New, cheaper Intel NUC coming next month

Intel's Next Unit of Computing is about to get cheaper. While visiting Intel's booth at CES, our Editor in Chief was shown a new version of the small-form-factor system featuring a slower Celeron 847 processor. That machine is scheduled to launch in early February, and Intel expects it to cost $100 less than current models.

The existing NUC, which we reviewed in November, packs a Core i3-3217U processor and will set you back $319.99 at Newegg. A variant without Thunderbolt is also available for $289.99. Compared to the Core i3-3217U, the Celeron 847 in the upcoming model lacks Hyper-Threading support and runs at 1.1GHz instead of 1.8GHz. The slower chip also has 1MB less cache and lower-clocked integrated graphics.

In addition to the Celeron-based variant, Intel is also cooking up a Core i5-powered NUC. That model will come out in April, and it's going to have vPro capabilities, USB 3.0, and triple-display support. Intel says the machine is being added to the NUC lineup in response to user feedback.

Speaking of feedback, Intel said the NUC has "completely exceeded" its expectations, and that the company is "going to go big" in the future. The chipmaker hinted that a Haswell-powered version of the NUC with even more onboard functionality will be out late this year. Here's hoping the company has found a more elegant way around the thermal problem we encountered in our testing. Last I checked, Intel's present solution involves running the fan at a default speed of 50%—probably not ideal for use in the living room or for other acoustically sensitive applications.

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