back to article Haswell micro: Intel’s Next Unit of Computing desktop PC

Never let it be said that Intel doesn’t respond to criticism. Its first Next Unit of Computing (NUC) micro-desktop, which appeared in the first few months of 2013, wasn’t a bad machine, but it prompted grumbles from reviewers (myself included), about some odd design and packaging decisions. Intel NUC D54250WYK New NUC: all …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Expect the new Apple Mac Mini to be out soon and Haswell based - if the price is the same / similar to the current one it's a pretty good deal and it has it's AC onboard and looks better - I appreciate a lot of these will be tucked away behind TVs etc. but the Mini is a bit neater.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Perhaps you can manage with NO memory, NO hard drive and NO bluetooth / wifi - add those in first before claiming it's almost double the cost. The NUC also has fewer USB 3 ports and no firewire (although less of an issue these days for most).

        Then with the Mac Mini you get OSX Maverics and some pretty decent (and now free) applications. I realise you can get other 'free' OSs but for many users it is far more likely to come down to Windows or OSX and sticking Windows on the NUC would push it very close to the price for the Mac Mini.

        1. Eponymous Bastard
          Mushroom

          @ 2 x AC - Cold water

          Careful, or I'll pour cold water over your tiny erection. Every man needs a small garden shed after all does he not?

    2. Eponymous Bastard
      FAIL

      But it will be a Mac . . . .

      . . . . so it will be made from Satan's DNA . . . .

    3. Dave Walker

      Built in AC a big plus

      Agreed! We just replaced a perfectly serviceable Mini of the previous generation partly just to get rid of the extra brick. With the size of these small form factors I much prefer a slightly bigger machine if it is not twinned with a power brick almost as large.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not to mention that the Mac Mini can take not one but *two* internal 2.5" drives (HDD or flash - your choice), rather than a single mSATA flash card.

    5. chris 17 Bronze badge

      you can buy dual core android powered tv devices/sticks/boxes from ~ £20 on ebay. much less hassle and turns your dumb HD tv into a smart tv.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Have you read the reviews?

        Nearly every one of the micro sized Android powered PC on a sticks I have looked at for under $100 turn out to be buggy crap, though I have yet to play with a Chrome Stick. They are also not a PC in any way shape or form. The article is discussing a full fledged computer that is about the size of a pack of cigarettes.

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Far too expensive

    IMHO.

    The Mac mini also has a load more USB ports.

    I've been looking for some time at replacing the two Asus EB-1008 IEE box servers that I have but have not found anything that comes close on price. sure these run a lot faster but with an SSD inside the EB-1008's run pretty well as it is. My only wish is to have some more RAM. They max out at 2Gb.

    Until these devices drop a lot in price then I'm afraid, it is 'no-sale' for me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Far too expensive

      Plus Thunderbolt as well. Which is a good option for external expansion (it's basically PCI express).

    2. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Re: Far too expensive

      In general, all machines like this are a bit silly as general purpose machines. They represent a set of engineering tradeoffs that are pretty much the opposite of what people at large value.

      1. Steve Todd

        Re: Far too expensive

        Other than not being cheap I think you're dead wrong. The average member of the public couldn't give two hoots about the number of expansion sockets on the motherboard, and they mostly don't care about GPU power unless they're gamers either. Small, quick and quiet are big selling points for them.

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Devil

          Re: Far too expensive

          Small and quiet are only selling points for stupid fanboys that think that Apple invented the low profile PC.

          This kind of machine is far less exciting when you've got stuff from the likes of Alienware, or Dell, or any random white box builder that combines better performance and lower cost while still being sufficiently small and much more maintainable.

          Past a certain point, the extra cost of smaller just doesn't make any sense to the vast majority.

          1. Steve Todd
            Stop

            Re: Far too expensive

            Ask yourself why laptops sell more than desktop PCs. If size wasn't an issue, and performance, cost and upgradeability were all vital then this would be reversed.

            One of these days you're going to figure out that your personal wants aren't representative of the general buying public. You're also making assumptions that I think Apple is the only solution here.

            1. M Gale

              Re: Far too expensive

              Ask yourself why laptops sell more than desktop PCs.

