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Intel NUC 13 Excessive Equipment Evaluate: Small is the brand new huge


  • Massive PC efficiency in compact dimension

  • Nice connectivity for its dimension

  • Glorious processor efficiency


  • Enclosure seems plain

  • May be noisy

  • Not simple to improve

The Intel NUC 13 Excessive Equipment is a efficiency beast that may simply muscle previous most desktops.

In regards to the Intel NUC 13 Excessive Equipment

Listed here are the specs of the desktop we examined:

  • Processor: Intel Core i9-13900K
  • Graphics: RTX 3080 Ti (examined, not included with equipment)
  • RAM: 32GB DDR5-4800 (examined, not included with equipment)
  • Storage: 1TB PCIe Gen4 strong state drive (examined, not included with equipment)
  • Wi-fi connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
  • Wired connectivity: 2x Thunderbolt 4/USB-4, 6x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, three-way analog audio, HDMI 2.1, 2x USB-A 3.1 (entrance), 3.5mm audio (entrance), USB-C (entrance)
  • Weight: 15 kilos
  • Dimension: 13.1 x 12.5 x 5.1 inches

There’s one key factor you will need to know in regards to the Intel NUC 13 Excessive Equipment: it’s a equipment PC.

Intel sells the enclosure, the NUC 13 Excessive Compute Component (which incorporates the processor and motherboard), and the facility provide as a bundle. The remainder of the elements in our take a look at configuration have been offered by Intel for testing however will not be included with retail items.

Pricing begins at $1,179 for the entry-level mannequin, which has an Intel NUC 13 Excessive Compute Component with an Intel Core i5-13600K processor. The model I examined, with the Intel Core i9-13900K processor, carries an MSRP of $1,549. That’s first rate worth for what’s included—however constructing out the equipment may show difficult.

What we like

It’s as small as it may be

Top view of the NUC 13 Extreme

Credit score:
Reviewed / Matthew S. Smith

The NUC 13 is sufficiently small to suit on a desk comfortably.

NUC is wedged between a rock and a tough place. Small, compact, user-serviceable design is the model’s mission, however the growing dimension and energy draw of recent PC {hardware} has compelled compromise. The primary gaming-centric NUC was in regards to the dimension of a Wii. The Intel NUC 13 Excessive is a bit bigger than a PlayStation 4 Professional. But I can’t assist however really feel dimension stays a win for Intel.

Is it bigger than earlier than? Sure. However solely as a lot as want be. A fast have a look at the hulking RTX 3080 Ti contained in the Intel NUC Excessive 13 justifies the scale. The cardboard has only a few millimeters of clearance in all instructions, leaving barely sufficient room to extract the cardboard from the chassis. The NUC 13 Excessive may very well be smaller, however that might imply ditching assist for the graphics playing cards lovers need most.

The Intel NUC 13 Excessive’s whole quantity is about 14 liters, which rivals mainstream mini-ITX instances just like the Lian Li 58Q. A number of different enclosures, just like the 12-liter Louqe Uncooked S1, are smaller however are sometimes priced at $250 or extra for the enclosure alone.

Intel’s design strikes a singular profile at 13 inches tall and simply 5 inches huge. Most small computer systems are a bit box-like as a result of they should match a regular mini-ITX motherboard (which is 6.75 inches on a facet). The NUC 13 Excessive as an alternative has Intel’s distinctive and proprietary NUC 13 Excessive Compute Component, which has an oblong footprint extra like a PC graphics card. This distinction within the form of the interior {hardware} permits Intel to strike a extra fashionable profile than most opponents.

Processor efficiency is excellent

The Intel NUC 13 Excessive we acquired to check was probably the most highly effective and costly configuration with an Intel Core i9-13900K processor. We’ve already reviewed this desktop processor and located it to be a multi-core monster—and it nonetheless holds up when positioned in a compact PC. The Intel NUC 13 Excessive is a processor efficiency beast that may muscle previous most desktop computer systems offered up to now few years.

The Core i9-13900K processor achieved a Geekbench 5 single-core rating of 2096 and a multi-core rating of 21608. This processor scored 2250 and 24664 when reviewed in a bigger desktop laptop, so the NUC 13 Excessive’s compact dimension does inflict a penalty. Nevertheless, these outcomes stay remarkably sturdy when in comparison with older desktops. The Intel NUC 11 Excessive with Core i9-11900K, for instance, scored solely 1700 in Geekbench 5 single-core and 9442 in multi-core. That’s proper: the brand new NUC 13 Excessive is twice as fast within the multi-core take a look at.

It’s an identical story in Cinebench R23, the place the Intel NUC 13 Excessive scored 2039 in single-core and 32497 in multi-core. This once more falls barely behind the Core i9-13900K examined in a full-sized desktop, which scored 2304 and 35948. Nevertheless, the Intel NUC 13 Excessive blows the doorways off older high-end methods. The NUC 11 Excessive scored solely 11472 in Cinebench R23 multi-core, which means the brand new NUC 13 Excessive is sort of thrice faster on this benchmark!

