With its 11th Gen processors, Intel is upgrading its Next Unit of Computing (NUC) lineup of mini computers. It includes a gaming-focused design again. The NUC 11 Fan is a follow-up to 2018’s NUC 8 Hades Canyon, which seemed to cram triple-A gaming output into a tiny enclosure (not to mention I/O rivalling a full-size desktop).
The upgrades to the company’s more conventional small-cube NUC Efficiency Mini computers, which formerly had 10th Gen processors, are included in the update. The update adds graphics with Wi-Fi 6 and Intel Xe to the i5 and i7 versions. An NUC Pro line has also been introduced by Intel, some of which have vPro-enabled CPUs and can all drive 8K displays. Also there is a computing unit for NUC 11, which is only a board planned to be built into future computers. It’s not the first time that Intel has had that notion, but in just a bit, we’ll get deeper into that.
However, along with their size, NUCs are notable, and although the Performance and Pro lines are actually very thin, they are more incremental improvements to what we have already had before.
“The NUC 11 Enthusiast, codenamed “Phantom Canyon,” offers gaming performance with a 28W i7-1165G7 quad-core and an RTX 2060 that was obsolete the day before the machine was announced by Intel. It also retains the packed I/O that made it special for the past generation, plus two Thunderbolt 4 ports, 2.5 Gb Ethernet, a whopping six Type-A USB 3.2 ports, and Wi-Fi 6. Due to the addition of a Mini DisplayPort 1.4 performance, the lack of HDMI 2.1 (it has only 2.0b) can be somewhat forgiven. And all this fits into an environment about the size of a bulky book.
The Enthusiast also has Xe integrated graphics, like the other NUC versions, which should be nice for streamers or creative professionals enjoying the Fast Sync video encoding tech from Intel. While it’s a shame for the almost-up-to-date graphics card, in an utterly portly box, the machine can still have a decent amount of gameplay output.
Intel has a strong tradition of attempting to turn the NUC into a full-sized mini gaming Machine. With a sparkling skull emblem emblazoned on the end, it also partnered up with AMD to bring specialized Vega graphics into the NUC 8. It was obviously hoping to cater to gamers rather than office staff.