The Intel NUC 10 is a mini powerhouse contained in an 11.7 x 12.2cm diminutive ‘Next Unit of Computing’ chassis. It has a powerful Intel Core 10th generation processor, Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, Wi-Fi 6 AX/BT 5.0 and all the go-fast bits you could want.
The Intel NUC 10 is for people that need power in a small space. Its main uses are as a media PC for home theatre, as a thick client to attach to a monitor back, commercial signage and anyone that wants a small, unobtrusive PC. I have seen them used in aircraft, tractors, mining trucks/rigs, caravans/motorhomes and more. The no fan and rugged design makes them ideal.
To review it requires you to understand its flexibility – a smorgasbord of options.
NUC 10 is the series, and we will put all the options at the end of the article.
Two sizes – both 117 x 112mm x 38mm (no room for a hard disk) or 51mm (for a hard disk)
But wait there is more. You can get a kit with the chassis and motherboard only – call that FNH (51mm) or FNK (38mm) or a fully built mini PC
240V – 19V/6.32A’ brick’ (120W) for i7 and 19V/4.2A (90W) for i3/i5. The only problem is that it’s almost as big as the NUC.
Processor (all with 25W TPD) Passmark is a reference to speed (higher is better)
Two SODIMM slots (notebook size) for DDR4 dual-channel 1333 (2666Mhz) to a maximum of 64GB in total
M2.2242/80 PCIe NVMe Gen 3×4 (takes SATA III, NVMe or Intel Optane M10 and H10 Hybrid)
2.5″ SATA 3 bay (on 51mm chassis)
Full-sized SDXC UHS-III slot
HDMI 2.0a (4K@60Hz)
Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps) supports ALT DP for two external 60Hz displays
USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 PD 2.0 (10Gbps)
3 x USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps)
3.5mm combo audio
There are to USB 2.0 via internal headers
Features (All) – there are no PCI expansion ports
Intel 4K UHD Graphics
Wi-Fi 6 AX 20 VHT 160 2×2 MIMO
7.1 multichannel audio over HDMI or Thunderbolt 3
Beamforming far-field quad mic array (presumably for Cortana or Alexa)
To kit or not to NUCkit?
Intel usually bundles the complete mini PCs at quite competitive prices, but for my last two, I have built from the kit. As there is only the cost of Windows (or Linux), memory and storage its pretty easy to compare.
Price: NUK 10
As these are a new line (earlier models are still available), the pricing here is indicative only form mmwave.
i3 kit FNK/FNH $529
i5 kit FNK/FNH $649/659
i7 kit FNH $939
A top specified i5/i7/64GB/2TB/Win10 Pro is $1969/2289.
Review – Intel NUC 10i7FNH
Because of the flexibility, it is tough to review the NUC so we will test what we can.
HDMI 2.0 – EXCEED
It can render and transfer a 4K@30fps movie in 10-bit colour with Dolby Vision and Atmos, so it is definitely faster than HDMI 1.4 that tops out at 24fps and 8-bit colour.
Thunderbolt 3 – EXCEED
Docks – The unit needs 120W power from its dedicated brick supply.
You can use any Thunderbolt 3 (don’t use the passthrough power feature) and have 40Gbps bandwidth to share. It runs twin 4K@60fps monitors and supports external SSDs to their maximum data transfer rates. Here any Thunderbolt dock is fine – We tested with Kensington and ATEN. It supports dual 4K@60Hz monitors (one via the dock and the other via USB-C) and a single 5K@60Hz.
We tested with an Aten USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 5Gbps dock – again ignoring the power passthrough and could run dual 1080p@60Hz monitors and all USB peripherals at maximum rated speed.
Wi-Fi 6 AX/BT 5 – EXCEED
It achieves 1.2Gbps at 3 metres from the reference NETGEAR AX12 router. It gets 866Mbps on a standard Wi-Fi 5 AC router.
BT 5.0 is 3Gbps and has good range to 30 metres.
Speeds – EXCEED
Suffice to say that the i7 6-core is a stellar performer with 6-core at a PassMark of 10148. It offers workstation performance, but the Intel UHD graphics are not strong enough for heavy gaming, video editing etc.
The i5 4-core at 6635 will handle all office work as well as a 4K media centre/ It is the sweet spot for the price.
The i3 2-core is fine for things like signage and process-oriented work.
But above all – and way better than a laptop using these processors – there is no throttling! You get what you pay for – not 60-80% as most’ U’ series laptops provide.
Power – EXCEED
Perfect – 9.8W at idle and up to 98W at 100% load.
Setup – EXCEED
It’s a typical Windows setup, but I really like the web-based Intel Advisor that keeps drivers and firmware up to date.
GadgetGuy’s take – NUC 10 – NUC me!
I continue to be impressed with the NUC. Each series gets better, but I have two 7th and 8th gen units running as 4K media servers, and they have run 24/7/365 for years.
While these are evolutionary changes, the addition of HDMI 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3 makes them ideal for almost any use.