Intel NUC: The Next Generation HTPC We’ve Been Waiting For?

Intel NUC: The Next Generation HTPC We've Been Waiting For?Exciting news for the HTPC crowd coming out of Intel’s 2012 Developers Forum that is currently underway. It looks like they have finally announced a release date for the Intel NUC system which surfaced earlier this summer. NUC or “Next Unit of Computing” is a totally new design from the chipmaker. The NUC is smaller than a mini-itx board, but larger than a nano-itx or pico-itx board.  It is a built to a nice 4” x 4” form factor.  Intel has stated that the units will be initially available with a Core i3 Ivy Bridge processors.  Intel will not be selling full systems, but will be supplying these as barebones kits to 3rd party PC manufacturers . The initial system will come with Intel HD4000 graphics, dual SO-DIMM slots, and two mini-PCIe slots. External ports include an HDMI output, three USB ports (one front, two back), an RJ45 LAN jack, and a DC power port. There will also be versions that include a thunderbolt port for added storage or peripherals.

The release date is slated for this October, and the pricing seems to be up in the air right now. Some sources are stating $399 for the “kit”, while others are saying $399 is for a complete system. Intel has also stated that the “NUC” will be a family and should include the entire processor line from Atom to i7. Which should provide a cheaper entry level solution, and higher end models as well.

This system could very well be the ultimate HTPC. Small form factor? Check! Great performance? Check! Low Power? Check!  The unit will most likely house a mobile version of the core i3 processor and likely be in the 25-35w tdp range, which should put this system at around 15 watts idling and 20-25 watts at normal use.  These systems would be right at home attached to a Ceton infinTV4USB tuner or any HDHomeRun tuner.

I would look for versions of the NUC, with the usual Zotac, Foxconn, Shuttle, and maybe even Lenovo brands attached to them for the holiday season. The manufacturers will probably add Wi-Fi to some models and bundle them with keyboards or remotes as full systems or as bare bones machines.

The future of small HTPCs is looking a little brighter. Now if we could just get the green button company to add some much needed updates to our favorite Media Center software with some tighter 3rd party online integration, and possibly reveal it in the Windows 8 marketplace for $9.99 on launch?   And while I am wishing, how about a Microsoft “Signature Certified” NUC system available from their retail stores for Christmas?? Anyone??

Source: PC World