What is a NUC?

NUC—rhymes with luck—is the Next Unit of Computing that delivers incredible performance, rich I/O, high-end graphics capabilities, and sleek designs for everyone and every situation, including gaming and business.

NUC key takeaways

  • Don’t be fooled by its size; the Intel® NUC packs a punch with support for Intel® Core™ i3, i5, i7, and i9 processors.

  • Ten years ago, Intel started the NUC classification and continues to lead with exciting new designs and capabilities.

  • Get a NUC for virtually any use case, including gaming, business, and edge compute, as a ready-made PC or customizable kit.

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The Next Unit of Computing (NUC) is a small form factor device or compute element that delivers a full desktop PC experience, a full gaming experience, or a full edge device experience. A NUC contains everything a standard PC does: processor, memory, SSD, LAN or Wi-Fi, and support for integrated and discrete graphics options. What began as a device associated with mini PCs has grown into a solution that defines what users are looking forward to next, hence the name.

What the NUC is a NUC?

Don’t be fooled by its size. Just because the NUC can tuck into small spaces doesn’t mean it can’t swing above its weight class. These devices come in flavors supporting high-performance Intel® Core™ i3, i5, i7, and i9 processors. Enthusiast-grade options support full-size discrete graphics cards for all your gaming and content creation needs. Business-class options integrate the Intel vPro® platform to make the IT department’s life easier.

Figure 1. No longer just a black square, Intel NUCs now come in various shapes, sizes, and materials.  Here are some that Intel partners came up with.

The original Intel® NUC: 10+ years of innovation

Legend says that more than 10 years ago, Intel challenged its engineers to come up with the smallest possible motherboard that used standard components and wouldn’t compromise on performance. The result was a four-by-four inch squared motherboard, and the NUC was born.

Ever since, Intel has continued to advance the NUC portfolio with more power, more capabilities, and more aesthetics. Today, both commercial and consumer buyers can find NUCs in a variety of shapes and sizes for virtually any use case imaginable. Want a high-powered gaming rig with RGB lighting? There’s a NUC for that. Want a wood chassis that looks classy? There’s a NUC for that too.

Browse all Intel NUC offerings 

Explore the Intel NUC Ecosystem

The advantages of Intel NUC

How can the Intel NUC go toe-to-toe with similar PC towers? The answer is power density. The NUC is like a PC singularity, condensing comparable performance and the capabilities of a standard PC into a tiny footprint. The truth is, sometimes with big desktops you’re paying more to get more components instead of more performance. Intel NUC pares down the platform to essentials plus your preferred components, so you’re only paying for what you want. Not to mention these other great benefits:

  • Sustainable and ecologically friendly: In 2021, Intel kept 99.5 percent of all returned material out of landfills, designed 95 percent of all packaging to be recyclable or reusable, and used recycled plastics in many Intel® NUC chassis. Learn more about Intel NUC’s sustainability.
  • Right to repair, upgrade, and configure: Intel NUC will always support consumer choice so that you can plug in your preferred memory, storage, graphics, and more. And if you do want a prebaked solution, Intel has you covered.
  • Three-year warranty: Protect your investment without extra cost. Intel offers three-year limited warranties on Intel® NUC products purchased from Intel® Authorized Distributors.
  • A huge portfolio: No other form factor is as versatile as Intel NUC. From gaming to home theater, business, and even DIY kits, Intel NUC delivers great experiences while defying limits.

An Intel NUC for everyone and every situation 

Four by four inches squared was just the beginning. Intel NUCs now range in size, shape, aesthetic, and performance power from the very light to the heavy duty while still maintaining a chic figure.

Figure 2. The Intel NUC 12 Extreme delivers high frame rates for your favorite games at nearly half the size of a standard gaming PC.

Intel NUC for gaming

Yes, you can game on Intel NUC. Gaming NUCs provide true customization, cool form factors, and LAN-party portability that’ll spare you the hassle of lugging around a giant tower when you want to game with friends. Take a look at the eight-liter Intel® NUC 12 Extreme (see Figure 2), featuring customizable RGB lighting at nearly half the volume of a standard 15-liter PC.

