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  • RealNinja - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    Maybe not the most exciting computer around, but...would probably be more than sufficient for > 90% of office work-loads (email, word processing, spreadsheets, etc) Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    I actually have one of the first gen NUCs with the Core i3. My wife uses it in her home office and it works perfectly for what you mentioned. I have 2 1080p monitors hooked up to it via the HDMI ports. Reply
  • nevertell - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    Intel is basically trying to miss every single possibility to increase thunderbolt adoption by not including it on all of their NUC's. Reply
  • darwinosx - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Yeah what the hell Intel...they sure are screwing up thunderbolt and TB 2 is great. Reply
  • ddriver - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Even a puny ARM SOC at 1/5 of the price of this product can handle 90% of the computing needs of the general population - messaging, browsing, media consumption and casual gaming. Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    I am sorry, but I could not disagree more. Your evaluation is probably based upon your mobile web experience on your smartphone. Most "normal" websites, the kind that you like to visit when you are siting behind a desktop, feel very slow on our Atom based pc (1.8 Ghz N2800) and reading some PDFs with some pictures is pure horror. And do not even try to print a word document with 20 pages ... that takes minutes. You would be surprised how fast you miss the high single threaded performance of modern CPUs. Reply
  • thexile - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Double negative. So you actually agreeing with ddriver. Reply
  • skifiddle - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Not goes with more, more than with disagree. Reply
  • wperry - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Step 1) Make sure you're right
    Step 2) Be a smartass

    You neglected Step 1.
  • bji - Sunday, January 05, 2014 - link

    I can't believe that people actually argue about such ridiculously stupid things.

    "I could not disagree more" means that I am already disagreeing the maximum amount possible -- if I could disagree more, I would; but I can't because I already disagree as much as possible. Get it?
  • chrnochime - Sunday, January 05, 2014 - link

    Burned haha. Go ask this question on any english forum worth its salt and realize how wrong you are LOL Reply
  • andrusoid - Thursday, January 09, 2014 - link

    Not a double negative. Read a book, preferably one concerning grammar and english usage. "So you actually agreeing with ddriver." Something's missing. By the way, "dis" is not negation. (This is not a double negative statement, as well.) Reply
  • theangryintern - Friday, January 10, 2014 - link

    That sounds like a confession to me. In fact the double negative has led to proof positive. I'm afraid you gave yourself away. Reply
  • ddriver - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    You can be sorry and disagree all you want but this will not change the facts.

    That particular atom chip is a POC, slower than even mid-range contemporary phones, with terrible GPU (cripples browser rendering performance) and running a bloated OS. I have very smooth experience with both "desktop" websites (I hate crippled mobile versions) and with PDFs sporting high resolution images (here the reader implementation plays a tremendous role) on my phone (note 3) - that type of content is literally FLYING. I haven't been printing from the phone yet, but I am pretty sure it will not take minutes to print a 20 page document.

    And don't think for a moment that I am used to sluggish performance and therefore have lower standards and expectations. My desktop config: i7 3770k 32gb samsung 830 SSD - while 2 years old, by no means a sloth.
  • BehindEnemyLines - Sunday, January 05, 2014 - link

    It makes me wonder why Chrome OS laptops are moving from ARM to Intel x86 (Haswell) if it's "slower than even mid-range contemporary phones"? I mean, Chrome OS started with ARM, and it's pretty lightweight. Reply
  • Gigaplex - Sunday, January 05, 2014 - link

    An old Atom is slow, not Haswell. Reply
  • lhl - Friday, January 17, 2014 - link

    I have both the Samsung Series 3 (Exynos 5) Chromebook and the new Haswell-based C720. Performance difference/day-to-day usability is night and day, the C720 blows aways the ARM Chromebook. While I'd imagine TDP to be slightly higher, the C720 actually has much longer battery life (8h vs 5h) while only being 3-4 ounces heavier. The C720 also has better build-quality, screen, keyboard, and trackpad... Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Sunday, January 05, 2014 - link

    I guess I will have to benchmark it to prove it. You are downplaying the N2800, but it was close enough to a 1.4 GHz Quad Cortex A9 with a 2 MB L2 (Calxeda ECX-1000). That is very similar to the current midrange Phone. In fact, given how bandwidth bottlenecked most ARM CPUs are, the 4 MB L2 would probably give that chip an edge over the current midrange. Reply
  • virtual void - Sunday, January 05, 2014 - link

    There is something about Intels CPU-design vs ARM that does not show in benchmarks like Geekbench and similar. Even the old Z2460 (single core "old" Atom) platform still feels quite snappy when running Android, the "feel" of this SoC is way better than what one would believe when looking purely at benchmarks.

