The early 2010s saw the PC market stuck in the doldrums, with the nettop craze having died down, and smartphones / tablets increasingly taking over day-to-day computing use-cases. While the traditional business PCs and workstation market was stable, the moribund consumer market needed a shot in the arm. Intel introduced the Next Unit of Computing - a 4" x 4" motherboard - in 2012 and started marketing mini-PCs based on the boards with their own branding. Low-power processors became powerful enough to deliver the processing power of bulky desktops in the palm of one's hand. The NUC quickly caught the market's fancy, triggering clones such as the GIGABYTE BRIX and ASRock Beebox from Intel's partners. Over the last decade, this ultra-compact form-factor (UCFF) and other SFF machines, along with systems targeting the gaming market have emerged as bright spots. The NUC family has since expanded to target all of those market segments.

2022 was a milestone in the decade-long journey for the original 4"x4" form-factor. Intel introduced their first UCFF product family with hybrid processors. The NUC 12 Pro - codenamed Wall Street Canyon - was made available in a variety of flavors. In order to bring out the evolution of the UCFF ecosystem over the last ten years, Intel sampled us three different Wall Street Canyon NUCs targeting different market segments.

The NUC12WSKi7 targets mainstream business users and home consumers, while the vPro-enabled NUC12WSKv7 is geared towards IT departments for business and enterprise deployments. The Wall Street Canyon family also includes bare boards such as the NUC12WSBi70Z (a Lite version of the board inside the NUC12WSKi7) that can be taken by OEMs and customized for specific applications. Our sample set included the Bleu Jour Meta 12 - a rugged fanless mini-PC based on the NUC12WSBi70Z and optimized for industrial use-cases. The review below takes a detailed look at the performance profile and feature set of the three NUCs.

Introduction and Product Impressions

Intel's Alder Lake processors brought the era of heterogeneous computing with hybrid processors to the mainstream market. The mixture of performance and efficiency cores was first marketed for desktop platforms before making the move to the low-power market in early 2022. Fabricated in Intel 7, the processor family brought a multi-tasking focus to computing, providing hints to the OS on where different tasks need to be run and translating to a better user experience. The Alder Lake-P series is supposed to deliver all that within a 28W power envelop. The first UCFF systems based on Alder Lake-P processors were actually from ASRock Industrial - The NUC BOX-1200 series was introduced within a couple of weeks of the launch of Alder Lake-P. While being the first to market with the new platform, our review of the NUC BOX-1260P found that the company had not spent much time on optimizing the BIOS for optimal power consumption and performance. Our impressions of Alder Lake-P from that system was not favorable from a performance per watt perspective. The final verdict on that would undoubtedly be decided based on Intel's own Alder Lake-P offering - the Wall Street Canyon NUCs (NUC 12 Pro).

In order to celebrate the ten-year long journey of the mainstream UCFF NUC form-factor, Intel sampled us three different Wall Street Canyon NUCs:

  • Intel NUC12WSKi7, based on the Core i7-1260P
  • Intel NUC12WSKv7, based on the Core i7-1270P (with a slightly different case design, apparently intended for future mainstream NUCs)
  • Bleu Jour Meta 12, an as-yet unreleased rugged fanless NUC based on the NUC12WSBi70Z - a Lite version of the board in the NUC12WSKi7, without the Thunderbolt 4 / USB4 Type-C ports

One of the primary performance drivers over the last few generations of the Intel NUCs has been fine-grained power control. At the high-end, in particular, Intel has started setting the PL1 limits beyond the rated TDP. As late as the Comet Lake-based Frost Canyon NUC (the NUC10i7FN), the PL1 limit was set to 28W. Coming to the Tiger Lake family, the Tiger Canyon NUC that we evaluated - the NUC11TNBi5 also had its PL1 set to 28W. However, the Panther Canyon NUC (NUC11PAQi7) upped the ante and configured the PL1 to 40W by default. While we didn't publish a standalone review of the Panther Canyon NUC, readers can find all the benchmark numbers for that system in this review. The Alder Lake NUCs build upon the Tiger Lake ones by keeping the default PL1 and PL2 values in the BIOS to 40W / 64W. As we shall see further down in this review, this poses a challenge for fanless system vendors, while also exacerbating the fan noise issue in the standard kits.

