow of the front panel. Intel’s design is not as flirty. NUC looks strict and even brutal, if we could only use an attribute like that for a system case of this size. Nevertheless, NUC will look great not only in the traditional office setup, but can also fit nicely into a living-room environment. Moreover, its small size will make it easy to hide altogether. In other words, the exterior is not a deal-breaker.
All connectors for external peripheral devices have been moved to the side panels. The DC3217IYE model we are discussing today doesn’t have anything on the left and right sides, features only one USB 2.0 port on the front panel, and two USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit network port, two HDMI-Ins and a power out on the back panel. There is also a metal mesh on the back of the NUC, covering the cooling system exhaust.
Not much, really. But the fact is undeniable: Intel didn’t just disregard analog and digital audio ports, but also didn’t equip their system of the future with any quite promising USB 3.0 ports. The issue with the sound ports can be easily resolved by using HDMI outs for sound output. However, the missing USB 3.0 is most likely the results of Intel favoring the new Thunderbolt interface, which is implemented in the NUC DC3217BY model. However, our particular DC3217IYE mini-system didn’t have Thunderbolt support, but also didn’t have USB 3.0. This is a little disappointing, because it means that this Intel NUC system doesn’t support any high-speed interfaces at all, which doesn’t agree well with the whole “computer of the future” concept.
However, since the only peripheral interface in Intel NUC DC3217IYE is USB 2.0, it is a shame that there are only three ports onboard. Two external ports will most likely be taken by the mouse and keyboard, so there will be only one port left for everyday needs. And it means that NUC users will most likely have to resort to a USB hub. Luckily, many contemporary monitors can make up for the lack of USB ports, because many of them offer this additional functionality, too.
NUC system case can be integrated into your workspace in two different ways. It can be used as a traditional desktop system, though it may be really hard to notice on a desk under a pile of papers, for example. Or it can be hung behind the monitor, for example, with the help of an enclosed VESA mounting kit.
NUC is powered via a small notebook type 19 V external power supply unit with 65 W capacity. Our particular sample came with a unit like that made by FSP Group.
Power supply units of this sort are quite common in netbooks where we have seen them multiple times before. So, it would be fair to say that Intel NUC has all the external attributes of a common nettop. But this is only true until you remove the top panel.