    My guess is that Intels CPU-cache design, especially L2, still is a couple of notch above what any ARM CPU vendor current got.
  • shodanshok - Sunday, January 05, 2014 - link

    I absolutely agree. In the past I tried to show that as benchmark results show, a single Atom Core is quite comparable to anything between one and two A9 cores. However, many poster simply choose to ignore this fact, accusing me to be totally wrong... Reply
  • chrnochime - Sunday, January 05, 2014 - link

    Well if you can kindly point us to an arm equipped device similar in size, with the same kind of ports, that actually runs win8 and is available, by all means post the link. Until then, you can hypothetically speaking all you want. Reply
  • lhl - Friday, January 17, 2014 - link

    Yeah, I'm going to need to call BS on that. I assume that you haven't actually tried using those ARM SoC boards. I've tested most of the "high performance" ones (ODROID-X2 (Exynos 4), Samsung Chromebook (Exynos 5), Wandboard and UDOO (i.MX6 Quad)) w/ Ubuntu. First of all, cost on those are ~$150 w/ cases/power etc, so far from 1/5th the price (that's w/ soldered-in not-enough RAM and no storage). And second, the performance and software compatibility (anything from uBoot issues, to X11 drivers, to Flash Player) make them far less than ideal for general purpose usage.

    The ARM SoCs make for great embedded boards - TDP is great and the IPU/VPU on the i.MX6 is really interesting, but a good experience for Jane User? No way.

    For general computing work, the i5 may be overkill, but a 1037u BRIX retails for $170 (+$40 for a 4GB SODIMM) which is probably where I'd start.
  • misfit410 - Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - link

    After trying the Steam In Home Streaming beta, I think the market for such machines as a secondary gaming station for PC gamers will increase.. if you have a solid gaming machine on the same network, this is all you'd need for playing those games on your TV at full fidelity. Reply
  • asliarun - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    AT and Ganesh, thanks once again for an excellent review. I have a couple of questions and a suggestion:
    Q1. I am planning to build an audio server (optical or usb out from the PC - feeding to the rest of my stereo chain - Audio GD DAC acting as a DAC and preamp, Parasound power amp, and floorstanders). The NUC seems to be the ideal form factor for an audio server. Do you have any thoughts on this? Do you test audio quality (specifically stereo - not gaming audio) during your review and tests? I'm actually not planning to use the DAC of the onboard sound so that actually would not be an issue for me.

    Q2. Another option I have been mulling over is to build a multi-purpose "steam box" kind of a device - that will let me run this SFF PC as an audio server, as an HTPC with XBMC, and will also let me do light to mid-level gaming with Steam big picture. I was actually waiting for Kaveri which I think will actually be more viable - but am not sure how well Haswell's integrated graphics stand up with something like Kaveri or even a graphics card. Especially with thermals and throttling in mind. What are your thoughts on the viability of the NUC in this regard? Do you have any pointers on what one should look at - considering that it should also be a small form factor (shoebox size)?

    S1: This might sound silly, but can you please post pictures of the cabinets and boxes with some other object in the picture as well - to give us a visual perspective of how big/small it is? I see so many pictures of mini ITX cabinets and other HTPC cabinets, but almost all of them lack the size perspective. Looking at the pictures, I have no way to visually judge if it will fit in my media cabinet at all. I have to look at the dimensions every time and it is painful. For example, you could post a picture of the cabinet with a picture of an iPad alongside.
  • Alketi - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    It's a 4.5" square and 1.5" tall. It's TINY. Reply
  • asliarun - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    Thanks. Wow, that is tiny indeed. Slightly OT - I have a Minix Neo X5 which has somewhat similar dimensions and is also fanless. It is actually quite a credible audio (and average quality video) server. However, being on the Android platform and based on some Rokchip version, the lack of software support is frustrating. For example, I wanted to install LMS (Logitech Media Server) so that I can serve audio to my Squeezebox. However, there is no port of LMS to Android that I know of.

    Maybe, I should wait for the Silvermont version of NUC. It is supposed to release in the next couple of months. It can act as a fully fanless audio server. On second thoughts, having gaming expectations from this small a device is not a great idea.
  • Alketi - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    I have the i3 Haswell NUC and use it solely as an XBMC server via OpenELEC. I leave it on all the time, with XBMC set to turn off its display after X minutes. I measured 6W idle on mine, which nicely matches Ganesh's findings.

    And sitting 8-10 feet away, I can't hear the fan at all. It's probably OFF when idling at 6W, and I still hear nothing during a movie (the quiet parts), as the NUC only pulls 13W when playing 1080P video.