The NUC12WSKi7 sample came with a Kingston KC2500 PCIe 3.0 x4 500GB NVMe SSD and 2x Crucial CT16G4SFRA32A 16GB DDR4-3200 SODIMMs pre-installed. We performed our evaluation of the three systems in sequence, allowing the reuse of the same RAM and SSD for all three systems. While the overall packaging of the systems was geared towards unboxing videos, the contents of each box reflected the components in the retail packaging - VESA or industrial mounts, as applicable, a 120W (20V @ 6A) power adapter, a geo-specific power cord, screws for mount installation and M.2 SSD installation, as well as an assortment of quick start guides and regulatory information pamphlets.

The NUC12WSKi7 continues with the same ultra-compact form-factor design seen in the previous NUCs. Doing away with the 2.5" drive support allows the system to have a height of just 37mm. The front ports are all Type-A, with the two Thunderbolt 4 Type-C ports both relegated to the rear. Surprisingly, the rear I/O includes a USB 2.0 Type-A port too. The SDXC slot seen in previous generation NUCs is not seen here, but that is made up for by the presence of two Thunderbolt 4 ports.

NUC12WSKi7 - Chassis Design and I/O

The retail version of the NUC12WSKv7 is externally identical to the NUC12WSKi7 shown above. However, our review sample set opted to put it in a redesigned casing.

NUC12WSKv7 - An Updated Chassis Color Scheme

The new case design above is a preview of the plans for future 4x4 NUC models. The perforated case bottom can be removed without the aid of any tools to get access to the underside of the system (for the installation of the RAM and SSD).

NUC12WSKv7 - 4x4 Designer Version Preview

The third NUC model is the Bleu Jour Meta 12. The Meta series of fanless systems from Bleu Jour is geared towards industrial applications. The Meta 12 uses the Lite board - the NUC12WSBi70Z - which does away with the Type-C ports. A key difference is the presence of a DC power input connector in addition to the regular power adapter connection.

Bleu Jour Meta 12 (NUC12WSBi70Z) Fanless Rugged Industrial PC

The gallery below presents additional photographs of the internals of the above three systems.

The full specifications of the normal and vPro review samples are provided in the table below. The Bleu Jour Meta 12 is essentially the same as that of the NUC12WSKi7, except for the absence of the two Thunderbolt 4 Type-C ports.

Systems Specifications
(as tested)
  Intel NUC12WSKi7 (Wall Street Canyon) Intel NUC12WSKv7 (Wall Street Canyon vPro)
Processor Intel Core i7-1260P
Alder Lake 4P + 8e / 16T, up to 4.7 GHz (P) / 3.4 GHz (e)
Intel 7, 18MB L2, 28W
(PL1 = 40W, PL2 = 64W)
Intel Core i7-1270P
Alder Lake 4P + 8e / 16T, up to 4.8 GHz (P) / 3.5 GHz (e)
Intel 7, 18MB L2, 28W
(PL1 = 40W, PL2 = 64W)
Memory Crucial CT16G4SFRA32A.C16FR DDR4-3200 SODIMM
22-22-22-52 @ 3200 MHz
2x16 GB


Crucial CT16G4SFRA32A.C16FR DDR4-3200 SODIMM
22-22-22-52 @ 3200 MHz
2x16 GB


Graphics Intel Iris Xe Graphics
(96EU @ 1.40 GHz)
Intel Iris Xe Graphics
(96EU @ 1.40 GHz)
Disk Drive(s) Kingston KC2500 SKC2500M8500G
(500 GB; M.2 2280 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe;)
(Kioxia BiCS4 96L 3D TLC; Silicon Motion SMI 2262EN Controller)
Kingston KC2500 SKC2500M8500G
(500 GB; M.2 2280 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe;)
(Kioxia BiCS4 96L 3D TLC; Silicon Motion SMI 2262EN Controller)
Networking 1x 2.5 GbE RJ-45 (Intel I225-V)
Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX211 (2x2 802.11ax - 2.4 Gbps)
1x 2.5 GbE RJ-45 (Intel I225-LM)
Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX211 (2x2 802.11ax - 2.4 Gbps)
Audio Digital Audio with Bitstreaming Support over HDMI Ports
3.5mm stereo headset jack (Realtek audio codec)
Digital Audio with Bitstreaming Support over HDMI Ports
3.5mm stereo headset jack (Realtek audio codec)
Video 2x HDMI 2.0b
2x Display Port 1.4a with HBR3 over Thunderbolt 4
2x HDMI 2.0b
2x Display Port 1.4a with HBR3 over Thunderbolt 4
Miscellaneous I/O Ports 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (Front)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (Rear)
1x USB 2.0 Type-A (Rear)
2x Thunderbolt 4 (Rear) (Type-C)
2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (Front)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (Rear)
1x USB 2.0 Type-A (Rear)
2x Thunderbolt 4 (Rear) (Type-C)
Operating System Windows 11 Enterprise (22000.1455) Windows 11 Enterprise (22000.1516)
Pricing (Street Pricing on January 25th, 2023)
US $660 (barebones)
$843 (as configured, no OS)
(Street Pricing on January 25th, 2023)
US $827 (barebones)
$1010 (as configured, no OS)
Full Specifications Intel NUC12WSKi7 Specifications Intel NUC12WSKv7 Specifications