              Because they are shiny and you can take them with you. At least, that's why people were buying them when I was asking them as a computer salesman. Most of the time I'd just find them an appropriate laptop. Occasionally (like when it's obviously for a kid) I'd give it "err.. sure you wouldn't like something less delicate?"

              They usually stuck with their choice. I suppose some commentards here would be trying to hide a smirk at the inevitable smashed-up junk that landed on the service desk three months later.

              As far as the article goes? Hey, might make a nice little box to velcro to the back of a telly. It'll never be a gaming PC, but it might run a web browser. Which makes me wonder, why on earth is the only option £300 for a welded-in i5? Jokes aside, you don't need an i5 for Firefox, and £300 plus adding your own RAM and your own HDD? Bit pricey there.

              That and "the general public" tend to not want to do all that super hyper advanced stuff like "put the memory stick in the slot". They want it all done for them. This box apparently doesn't do that. Oh, and then you need the license for Windows. Good luck trying to sell THAT on its own without Microsoft's special "only if you only sell Windows, and only built into a new PC, and if the motherboard dies you buy a new Windows" discount.

            2. JEDIDIAH
              Mushroom

              Re: Far too expensive

              > One of these days you're going to figure out that your personal wants aren't representative of the general buying public.

              You need to stand in front of a mirror and repeat that.

              1. td97402

                Re: Far too expensive

                So basically you are replying to a well worded point with:

                I am rubber you are glue, what you say bounces off me and sticks to you!

                Jedidiah, I am in the whitebox building business. The market share for highpower, upgradable computers is almost non-existent. The desktops people still do buy are smaller off-the-shelf units that they basically use to obsess over their Facebook & Twitter accounts and maybe do a little web browsing and email. Laptops outsell desktops and have for several years. People buy laptops from me just to sit them on a table and never move them just because they take up less space. Within a year or two, tablets will be outselling laptops and desktops combined. Smaller seems to sell.

                1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                  Unhappy

                  Re: Far too expensive

                  "Jedidiah, I am in the whitebox building business. The market share for highpower, upgradable computers is almost non-existent. The desktops people still do buy are smaller off-the-shelf units that they basically use to obsess over their Facebook & Twitter accounts and maybe do a little web browsing and email. Laptops outsell desktops and have for several years. People buy laptops from me just to sit them on a table and never move them just because they take up less space. "

                  One small point.

                  I'm a touch typist.

                  Most laptops have pretty rubbish keyboards for what I do.

                  And they always will have.

            3. JEDIDIAH
              Devil

              Re: Far too expensive

              > Ask yourself why laptops sell more than desktop PCs

              Laptops are portable and self contained. A NUC is none of those things.

              Some laptops are even far more expandable than this NUC and will run circles around it.

              HELL. I can probably get better hardware in laptop form for less than this NUC.

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: Far too expensive

                >Laptops are portable and self contained. A NUC is none of those things.

                The majority of home laptops never leave the house

                People buy them because they can surf/netflix/email from the couch and don't want either a desk in the living room, or a bunch of cables on the dinner table or have a flat with no room for either.

        2. Oh Homer
          Holmes

          Re: "The average member of the public"

          Anecdotal evidence and personal biases to one side, the metric that genuinely reflects what the public wants is sales figures, and judging by those it's clear that the average member of the public wants small, quiet, mobile, consumer-oriented devices, not anything exclusively tethered to the desktop, especially when their mobile alternatives can also be tethered to the desktop, rendering the consumer-oriented features of actual desktops redundant (e.g. media playback).

          Although there's still a significant enough proportion of the general public engaged in content creation and the gaming FPS arms-race to keep the desktop on life support for a few more years, until mobile devices become powerful enough to be genuine desktop replacements.

          Personally I don't see any reason not to aim for a single device that can do it all and fit in one's pocket.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: "The average member of the public"

            And there is enough businesses still trading to keep desktops in use pretty much forever, because we don't need laptops on every desk.

            At the moment I think a lot of desktop buying is effectively hidden because if we are buying the odd replacement PC it's a refurb.

          2. Jim 59

            Re: "The average member of the public"

            Personally I don't see any reason not to aim for a single device that can do it all and fit in one's pocket.