    I'm very happy.
  • ShieTar - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    There are already fanless mods of the current NUC, see for example Reply
  • asliarun - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    I have been following fanlesstech for a while. They have written about some very interesting fanless cases. A surprising number of them are for the NUC.

    There's stuff from Habey, Streacom and the like. But also some exotic ones - very good eye candy.

    This one is my favourite for example:

    Personally, I believe that a Bay Trail (especially Bay Trail D) / Silvermont based system is the best fit for a NUC form factor. We could build a very viable system for well under $500, with a system draw in the 10W-15W range that can give us a fully fanless system if we wanted to, and will still have the same horsepower as a Core2Duo system (Bay Trail D). I feel that Haswell is a wrong choice from a cost, heat, and noise perspective.

    Here's an example:

    The only open question is if these Bay Trail based HTPC systems will be capable of full blown HTPC duty. I would think so based on technical specs but real world is another thing entirely.

    Maybe Anandtech could do a review?? :)
  • Wixman666 - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    I believe that the Haswell family is a better solution overall. The on die Intel 5000 video is GREAT. Even though the Bay Trail looks decent, it isn't as well-rounded. Reply
  • CSMR - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Intel will release a bay trail NUC shortly. Should be powerful enough for HTPC tasks but 23.976Hz capability is unknown. Unfortunately it only supports one SATA, so HDD+mSATA is not possible as it is with these Haswell NUCs. Reply
  • Solandri - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    The tiny size is really the only advantage this brings to a HTPC. For $680, you can buy a decent laptop with better specs and similar power profile, and use that as your HTPC. Reply
  • Lundmark - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Yeah, it's very tiny. Here's an image I made for comparisons (based on USB port size on Mac mini's backside).
  • ganeshts - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    Thanks for your kinds words.

    1. For HTPC reviews, we don't test audio quality because the traditional use case is to get digital audio out of the HDMI port and on to the AV receiver for further processing. The on-board DAC is not that important for the living room HTPC, though I can see it being an issue in other scenarios. But, again, I feel that in the other scenarios, ease of use / power etc. take more precedence over onboard DAC sound quality (as long as it is not absolutely horrible).

    2. I wouldn't suggest a box this small (and with this power envelop) for mid-level gaming. Light gaming might be OK. You could consider the BRIX Pro with Iris Pro, but the thermals on that m/c are yet to be evaluated.

    3. Will take that into consideration for future reviews.
  • asliarun - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    Thanks for your reply, Ganesh!

    Even with a digital out, there seems to be a huge amount of variability in terms of jitter. Maybe this is overkill, but I love the fact that you guys do reviews so thoroughly, and would love it even more if you could review sound quality in more detail. IMHO, sound quality is often neglected and people tend to see this as the domain of "audiophiles". However, it is as important (if not more) as video quality on which several pages of a typical review are normally dedicated. All the more because DACs are getting hugely better and more affordable, and so are other components like headphones and amps. In a reasonably "revealing" system, audio quality starts making a big difference. Again, just my two cents.
  • selimnairb - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    When I saw this review, I got excited that this could provide a high-quality Mac mini alternative. However, once you add the SATA, memory, and wireless card, and OS (if you want to run Windows) the Mac mini is a better value, plus you get OS X (if you want that). Even running Linux, this thing doesn't make much sense from a price point of view (unless you really value DIY). Reply
  • purerice - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    True it gets expensive, which is a bummer. A desktop i3 w/ 4400 or 4600 iGPU would be faster than the HD 5000 and cost less. A cheap 2.5" HD would also be about $130 less. Full-sized RAM can be had for cheaper as well.
    I get that NUC = low power, they could easily bring the cost of a complete system down to $500 by making a few small compromises in TDP. For $780 w/Windows you can get an equivalently powerful laptop/convertible that naturally has a screen and more connectivity.
  • dstarr3 - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    The Mac Mini isn't necessarily any better value. Configuring one to the 8GB like this NUC and you're already at the same cost. You then have to upgrade to SSD in the Mini, and that puts you over $1k. The real problem is that these very small systems don't actually cost less than a full-size computer. They deliver less performance at the same cost in the name of form factor and efficiency. Which, y'know, if that's what you value, that's a perfectly reasonable way to spend the money. But, the idea that smaller equals cheaper is certainly an illusion. Reply
  • name99 - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    The interesting point is not that the mini is absolutely cheaper. It's that, even after years of it not being true, we still hear a constant whine about the "Apple Tax". There's value in simply pointing out, repeatedly, that Apple products, whether it's mac mini or mac pro, are comparably priced to the competition. You can find details that are different, but the point is "comparably" priced, not outrageously more expensive.
    What IS the case (which may or may not matter to a buyer) is that Apple doesn't sell low-end stuff --- if you want something comparable to that $350 laptop in Best Buy, well, Apple isn't going to sell you a laptop with those (low-end) specs at that (low-end) price.

