Evaluate: Intel’s “Raptor Canyon” NUC is a compact gaming PC with out the stress

Enlarge / Intel’s new “Raptor Canyon” NUC Excessive (rear) is lots bigger but in addition…

Evaluate: Intel’s “Raptor Canyon” NUC is a compact gaming PC with out the stress
Evaluate: Intel’s “Raptor Canyon” NUC is a compact gaming PC with out the stress
Enlarge / Intel’s new “Raptor Canyon” NUC Excessive (rear) is lots bigger but in addition much more succesful than earlier NUC Excessive containers (entrance).

Andrew Cunningham

Intel’s NUC (Subsequent Unit of Computing) desktops rose to prominence a couple of decade in the past by being small; they had been primarily laptops with out screens or batteries, crammed inside a tiny field.

However within the years since, Intel has flirted with bigger NUCs. They’ve all the time been comparatively small, however as they graduated from devoted laptop computer GPUs to common devoted GPUs to even-larger devoted GPUs, the NUC Excessive PCs have steadily grown to the purpose that they are now encroaching on do-it-yourself desktops constructed round mini ITX motherboards, small SFX energy provides, and different size-conscious parts.

Enter “Raptor Canyon,” the newest and largest in Intel’s line of desktop PCs. It replaces the “Dragon Canyon” NUC design and improves upon it by making room for longer triple-slot GPUs—as much as 12 inches (or simply over 300 mm) lengthy. That is not sufficient area for considered one of Nvidia’s huge RTX 4090 and 4080 playing cards, however it might match absolutely anything else.

Raptor Canyon may enchantment to individuals who need a highly effective gaming desktop with out placing within the legwork, analysis, and trial and error that comes with constructing a pc inside a tiny case. It is a desktop that will not make sense for everybody, and there are nonetheless some trade-offs you will make should you purchase it. However the skill to suit extra highly effective GPUs means it’s going to make a bit of extra sense than the middle-of-the-road Dragon Canyon field did.

Maximizing area

The Raptor Canyon NUC Excessive field is simply shy of twice the dimensions of the outdated NUC Excessive—it appears like two outdated Dragon Canyon containers stacked on high of one another. And Intel is utilizing a whole lot of the identical methods to avoid wasting area.

The guts of the NUC Excessive is the “Compute Factor,” a proprietary motherboard with an LGA 1700 CPU socket, together with room for 2 laptop-sized DDR5 SODIMM sticks and three PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots for inner SSDs. That Compute Factor plugs into the highest of a separate proprietary board, which additionally has a PCIe 5.0 slot on the underside for connecting the devoted GPU (the outdated NUC Excessive additionally used a go-between board like this, however with the GPU slot subsequent to the Compute Factor slot as a substitute of on the alternative facet of the board).

Intel makes some allowances for normal elements; the unit’s 750 W energy provide seems to be a regular SFX mannequin that could possibly be swapped out for one more one, as are the 120 mm case followers that vent sizzling air out of the system’s left facet. The facet, high, and backside panels are all principally fabricated from mesh for airflow’s sake. Our overview unit had three 8-pin PCIe energy connectors pre-installed and a 12VHPWR connector rated at 300 W. This is not fairly sufficient energy for an RTX 4080 or 4090, not that one would bodily match contained in the case within the first place.

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 highest of the NUC Excessive.

Andrew Cunningham

The Compute Factor additionally has the vast majority of the pc’s ports, apart from the outputs on no matter GPU you employ: one 2.5 gigabit Ethernet port, one 10 gigabit Ethernet port, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, audio jacks, an HDMI port (for built-in GPU output), plus six USB-A ports. Headers on the motherboard present connections for a USB-C port, one other pair of USB-A ports, and an audio jack on the highest entrance of the PC for simple entry.

One final improve over the outdated Dragon Canyon NUC design (for individuals who need much more storage than the M.2 slots can present): An empty drive tray on the pc’s left facet can match a pair of two.5-inch SATA drives or a single 3.5-inch SATA drive

What Raptor Canyon beneficial properties in performance, it loses in aptitude. The Dragon Canyon field had some built-in LED lighting within the type of a glowing cranium emblem on the entrance (which I may take or go away) and glowing LED strips on the perimeters and entrance (which I feel look good). There aren’t any LEDs on Raptor Canyon aside from the white one across the energy button. However the Compute Factor does have 4 4-pin addressable RGB headers on the identical facet of the board because the GPU slot, for individuals who need to swap the plain 120 mm followers on the facet for RGB variations. I just like the understated look, however individuals who need their PCs to gentle up with LEDs might want to put in some further work.

Replace: A earlier model of this overview acknowledged that the NUC Excessive did not have addressable RGB headers. This has been corrected.