Intel's Tiny NUC "Next Unit of Computing" PC

PCMark & 3DMark Tests

So, what kind of performance can you expect out of a system that fits in the palm of your hand? To find out, we first fired up Futuremark's system performance benchmark, PCMark 7. This synthetic benchmark suite simulates a range of real-world scenarios and workloads, stressing various system subsets in the process. Everything you'd want to do with your PC -- watching HD movies, music compression, image editing, gaming, and so forth -- is represented here. Most of the tests are multi-threaded, making this a good indicator of all-around performance.

Futuremark PCMark 7
Simulated Application Performance

Simply put, this is an incredible score for a mini PC. Remember the Atom-based Zotac ZBOX ID80 Plus system we mentioned earlier? That small form factor (SFF) PC is almost twice as big as the NUC, but it only mustered 713 in PCMark 7.

Our PCMark 7 run highlights that the NUC is every bit a desktop system, regardless of its ultra small stature. It's score is more in line with higher end desktops, besting even Dell's Alienware X51 (3,048) and iBuyPower's Gamer Power BTS 11 (3,536). Both of those machines are geared toward gaming, but for every day use, the NUC's Ivy Bridge foundation coupled with a fast SSD provides plenty of pep.

Futuremark 3DMark 11
Simulated Gaming Performance

The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark11, is specifically bound to Windows 7-based systems because it uses the advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 11. 3DMark11 isn't simply a port of 3DMark Vantage to DirectX 11, though. With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated four new graphics tests, a physics tests, and a new combined test. We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark11's Performance preset option.

As expected, the 3DMark 11 score is pretty anemic. The low score isn't directly related to the size of the system, rather it's because of the integrated Intel Graphics HD 4000. There's just not a lot of pixel pushing power there, and though there isn't room for a discrete graphics card, we wouldn't be surprised if Intel crammed a discrete GPU onto the motherboard in a future iteration. For now, only light gaming is possible.

Another look at the NUC's performance in 3DMark 11, this time on the "Entry" preset. Even on low settings, the integrated graphics struggle when it comes to any kind of real gaming.

Tags:  Reviews, Intel, systems, NUC

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