Haswell comes to NUC

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The NUC evolution continues, with the Haswell i5-4250 in this D54250WYK providing incremental savings in power and similar boosts in performance over last year's Ivy Bridge i3-3217U in the NUC DC3217BY. An idle power level of just 6W and typical use power barely into two digits is very impressive in one sense; in another sense, it's what you find in current Ultrabooks using similar components. As with such laptops, in normal use, the acoustics of this NUC remain unobtrusive enough to be trivial. If the NUC represents the future of mainstream desktop computing (other than gaming), then the line between desktop and mobile computing is so blurred as to be nonexistent.

The generous inclusion of four USB 3.0 in the D54250WYK is welcome, albeit with some misgivings about the surprisingly anemic performance. Admittedly, this will not impact real transfers with a single USB drive. This model, with both mini HDMI and mini DisplayPort connections, offers multi-monitor support, and up to 4K on a single monitor with either video port. All this plus the gigabit LAN to access a high capacity file/media streaming server makes this NUC a near-ideal Media PC. Thunderbolt is not supported through the DP port as it was in the DC3217BY, but the multiple USB 3.0 ports are probably more practical alternative for most users.

Pricing remains a bit high compared to a similarly equipped mini-ITX system, but we've always paid more for miniaturization. As many of you know, Intel partner Gigabyte's BRIX line is directly competitive with and very similar to the NUC, but at time of writing, pricing of equivalent models is really no different and perhaps even a bit higher. One expects a few more players will come into this market, and the tendency will be for competition to put downward pressure on price. Interestingly, the similarly featured NUC D34010WYK kit, with i3-4010U and Intel HD Graphics 4400, typically sells for $300, which seems like a considerably better deal.

The Intel NUC has obviously carved out a spot for itself in the tech consumer marketplace. The D54250WYK iteration is solid but screams for a bigger case to take advantage of that SATA 6 G/s port. You can easily guess that I'm awaiting a new ML300 chassis from Logic Supply to transplant the innards of this NUC into, along with a high capacity 2.5" drive, perhaps one of the new 1 TB 2.5" WD Reds. Then we'll see whether my trusty old AMD 785G mATX HTPC setup survives the comparison.

Our thanks to Intel for the NUC sample.

Intel NUC D54250WYK wins the SPCR's Editor's Choice Award

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Articles of Related Interest
Logic Supply LGX ML300 Fanless NUC
Logic Supply LGX AG150 Fanless Mini PC
Sapphire Edge HD3: AMD E-450 Mini PC
Intel Next Unit of Computing Kit DC3217BY

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