ASRock Industrial maintains a lineup of ultra-compact form-factor machines in the NUC BOX (Intel-based) and 4X4 BOX (AMD-based) series. These systems have gained significant market acceptance (evidenced by the rapid iterations that the company has been able to put out over multiple generations). Being the first to market with the latest platforms has been one of the key reasons behind this.

Both Intel and AMD have started to play up hardware-accelerated AI tasks as a key selling point in recent months. Intel has integrated support for NPUs (Neural Processing Unit - the accelerator for neural networks used in machine learning for the tech-savvy folks / artificial intelligence for the average consumer) in the recently-launched Meteor Lake SKUs. AMD's Phoenix lineup of notebook chips launched earlier this year actually had NPU components on the die in some of the SKUs (AMD's XDNA). This is now receiving more software support and marketing focus after getting re-branded as Ryzen AI in the recently-launched Phoenix refresh (8040 series APUs).

As is usual for ASRock Industrial, the company was quick to announce their UCFF machines based on both platforms within a few days of the Intel and AMD's official launch. The 4X4 BOX 8040 Series launch was immediately followed by the introduction of the NUC(S) Ultra 100 BOX Series.

The rich I/O options from the previous generation of 4X4 BOX and NUC(S) BOX are retained as-is, but the key updates are related to the availability of a NPU in the internal platform. On the NUC(S) BOX side, Intel now provides two additional low-power efficiency cores on a separate die in the package. Similar to the previous generation products, the 4X4 BOX 8040 Series and NUC Ultra 100 BOX Series are the thick versions (49mm height). The NUCS Ultra 100 BOX is the 38mm slim version without the 2.5" SATA drive support and the second LAN port. Each series has multiple processor options at different price points.

ASRock Industrial's AMD Hawk Point & Intel Meteor Lake UCFF PC Lineup
Model 4X4 BOX 8040 Series NUC Ultra 100 BOX Series NUCS Ultra 100 BOX Series
CPU Options AMD Ryzen 7 8840U
8C / 16T
3.3 GHz (Up to 5.1 GHz)
(4X4 BOX-8840U)
AMD Ryzen 5 8640U
6C / 12T
3.5 GHz (Up to 4.9 GHz)
(4X4 BOX-8640U)
Intel Core Ultra 7 155H
(6P + 8E + 2e / 22T)
1.4GHz / 900MHz / 700MHz (up to 4.8GHz / 3.8 GHz / 2.5 GHz)
(NUC(S) BOX-155H)
Intel Core Ultra 5 125H
(4P + 8E + 2e / 22T)
1.2GHz / 700MHz / 700MHz (up to 4.5GHz / 3.6 GHz / 2.5 GHz)
(NUC(S) BOX-125H)
GPU AMD Radeon 780M
(12 CU / 768 Shaders) @ 2.7 GHz
(4X4 BOX-8840U)
AMD Radeon 760M
(8 CU / 512 Shaders) @ 2.6 GHz
(4X4 BOX-8640U)
Intel Arc Xe
8 Cores @ 2.25 GHz
(NUC(S) BOX-155H)
Inte Arc Xe
7 Cores @ 2.2 GHz
(NUC(S) BOX-125H)
NPU Ryzen AI (up to 16 TOPS) Intel AI Boost @ 1.4 GHz (up to 11 TOPS)
Up to 96 GB of DDR5-5600 in dual-channel mode
Motherboard 10.4 cm x 10.2 cm x 3.6 cm (4.02" x 4.09") UCFF
Storage SSD 1x M.2-22(42/80) (PCIe 4.0 x4)
1x M.2-2242 (PCIe 4.0 x4)
1x M.2-22(42/80) (PCIe 4.0 x4)
1x M.2-2242 (PCIe 4.0 x4)
1x M.2-22(42/80) (PCIe 4.0 x4)
1x M.2-2242 (PCIe 4.0 x1)
DFF - 1 × SATA III Port (for 2.5" drive) -
Wireless Mediatek MT7922 (RZ616)? Wi-Fi 6E
2x2 802.11ax Wi-Fi (2.4Gbps) + Bluetooth 5.2 module
Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX211
2x2 802.11ax Wi-Fi (2.4Gbps) + Bluetooth 5.3 module
Ethernet 1x 2.5 GbE RJ-45 (Realtek RTL8125)
1x GbE RJ-45 (Realtek RTL8111H)
1x 2.5 GbE RJ-45 (Intel I226-LM)
1x 2.5 GbE RJ-45 (Intel I226-V)
1x 2.5 GbE RJ-45 (Intel I226-LM)
USB Front 1× USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A
2x USB4 (with DisplayPort 1.4a)
2× USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A
1x USB4 / Thunderbolt 4 (with DisplayPort 2.1)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (with DisplayPort 1.4a Alt Mode)
Rear 2 × USB 2.0 Type-A 2 × USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A
Display Outputs 2 × HDMI 2.1 (Rear, up to 8Kp60)
2 × DisplayPort 1.4a (using Front Panel Type-C ports, up to 4Kp60)
2 × HDMI 2.1 (Rear, up to 4Kp60)
1 × DisplayPort 1.4a (using Front Panel Type-C port, up to 4Kp60)
1 × DisplayPort 2.1 (using Front Panel Type-C port, up to 4Kp60)
Audio 1 × 3.5mm audio jack (Realtek ALC256)
PSU External (19V/120W)
(4X4 BOX-8840U)
External (19V/90W)
(4X4 BOX-8640U)
External (19V/120W)
(NUC(S) BOX-155H)
External (19V/90W)
(NUC(S) BOX-125H)
Dimensions Length: 117.5 mm
Width: 110 mm
Height: 49 mm
Length: 117.5 mm
Width: 110 mm
Height: 38 mm
Product Links 4X4 BOX-8040 Series NUC BOX-100 Series NUCS BOX-100 Series

Note that the M.2 2280 support is enabled by a separate bracket, similar to the previous generation UCFF systems from the company. The Intel platform's WLAN module seems to have received a slight upgrade from the AX210 to the AX211, which brings in Bluetooth 5.3 support. There is still no sign of Wi-Fi 7 / 802.11be support, but the industry is probably waiting for notebook makers to take the lead. In any case, for industrial PCs, the wired LAN subsystem is more important than the wireless one. The dual RJ-45 ports in most of the new models is a welcome trend from that viewpoint.