    Of course you lose SOME flexibility if you go with a Mac Mini. But you also get some things in return, right now, most obviously, Fusion drive.

    On the third hand, it's kinda a moot point because, for reasons that are unclear, Apple STILL does not ship a Haswell mac mini, so if Haswell is important to you, it's NUC or nothing.
    (My hypothesis is that Apple is delaying the mini update to try as best they can to even out their revenue stream. Right now they have this crazy unbalanced system where they upgrade the laptops as soon as Intel has the CPU ready, so generally Q2, then Q3 they release the new iPhone, Q4 is the new iPad and iMac, plus Christmas and Chinese New Year plus the iPhone delayers who didn't upgrade the day of the release so a FLOOD of cash, then a lean Q1. Post Jan 1 purchases for Chinese New Year help a bit, but if you release a new mini in Q1 rather than Q2,3,4 you do make some small change at the margin to move revenue into Q1.

    We'll see if I'm right soon enough...

    The other thing they could do to even things out would be to establish a pattern of speed bumps for iOS devices in late Q1/early Q2. With their control over the CPU this should now be possible, and establishing a pattern of speed jumping by 10% or so, just a 100 or 150MHz bump, on the 6 month beats would again do something to start shifting revenue and demand across the year. It can't be optimal for productivity to have factories ramp up for such massive demand concentrated into three months, and more idle the rest of the year.)
  • brucek2 - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    In addition to the lack of low end offerings, Apple's value "tax" can also kick in as the months roll by in between their often lengthy refresh cycles. A model that had good components at a reasonable price on the day it was introduced, can sometimes start to look really non-competitive in its 11th month. Reply
  • nico_mach - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    That's why apple fans (repeat customers) purchase their PCs as soon as they're released, which is good for Apple PR.

    I think that difference is seriously overblown, however. The processor details, especially on a desktop PC, are getting more irrelevant.

    For HTPCs, the performance has been good enough for a while.
  • Jan-Willem Arnold - Sunday, January 25, 2015 - link

    Yes, the price will get close to a Mac Mini.
    And then:
    - A Mac Mini will retain its value over time very well. You can sell it after some years for a good price.With a NUC, you can probably forget about that.
    - OSX - which is great.
    - Thunderbolt ports
    - Better case
    - Built in power supply
    - Supports high end audio when you use a DAC, the clock form the DAC can trigger OSX, which is great.
    - Great drivers, everything works out of the box
    - They built it, tested it and will support it for you. Apple takes a lot of responsibility to make sure everything works well together, where other manufacturers offer just the bare hardware and ask almost the same amount.
  • cgalyon - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    I am curious how this compares to the less expensive BRIX models and the less expensive version of the NUC (around $250 at Newegg). Reply
  • hfm - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    I must be the only one that didn't know what the F** a NUC was...

    Even their own site doesn't say unless you can see behind the play button on the video intro on the bottom..

    That said, how is this different from other VESA mount units in the past?
  • xodusgenesis - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    Why would you choose this over a Raspberry PI for XBMC? $45<$600+ Reply
  • Alketi - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    xodusgenesis, the i3 NUC is more like $400, but to answer the question:
    1. Flawless playback of high-bit rate bluray rips.
    2. Support/passthrough for _all_ forms of HD multichannel audio.

    There are others, but those are my main reasons.
  • patterson32 - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    Are there quieter 3rd party fans available? I'd get one of the fanless cases but they're huge and can cost a lot compared to the board. Reply
  • patterson32 - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    I hope this board layout, nano-ITX or pico-ITX gets more popular among motherboard and case makers. Sometimes, I want to put something together that may not actually be super small but want to have a lot of internal space for other things. Reply
  • morganf - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    No comment on the CIR sensor? Did you try testing it with one or more types of remote controls to see how well it works and what it is compatible with? Reply
  • quillaja - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    I have almost this same NUC build (but I went with 16gb RAM and a 240gb Intel SSD). So far I'm quite happy with it. My favorite thing is using DP 1.2 MST to drive 2 monitors. I'm glad all 4 usb ports are USB3, though I don't have any USB3 devices.

    The bad thing I encountered is drivers. Win 8.1 x64 didn't detect and install drivers for the AC7260 wifi card automatically, which of course handicapped the rest of the install due to lack of internet connection. Therefore I had to install most of the drivers manually, which, these days, is pretty lame in my opinion. There are still 3 "unknown" devices in device manager which haven't been addressed by windows.