            That's a lengthy post, did you write it on a smartphone ?

    3. Steve Evans

      Re: Far too expensive

      For a little silent media consumption box to chuck behind the TV and turn your "thick" TV into a "smart" one, it's way too expensive.

      There are plenty of little linux based boxes which can provide a webkit browser and stream your music and movie collection from a network share for far far less.

      Sure they don't have the CPU grunt of this Intel box, but then again it's not needed for this kind of use.

      I doubt it's required to run a thin client either.

      So it can run windows... I guess that's a more unique selling point, but is that really a requirement for the end use I can see this being put to? It just leaves me wondering exactly what the intended end use of this thing really is?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Far too expensive

        > It just leaves me wondering exactly what the intended end use of this thing really is?

        Netflix

    4. kb

      Re: Far too expensive

      Look into one of the AMD Bobcat motherboards. Don't know the UK price but the USA price is around $80 USD and will hold from 4Gb-8Gb of RAM depending on the model. As a nice bonus they have AMD GPUs that can do 1080P so they can be used as media tanks as well as servers. Performance wise I'd put them around 30% higher than what you have due to being OoO chips.

      To get one in a case similar to the NUC you are looking at $189-$350 USD, just depending on what is included in the kit, SSD, wireless, etc.

  3. James 51 Silver badge

    It is expensive for what it is but still a very interesting product. Prefect for a media centre under the tv (any chance of hooking it up to FreeSat?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      re:Freesat

      I've been looking at building a htpc with freeview and it's gets pretty awkward once you start juggling with being able to add a hdd for timeshifting/recording etc.

      I priced up a decent spec box, using a fanless case, 4Tb hdd, dual freeview hd mPCIe etc. and it came back at around £900,

      This can come down by about £300 if I scrimp and save in certain areas, but that's still a lot of money. I've decided to stick with my NAS for now and ordered a dual usb freeview tuner for an old laptop and stuck OpenOLEC on it - I will need to up the internal hdd from 80Gb to something useable, say a 1Tb, and I've got pretty much the same functionality for about £80 extra.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Freesat would require 1, possibly 2 DVB-S2 capable USB dongles. On top of that you would miss out on freesat listings and interactive content. You could probably get listings from somewhere else but for all the effort of lashing it together, why not just buy a freesat box? They're not very expensive, they work and they'd use far less power than a PC.

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        I have a Sky+ box left over from my contract with them and I have the French equivelent of FreeSat as well. I'd like to get rid of two boxes and replace them with one (though how to get the decoder card to work for the French one might be interesting). If the GPU was good enough I might get rid of my xbox as well.

  4. msknight Silver badge

    Worth a look

    My FitPC3 Pro i bought a while ago, fanless and very low power. However, it seems to be starting to suffer heat damage so I'm looking for a replacement. (I can't expect Israel to honour UK consumer law) This just might be the ticket ... if only I could get hold of Intel pre-sales!

  5. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

    Neat in a way, but too "middle ground" for me.

    The thing looks nice, but it's not for me. It couls be a pretty good media center but is way overkill (and over budget) for that, or it could be a nice unobtrusive desktop but is too limited (I like being able to swap parts, add a drive, etc, so full-blown tower it is for me I'm afraid).

    And then there's the power cord, which together with it's (too nice) graphics makes it quite unsuitable for server use.

    Still, nice little machine, I wish it well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Neat in a way, but too "middle ground" for me.

      I'd rather the built in power in the Mac Mini - yes harder to replace if it does wrong but neater and less chance of being pulled out.

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: Neat in a way, but too "middle ground" for me.

        > I'd rather the built in power in the Mac Mini - yes harder to replace if it does wrong but neater and less chance of being pulled out.

        The "tidy" aspect of this is of very little value in the average home viewing setup. On the other hand, putting another source of heat in your HTPC just complicates things.

  6. Richard Wharram

    Is there a version with vPro?

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Not on the Haswell generation, to the chagrin of many. The previous (3rd-gen) NUC product was available in a vPro variant, and I'm sure the next generation product after this will be capable - vPro is too important for Intel to pass up the opportunity...

