by Anton Shilov
11/09/2012 | 02:01 PM
Intel Corp.’s demonstration of next unit of computing (NUC) ultra-small form-factor concept made a splash earlier this year and caused a huge disappointment as Intel only positioned NUC for embedded, digital signage and similar applications. However, Intel has quietly introduced two NUC barebones for consumers and will start to sell them next month in retail. Unfortunately, ultra-small, yet powerful PCs will be quite expensive.
Initially, Intel will offer two NUC barebone kits: DC3217IYE and DC3217BY, both based on dual-core Core i3-3217U microprocessor (1.8GHz, 3MB cache, 17W TDP) with Intel HD Graphics 4000 graphics core and QS77 core-logic. Both barebones have can be equipped with two DDR3 SO-DIMMs, an mSATA solid-state drive and a mini PCIe Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module. The DC3217IYE features two HDMI outputs and 1Gb Ethernet; whereas DC3217BY has one HDMI output, one Thunderbolt port, but lacks 1Gb Ethernet. Interestingly, none of the models has any analogue audio output ports (the company proposes to use DP or TB ports for audio output), which points to the fact that either Intel wants to get rid of analogue completely, or that the NUC is intended for special-purpose use.
Both systems are just 4.59”×4.41”×1.55” (116.6mm*112mm*39mm) in size, yet feature decent microprocessor with advanced graphics core along with multi-monitor capability. All-in-all, technology-wise, Intel NUCs are nothing, but impressive.
Unfortunately, Intel next unit of computing will be pretty expensive. Some sources familiar with the company’s plans indicate that the initial price of the Intel DC3217BY barebone kit (CPU+mainboard+chassis+65W PSU) will cost from $300 to $330 in the U.S. (AnandTech web-site reports about $300 - $320 price-range), some others point to price-points north from $350. The cost of 8GB DDR3 memory, 120GB mSATA SSD, and a Wi-Fi PCIe card adds another $160 or more. As a result, one fully-configured Intel NUC will cost $460 - $500, the price of a laptop that offers comparable performance and feature-set, but which is also equipped with a display, keyboard, optical disk drive and so on.
While Intel NUC ultra-small form-factor systems look neat and should provide impressive performance and features, they are now just too expensive to become mass solutions. In fact, just like Intel said, NUCs will initially become viable solutions for specialized applications, where costs do not matter a lot. For typical end-users, NUCs hardly provide the right price/performance ratio.