Setup Notes and Platform Analysis

The review sample of the NUC11BTMi9 came package in a fancy plywood casing, signifying its premium nature. Since the review configuration was ready for benchmarking, the package contents only included the main unit, power cord, Windows 10 Pro installation DVD, and a USB key containing the drivers for the system. The retail packaging is bound to be quite different, as these pre-production samples are packaged to make unboxing videos attractive.

The NUC11BTMi9 sports the Intel VisualBIOS with a modern interface. It has plenty of enthusiast options to fine tune the performance. The video below presents the entire gamut of available options.

The specifications of our Intel NUC11BTMi9 review configuration are summarized in the table below.

Intel NUC11BTMi9 (Beast Canyon) Specifications
Processor Intel Core i9-11900KB
Tiger Lake-H, 8C/16T, 3.3 (4.9) (5.3) GHz
24MB L2+L3, 10nm, 65W TDP
Memory Kingston HyperX KHX3200C20S4/8G DDR4 SODIMM
20-22-22-42 @ 3200 MHz
2x8 GB
Graphics ASUS Dual GeForce RTX 3060 12GB GDDR6
Intel UHD Graphics for 11th Gen.
Disk Drive(s) Sabrent Rocket NVMe 4.0
(500GB; M.2 Type 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe; Kioxia 96L 3D TLC; Phison E16 Controller)
Networking Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210
(2x2 802.11ax - 2400 Mbps)
1x Intel I225-LM 2.5G Ethernet Adapter
Audio 3.5mm Audio Jack (Front)
Capable of 5.1/7.1 digital output with HD audio bitstreaming (HDMI)
Miscellaneous I/O Ports 1x UHS-II SDXC Slot (Front)
2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) Type-A (Front)
6x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) Type-A (Rear)
2x Thunderbolt 4 (40 Gbps) Type-C (Rear)
Operating System Retail unit is barebones, but we installed Windows 10 Enterprise x64
Pricing (As configured) $2006
Full Specifications Intel NUC11BTMi9 Specifications

Our review sample came with Windows 10 Pro x64 pre-installed, but, we wiped the drive and installed Windows 10 Enterprise x64 21H1 prior to benchmarking. Our initial benchmarking and reports collection was done without opening up the system. The AIDA64 system report for the hardware configuration supplied by Intel provided the following information:

  • [ North Bridge: Intel Tiger Lake-H IMC ]:
    • PCIe 4.0 x16 port #2 In Use @ x8 (nVIDIA GA106 - GeForce RTX 3060 12GB Video Adapter, High Definition Audio Controller)
  • [ South Bridge: Intel Tiger Point WM590 ]:
    • PCIe 3.0 x1 port #19 In Use @ x1 (Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 160MHz Wireless Network Adapter)
    • PCIe 3.0 x1 port #20 In Use @ x1 (Intel I225-LM 2.5G Ethernet Network Connection)

The two Type-C ports in the Compute Element are enabled directly from the CPU. They can operate in Thunderbolt 4 (40Gbps), native USB 4 (10Gbps), and native DP1.4 modes. Each port can supply up to 15W. The rest of the I/Os are off the Tiger Point PCH. One of the key aspects here is that the DMI bottleneck has largely been alleviated with Tiger Lake. There are plenty of I/Os directly off the CPU package - including the Thunderbolt 4 ports and the CPU-attached Gen 4 NVMe storage slot. With Thunderbolt 4, it is in fact possible to completely bypass the PCH while transferring data between internal and external storage devices.

The NUC11BTMi9 is one of the few SFF systems that we have evaluated which happen to come with a discrete user-replaceable GPU. Systems with MXM GPUs are pretty much set in terms of graphics capabilities for the lifetime of the unit. In addition to the Ghost Canyon NUC from last year, we have the Zotac ZBOX MAGNUS EK71080 to compare against the Beast Canyon NUC. Zotac introduced the ZBOX MAGNUS ONE earlier this year with a Comet Lake CPU and an Ampere GPU that we still have in our review queue. So, the main focus in this piece will be on three systems - Beast Canyon, Ghost Canyon, and the ZBOX MAGNUS EK71080.

In the table below, we have an overview of the various systems that we are comparing the Intel NUC9i9QNX against. Note that they may not belong to the same market segment. The relevant configuration details of the machines are provided so that readers have an understanding of why some benchmark numbers are skewed for or against the Intel NUC11BTMi9 when we come to those sections.