  7. SnowCrash

    Addition of IR is nice. I've not had too many problems with the previous gen version. Sits under the TV with Servio and uTorrent running and pretty much forget it's there. Nice low maintenance media box.

  8. P. Lee
    Angel

    Form factor has to be everything

    Otherwise you'd use a second hand laptop.

    Quad-core i7, 4 USB, eSATA, displayport, vga, wifi, gbit ethernet, bluetooth, firewire, separate audio in and out, 8G RAM (with room for another 8), s-video for the oldies, DVD drive, dedicated nvidia graphics (drives my 2560x1440 display just fine) and a fold-away screen for AUD500. It also doesn't crash during short blackouts as it still has 20 minutes or so of battery left in it.

    I also picked up an old hp nc8000 series, vga, dvd, 4G RAM, 4 USB, esata, firewire, separate audio, gigE, wifi (streams MPEG2 HD just fine), bluetooth, dedicated ATI graphics for $100. Runs Myth frontend / browsers just fine. It has a multitouch trackpad and 2x3 buttons. As its an hp, it also keeps me warm in winter :) I'm using it for this post. It even has the pgup/pgdn and delete keys in a reasonable place (do ya hear me Lenovo and Apple?)

    I think this product will still struggle. I'm not sure the haswell power savings are going to be a big draw for an always-plugged-in product. I'd have kept the thunderbolt and brought out other chasses which click together. There's no point having a tiny form-factor if your main usage requires a large RAID array of spinning rust.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Form factor has to be everything

      Be quiet about 2nd hand laptops.

      If people realise how much can be done with them for very sensible amounts of money, not only will the prices of old laptops start going up, sales of new kit will fall even further.

      1. Piro

        Re: Form factor has to be everything

        Haha, so true.

        All my laptops are second hand, and brilliant too!

        Anyone who wants something and doesn't scour the second market first for a bargain is a loony.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Form factor has to be everything

          no way. You're the CRAZY one ;)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Power Usuage

    Can we get some power usage statistics? What wattage is it drawing on idle/load?

    I've been using an old atom board as a NAS and would love to replace it with something a bit more powerful but getting useful power usage metrics from specification documents is hard work. Similarly if I'm going to use this as a media player knowing it only draws 20 watts on idle is usefull, I'm not going to leave a machine on 24/7 that draws 500 watts.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Power Usuage

      500 Watts from Laptop hardware?

      I suspect it will be in line with most laptops, I can't see that hardware being more than 90 Watts.

      1. cambsukguy

        Re: Power Usuage

        90W would be seriously high, my laptop has a 65W PSU and the battery can still charge when it is doing hard work (Lenovo, core i5, 3 yrs old with mid-range everythings).

    2. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Re: Power Usuage

      500 Watts? Even my Hex core AMD tower with 10 drives and a discrete video card doesn't draw 500 Watts.

    3. hp

      Re: Power Usuage

      For a comparison the current mac mini PSU is 85W peak and can drive 2 HDDs in the server model. It uses less than 11W at idle.

    4. Adam Foxton

      Re: Power Usuage

      @Steve,

      Rather than random conjecture here's some numbers grabbed from another review: About 4.5w at idle, jumping to 25ishW when undergoing a stressful benchmark test. So perfect for something that'll spend a lot of it's time more-or-less idle (or sat in a loft serving up the occasional file), and an i5 will be more than sufficient for a file server.

      Let me just re-iterate that. 4.5w. FOUR AND A HALF WATTS. On x86. If you kept the use light, you could run this for a couple of hours using the battery from my mobile.

      @Everyone Else

      I don't think he meant that his Atom-based NAS actually drew 500w, just that he wouldn't want to leave something on 24/7 that DID draw 500w.

    5. Ceiling Cat

      Re: Power Usuage

      500 watts? From a laptop-style power brick? not a chance of that happening. Even my old Amiga 500 didn't draw that kind of power, and the brick was twice the size.

      Someone else quoted some real-world figures. I just wish that people wouldn't jump to conclusions, especially conclusions that a little research would show as impossible.

  10. Sproggit

    Meh...

