Intel's 4-inch Next Unit of Computing to cost $400

Computex — Intel's got next... The Next Unit of Computing, that is. While making our way through the madness at the Computex trade show in Taipei, Taiwan, we stopped by Intel's booth to check out the company's new small-form-factor PC. The 4" x 4" NUC is truly tiny, and it really needs to be seen to be appreciated. Here's the diminutive system and motherboard posed next to an iPhone for reference.

Although the NUC was designed primarily for kiosks and digital signage, there's been so much interest that Intel expects products to be available from both system integrators and etailers. Users should have the option of buying complete systems, barebones configs, or just the motherboard. We could see cases offered by multiple enclosure makers, too.

The initial system will arrive in the third quarter of this year and cost $400. Inside the box, you'll find a mobile Core i3 processor paired with the HM65 chipset. USB 3.0 didn't make the cut for this version, which will feature three USB 2.0 ports in addition to dual HDMI outputs. Audio will be carried over HDMI, and we can expect 4GB of RAM, a 40GB mSATA SSD, and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The motherboard has dual SO-DIMM and mini PCIe slots, so there's some freedom to mix and match components.

This first version is just the beginning. In the fourth quarter, we can expect another configuration with a 7-series chipset, USB 3.0 support, and Thunderbolt connectivity. The platform is designed for 17W CPUs, and Intel is planning variants with Core i5 and i7 processors. A cheaper, Celeron-based version may be offered, as well.

At the moment, Intel is finalizing the case and cooling solution. Those areas aren't its strengths, the company conceded, and it's working closely with chassis makers to iron out the details. The demo system was equipped with an Ivy Bridge-based Core i5 CPU whose temperature topped out at 79°C while rendering a Cinebench scene. Considering the NUC's size, that's not bad for a CPU that showed no signs of deviating from its 2.7GHz Turbo peak.

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