Minisforum NUCXi7 – a strong extremely compact gaming PC for the lounge (assessment)

The NUCXi7 from Minisforum is squarely aimed toward players wanting a compact PC sufficiently small…

Minisforum NUCXi7 – a strong extremely compact gaming PC for the lounge (assessment)

The NUCXi7 from Minisforum is squarely aimed toward players wanting a compact PC sufficiently small to hook up with their front room tv and mix into their leisure unit. The smaller and extra energy-efficient kind issue additionally appeals to conventional PC customers seeking to save desk area and scale back their electrical energy invoice. 

The NUCXi7 is in regards to the measurement of a 15.6-inch gaming laptop computer with the display screen, keyboard and battery eliminated. Powered by an eleventh Gen Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia RTX 3070 cell GPU, the chassis of the NUCXi7 resembles a slimline video games console reasonably than a standard desktop tower.

With a beginning value of $US1,029, the NUCXi7 is notably cheaper than a comparable Intel NUC whereas additionally boasting considerably higher gaming efficiency.

Is the NUCXi7 the lounge gaming PC to beat? 

NUCXi7 Design

Though considerably smaller and slimmer than a standard small kind issue (SFF) PC, the NUCXi7 is bigger than your typical mini PC such because the Beelink GTR5 I not too long ago reviewed.

The NUCXi7 is designed to be mounted upright by way of the included hefty steel stand. As a result of means the cooling is designed with the consumption on the underside of the chassis, the unit can’t be laid on its facet. 

General, the NUCXi7 appears glossy and feels sturdy. It’s straightforward to entry the internals by merely unscrewing three screws and sliding off the underside panel. There are 5 thick copper warmth pipes in addition to two followers to maintain the system working cool and quiet.

The NUCXi7 comes with two twin DDR4 SODIMM RAM slots and two NVMe SSD trays. The RAM, SSD and WiFi card are all consumer upgradeable.

Wanting on the mainboard, you’ll be able to clearly see the NUCXi7 laptop computer roots with plugs and headers for connecting the keyboard, display screen and battery nonetheless seen. On the high of the unit, there’s a big quantity of empty area the place the battery would usually sit. I’d’ve most popular this area used for a 2.5-inch drive or eliminated completely for extra environment friendly area utilization. 

NUCXi7 diagonal view
The NUCXi7 packs loads of energy for its measurement

NUCXi7 Ports and connectivity 

The NUCXi7 is a bit of mild within the ports division. It has an HDMI 2.1, Thunderbolt 4 and a couple of.5Gbit/s on the again and 3x USB 3.2 Kind-A ports, a headphone jack and an SD Card reader on the entrance. I’d’ve appreciated extra USB ports in addition to DisplayPort and there seems to be sufficient area on the unit to accommodate them.

That stated, the inclusion of a Thunderbolt 4 may be very useful. It successfully prolongs the lifetime of the system because it permits the power to attach an exterior graphics card (eGPU) as soon as the RTX 3070 begins to get a bit lengthy within the tooth. 

Having an SD card reader is nice, nevertheless it does look like capped at USB 3 speeds with my file switch take a look at topping out at 82MB/s with a V60 UHS-II SD card. 

Subsequent to the ability swap is a lift button that will increase clock speeds and fan speeds, however the general system nonetheless stays very quiet and positively quite a bit quieter than a gaming laptop computer. In video games, I discovered that the boosted efficiency mode elevated body charges by 10% on common, so I like to recommend leaving it enabled. 

The NUCXi7 makes use of a high-quality Intel Wi-Fi 6E-AX210 card, however I seen the vary isn’t as nice as another laptops. Contemplating this, use the wired 2.5Gbit/s port for one of the best web connection the place potential.  

Pricing and configuration

The NUCXi7 begins at US$1,029 for the barebones system whereas the 16GB RAM mannequin with 256GB SSD is US$1,139. I reviewed the 512GB mannequin which will increase the associated fee barely to US$1,169. All fashions barring the barebones choice include Home windows 11 Professional as properly.

There’s additionally the NUCXi5 mannequin which comes with an Intel Core i5 CPU and RTX 3060 GPU for a beginning value of US$859.  