    It looks as though Intel are leaving the best of their kit for others (Apple) to debut. When you look at the best of what's been announced (i.e. Haswell with Iris Pro 5200 graphics) then the only vendor selling actual kit is Apple with the Macbook (inc Air/Pro) ranges that include Retina Display.

    Hopefully 2014 will see availability spread to other manufacturers. When it does, this particular offering will be consigned to the parts bin. Personally, I'd wait for something like a 16Gb, i5, 5200-based Intense, from fit-pc.com. That would be entirely passively cooled (completely silent) and have two digital monitor output ports - likely HDMI and DisplayPort. The 5200 GPU has the bandwidth to comfortably support a pair of 1920x1200 monitors (or a single 2560x1600) and we'll likely also see something with decent optical output.

    This gets us close to an ideal configuration for, say a web developer, with one screen for a browser and one for an IDE, with decent sound output and no noisy fans. I can live in hope, I suppose...

  11. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Desk Clutter

    Its not really big enough to stick a decent monitor on top and you want to be able to access the USB ports easily so it doesn't go on the back.

    And rounded edges encourage things to get stuck underneath!

    Do designers these days live in the real world, or at least pop in to test things?

    1. Glen Turner 666

      Re: Desk Clutter

      Tom7, this is so small you'd mount it on the back of the monitor.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Desk Clutter

        No Glen - you dont as you would be using the USB on it every ten minutes to charge things or wanting access to the audio sockets or something which means after a couple of days of dropping the monitor face down on the desk while you prat about cos you cant get at it - other workstations either side etc - you get a new monitor cos you broke the last one and leave the box on the desk in front of the monitor so you can get to it easily.

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Devil

          Re: Desk Clutter

          > couple of days of dropping the monitor face down on the desk while you prat about cos you cant get at it

          There are these things called HUBS. Perhaps you should look into them.

  12. Nigel 11

    Passive cooling?

    I presume it still has an annoying fan in there somewhere, which is why IMHO it doesn't warrant a premium price. (If I''m wrong and the whole case is metal acting as a passive heatsink, please correct me and I'll reconsider).

    What I want is a passively cooled board that will fit in an ITX case, to replace the Atom D520 I have at present. Having gotten used to silence, I don't want even a whisper of fan noise. Nobody seems to make such a board, though there's an i3 laptop CPU that's loads faster than the Atom and which has much the same TDP.

    Failing which I'll be returning to a mini-tower case with a fan-less PSU and a NoFan heatsink on an ordinary Intel desktop CPU. Small size isn't a killer feature. Silence is.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Passive cooling?

      Hmm, I really want to hide a whoopy cushion under your chair

    2. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: Passive cooling?

      Asaka are shipping a Newton "H" passive case for this NUC soon.

      You can buy the board on it's own and stick it in that.

      The great thing about NUC is you do have some configuration options such as enclosure, connectivity, storage and memory.

      Mine arrived last week but due to a shipping cock-up the mSata only arrived today.

      (EU sourced and had a 3pin EU plug included in the box.

      So far it's looking to be just the ticket for a sitting-room TV connected PC.

      The only annoying thing is the Intel jingle when you open the box.

    3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      No passive cooling!

      Intel's web site makes it clear: active cooling, so it would be useless as a media centre even if it it were not massively over priced for that task. The PSU is rated for 65W (I did not look for the standby power specs). For me, it competes badly against an old laptop or an old ATX box that gets new components every few years. I assume the fan is a non-standard shape, so all £300 goes in the bin when the fan gets irritating. Small size is nice, but space for a 2½" disk would have added some value. (USB3 is fast enough, but it is so wobbly that one peck for a passing platypus causes the file system to get remounted read only).

      Intel have demonstrated they are still good at expensive, loud and excessively fast. To compete with ARM, they need to go for cheap, silent and fast enough. If marketing insist the box has to be under 10mm thick, Intel could ship NUC's with two different lids - a thin one for marketing and a thick one with space for a pair of 3½" disks mounted with big rubber washers.

      1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: No passive cooling!

        Fair point. I should have made this clear in the review - it slipped out somehow. The NUC (new and old) is very quiet indeed, despite the active cooling.

