While we were in Las Vegas for CES we got to spend a little quality time with Intel’s NUC team. They were there to show us the latest generation of the device, and all of its improvements. The NUC has always been an interesting device as it’s an Intel-built small form-factor (SFF) PC that is built to impress. We love to see SFF PCs as home theater PCs, because they typically use less energy, are small enough to hide in your entertainment stack, and sometimes look nice if you aren’t able to hide the PC.
Intel’s NUC platform continues to evolve as their processor lineup does likewise. This year’s model comes packing the latest Broadwell processors. As in previous years you’ll be able to customize a NUC with a Core i3 or Core i5 processor. New for this year is the ability to load it up with all the power of a Core i7 processor. Another big improvement is that they have a taller model that will support not only M.2 SSD cards, but new in this 5th Generation, there’s also room for a traditional SATA3 2.5″ SSD.
Connectivity always matters, and this generation Intel is including even more options built right into the NUC’s motherboard. In addition to the standard 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet adapter, they are including an 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4 chip. The chipset in use, the Intel Wireless-AC 7265, also supports Intel Wireless Display for wireless screen sharing from other devices.
The other new feature that Intel was really excited to show us was their new lid design. At first we thought this was just going to be a silly pitch for personalized lids, but it’s actually much more interesting than that. For starters, they are releasing the design for the lids to the community so that anyone can use a 3D printer to make whatever they can dream up. More importantly though, other partners are making useful products to attach as lids. The most interesting one we saw was from Hauppauge. They’ve built an ATSC tuner into a lid that if it’s styled right, will look as if it came right from the factory. Intel said that we can expect to see the Hauppauge lid available within the next month.
If you’re looking to pick up a new 4k TV then Intel’s NUC will have you covered there. The new Intel HD Graphics 6000 can push 4k video with ease.
We’ve always thought the Intel NUC provided an interesting opportunity for home theater PC builders. Intel’s 5th-generation version continues to make an even stronger case for itself. If you’d like to pick one up, the Core i3 version will be available in January. The Core i5 version will be available in March.