Feeds
Intel NUC D54250WYK

Haswell micro: Intel’s Next Unit of Computing desktop PC

It's a NUC-ing beauty.....

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Party at the back...

That’s on the exposed half of the 110 x 110mm motherboard. Round the other side sits the surface-mounted two-core, four-thread i5-4250U processor with its on-die Intel HD Graphics 5000 GPU. The CPU runs at 1.3GHz but can auto-overclock to 2.6GHz if thermals permit. Windows reported a maximum speed of 1.9GHz, though PCMark 7 pushed it over 2.10GHz a number of times during its run and peaked at 2.45GHz.

Intel NUC D54250WYK

Inside: note the SATA jack and the "bunk bed" mini PCIe slots, here with a Wi-Fi card installed but not yet an SSD

Intel slipped me a 180GB mSATA SSD and 802.11ac Wi-Fi card with which to test the new NUC, but it doesn’t come with these devices as standard. Kingston Technologies kindly lent me an 8GB stick of its ValueRAM 1.35V DDR3L.

Last year’s NUC got a PCMark 7 score of 3960. Its successor scored 4676, an 18 per cent increase despite a 27.8 per cent decrease in base clock speed, though of course different storage and memory products make the values not directly comparable - or with those from other NUCs, for the same reason.

Last year’s NUC is now running the XBMC-based OpenElec OS - very capably, I might add - so I couldn’t do a head-to-head graphics performance test, but running 3DMark 8 shows the new NUC’s HD 5000 GPU delivers a decent performance for an IGP provided you don’t yank up the quality settings. Full HD playback is no problem.

3DMark 8 results

Larger bars are better (Click for a larger image)

Intel’s SSD came with Windows 8 pre-loaded, but clearly you’re free to install your own choice on your own, empty drive. I slipped in a Ubuntu live USB stick and found that it worked without bother. With no handy remote control, I couldn’t try the IR receiver, though.

I’ll be installing Mint on the NUC shortly. I’ll report any issues back here in due course.

NUC remains a pricey option. The NUC kit alone with set you back just under £300 and you’ll have to budget for memory and an mSATA SSD at the very least, more if you require Wi-Fi and don’t want to use Ethernet. A 240GB Crucial M500 mSATA drive will cost you around £120, or £245 for a 480GB one. You’re looking at around £120 for a pair of 8GB DDR3L-1600 SO-Dimms, plus perhaps £30 if you don’t happen to have a keyboard and a mouse going spare.

It’s not a unique product: Apple’s Mac Mini comes fully complemented with 4GB of RAM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a 500GB HDD for £499, but it’s not based on Haswell chippery, so quite apart from the micro-architectural disadvantage of the previous Intel platform, you get a lesser on-board GPU. It’s also not as compact.

NUC

Not the cheapest PC, but one of the smallest

Gigabyte’s Brix is a NUC-alike that is based on Haswell. Take the Core i5 4200U-based GB-BXi5-4200: it’s slightly more expensive (£310) for the barebones model. Unlike the NUC it comes with single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi bundled, but a lesser GPU, the Intel HD 4400. That said, the Brix range is more extensive, running from a £170 Celeron-based unit up to a £500 version with a Core i7, so there’s more scope to match budget to required functionality.

Of course, if you don’t care about form-factor, you can pick up a cheap laptop for under £400 these days. But that form-factor is the whole point of the NUC.

The Reg Verdict

Intel has revised its micro-desktop to deal with all of the criticisms levelled at the last version: more complete connectivity, better media centre friendliness and, of course, the lean Haswell processor. It really is now the ideal media centre micro. And it makes a darn fine little office desktop too. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Intel NUC D54250WYK

Haswell micro: Intel’s Next Unit of Computing desktop PC

Barebones Haswell Core i5 PC in a very compact, 11 x 11 x 4cm casing with USB 3.0, HDMI, DisplayPort and Gigabit Ethernet on-board IO.
Price: £300 RRP

More from The Register

next story
Nice computers don’t need to go to the toilet, says Barclays
Bad computers might ask if you are Sarah Connor
4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles
Have your say with Ofcom now, before Freeview becomes Feeview
YES, iPhones ARE getting slower with each new release of iOS
Old hardware doesn't get any faster with new software
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
You didn't get the MeMO? Asus Pad 7 Android tab is ... not bad
Really, er, stands out among cheapie 7-inchers
Apple winks at parents: C'mon, get your kid a tweaked Macbook Pro
Cheapest models given new processors, more RAM
VMware builds product executables on 50 Mac Minis
And goes to the Genius Bar for support
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Microsoft stands on shore as tablet-laden boat sails away
Brit buyers still not falling for Windows' charms
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.