        The new one didn't intrude in the slightest despite being thrashed by PCMarks 7 and 8. The old one is used almost daily for video playback (HD) and doesn't disturb the proceedings at all.

        1. Charles Manning

          Re: No passive cooling!

          "The NUC (new and old) is very quiet indeed, despite the active cooling"

          Until the fan bearings get sad.

          When I look at this box I wonder what the hell Intel is really trying to accomplish. There does not seem to be any "killer app" for this device. Intel don't really seem to know either else they would have got the peripheral mix right.

          A few people might use these for niche applications, but they require special care and feeding. This is never going to be something that gets bought by Joe Punter.

          1. JEDIDIAH
            Devil

            Re: No passive cooling!

            >> "The NUC (new and old) is very quiet indeed, despite the active cooling"

            >

            > Until the fan bearings get sad.

            I've been a low profile PC user for a long time. I used Minis for awhile and then switched over to IONs.

            I will let you know when "the fan bearings get sad".

            My most aggressively cooled machines continue to chug on and not bother the end user with the bionic ears.

          2. Nigel 11

            Re: No passive cooling!

            A thought on the NUC form-factor.

            Intel needs to put more SATA connectors on it, not just one, so that it can be used as the basis of systems that need >1 hard disk. (IMO every system with locally-stored data needs >1 hard disk, for mirroring - at £40 for a HD can you afford not to? ) How much do four SATA connectors cost? Surely on-chip SATA interfaces are (or can be) designed to idle at microwatts if there is no hardware connected to them? There's clearly no great cost to putting six SATA on desktop boards that rarely have more than three of them connected. If there were, they'd leave them out and the minority would buy PCI-X SATA controllers.

            You could connect extra disks by extending the NUC upwards with a section that bolts on top of the NUC box and holds the disks. Keeping the original lid and bolting that on top of the extended NUC would be a nice touch.

            If the form-factor catches on the price ought to drop as NUC-format boards start being made by ASUS, Gigabyte etc., along with cases for passive cooling, multiple disks, etc. in various different shapes.

            Intel set the ATX PSU format and the common desktop motherboard formats ATX, mATX, ITX. OTOH they failed to persuade anyone that BTX PSUs were a good idea. Standard form-factors are a good idea in principle.

            1. Tom 38 Silver badge

              More SATA

              Why not go the whole hog Nigel, and whack a mini-SAS connector on the back so you can hook it up to any SAS expander of your choice.

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      3. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: No passive cooling!

        > Intel's web site makes it clear: active cooling, so it would be useless as a media centre even if it it were not massively over priced for that task.

        pppffftt...

        My projector generates more fan noise than any of my other AV components including the HTPC.

    4. Nigel 11

      Re: Passive cooling - FOUND!

      For the record, if anyone finds this post with Google, I have at last found my passively cooled ITX board with a faster CPU than an Atom. It's a Gigabyte GA-C1037UN-EU. The -EU is important because there is another variant with a fan and (I presume) a wimpier heatsink and/or a different BIOS that will moan if the fan isn't present.

      The CPU is a Celeron 1037U, 17W TDP, which CPU benchmarks about 2.5x my Atom. It also takes up to 16Gb of DDR3 which should save on disk IO. The board (incl CPU) is inexpensive (£72 incl VAT and shipping) and even boasts 3 x SATA (one of which SATA-3, great for an SSD), USB3, and one E-SATA.

      Fingers crossed. Intel shouldn't be marketing these chips as Celerons. They should market them as low-wattage low-end Ivy Bridge i3 (which they are), or even as faster Atoms. There's a Haswell version coming "soon", but I decided not to wait for it.

  13. MacroRodent Silver badge

    power cords

    "Intel only left the cord out so it could reduce the size of the packaging - it can’t have saved it much money."

    Could another reason be that the power sockets used around the world vary? Perhaps they thought this was a clever way to side-step the issue, but obviously annoying to buyers, so they reverted it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: power cords

      Not sure if you read the article but it reviewer said that was the case in the previous version but not in this new version.

      1. MacroRodent Silver badge

        Re: power cords

        Not sure if you read my comment, but I did note they reverted the decision to omit the power cord.