    I've had this NUC since Thanksgiving, so hopefully MS/Intel have corrected the driver issue I experienced.
  • bigdang - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Which devices are not being recognized? I had some devices not recognized on my box, but I was able to clear those up by downloading drivers from the NUC product support page. I downloaded the Management Engine Driver, the Nuvotron Driver, and (IIRC) the Gigabit Ethernet controller driver. Reply
  • quillaja - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Device manager lists them as "PCI Simple Communications Controller", "SM Bus Controller", and "Unknown device". I strongly suspect the "unknown device" is the IR receiver (Nuvotron). I guessed I could probably get drivers for these devices from Intel's support page, but since not having them hasn't really affected the operation of my PC, I never bothered. I just dislike knowing that things aren't "perfect". Reply
  • jhoff80 - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    The first two happen on any Intel-based PC, not just this one. It's the Intel management stuff. Reply
  • Lundmark - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the review. I'm getting a new HTPC any day now. Should I get the NUC or a Mac mini?

    I like Macs better and I know it will work with my TV's remote control, since it supports Apple remotes. But, apparently, there are issues with 24p both on Intel HD 4000 (which is off by 00,003 fps and thus shouldn't matter?) and OS X, which outputs exactly 24 fps and not 23,976. This causes judder, even if Plex/XBMC is set to match video speed to refresh rate. Apparently, you can fix this with SwitchResX, but it's a hack. I would probably run Windows on the Mac anyway for HD audio support. How serious is the Intel HD 4000 24p "bug", really? 00,003 frames sounds like nothing.

    I'm also interested in what type of IR commands the NUC supports. With the Mac, I know what I'm getting and that it works, but I have no experience with the NUC. Incidentally, I need to find out if the NUC can be made to listen to any of the IR codes in my TV's database. My TV has IR blasters and downloads IR codes from the web, but that requires that the right codes are in the database. If the NUC can listen to an Apple remote, then I know it will work.

    What do you think?
  • DigitalFreak - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    The HDMI full range problem you mentioned appears to be fixed if you do a registry edit.
  • Alketi - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    It's also fixed in the latest OpenELEC nightly builds, if you're considering this as a dedicated HTPC running XBMC. Reply
  • JDG1980 - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    I lost interest in this review when I realized that the system didn't have Iris Pro. Why is Intel so stingy in parceling out this SKU? Are they having yield problems? At this point, for all intents and purposes, it appears to be a rMBP-only part. I did a Google search for the Gigabyte BRIX that's supposed to have Iris Pro, but found only announcement articles - no reviews and no sellers. Has that been released yet?

    I really don't get Intel's strategy with Iris Pro. It's almost like they don't want it to succeed.
  • ganeshts - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    I have a review unit in hand :) Review coming up after CES, may do a quick rundown before that... Reply
  • elian123 - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Great! Really looking forward to that as I'm very interested in the Brix Pro.

    I hope in the review you can shed some light on the performance at 60Hz over displayport on UHD displays such as the Asus PQ321QE.
  • Jeffrey Bosboom - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    I'm also looking forward to the Brix Pro review, but please do some gaming tests in addition to the HTPC stuff. I'm curious how an Iris Pro part compares to a hypothetical Steam box with AMD's integrated graphics or a low-end discrete card. (I'm guessing it'll be thermally-limited, though I don't know what the Brix Pro's cooling is like.) Reply
  • elian123 - Sunday, January 05, 2014 - link

    Definitely interested in thermals of Brix Pro. Where the Brix's U-series CPUs have 15W TDP, the Brix Pro's R-series CPUs have 65W. Reply
  • DanNeely - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    MY assumption is a combination of limited production capacity, and/or too much power consumption to put it anywhere except the top of the product range. It's currently only on 47W TDP models; estimating it's share of the total TDP isn't easy because the best match for the CPU in the fastest Iris pro is a 37W part while the best match for the CPU in the slowest IRIS pro is a 17W model. While there's probably differential binning going on, it suggests that a lower performing IRIS ram chip is a power pig. Reply
  • bobbozzo - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    You can find fanless (aluminum) NUC cases.

    Unless Silvermont is much cheaper, I don't see the point as performance (CPU, maybe GPU too) will be much worse.
  • bobbozzo - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    Patterson, there's lots of fanless NUC cases; many are quite small.

    see for examples.
  • patterson32 - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Ya but the ones I like cost too much compared to the total system cost. That's why I'm trying to see if there are any quieter fan replacements instead. Reply
  • jason64 - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Many of the good small ones need to be imported for US customers which just adds to the already high cost. At least for me anyway. I don't mind going with a quieter fan solution as long as the noise doesn't annoy me especially when watching movies. Reply
  • bobbozzo - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    Hi Ganesh,

    1. Any hope of this thing doing 4k video?
    What about the BRIX with Iris Pro?

    2. how loud is it when playing movies?

