Review: Intel’s “Raptor Canyon” NUC is a compact gaming PC without the stress

Intel's new "Raptor Canyon" NUC Extreme (rear) is a lot larger but also a lot more capable than previous NUC Extreme boxes (front).
Enlarge / Intel’s new “Raptor Canyon” NUC Intense (rear) is a good deal bigger but also a lot extra able than previous NUC Excessive packing containers (front).

Andrew Cunningham

Intel’s NUC (Up coming Unit of Computing) desktops rose to prominence about a ten years in the past by staying tiny they ended up basically laptops without having screens or batteries, crammed within a tiny box.

But in the yrs due to the fact, Intel has flirted with much larger NUCs. They have often been reasonably smaller, but as they graduated from dedicated notebook GPUs to standard focused GPUs to even-more substantial devoted GPUs, the NUC Extraordinary PCs have steadily grown to the place that they are now encroaching on do-it-on your own desktops constructed about mini ITX motherboards, little SFX electrical power materials, and other sizing-conscious elements.

Enter “Raptor Canyon,” the most current and most significant in Intel’s line of desktop PCs. It replaces the “Dragon Canyon” NUC structure and improves on it by building home for more time triple-slot GPUs—up to 12 inches (or just above 300 mm) long. That’s not enough house for just one of Nvidia’s large RTX 4090 and 4080 playing cards, but it can fit just about everything else.

Raptor Canyon could possibly enchantment to folks who want a strong gaming desktop devoid of placing in the legwork, study, and trial and error that comes with creating a pc inside a very small circumstance. It truly is a desktop that would not make feeling for everyone, and there are even now some trade-offs you’ll make if you obtain it. But the capability to match much more potent GPUs implies it will make a tiny far more perception than the middle-of-the-street Dragon Canyon box did.

Maximizing space

The Raptor Canyon NUC Excessive box is just shy of twice the measurement of the old NUC Extreme—it appears to be like two old Dragon Canyon containers stacked on leading of every other. And Intel is utilizing a large amount of the exact same tricks to conserve space.

The coronary heart of the NUC Intense is the “Compute Aspect,” a proprietary motherboard with an LGA 1700 CPU socket, along with area for two notebook-sized DDR5 SODIMM sticks and three PCIe 4. M.2 slots for interior SSDs. That Compute Component plugs into the leading of a separate proprietary board, which also has a PCIe 5. slot on the base for connecting the dedicated GPU (the aged NUC Extreme also utilised a go-involving board like this, but with the GPU slot future to the Compute Ingredient slot as an alternative of on the reverse facet of the board).

Intel helps make some allowances for normal pieces the unit’s 750 W electrical power offer appears to be a conventional SFX model that could be swapped out for one more a single, as are the 120 mm situation fans that vent very hot air out of the system’s left facet. The aspect, top, and base panels are all primarily manufactured of mesh for airflow’s sake. Our assessment unit had 3 8-pin PCIe electrical power connectors pre-mounted and a 12VHPWR connector rated at 300 W. This isn’t really quite sufficient energy for an RTX 4080 or 4090, not that a single would physically suit inside of the case in the initially put.

An audio jack, two USB-A ports, and a USB-C port on the top of the NUC Extreme.
Enlarge / An audio jack, two USB-A ports, and a USB-C port on the leading of the NUC Extraordinary.

Andrew Cunningham

The Compute Element also has the the greater part of the computer’s ports, aside from the outputs on what ever GPU you use: a person 2.5 gigabit Ethernet port, a person 10 gigabit Ethernet port, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, audio jacks, an HDMI port (for integrated GPU output), additionally 6 USB-A ports. Headers on the motherboard deliver connections for a USB-C port, a further pair of USB-A ports, and an audio jack on the leading front of the Personal computer for easy access.

A single previous enhance in excess of the previous Dragon Canyon NUC layout (for persons who want even much more storage than the M.2 slots can present): An empty push tray on the computer’s still left side can in shape a pair of 2.5-inch SATA drives or a solitary 3.5-inch SATA travel

What Raptor Canyon gains in performance, it loses in aptitude. The Dragon Canyon box experienced some crafted-in LED lighting in the form of a glowing cranium logo on the entrance (which I could acquire or depart) and glowing LED strips on the sides and front (which I imagine seem good). There are no LEDs on Raptor Canyon other than the white just one close to the electric power button, and the Compute Factor does not look to include things like typical 3- or 4-pin RGB headers for people today who want to change the plain 120 mm followers on the aspect for RGB variations. I like the understated seem, but people who want their PCs to gentle up with LEDs will be unhappy.