Intel NUC 8 PC review: tiny gamer

A typical gaming PC is large, shrill, expensive or a combination of all three. Even laptops for games are distinguished from the rest of the world of laptops by their bulk design and player style, with lights, logos and grids in abundance. But the PC I've been playing on for the past few weeks takes up less space in my bag than a hardcover novel.

The next generation of Intel's next computing unit (uf, I'll just call it NUC) is an honest and good gaming PC capable of running the latest AAA titles at frame rates that will not instantly make you shoot. However, it is small enough to fit on top of my desk, under my monitor and uses much less electrical power than a typical PC gaming platform with equivalent capabilities.

Verge Score

Good Stuff

  • It's super small
  • Powerful enough to play with
  • Easy RAM expansion and storage capacity

Bad Stuff

  • It's expensive
  • It must provide its own RAM, storage and operating system
  • Not as future-proof as a full-size gaming PC

Intel has been manufacturing NUC computers for years as a way to demonstrate how much computing power can be packed into a small form factor. The latest model (the NUC 8) is the first one that can actually run games as it is supposed to be, and is even powerful enough to run high-end virtual reality experiences. He is able to do this thanks to an association of when-pig-fly that came true earlier this year: there is an AMD graphics card right next to the eighth-generation Intel Core i7 processor in the tiny NUC 8 motherboard that It's a big part of the uprising to play. Although it is much smaller and less energy-hungry than the discrete graphics card that gaming computers typically use, the AMD Radeon RX Vega M is still very successful.

In addition to being a capable gaming platform, the NUC 8 is also very powerful. and fast work station, capable of generating productivity and creative needs with ease. Using it as a workstation makes me think that it is a modern Mac Mini, but with much more power than the one that Apple has put in its small computer. The size and power of the NUC 8 also make it an attractive choice of home theater PC (HTPC) on your entertainment console as something that can easily handle video streaming or game room, although AnandTech discovered that it does not support YouTube HDR video or UHD Blu-ray playback, which may discourage some.

Despite its ultra-compact form factor (the box weighs about three pounds and measures 8.7 x 5.5 x 1.5 inches, not unlike a typical cable modem), the NUC 8 has more ports than any other format computer little. There are six USB-A ports, one USB-C 3.1 port, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, two mini DisplayPorts, two Ethernet connectors, two HDMI ports, two 3.5 mm audio inputs and one full-size SD card slot. One of the HDMI ports, two of the USB-A ports, the USB-C port, the SD card slot and one of the 3.5 mm connectors are located on the front of the machine for easy access, while the Rest of / O is neatly arranged around. This number of inputs and outputs allows NUC 8 to support up to six screens at a time and obviates the need for any external USB hub or reader.

Although it's definitely not traditional, the NUC 8 still has some built-in game tropes in its chassis. There's a bright skull on top that lights up every time the PC is on and there are multiple LED indicator lights on the front. The good thing is that there is an application that allows you to customize the colors and flashing patterns of the skull and LED lights to anything in the RGB spectrum, or disable them completely, including the skull, if you wish.

Unlike typical PCs, Intel NUCs are sold "barebones", which means you must add your own RAM, storage and operating system. Because of that, the value proposition for this is not very high, since the NUC itself starts at $ 799 before adding those necessary components. The board supports up to 32 GB of DDR4 RAM and has two NVMe M.2 slots for storage. To get a NUC 8 equipped with the review unit provided by Intel (Intel Core i7 8809G, 16 GB Kingston HyperX DDR4 RAM, an Intel Optane 800p SSD 118 GB and an Intel 512 GB SSD 54, plus Windows 10 Pro) It would cost approximately $ 1,700 in total. That's not cheap, especially when you consider that you still need a screen, a mouse and a keyboard before you can fragment your first n00b. Without a doubt, you can get a more traditional PC for games, with a large form factor and a full-size discrete graphic card for less. But that PC does not fit perfectly on your desk or you can put it in your bag to take it to a friend's house.

With the NUC 8 connected to my ultra wide monitor, I was able to execute titles like Star Wars. : Battlefront II and Battlefield 1 at 1080p resolution with frame rates between 60 and 90 frames per second. It is not as high as you can get with something like an Nvidia GTX1080 graphics card, but it is certainly good enough to be reproducible. ( The extensive AnandTech benchmarks of the NUC 8 discovered that the Vega M worked as well as a next-generation GPU of the Nvidia 900 series.) Still, if you want more room for maneuver and more protection against the future, then a traditional gaming PC and a high-end graphics card will be better suited to your needs than the NUC 8.

Even if you're not interested in games, the NUC 8 could be as intriguing as a PC powerful and compact to edit images and videos. I am not a video editor, but I used the NUC 8 to process RAW images in Lightroom and do some Photoshop work, and it was much easier than with the laptops where I usually work. As expected, I also had no problem managing my other work requirements, which include many browser tabs and multiple tasks including Slack, email, writing, viewing videos and social networks.

The NUC 8 has fans inside its compact chassis, and will spin under load, especially when playing. But they are not as strong as a full-size case, and I never found them too unpleasant or annoying while working or playing.

In general, it is assumed that the NUC 8 is not something that many people buy Exists to show what can be done with a small format PC. And thanks to the new partnership of Intel and AMD, it turns out that it can do a lot.

Photograph by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Vox Media has affiliated associations. These do not influence the editorial content, although Vox Media can earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy .

Leave a Reply