    3. how loud is it idle?

    Thanks for the reviews!
  • Alketi - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    It's silent at IDLE.

    It's unnoticeably quiet for me when playing 1080P bluray rips (sitting 8-10 feet away).

    And, regarding 4K -- my best advice, which I read myself as I had the same concern -- buy a new $400 toy when 4K finally becomes mainstream and you have both the content, and a television, and an HDMI interface, and a receiver to play them with. Don't worry about future-proofing a sub-$500 item. :)
  • ganeshts - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Yes, this can do 4K video to the extent of what other GPUs from AMD / NV can do. I am not so sure about very complicated 4K encodes. We plan to standardize our 4K HTPC evaluation in Q3 when HDMI 2.0 (4Kp60-capable) sources and sinks come into the market.

    Fan noise is only an issue if you are using it as an office machine and sitting less than 3ft away from it (and that too in a quiet environment). This issue is there at idle too.

    If you are 3ft. or more away, I don't think it is even possible to hear the fan :)
  • chizow - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Still too pricey imo for what it is and what it is limited in doing. I was wondering why a rash of sales popped up on the last-gen NUC with i3 + Thunderbolt today, on sale at a variety of places for $160. That is what I am looking to pay for one of these units given the fact you still need to buy RAM and an mSATA. I wonder if Intel would introduce a cheaper Atom version as Atom seems to be the cure for all Intel-price-related woes. :D

    I was hoping this updated version corrected the biggest downside of the original, the requirement of mSATA but it only looks like the pricier WYKH SKU allows for full 2.5" SSDs. I have plenty of those in the 120-128GB range so I'd rather not spend another $120 or so on a similar sized mSATA drive. Also, Intel still not including a mickey-mouse power cable is ridiculous, it really feels like they are doing everything they can to not sell these things.
  • Acarney - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    I'm confused by the comments about the Brix Pro. I still haven't seen a price or even release date for it. Do you guys have inside knowledge of it? I kinda thought it might have been cancelled... Reply
  • elian123 - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    I haven't found much information either, although this did look good to me: Ganesh's remark that he has a review unit ( is even better of course. Reply
  • cen - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    I never understood why Anandtech never mentiones anything about Linux in their hardware reviews. This seems like a perfect htpc device to put Linux on and I am sure that some readers would be happy to know what are the hoops to go through on the Linux side, the state of Netflix, any driver issues etc. Why pay the Windows tax if you can get the same or pehaps even better experience for free? Reply
  • fackamato - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Just check out the HD5000 GPU support under Linux, that should give you a good idea about the HTPC capabilities. Reply
  • patterson32 - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    There are other components where it would be nice if they were tested on Linux especially as part of a particular system like the BRIX and NUC. Scouring for info for each component is less desirable than having the entire system tested and reviewed in a single article. Reply
  • patterson32 - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    I always hope AT will write more on Linux topics but they never do. The focus is almost solely on Windows. It'd be nice if they did hardware reviews with Linux and give the usual details of what works and what doesn't and other very detailed information.

    The only okay site I know of that does Linux hardware stuff is Phoronix but that site uses tests that aren't that meaningful especially for non-GPU hardware and desktop use. For other hardware, they just gloss over many details. Their "analysis" are often blurbs like the power consumption is less than system x. Useless, I can see that on the graph and the system x is some much higher performing non-comparable device.
  • jason64 - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Phoronix hardware "reviews" aren't very useful for potential buyers who want to use Linux apart from Michael's GPU driver tests. It'd nice if AnandTech started writing Linux articles. Reply
  • chizow - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Main limitation I think for HTPC use for people like me is lack of ability to play CableCARD DRM content. I've looked into the alternatives, and there still isn't anything on the Linux/Android/iOS market yet that can replace Windows Media Center for Premium CableCARD content (HBO, MAX, SHO etc.) DLNA is enabling some workarounds (PS3, native SmartTV Apps), but the end-product still isn't as good or as fast as WMC's interface. Reply
  • Lundmark - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    HD audio. I don't think you can get HD audio on Linux. Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, January 05, 2014 - link

    Just testing out OpenELEC right now and HD audio passthrough support is great in the latest dev build. That is an embedded Linux system :) Reply
  • fluxtatic - Sunday, January 05, 2014 - link

    I realize the crowd here skews a little different, but consider Linux' marketshare at less than 2%. Not to mention the endless whining - "Ubuntu sucks, test it under Mint" "Don't use kiddie distros, use Debian" "I thought you were teh hardc0r3z, use Arch" etc, etc, ad infinitum.