In the next section, we take a look at the BIOS options along with an analysis of the motherboard platform. Following that, we have a number of sections focusing on various performance aspects before concluding with an analysis of the value proposition of the systems.

Setup Notes and Platform Analysis
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  • timecop1818 - Thursday, January 26, 2023 - link

    vPro is usually a price premium, as it allows fully remote management in corp environment.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Thursday, January 26, 2023 - link

    It's great to see the puck nuc come back, I was worried they discontinue it. Shame they gimped it with DDR4 SODIMMS when DDR5 is widely available, especially at this price.

    Guess I'll wait for 14th gen when they actually jump on new memory types.
  • meacupla - Thursday, January 26, 2023 - link

    Yeah, why would intel choose DDR4 on a platform like this? It makes zero sense.
    They had the option of DDR5SODIMM, DDR5CAMM, or LPDDR5, and they decide to go with DDR4SODIMM
  • abufrejoval - Sunday, January 29, 2023 - link

    I just checked, 64GB of SO-DIMMs is still twice the price at DDR5 than DDR4. And the performance difference might be very minor for CPU workloads, especially in this form factor.

    Now I would like to have seen if it makes a difference for the iGPU, but then the Xe isn't meant for gaming either way.

    LP variants require soldered RAM and that's one of the major advantages of this form factor: upgradable RAM. I run my NUCs as VM servers and 64GB is just a good fit for that. Try getting anything with 64GB of LPDDRx RAM!

    And then again at a reasonable price.
  • James5mith - Friday, January 27, 2023 - link

    I have an i7-1165G7 based NUC used for my pfsense firewall. It's overkill, but it has the 2x 2.5GbE NICs I wanted for my firewall upgrade.

    Idles extremely low power, and never really gets stressed. For 10-15w I have a 2.5GbE capable firewall that is never stressed even when using IDS/IPS.

    I wish they would release an i3 with 2x 2.5GbE at some point. It would be much more suited to the role.
  • Einy0 - Friday, January 27, 2023 - link

    The performance lag on the passive cooled version is a great example of how bad Intel's thermals have gotten. I used to put NUCs into passive cases half the size of the one used here, and they lost zero performance. It's really sad how far they've fallen.
  • Affectionate-Bed-980 - Friday, January 27, 2023 - link

    Are your specs for HDMI correct? I see HDMI 2.0 listed on some sites like Newegg but Intel's spec page says HDMI 2.1
  • PeachNCream - Friday, January 27, 2023 - link

    The problem with NUCs is that, after buying a screen, keyboard, and mouse, to get to a working system, you could have just purchased a laptop. NUCs don't offer mobility and aren't compelling from a performance perspective since they're using laptop-like TDP limits so you end up buying a desktop PC with laptop performance that you cannot use as flexibly as a laptop despite spending roughly the same amount. NUCs have niche uses, but the reason why they aren't popular is because that niche is rather narrow.
  • white-hot - Friday, January 27, 2023 - link

    I have been using them for years as HTPC's in various locations in my house. In general they have been fine up until recently when I began streaming high bit-rate 4K video and they really don't like it. Granted they are all i3's of several generations old now, but other than that they do fine. I have a home media server that delivers video to these units, but rather than upgrade for 4K use I am currently trying plex via a fire stick and/or smart TV. The video stream is better but the interface is so slow. Not sure where I will end up, but having a NUC velcroed to the back of a TV has been very nice up till now.
  • Hakaslak - Saturday, January 28, 2023 - link

    Does Quick Sync work for you? Maybe a newer NUC with hardware accelerated transcoding would be what you're looking for? The new ones have 2 multi-format codec engines and quick sync

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