GEEKNOTE: A little over three months ago, I reported on Intel’s “Next Unit of Computing” or “NUC”. We now have our hands on all three processor versions….the Celeron, the i3, and the i5 versions.
We’ve run the Windows Experience Ratings for each of them, plus three conventional workstations as reference systems.
The 1.1ghz Celeron NUC came in dead last in processor performance, scoring a 3.9. My six year old Quad core system at home came in second at 5.9. Mid pack were an older 2.8ghz E5500 desktop and the i3 version of the NUC at 6.2. The 1.8ghz i5 NUC came in a little better at 6.9, just a tad below the 7.1 of a 3.1ghz i3-2100 and my screaming i5 quad core (less than a year old) at work. What is interesting to me is the fact that the clock speed doesn’t mean that much anymore. The newer systems tend to run faster than the older ones, even those with faster clock speeds or more processor cores.
Graphics performance is even more interesting. The Celeron NUC out performs all of the conventional desktops except my i5 quad core at the office, and my quad core at the office can’t keep up with either the i3 or i5 versions of the NUC when it comes to graphics. Again, this is an example of the newer systems simply out performing older ones and a good reason to consider replacing older systems.
The NUCs take everything on hard drive performance, but that isn’t a bit surprising, given that they all use solid state drives. My SSD equipped desktop at work is the only one of the conventional systems that has similar performance.
The conclusion I’ve come to from this exercise is that the Celeron NUC is passable for light duty use, such as the email and web surfing duties that many of our customers do. With a boot time of just 20 seconds and extremely low power consumption, the Celeron NUC worth looking at.
The i3 and i5 versions are quite capable desktop replacements for office use. They both have plenty of horsepower for normal office duties.
One feature of the i5 version is that it supports vPRO, meaning that it supports “out of band” network communication. Put in layman’s terms: We can take remote control of an i5 NUC even if the system won’t boot and needs to have Windows reinstalled. For our customers trying to minimize tech time onsite, this is potentially a huge benefit. The i5 NUC will also drive three monitors compared to the dual monitor capabilities of the other two NUCs (The i5 has one HDMI and two Displayport interfaces, the i3 and the Celeron units have dual HDMI interfaces).
There are four things to consider before picking any NUC as a replacement for your current desktop system:
- The NUCs have limited storage. The largest SSD I’ve found for the NUCs is a 480gb unit. If you store large audio and video files, you can fill one of these up pretty quickly.
- The NUCs do not have an optical drive. With so much software now coming as downloads, this is less of an issue than it might seem. If you back up your data to the cloud, or another machine on your network, then this is not a problem. External optical drives run about $50.
- The NUCs only have three USB ports. If you plug in a keyboard, mouse, and a printer, you have used up all the ports. Fortunately, USB hubs are inexpensive.
- Audio output is via the video ports, so your monitor needs to have speakers or you are going to be using one of your USB ports for a USB audio device.
Does all this sound like fun? Drop by and we’ll let you take them through their paces.