As talked about, the Intel NUC 13 Excessive is a equipment laptop, so it doesn’t come configured with RAM, storage, or graphics from the manufacturing unit (although some specialty retailers, like SimplyNUC, will construct the NUC 13 Excessive for you).

My take a look at pattern got here totally outfitted and able to take a look at, nonetheless, packing an Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti. It carried out extraordinarily properly. Far Cry 6 averaged 88 frames per second (fps) at 4K decision and Extremely element, whereas Complete Warfare: Warhammer 3 averaged 99 fps at 1440p and Extremely settings. Even ray tracing was no downside; Management averaged 95 fps at 1080p, Extremely element, and Excessive ray tracing, and Cyberpunk 2077 averaged 64 fps at 1080p and Extremely ray tracing settings. Neither of our ray tracing exams used Nvidia DLSS.

Once more, this can be a equipment laptop, so the RTX 3080 Ti is not included. Nonetheless, these outcomes present the NUC 13 Excessive is a really succesful gaming platform.

There’s no scarcity of ports

A back view showing the port availability.

Credit score:
Reviewed / Matthew S. Smith

The NUC 13 presents numerous choices for ports.

Small computer systems endure a lackluster port choice, however the Intel NUC 13 Excessive is an exception. This isn’t solely due to the variety of obtainable ports but additionally its assist for the most recent connectivity.

The rear panel ports embody two Thunderbolt 4 / USB 4 ports, six USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, and three-way analog audio. This is a wonderful vary of rear panel connectivity at the very least on par with a mid-tower desktop. There’s additionally an Ethernet port with assist for two.5 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and 10GbE speeds.

Up entrance, there’s a pair of USB-A ports, plus one USB-C, and a 3.5mm audio jack. It’s good to see each USB-A and USB-C on the entrance panel. That is turning into frequent, however it’s nonetheless not common whatever the dimension of the PC desktop.

Video connectivity largely relies on the graphics card put in within the equipment. Nevertheless, the Intel NUC 13 Compute Component has a single HDMI 2.1 output related to the Intel Core i9-13900K’s built-in Intel UHD 770 graphics. I doubt it’ll see a lot use because you’ll have to attach the show cable to the graphics card’s HDMI port, however it’s obtainable.

Wi-fi connectivity is nice, too, with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. The Wi-Fi 6 E adapter with a 2×2 configuration and most speeds as much as three gigabits per second (GB/s).

It’s costly however aggressive

The Intel NUC 13 Excessive Equipment begins at an MSRP of $1,179 for the Intel Core i5-13600K mannequin, whereas the top-tier Core i9-13900K mannequin I examined is priced at an MSRP of $1,549. This, keep in mind, doesn’t embody RAM, storage, or a graphics card, none of which is included within the equipment.

Constructing the Intel NUC 13 Excessive Equipment to match the specs of the take a look at configuration, with 32GB DDR5-4800 reminiscence, a 1TB PCIe Gen4 strong state drive, and RTX 3080 Ti graphics card (or comparable), would put the whole value of the construct between $2,800 and $3,000 at immediately’s costs.

Alternatively, SimplyNUC is taking pre-orders on prebuilt configurations anticipated to ship early subsequent yr. The retailer will promote a configuration much like my take a look at configuration for about $3,448, although with an RTX 3080 as an alternative of RTX 3080 Ti.

These costs are excessive however consistent with competitor methods. An Origin Chronos desktop gaming PC with Core i9-13900K, plus comparable storage and reminiscence, sells for a tad over $3,000 proper now, although once more with an RTX 3080 as an alternative of RTX 3080 Ti. Digital Storm’s compact Bolt desktop retails for $3,372 with an AMD Ryzen 9 7900X and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080.

Nobody will name the NUC 13 Excessive low-cost, however the MSRP isn’t an enormous premium over different compact PCs.

What we don’t like

It’s ugly

Full view of the NUC 13

Credit score:
Reviewed / Matthew S. Smith

It isn’t the very best trying case on the market.

Intel’s previous NUC Excessive gadgets have embraced brash, fanatic branding with a cranium emblem often backlit by LEDs that, in some fashions, may very well be personalized in coloration.

The brand new NUC 13 Excessive ditches that type, choosing a glance that’s something however excessive. It’s a slab-sided monolith of metallic and mesh. Nothing in regards to the desktop stands out. Construct high quality is nice, with no tough or sharp edges. The highest panel is plastic, nonetheless, and feels a bit low-cost in comparison with the remainder of the chassis. Sadly, the highest panel is probably the most frequent contact level, because it’s the place to begin for opening the PC.

That’s a disgrace, as a result of the marketplace for small kind issue PCs is awash in glossy, good, and generally batty designs. The Lian Li 58Q presents type on a funds. The NZXT H210i efficiently shrinks the tempered glass mid-tower look. The shocking G.Talent Z5i seems as more likely to drift round your workplace as fireplace up Cinebench.

