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May 24, 2019

NUC Me

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

Intel’s Next Unit of Computing, or NUC, is pretty darn cool. It’s something I thought about years ago, when I wrote that given you don’t always need a new mouse, monitor, or keyboard. A computer system upgrade involves pretty much the console. And the console on a NUC is pretty dern small.

Earlier this year, I’d been looking to replace a computer. It’s my main writing computer, which I use only for work; the system has no games or other fancy software. I had been using Parallels, a PC emulator on my Macintosh. But I wanted the full speed and power of a desktop.

I figured I’d get another desktop PC, a console box like the other systems in my office. But I also looked for something small footprint. Again, I didn’t need any expansion slots, an optical drive, or anything that required a big box.

Stopping by my local computer shop, the proprietor showed me the NUC. It’s the size of a jewelry box, yet packed with an Intel core i7, an SSD, and superfast memory, shown in Figure 1. I was hooked.

Figure 1. The core i7 NUC, which is a bit larger than your typical NUC.

The NUC had all the ports I needed, plus Bluetooth and WiFi. I could just connect my existing monitor, keyboard, and (wireless) mouse. I was set — and thrilled. The thing performs beyond my wildest dreams. It’s quite fast and it drives Windows 10 well.

In fact, so enthused was I that I returned to the store to buy another one, shown in Figure 2. It’s a more traditional NUC, with a size of about 4-by-4 inches and just over 2 inches tall. This model had a core i3 in it, which I feared was too slow. Yet with the SSD and fast memory, the thing blazes.

Figure 2. A more typical NUC size-wise. This beast is quite capable.

I setup the second NUC for my son to use when he visited over spring break. He downloaded a few games and played some online games on the system. Amazingly, it was up to speed on everything. He commented that the graphics weren’t what he was used to, but his observation makes sense given the powerful display adapter he’s used to on his desktop system. Beyond that, the NUC handled everything just fine.

So, yeah, I’m hooked on the NUC. I think it’s an amazing solution for so many uses. In fact, it won’t surprise me if businesses start replacing their clunky desktop consoles with NUC-like systems in the future. It just seems such an effective way to run a desktop system, especially when you don’t need expansion slots or other fancy upgrades.

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