The included DRR4 RAM is from ADATA and has a score of CL22 which may be very sluggish by way of latency. I felt the reminiscence latency in day-to-day use, with noticeable delays when opening new tabs within the Edge browser and enjoying 4K video. Swapping the RAM out for some spare CL16-rated RAM that I had available from one other laptop computer eradicated the lag problem completely. 

Equally, the included SSD is PCIe Gen3 and never PCIe Gen4, so learn speeds topped out at 2300MB/s and writes at 1600MB/s in my CrystalDiskMark take a look at. Word that for testing, I switched out the 512GB drive for a quicker and bigger 2TB PCIe 4.0 NVMEe SSD from Kingston (Mannequin: NV2) which nearly doubled the learn and write speeds.

Because of this, I like to recommend going for the barebones mannequin and utilizing the cash saved in the direction of quicker RAM and storage. You could find 16GB of low latency SODIMM DDR4 RAM for as low cost as $70, whereas one thing like a Kingston NV2 1TB NVMe SSD goes for a road value of simply $100. By going this route, not solely will you avoid wasting money however you’re going to get a lot better efficiency from the NUCXi7 as properly.

NUCXi7 on desktop

Efficiency 

As soon as I switched out the RAM and storage, efficiency as each a productiveness and gaming machine was glorious. 

Beginning off with artificial benchmarks, the NUCXi7 achieved a single-core rating of 1538 and a multi-core rating of 9172. In 3DMark’s Time Spy benchmark, the RTX 3070 cell GPU contained in the NUCXi7 achieved a graphics rating of 9625. This is a wonderful consequence and quicker than gaming laptops that I’ve examined geared up with the identical GPU. There’s additionally ample headroom for overclocking do you have to want a bit extra efficiency.

On the gaming entrance, the NUCXi7 persistently delivered above 60fps as a baseline on extremely settings at 1440p decision with each sport I threw at it from Management to God of Battle. The one two exceptions have been Cyberpunk 2077 and Dying Mild 2 which I needed to drop all the way down to 1080p to get above 60fps. Barely older titles reminiscent of Witcher 3 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider delivered above 100fps on common at 1440p on extremely graphics settings.

I used to be capable of run fairly a stunning variety of latest titles at native 4K at 60fps as properly reminiscent of Forza Horizon 5 and Doom Everlasting

My most popular technique to play on the NUCXi7 is to run video games at 1440p and use Nvidia’s DLSS to upscale to 4K which appeared incredible on my 77-inch LG CX OLED. Utilizing Nvidia’s AI-powered upscaling can at instances look simply nearly as good as native 4K and avoids efficiency hits that usually include working at such excessive resolutions.

It’s price noting that the NUCXi7 has a totally unlocked BIOS, which is uncommon to search out on prebuilt methods and will increase the overclocking potential.

GadgetGuy’s take 

The NUCXi7 affords stellar efficiency in an ultra-small and power-efficient bundle. It’s an incredible alternative for anybody on the lookout for a desktop PC substitute with out the complexity of constructing one. By way of gaming efficiency, it outperforms each different Intel NUC available on the market in addition to different gaming laptops geared up with the exact same RTX 3070 cell GPU. The highest-notch cooling means it runs quieter whereas additionally providing beneficiant headroom for overclocking. 

At a beginning value of $US1,029, the NUCXi7 is competitively priced and I like to recommend going the barebones route so you’ll be able to equip the system with quicker RAM and storage. After all, the NUCXi7 gained’t sway conventional PC customers who can construct a extra highly effective and upgradeable system for much less, however then you definitely gained’t get one thing as ultra-compact as this.

If you happen to’re on the lookout for an extremely small and quiet gaming PC that’s each highly effective and will not break the financial institution, the NUCXi7 from Minisforum is hard to beat.

Positives

Stellar gaming efficiency for a system of its measurement

Runs cool and quiet

Glorious construct high quality

Headroom for overclocking and an unlocked BIOS

Fairly priced

Negatives

Might use extra USB ports and a DisplayPort

Latency with the included RAM is simply too excessive

Can’t be laid on its facet