Intel Next Unit of Computing Kit DC3217BY

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COMPARISONS

Energy Efficiency

In terms of power consumption, the Intel NUC improves on all the mini computers that came before, except Atom-based Thin-ITX systems. The idle power is lower than any previous tested system, and H.264 playback power draw is among the lowest.

Performance

As the comparison charts below indicate, the Intel NUC outperforms all previously reviewed mini-computers by substantial margins in every category. While not quite up to the performance of a Sandybridge i3-2100 clocked 58% faster, it is far closer to the kind of performance expected of a modern desktop system.


The NUC is nearly on par with the Athlon II X3 on the above benchmarks, and a significant step above the Celeron SU2300-based Zotac ZBOX.



The NUC far outstrips earlier mini computers with NOD32, TMPGEnc and Handbrake benchmarks.

 

Intel HD Graphics 4000

As the graphics engine is essentially the same as the HD Graphics 4000 in desktop chips, we refer you to the GPU benchmarks in our Intel Core i7-3770 Ivy Bridge CPU review. Its 3D performance is on par with the Radeon HD 6550 in the previous gen AMD A8-3850, but still lags behand the HD 7650D and 7660D of the latest FM2 socket chips from AMD. This GPU is good enough for causual online gaming, but it isn't a great experience in most modern gaming titles except at lower resolution and detail settings. Video playback is smooth on 1080p content including H.264 MKV/MOV and Flash (YouTube HD).

SSD

The mSATA Intel 525 180GB SSD supplied for the review is a new 6 GB/s model based on a SandForce chip, and not detailed at Intel's site. The essence of the single page product sheet supplied with the review sample is shown below. The Intel SSD Toolbox v3.1.1 confirmed basic data about the SSD and that the firmware is up to date.



A couple of runs of CrystalDiskMark showed that the Intel 525 180GB SSD is very speedy and compares well to the latest 2.5" SATA 3 SSDs.

 

USB 2.0

The native USB 2.0 controller is typical. A SandForce SSD (Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB) was used with CrystalDiskMark to check the performance.


 

ThunderBolt

It would have been interesting to check out Thunderbolt performance but we have no ThunderBolt devices in the lab at this point. We'll accept the claim that a single Thunderbolt port supports hubs as well as a daisy chain of up to six Thunderbolt devices, with 10 Gbit/s per device of peak bandwidth in either direction. That exceeds the capability of any storage device we have on hand, however, and calls for something like a RAID 0 combination of perhaps a half dozen high speed SSDs. So testing Thunderbolt performance limits is a futile task for us at this point, but you can be assured that if you opt for a ThunderBolt equipped external SSD or HDD, it will perform as if it was connected internally to a SATA3 port. A good USB 3.0 implementation can also offer similar performance, though, at lower cost than ThunderBolt.

Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 PCIe Half Mini Card

The Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 PCIe Half Mini Card supplied for the review deserves a mention. This 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless ethernet card can be found online for just over $20. In this NUC, it is the only practical access point to your home or business network and the internet. On our 802.11c network provides up to 300 Mbps in theory, but we rarely see such speeds. In the NUC, perhaps in conjunction with the antenna built into the chassis, the card provided consistently high speeds of >140Mbps over 30' and a wall or floor distance from the router.



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