Intel NUC for students

Intel NUC’s portability makes it well suited to college life. Students traveling between school and home can take the backpack-friendly Intel NUC with them and use the home TV as a plug-in monitor. Parents will also find the NUC’s small form factor delivers the right level of performance and multimedia capabilities for online learning, book reports, and homework during the K‒12 years.

Home theater Intel NUCs

Popcorn-ready Intel NUC provides full PC functionality over standard media players, enabling a TV experience for everything including web-only media. Compact size, quietness, 4K video support, up to Intel® Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+), and Bluetooth allow the Intel NUC to work with any room configuration without disrupting your decor.

Intel NUC for business

Intel NUC for business is everything IT departments dream of—a fits-anywhere footprint combined with reliability, 24/7 support, a three-year warranty, and support for Intel vPro platform1 manageability tools that make life easier for technicians and users alike. Intel NUC is also precertified with select independent software vendors (ISVs), making it easier to scale deployments cost-effectively with your preferred software.

Home Office Intel NUC

Working from home has never been so cozy. The pint-size Intel NUC fits anywhere for a clean and organized workspace while delivering the performance and capabilities to support videoconferencing, productivity, and getting into your flow state.

Content Creation Intel NUC

Bring your vision to life with the right toolset. In addition to sporting high-powered Intel® Core™ i3, i5, i7 and i9 processors, Intel NUCs for content creation support integrated or discrete graphics options and feature Thunderbolt™ technology. Daisy-chain multiple monitors, consolidate your cables with docks and hubs, and build the ideal workstation.

The Intel® NUC Compute Element

Systems integrators, point-of-sale manufacturers, and kiosk designers can unlock a huge competitive advantage with the Intel® NUC Compute Element. This innovative design integrates processor, memory, and graphics into a single, credit-card-sized unit built for modularity. Preserve your motherboard connections and configurations through upgrade cycles, and simply swap in a new Intel® NUC Element to take advantage of each new processor generation.

Figure 3. The wallet-friendly Intel NUC Compute Element makes it easy to swap in future generations without changing the motherboard or configuration.

Intel® NUC kits

For those who tinker, Intel NUC kits offer the best in customization potential. Each kit includes the processor, motherboard, and chassis but allows you to add your choice of memory, storage, and peripherals to create the ideal solution for any situation.
 

What’s next for Intel NUC: Constant innovation

The definition of Intel NUC is compute in a constant state of form factor revolution. Intel is constantly bringing forth new designs to delight and inspire. Watch this space for what’s to come.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

The Next Unit of Computing (NUC) is a small form factor device or compute element that started as a mini PC but has advanced to become something much more powerful and versatile. Intel® NUCs match and often exceed the functionality and performance of a standard PC. Intel started the NUC classification 10+ years ago by designing the smallest possible motherboard that could accommodate standard components. Ever since, NUCs have become a mainstream offering from multiple providers, but the Intel® NUC remains a leader and innovator in this space.

NUC condenses similar performance and the capabilities of a standard PC into a tiny footprint. The early versions of Intel NUC featured motherboards that were four by four inches squared. Today NUCs come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. There are NUCs for virtually every use case, from gaming PCs to content creation or productivity-focused workstations as well as modular devices with Intel vPro® platform support built for business.2 Tinkerers will also enjoy the customization potential of Intel NUC kits, which come with a chassis, motherboard, and processor and allow builders to add in their own memory and storage device.

Product and Performance Information

1All versions of the Intel vPro® platform require an eligible Intel® Core™ processor, a supported operating system, Intel® LAN and/or WLAN silicon, firmware enhancements, and other hardware and software necessary to deliver the manageability use cases, security features, system performance, and stability that define the platform. See intel.com/performance-vpro for details.
2All versions of the Intel vPro® platform require an eligible Intel® Core™ processor, a supported operating system, Intel® LAN and/or WLAN silicon, firmware enhancements, and other hardware and software necessary to deliver the manageability use cases, security features, system performance, and stability that define the platform. See intel.com/performance-vpro for details.