Tiny computers are great, but you usually have to compromise performance for portability. Not so with Intel’s newest NUC (Next Unit of Computing), codenamed “Hades Canyon.” It’s packed with an AMD-made graphics card that has enough power to support 4K display resolutions, most games, and VR experiences.
Intel claims it’s the smallest VR-ready system so far, and we don’t know of anything smaller that’ll give you this much graphics oomph. The brand new AMD RX Vega M graphics chip is doing the brunt of the heavy lifting, alongside 8th generation Intel Core i7 processors. You get to pick from two configurations, topping out at a processor speed of 4.2 GHz.
Essentially you’re getting the best mobile chips, originally designed for laptops, paired with an onboard graphics system that should be able to handle all but the most demanding gaming and editing tasks.
As well as the compact size and premium-level specs, the NUC brings with it a host of ports to improve the device’s connectivity: two Thunderbolt 3 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, four USB-A slots, one USB-C slot, a headphone jack, and a memory card reader, as well as two HDMI ports. In total it can power up to six displays.
All this in a box that measures just 8.7 x 5.59 x 1.54 inches (221 x 142 x 39 mm).
Exactly which top-end games and VR experiences you’ll be able to play on this is hard to say, but the vast majority should work, even if you have to dial down the graphics settings on the most intense ones. If you’ve got a specific title in mind, check its recommended specs, and perhaps wait until someone else has tested it first before parting with your cash.
Speaking of making a purchase, Intel hasn’t shared how much the new NUC will cost, though availability is pegged for this (northern) spring, and the unit is currently being shown off at the CES 2018 show in Las Vegas