  14. Tannin

    It is a simple sum. Too small to upgrade + impossible to repair = consumer junk. Forget it. Buy a real computer. Or, if you need the portability, buy a laptop, even a tablet. This is a product with huge disadvantages and almost nothing there to justify them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The point is you can attach it to the back of a TV and put it in places you could not realistically put a laptop or normal sized PC. As for upgrade - I'm guessing you are insisting it support at least 2 high end GPUs, a quad socket motherboard and RAID array.

      As for 'repair' - what is there really to repair - a motherboard with a load of embedded components which most people would be unable to repair anyway.

      it's a very small, quiet and (I assume) power efficient PC that would suit very many people who do not need a hulking box cluttering up the place.

      1. cambsukguy

        All you have to plug into the TV is an HDMI cable; the machine can be almost anywhere else. Not to mention that one can send video to the TV via DNLA pretty easily anyway; which gives the advantage of using the TV remote to control the video

        1. pyite

          The problem is that you can't play the video well without NVidia. There needs to be a way to get decent video hardware on this thing, even a 9400m would be a big improvement.

          1. Tom 38 Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            The problem is that you can't play the video well without NVidia. There needs to be a way to get decent video hardware on this thing, even a 9400m would be a big improvement.

            100% agree - nvidia make the best HTPC video cards, £20, passively cooled and can decode 4k H264 without even thinking about it. You then don't need a 2.5GHz quad core CPU, literally any CPI will do.

            Perhaps on windows there are other options, for *nix the only choice is nvidia.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You mean just because it does not suit your need it's junk and would not suit anyone?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That's the whole point - it doesn't meet anyone's "need". It's just a goldplated luxury product that doesn't do anything that a cheaper alternative can't.

        A fool and his money are soon parted...

  15. jb99

    If only

    If only the graphics were better this would have made a really nice steambox.

    1. Archivist

      Re: If only

      I agree. That's the failing of the Mac mini too. Seems like none of the small computer solutions can beat a cheap media player for smooth video playback at 24 and 25 frames per second.

    2. Mnot Paranoid

      Re: If only

      There are going to be some very sweet Steamboxes coming soon once the Tegra K1 goes into full production. Nvidia's Unreal 4 engine demo the other day was doing it for me.

  16. cambsukguy

    What is/are the use case(s) for these things?

    Still not sure. I have two old, working laptops now, still don't use one as a NAS or a spare desktop etc.

    I have a ordinary laptop, I run a 10m HDMI cable to my TV.

    It works without problems and would be ok for almost any sized room. I don't have Netflix on the TV so I run it on the laptop, the UI is simpler to use anyway since the TV doesn't have a keyboard (although it can).

    The TV has freeview so I don't need a separate tuner, many TVs have this feature I believe. This TV also allows a normal USB hard drive (or stick) for DVR use. I plugged a standard 1TB WD drive that was super cheap to do DVR work, the only downside is the poor Samsung interface.

    I occasionally use iPlayer et al, they work better on the laptop also. Having the TV as a second screen is good for looking at youtube videos together.

    I am also able to use my laptop as a computer, surf the web and edit documents, write mail etc., all at the same time.

    The laptop can be kept on for very little money, I can access it remotely from my phone if absolutely required (it rarely is anymore).

    If torrent downloads were not super fast now and TV not that important, I could remotely control my uTorrent client.

    I can have massive storage wirelessly or attached to the laptop but there is little need to keep a large library of video ready all the time.

    I get that some people do want different things but is there a need to have a computer you have to remotely access in order to do things like download something or run Netflix?

    So, as a nice small desktop a la mac mini for those with limited space who don't want a laptop for some reason, yes. But I fail to see the NAS thing, never have.

  17. Peter X
    Thumb Down

    Too expensive

    It looks a useful product but once all the extra bits have been added, it's waaay too expensive.

    I know they're not directly comparable, but how can the Acer C720* only cost £200 and include memory and storage (yeah, I know!!) and a screen, keyboard, trackpad, wifi and battery when this thing costs half as much again even before you can use it?

    If Acer stuck the C720's mobo on it's own in a box, I'd buy that instead... but I expect if they did, I suspect it would some how end up costing more. I guess we probably need more/better ARM based competitors to drive prices down.

