Getting Inside the NUC
There's not a ton you can do inside the NUC, but the parts that are available to tinker with are easily accessibly, starting with the RAM. Two SO-DIMM memory slots sit at the top, supporting up to 16GB of DDR3-1066/1333 RAM. We installed a pair of 2GB sticks for a total of 4GB, which is probably the sweet for a system like this.
On the opposite side is where you'll plug in your mSATA SSD. For the purposes of this evaluation, Intel supplied us with an unreleased 180GB mSATA drive from its 520 Series. It features a SATA 6Gbps interface and is powered by LSI's SandForce SF-2281 controller.
Underneath the SSD is where you'd plug in a wireless card, like the Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 that Intel bundled with this test system. This, along with above mentioned SSD, will not come with the consumer package.
Flipping it over reveals the CPU cooler, fan, and exhaust apparatus. The fan is separate from the heatsink, so if it fails for any reason, it's a quick and easy fix.
Underneath the fan and heastink is an Intel Core i3-\ 3217U (Ivy Bridge) processor soldered onto the motherboard. It's a dual-core CPU clocked at 1.8GHz with 3MB of cache, HyperThreading support, integrated Intel HD Graphics, and a 17W TDP. The GPU has a base frequency of 350MHz and a max dynamic frequency of 1.05GHz. Overall it's a pretty potent chip for a such a small sized system.
The reason we suspect it's an issue with the wireless card is because once we removed it, the NUC performed just fine, albeit without Internet access. There were no more lockups. We typically don't like to glance at other reviews when working on our own (to avoid setting ourselves up for a predisposed bias), but we did peek around to see if others had run into similar issues, and sure enough, we weren't the only ones.
Apparently Intel is aware of the issue is working on a BIOS update to resolve it. This is something we suspect will be fixed before launching to retail (this is a pre-production model, after all).