Comparative PC Configurations
Aspect Intel NUC11BTMi9 (Beast Canyon)
CPU Intel Core i9-11900KB Intel Core i9-11900KB
GPU ASUS Dual GeForce RTX 3060 12GB GDDR6
Intel UHD Graphics for 11th Gen
ASUS Dual GeForce RTX 3060 12GB GDDR6
Intel UHD Graphics for 11th Gen
RAM Kingston HyperX KHX3200C20S4/8G DDR4-3200 SODIMM
20-22-22-42 @ 3200 MHz
2x8 GB
Kingston HyperX KHX3200C20S4/8G DDR4-3200 SODIMM
20-22-22-42 @ 3200 MHz
2x8 GB
Storage Sabrent Rocket NVMe 4.0
(500 GB; M.2 Type 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe; Kioxia 96L 3D TLC)
(Phison E16 Controller)
Sabrent Rocket NVMe 4.0
(500 GB; M.2 Type 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe; Kioxia 96L 3D TLC)
(Phison E16 Controller)
Wi-Fi Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210
Price (in USD, when built) $1350 (barebones)
$2006 (as configured / No OS)
$1350 (barebones)
$2006 (as configured / No OS)
Introduction and Product Impressions BAPCo SYSmark 25
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84 Comments

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  • sorten - Thursday, July 29, 2021 - link

    "It's really a shame that AMD doesn't have something like this"

    They do. Pick one of the dozens of SFF cases on the market and build (or buy) it yourself. The only thing you'll be missing is the soldered CPU preventing an easy upgrade.
    Reply
  • n0x1ous - Thursday, July 29, 2021 - link

    would have been nice to see the Razer Tomahawk Ghost Canyon NUC compared to this Reply
  • repoman27 - Thursday, July 29, 2021 - link

    A couple minor nits...

    "The slot to the right of the processor is enabled by the x4 Gen 4 lanes directly from the processor, while the two to the right (and the M.2 slot occupied by the WLAN card) are from the PCH."

    One of those rights is wrong.

    "They can operate in Thunderbolt 4 (40Gbps), native USB 4 (10Gbps), and native DP1.4 modes."

    That should be: "They can operate in Thunderbolt 4 / USB4 (40 Gbps), native USB3 (10 Gbps), and native DisplayPort 1.4 (8.1 Gbps, DSC 1.1 supported) modes."
    Reply
  • repoman27 - Thursday, July 29, 2021 - link

    Dang it, DP is 4 lanes so my correction requires correction.

    That should be: "They can operate in Thunderbolt 4 / USB4 (40 Gbps), native USB3 (10 Gbps), and native DisplayPort 1.4 (32.4 Gbps, DSC 1.1 supported) modes."
    Reply
  • mcnabney - Thursday, July 29, 2021 - link

    Would have liked to see the metrics also include a regular non-SFF build which included similar parts (CPU/GPU/RAM/NVME) to contrast what is being given up for the size shrink. Reply
  • Calin - Friday, July 30, 2021 - link

    Just to see how much a power dissipation of 200W instead of 100W would help a 65W processor. Reply
  • mode_13h - Monday, August 2, 2021 - link

    Yeah, a Rocket Lake i9 would've been an interesting comparison. I think TomsHardware tried that, if you want to look it up. Reply
  • Timoo - Thursday, July 29, 2021 - link

    Wasn't Intel that company that locked-in their vendors, to make sure that suprerior competitors didn't get a chance?
    For which they had to pay petty-handouts in lawsuits (like: singular billions), because the real/justicial world wasn't used to the profits made by their criminal behaviour?
    Reply
  • 5j3rul3 - Thursday, July 29, 2021 - link

    Like to see the comprasion between the NUC11i9 with R7 5800X, i9 11900K, i9 10900K, 5800U, 5980HS, 1165G7, 11980HK and Apple M1.

    8 Cores the Great🤣

    I am also curious about the Perf. of Xe Graphic in the i9 10900KB

    But it seems the i9 10900KB is the
    better i9 for intel DT user.
    Reply
  • hubick - Thursday, July 29, 2021 - link

    I've owned two Skull Canyon NUC's, two Hades Canyon, and a Ghost Canyon NUC 9 Pro. I love the expandability of the card slot in the Ghost Canyon NUC 9 Pro, but I think Beast Canyon has crossed a line where it's just too large for me now. You could still take a Ghost Canyon as carry-on on a flight no problem, or shove it in a backpack for a bike commute - but this just is just so chunky and boxy, it looks too much like something that belongs on a desk.

    Can I buy the new compute element card and put it in a Ghost Canyon case?

    Will there be an updated Xeon compute element? I'm running mine as a NAS box with a ZFS drive array connected via Thunderbolt, and ZFS wants the ECC RAM.
    Reply

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