    * http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/01/01/acer_c720_chromebook/

    1. vagabondo

      Re: Too expensive

      The Aceer Revo range of net-top boxes are directly comparable, and cost in the range of £200 complete with RAM and HDD. We have been using them (both Intel and AMD versions) as the mainstream desktop boxes for a few years. For us a major plus is being able to buy them without MS licences (recent ones came with FreeDOS) or EFI lock-in.

      I just wish that we could buy VDU screens with integrated DC power supplies to cut down on the cables.

  18. Zot

    That GPU score is terrible, does it handle BluRay streaming ok?

  19. Dr_N Silver badge

    NUC Haswell passive cooling enclosure:

    http://www.akasa.com.tw/update.php?tpl=product/product.detail.tpl&no=181&type=Chassis&type_sub=NUC&model=A-NUC03-A1B

  20. Peter Johnstone

    Why no TV Capture?

    Why do all these so called multimedia products never include a TV capture card?

    1. Zot

      Re: Why no TV Capture?

      Good call. They probably ran out of space, and price limit. Then they cut out the leased used thing, or what was considered the least used thing.

      Or perhaps it's the HDCP High-Bandwidth Digital-Content Protection!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why no TV Capture?

      Do mean Video capture, or an actual Tuner? If a Tuner, which type? DVB-T? DVB-T2? DVB-S? DVB-S2? DVB-C? ATSC? Cable-Card? Lots of different varieties, all of which are available as USB or network connected devices, so there's no need to build them into a device that already has a pretty small market.

      If you meant Video capture then you run up against the issues of HDCP.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A fundamental question for new hardware

    Does it have an NSA/GCHQ seal of approval?

  22. loneranger
    Thumb Up

    Nice review

    I'm all for shrinking the size of the desktop. Just don't mess with my 23-inch monitor and full-size keyboard!

    This kind of machine will work fine for most people, but there will always be people who want more options and more power, like 192 GB of memory for graphic artists. They will be wanting a regular desktop.

    Thanks for the good review.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too pricey!

    the ARM-based media boxes are around $90 in he US, and Chromecast is $35. This is far cheaper than NUC, which begs the question of what the unit is for. If a replacement desktop, it's better to buy a tablet or mobile. If media center it's better to go ARM!

    I can't see NUC being a real winner.

  24. pyite

    NVidia video required

    NVidia has by far the best support for hardware decoding -- how do you get NVidia video onto this device?

    NVidia seems to be doing a terrible job of hardware support these days, I don't see an upgrade path for my Atom 1 unless I give up VDPAU.

  25. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Headmaster

    Strange

    Having owned a mac mini for years I wasn't even aware that intel (who also supplies the CPU for the Mac Mini) made their own desktop bricks. Looking at the specs and the prices Intel's offering is rather feeble. I find this all strange and a waste of time and effort.

    1. Eponymous Bastard

      Re: Strange

      Never mind bless you. Make yourself a nice warm drink and head off to bed with a good book. Nighty night!

    2. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Re: Strange

      > Having owned a mac mini for years I wasn't even aware that intel

      PCs have had standardized low profile form factors since before Steve came back. Some of us even suggested these as alternatives to the "desk lamp" Macs back in the day.

  26. Hans 1 Silver badge

    Why USB and audio ports on the front ??? They could ship jack 3.5 extension lead and usb extension leads ... I do not even need them, have gathered many over the years ... a USB hub is another option as noted above.

    It does look a bit like a "smaller" original mac mini. I want a more powerful raspberry pi (dual/quadcore CPU) with 2 Gb RAM - just enough power to do interesting things (internet browsing/movie playback), for minimal power draw and tiny form-factor.

    For the occasional gamer, this will be better than a raspberry pi, as the intel HD graphics now allow moderate gaming ... ok, it is not a dual SLI gamer monster, but looking at the kids, you can get minecraft to run pretty well on it ...

  27. b166er

    Just need to wait for Zotac to put Haswell in their Zbox. Much better value.

    <edit> They already have. ID91, ID92, IQ01 (Plus models come with memory and storage)

  28. Michael Brian Bentley

    I'd get one of these immediately if it had two wired network ports.

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