A Quick Guide to the Intel NUC
The Intel NUC, which stands for Next Unit of Computing, is a miniature personal computer with a compact, minimalistic shape suitable for holding in one hand. The Intel NUC system delivers the power of a standard PC while leaving behind a minimal footprint with few wires. Depending on the model, the Intel NUC is suitable for multimedia, internet browsing, office applications and some limited gaming, although some models are for edge servers and workstations as well; browse the selection at eBay for the right one to meet your needs.
How do you choose the right Intel NUC?
There are eight generations of NUC devices generally corresponding to the generation of i3, i5 or i7 Intel processors inside, although some models, especially the early generation ones, contain a Celeron or Atom processor instead. Intel offers three types of NUCs: fully operational computers, standalone motherboards and NUC kits without RAM, storage and an operating system. The latter two require quite a lot of work to get them running. The Intel NUCs can vary widely in performance and feature set, but you should generally look out for the following features:
- Maximum memory - All Intel NUC models have a maximum allowable memory, which is crucial to know if your kit does not come with RAM. Intel NUCs are compatible with SO-DIMM cards, which are for computers with small form factors.
- Display output - The most common display outputs are HDMI, DisplayPort and Thunderbolt. Certain models may have only one or all three. VGA is also offered on select models.
- USB ports - The Intel NUC has up to four USB 3.0 or 3.1 ports. USB 2.0 was also an option up until the third generation.
- Networking - The Intel NUC offers Gigabit Ethernet in all models. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth also became standard starting with the fifth generation.
- Internal bays - Most Intel NUC models should come with an internal 6cm SATA bay for connecting a storage device. An M.2 drive became standard starting with the seventh generation.
Does the Intel NUC have an integrated or dedicated GPU?
Most NUC devices have an integrated Intel graphics processor, which is a GPU that shares RAM with the rest of the computer. These GPUs can be identified by the moniker HD Graphics, which can output or stream video in regular high-definition or UHD Graphics, which can output or stream video at ultra high-definition. Other common names for integrated GPUs include Irish Graphics, Iris Pro or Iris Plus. Certain eighth-generation Intel NUC models do have a dedicated graphics card instead, which is a GPU with dedicated memory. Dedicated graphics cards are more for gaming or professional graphics applications.
What operating system is compatible with the Intel NUC?
The Intel NUC is compatible with Microsoft Windows and most versions of Linux. It is also compatible with the VMware vSphere cloud computing virtualisation platform.
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