    I kid, I kid. But seriously, probably more work than it's worth, really, since you would essentially be nearly doubling the work of reviews, and it would split half the work for 90% of the market, half the work for the remaining 10% (round up on Linux marketshare to an even 2% and say it's maybe 5x more common amongst the AT crowd.)
  • stratum - Monday, January 06, 2014 - link

    Well, I want Linux content so I'm asking for it. If enough people ask nicely then maybe one day AnandTech will provide more Linux content.

    Also, it's not just the Linux crowd who talk about being "l33t" and all that. I see it a lot among PC builders (many of them comment here as well) who like adding useless LEDs to everything and talk about how cool their water cooling solution is especially because it has LEDs on it. The same with video encoding, video playback and anything where you can categorize yourself in. Whatever topic you talk about, there are always going to be a group of immature people who think they're superior to everyone else.
  • stratum - Monday, January 06, 2014 - link

    As for the whole market share thing. Just look at the articles here on AnandTech. What percent of the population or even just the readers of this site actually do OpenCL/CUDA programming, use 10 GbE NAS's and switches, rackmount anything, $5000 workstations, administrate servers, etc. yet AnandTech writes articles about them? Reply
  • shank15217 - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    These things, NUC, BRIX, Nano would be so much more useful if they have 2 NICs!! Reply
  • signorBlu - Monday, January 06, 2014 - link

    Some Zotac ZBox models do have 2 NICs... Reply
  • barleyguy - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Any idea how this compares to a Mac Mini, in performance, power consumption, fan noise, and features? It seems like that would be a competing solution for many of the same uses. Reply
  • jason64 - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Yes, please hire a Linux guy for Linux articles. Also, have him come up with tests for integration with component and system reviews.

    Thank you.
  • NAC - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    In my opinion, these NUC computers are still way too expensive for what you get. For less than $680, you can get a laptop with i5, a SSD, memory and wifi - not to mention the screen, keyboard, battery, operating system installed, optical drive if you want, and ability to use it anywhere when you want. Granted, a laptop is much bigger and heavier. But if you are willing and able to build a NUC, you can easily build a small shelf for a laptop in the back of a desk or somewhere, hidden out of sight just like a NUC.

    When I replaced my HTPC, I chose a refurbished i3 laptop for about $220 delivered. It is usually in a cabinet, and I can take it with me when I travel if I want.
  • Lundmark - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Well, I guess there will always be people arguing for hotdogs because they serve the same purpose as sirloin steak. Reply
  • Calista - Sunday, January 05, 2014 - link

    For those of us with a big tv or projector having a small second screen make a lot of sense. If I only wish to play music, why should I have my 60" tv turned on? NAC is right, if a similar laptop is $500, why does the NUC cost more for less? Reply
  • fluxtatic - Sunday, January 05, 2014 - link

    Yeah, but isn't having options grand? In your theoretical example, I'm now paying for a bunch of stuff I don't use - battery, screen, kb, etc. Assuming I want strictly something to plug into the TV and shove into a cabinet.

    For me, I'm seriously considering a NUC for when I replace my wife's PC next summer. There's currently a mid-ATX tower on the coffee table in my living room, and I'm definitely going smaller next time around. Now it's just a question of how small I can go for the money it will cost.

    To be honest, though, the discussion would be very nearly settled if there were Mini-ITX options for AMD FM2 processors. Haswell's nice, but I don't know that I can bring myself to pay Intel prices when the time comes.
  • Gigaplex - Sunday, January 05, 2014 - link

    If the laptop is cheaper then you're not really paying for the screen etc. You're getting a discount with the caveat that those extras that you don't want are bolted on. Reply
  • darwinosx - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    Interesting but I'll wait for the Haswell Mac Mini. Reply
  • Lundmark - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    I thought about that too. Who knows for how long we have to wait, though? The Mac mini was neglected for almost three years before the current design replaced it. Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    2014: mac mini with core i7 4750hq and iris pro. Reply
  • LuckyKnight - Sunday, January 05, 2014 - link

    I've had one of these since they came out in the UK and it's a very good as a dedicated streaming device running XBMC on Linux. You can set the minimal fan speed to 20% in the BIOS and it runs practically silent. If it needs to ramp up (say when playing a game on a emulator then it can).