Whether or not this issues is a private choice. I don’t put a lot inventory in a desktop laptop’s look, so the shortage of zazz wouldn’t hassle me. In order for you a punched-up PC that appears the half, nonetheless, the NUC 13 Excessive isn’t going to chop it. I can’t assist however really feel that, given Intel’s dimension and engineering expertise, a extra eye-catching look must be doable.

It may be noisy

The Intel NUC 13 Excessive is barely massive sufficient to include its elements, leaving little room for further options—like sound deadening. As an alternative, the elements are uncovered on all sides, obscured solely by metallic and plastic mesh.

That’s dangerous information in the event you like a quiet laptop. There’s nothing to cease the fan noise and coil whine from escaping. You’re handled to each whirr, blip, and squeal.

The actual downside is just not the quantity however the high quality of the noise. Trendy video playing cards are liable to chatter, buzz, and squeal, like a flock of songbirds exterior a window on a sunny spring morning. There’s nothing contained in the NUC 13 Excessive to silence or dampen the noise.

Intel is just not alone on this downside. Each small PC enclosure struggles with noise, and the smaller the enclosure, the extra annoying it may be. That is value contemplating in the event you’ve by no means bought a small desktop earlier than. The dimensions is interesting, however the noise positively isn’t.

Upgrades will likely be tough

The Intel NUC 13 Excessive, like different NUC computer systems, is constructed to be as serviceable as doable inside the constraints of its dimension. Most elements will be upgraded, however there are limits.

First, right here’s what cannot be swapped for off-the-shelf elements: the motherboard and the processor. These elements are a part of the Intel NUC 13 Excessive Compute Component, which is housed within the enclosure’s higher half. It’s doable to exchange the Intel NUC 13 Excessive Compute Component with one other NUC 13 Excessive Compute Component, however not the motherboard or processor individually. And, because the mannequin I examined had probably the most highly effective processor already, there’s no room to improve.

I’d argue this issues lower than it appears. In idea, a regular motherboard permits for a processor improve. In apply, the processor sockets discovered on motherboards are often modified, so the power to swap processors is simply helpful in the event you improve often. And if that’s true, properly, a mid-tower PC is probably going a more sensible choice.

The NUC 13 Excessive has solely two RAM slots and makes use of SODIMM modules (that are smaller in bodily dimension, and customary in laptops) as an alternative of ordinary DIMM modules. Putting in or swapping RAM is simple, because the RAM modules are instantly seen when the facet panels are eliminated.

There’s a complete of three M.2 slots and two SATA ports for storage. The drive bay can match 2.5-inch drives, however just one 3.5-inch drive, so it’s finest to stay to the smaller kind issue. The drives are shielded by metallic, which requires further disassembly to get at them.

Triple-slot graphics playing cards as much as 313mm lengthy can match contained in the NUC 13’s graphics card bay. That covers a variety of choices however, you’ll need to pay shut consideration to the scale of the cardboard you’re putting in. (Quad-slot graphics playing cards are not unusual.) Swapping or putting in the cardboard requires severe disassembly of the case’s decrease half and, when putting in a big card, will be tough because of the cramped inside. You’ll want particular instruments, like small screwdrivers and a plastic spudger, to get into these hard-to-reach locations.

If this all sounds a bit technical—it’s! Assembling a pc of this dimension isn’t rocket science, however it may be a problem, and the value of the elements may make it a nerve-wracking expertise for many individuals. Intel at the very least gives a much-needed meeting handbook with helpful directions.

Must you purchase the Intel NUC 13 Excessive Equipment?

Possibly, if you would like final efficiency in a small PC

The open case showing an RTX 3080 card.

Credit score:
Reviewed / Matthew S. Smith

Upgrading could also be slightly bit tough.

Intel’s NUC 13 Excessive Equipment isn’t kidding round.

Regardless of its dimension, this desktop is a severe performer. The mighty Intel Core i9-13900K is absurdly quick, particularly in multi-core exams, the place its 24 cores chew by way of duties, asking for extra. The equipment helps all however the largest graphics playing cards and as much as three M.2 SSDs, making this powerhouse equally succesful in video games, content material creation, and machine studying workloads.

But cramming this a lot {hardware} in a small enclosure inevitably requires sacrifices. Noise will be a problem, particularly when the graphics card is at full load. It’s a equipment PC, too, which suggests some meeting and sourcing of extra elements is required. Part set up is not like normal mid-tower desktops and will intimidate much less skilled lovers.

For most individuals, then, the NUC 13 Excessive is too excessive. Should you imagine much less is extra, nonetheless, give the NUC 13 Excessive a glance. It’s extraordinarily fast, helps many upgrades, and is priced competitively with compact desktops from boutique PC builders.

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Costs have been correct on the time this text was revealed however could change over time.

Meet the tester

Matthew S. Smith

Matthew S. Smith



Matthew S. Smith is a veteran tech journalist and general-purpose PC {hardware} nerd. Previously the Lead Editor of Opinions at Digital Tendencies, he has over a decade of expertise protecting PC {hardware}. Matt typically flies the digital skies in Microsoft Flight Simulator and is on a quest to develop the proper heirloom tomato.

See all of Matthew S. Smith’s critiques

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