4X4 BOX-8040 Series I/O

The word on the street right now is that the Arc Xe Graphics in Meteor Lake brings Intel on a competitive footing against the RDNA3-based Radeon 780M in the Phoenix parts. The AI performance claims are more of a mixed bag, because Intel has been pushing a hybrid strategy that includes all of the CPU, GPU, and NPU in accelerating machine learning tasks. AMD's approach for client platforms is not clear yet beyond the promotion of the new NPU components on the die. Both companies claim to have significant support from software vendors, and that is good news for consumers.

NUC Ultra 100-BOX Series I/O

NUCS Ultra 100-BOX Series I/O

As ASRock Industrial re-uses the case designs and thermal solutions from previous generations for rapid iterations, it takes a few releases before customer feedback gets adopted. The glossy chassis is finally gone from all versions of the products, with the matte design seen in the NUCS BOX-1300 series making its way across the board. We are still worried about the lack of an effective thermal solution for the M.2 NVMe SSDs inside these systems. It remains to be seen in hands-on evaluation if any progress has been made on that front. The other aspect is that the BIOS is usually not power-optimized at launch, but we have seen the company release regular updates even for previous generation products in an effort to address that. Other than these minor nit-picks, the NUC(S) BOX and 4X4 BOX systems from ASRock Industrial have proved to be worthy replacements for the mainstream Intel NUCs. We have reached out to ASRock Industrial for clarity on market availability dates and pricing, and will update the article with the details after receiving them.

Source: ASRock Industrial - 4X4 BOX-8040 Series PR

Source: ASRock Industrial - NUC(S) Ultra 100-BOX Series PR

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  • meacupla - Saturday, December 23, 2023 - link

    I am hoping they used a smaller GaN power brick this time around. The 120W from the older model is larger than the PC itself.
  • Threska - Saturday, December 23, 2023 - link

    Have to wonder what industry will be using these boxes?
  • meacupla - Saturday, December 23, 2023 - link

    These ones specifically? Not sure.
    NUC style are decently popular as SOHO PCs.

    Asrock Industrial, which is a separate brand from Asrock, have a bunch of fanless and caseless models for dusty industrial, retail, and custom applications.

    For some reason, these are sold under Asrock Industrial brand. I don't see why they couldn't sell these under the Mars or Jupiter series.
  • FWhitTrampoline - Saturday, December 23, 2023 - link

    For Folks doing any Graphics related Workloads Like Blender 3D GPU Accelerated Cycles Rending that's a GPU compute workload then Intel's Meteor Lake actually has very good iGPU Compute API(via OenAPI/Other Intel compute API) support on Linux whereas AMD's ROCm/HIP is not supported for Radeon iGPUs. And so Blender 3D 3.0/Later editions on Linux will not have the needed iGPU compute API supported for workloads like Blender GPU accelerated Cycles rendering.

    And really there are many GUI based Linux Desktop Applications that make use of GPU compute so that's either OpenCL or for Blender 3D 3.0/Later editions that requires ROCm/HIP for AMD and OneAPI for Intel. And AMD's support for Desktop GUI based Linux Applications and GPU compute API support(OpenCL/Other) has always been lacking while Intel's Graphics and GPU compute API support on Intel iGPUs is shaping up very nicely for Intel Meteor Lake iGPU/GPU-Tile that's based on ARC graphics IP.

    Graphics arts students will be better off getting Meteor Lake based devices and especially on Linux where iGPUs have become very powerful over the past few processor generations! But no matter how powerful the iGPU the Graphics and GPU compute API support has to be there and that's especially true for Blender 3D's GPU accelerated Cycles rendering where the Ray Tracing/BVH and Ray Intersection calculations are a GPU compute workload and thus GPU compute API(OpenCL, ROCm/HIP and OneAPI) is required and where AMD's support for it's OpenCL and ROCm/HIP is just not been well supported on Linux.
  • hubick - Saturday, December 23, 2023 - link

    These would make a good NAS box. I plug my ZFS array into NAS via Thunderbolt, but I also need ECC memory and there's no mention of support :-(
  • HideOut - Saturday, December 23, 2023 - link

    These are laptop parts (consumer grade) and won't support ECC really, although DDR5 has some ECC "lite" built in in a way. IF they release an intel "VPRO" version of this at some point that will have full ECC most likely
  • nandnandnand - Sunday, December 24, 2023 - link

    The ECC "lite" in DDR5 does not count for anyone seeking true ECC support AFAIK. It's something needed to make DDR5 usable at all.

    AMD is releasing a lot of Pro APUs. For example, AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 7840U which would be virtually identical to this except for the lower clocked XDNA.
  • meacupla - Saturday, December 23, 2023 - link

    Intel officially does not support ECC for 155H

    The only mobos that support ecc ddr5 sodimm, that I could find, were IMB-X1238 and IMB-X1240-WV
  • stanleyipkiss - Saturday, December 23, 2023 - link

    The HDMI 2.1 is the most compelling feature for me.
  • GoldenBullet - Sunday, December 24, 2023 - link

    I think the um780 is the best right now. Better features in general.

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