    The only bad thing is the cost of the unit (with mSSD, RAM).
  • airi - Sunday, January 05, 2014 - link

    Yes, please look into writing Linux articles and integrating Linux into hardware reviews. Reply
  • Aikouka - Monday, January 06, 2014 - link

    I have i3 Haswell NUC, and it's a pretty good unit all-around. I'm currently waiting for a good fanless third-party case, because while the NUC is fairly quiet, it's still audible in a quiet room. The fan's noise is also a little whiny, which I am not a fan of. There are announcements for fanless options that will provide 2.5" drive options as well, which could be good for creating a network-based DVR.

    As for the inability to bitstream, I have that exact same problem, and it's rather bewildering. My NUC was fine as I could bitstream without any problems in PLEX (WASAPI is the only option for bitstreaming in PLEX). As you can guess based on my choice in verb tense, I have the problem now, but it's strange how it appeared. Everything was fine until I loaded up a TV stream (networked from an InfiniTV 6 ETH) in WMC7, and I noticed that I wasn't getting any sound. Now, I can no longer bitstream in PLEX. I also cannot bitstream on my i3-3225-based HTPC either. I've also had this problem on an i7 860 + GTX 660 Ti system as well, but that went away with a graphics driver upgrade.

    Anyway, you can get a temporary fix on the problem by setting your speaker configuration up in Windows, and telling your front-end (XBMC, PLEX, etc.) that your receiver is not Dolby Digital- and DTS-compatible. So, now my AVR just says "MULTI-CH IN" all the time as it's just getting a PCM stream from the PC.
  • ganeshts - Monday, January 06, 2014 - link

    There is no problem with the bitstreaming from MPC-HC or any of the other media players which support that... It is only within XBMC in DirectSound mode and Netflix app.

    That said, I was able to bitstream successfully even from OpenELEC (which means users don't have to pay the Windows tax to make a very capable media streamer, except when Blu-ray menus are needed)
  • alpha754293 - Monday, January 06, 2014 - link

    I wonder how this would compare - say to a Mac Mini. It seems that if the price difference between the two systems isn't more than $100-150 - why would I want to go with something like this vs. a Mac mini? (not to be an Apple fanboy or anything - but moreso for a complete pro/con analysis of each solution/type of solution in order to determine which is better in terms of technical specifications, performance, etc...) Reply
  • gochichi - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    size of chassis is not the issue, it's never been the issue as can be clearly seen in the Mac Pro. What we need to look at is the particulars, the shapes and the size of the things that do matter to thermal efficiency. So if this thing had the fan that it should have in it due to its giant size (yes, I'm calling this NUC business GIGANTIC vs Surface Pro). I remember back in the day taking duct tape and sealing all the extra ridiculous vents on my desktop's case only to see noise and temperature reductions!! The idea that huge cases with a bunch of random vents are good thermal design is really wrong on so many levels. One well placed asymmetric fan is sufficient for a MacBook Pro... I'm just not understanding the general lack of expectations and standards. I expect so much more. Reply
  • SeanFL - Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - link

    Just built one one of these and am very impressed. It's used for audio editing. Very very tiny and doesn't make much noise. I can't believe it's more powerful than the shuttle or fractal design mini itx I built last year. Hope to see more work being done in tiny form factor desktops. Reply
  • hellt - Thursday, January 30, 2014 - link

    I think its crucial to specify that haswell NUCs are specified to use DDR3L memory according to spec sheet

    Some amazon reviewers got a problem with that - they bought DDR3 memory tweaked for overclocking (with higher voltages) and werent able to boot the nuc, because of the power insufficient.
  • kgh00007 - Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - link

    Check this out, there are a set of 2133MHz G.Skill Ripjaws that will post on the i5 nuc, I'm about to order a set!
  • wordsofpeace - Saturday, February 08, 2014 - link

    Maybe overkill, but wouldn't this board make a good basis for FreeNAS? What else would I need? SATA connections? How would that happen? Reply
  • kgh00007 - Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - link

    Hi, are you guys aware that you can increase the TDP of the i5 model in the BIOS settings or using intel Extreme Tuning Utility?
    It is possible to up the TDP of the i5-4250u to 30w, which gives the GPU 24W and greatly improves performance.
    Is there any chance you could re-run some tests to see the difference between 15W TDP and 30W?
  • feelingblue74 - Wednesday, August 06, 2014 - link

    Someone can answer to this important questions?

    1) Can Haswell GPU output RGB Full 10bit?
    2) Can Haswell GPU in DXVA Mode manage driver post processing (Sharpness and denoise) without dropping frames on 1080p@23.976?
    3) How is Chroma upsampling quality?
    4) How are banding?
    5) Can Haswell output true 16-235 color space?

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