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Since we're a PC hardware review site, I'm required by guild by-laws to include some benchmark results for the NUC. Thus, you're about to be subjected to a specious comparison, pitting the helpless little NUC against full-grown desktop PC systems with vastly higher power envelopes. Somewhere in Oregon, an Intel product manager just burst a vein in his temple. Our purpose here is not to humiliate the NUC, but to offer some context.

This may be all the context you need, really: the Core i3-3217U in the NUC has dual cores ticking along at 1.8GHz. The lowest-end Intel desktop chip we've tested based on the same Ivy Bridge silicon, the Pentium G2120, runs at 3.1GHz, nearly twice the frequency in a 55W power envelope. Notably, the NUC has Hyper-Threading while the Pentium does not, but one would still expect the Pentium to be much quicker. A look at the numbers confirms it.

So the NUC's speed isn't going to blow your hair back, but this thing is also more than half as fast as a modern desktop system, which is pretty good. We don't have any numbers from Atom or Brazos systems in this latest set of results, but if you look back at our older results, you'll observe that the dual-core Atom D525's 7-Zip compression rate is under half the NUC's and its x264 encoding rate is one third or less. There are some software rev differences there, so the comparisons aren't exact, but those numbers should be sufficient to establish that the NUC is a different class of system—just like an Ultrabook seriously outclasses a netbook.