The NUC is Intel’s take on the tiny barebone computer builds that first got launched back in 2013. Today, the NUC has had several builds featuring Sandy Bridge-based processors, Gemini Lake, Kaby Lake, and the whole bunch. The most differentiating factor of the Intel NUCs, in general, is its small form factor, as its motherboard measures 4 x 4 inches. With such a compact form factor, the NUC is perfect for light office or home use, as you can move it out of the way (using the VESA mount behind the monitor, for example), and even when it is standing on the desk, it does not take up that much space at all. This time around, we are looking at Intel NUC 11 Extreme, codenamed the Beast Canyon. This compact computer is changing the landscape of barebone gaming computers with some NUC philosophy behind it.
Intel NUC 11 Extreme Beast Canyon Hardware Features
First and foremost, it is essential to know that Intel sells NUC 11 Extreme exclusively as kits for the customer or retail to assemble it, adding in storage devices, graphics cards, and RAM. However, the build kit does include the main module with a built-in processor, power supply unit, and the case itself. With that said, Intel has two versions of the NUC 11 Extreme on sale, one with the i7-11700B (8 core, 16 thread) or the overclock capable i9-11900KB. The latter is to cost US$1350, while the i7 equipped one will go up to US$1150. In addition, the NUC 11 comes in a lengthy case, which is 14.1 inches in length, 7.4 inches in height, and 4.7 inches in width, providing suitable space for a graphics card such as the GeForce RTX 3000 series. This fact alone moves the NUC gaming capabilities miles ahead of the previous iterations of the platform.
One must wonder just how much potential these compact machines have and the possible use cases. With as much flexibility as the NUC 11 carries while still maintaining its compact form factor, using this computer to power standalone gaming machines such as casino slots with dual monitor configurations almost comes in naturally. In addition, the casino gaming industry benefits from improved hardware in smaller form factors and enabling their customers to play games on-premises or in their homes, using smartphones, or tablets, which is yet another form of compact computing. Current trends indicate that hardware is getting smaller while software becomes more optimized, so the two streams complement each other well. As a result, the casino gaming industry, and the digital entertainment industry in general, thrives on these two concepts.
Upgradeability of the Intel NUC 11 Extreme
Compared to the previous iteration, the NUC 11 Extreme is miles ahead in upgradeability or simply fitting proper hardware inside. For example, the NUC 9 Extreme, known as the Ghost Canyon, held RTX 3060 at best, while the new NUC 11 contains RTX 3080 Ti, with an inch of theoretical room to spare. In addition, the internal layout of the machine design is simple but innovative and convenient way, so there are no more pivoting GPU brackets anymore. Once completed, the NUC 11 Extreme gets packed tightly, but it is still possible to reach in and grab whatever you might need to check, as the layout is simply that good.