Week in Tech: Ultra-SFF Gaming FTW?

By Jeremy Laird on October 3rd, 2013 at 5:00 pm.


Could it be true? That here in my mortal hand I do hold a nugget of purest gaming? Not exactly. It’s the latest and tiniest NUC, Intel’s so-called ‘Next Unit of Computing’. It’s a full-function PC with Intel’s best graphics ever. And it’s claimed to sport pukka gaming chops. Meanwhile, Valve has been punting SteamOS, the whole Steam Box thang is still on – as far as I know – and Xi3’s Piston has been priced up at a preposterous $1,000. Chuck all that into the mix and you might wonder whether the NUC looks a lot like a entry-level Steam Box, on the hardware side at least. And if so, does the small-form-factor gaming thing add up?

I should say up front that I struggle to wrap my head around the Steam Box and SteamOS effort. For my money, Gabe Newell’s anti-Windows 8 rants don’t quite add up. And I’m not at all convinced about the viability of Linux as the basis of a platform to replace the traditional Wintel box as the gamer’s non-console weapon of choice.

Certainly, I don’t claim to be privy to all the politics involved. But I do know that Steam Box and SteamOS will do very well to leap hurdles like graphics driver quality and major game developers who may not necessarily want to help Valve become a dominant gaming OS provider.

Fancy a bit of NUCie?
Anyway, what about the NUC? As you can see from the picture, it’s absolutely puny. We’re talking 11cm square and 3.5cm deep. The model I’ve been playing with packs a dual-core Intel Core i5 mobile CPU, the same chip as found in the latest MacBook Air I do believe. Intel also threw in a 180GB SSD, a wireless adapter and 8GB of RAM, all of which you’ll have to pay extra for.

Oh, yeah, and the graphics. In this case, it’s Intel HD Graphics 5000. Not the fancy new Intel Iris Graphics. Except, in reality, it is. Intel’s branding is consistently awful these days, so it’s not a huge revelation to find the HD 5000 graphics core is indeed the latest variant with 40 execution units.

It’s exactly the same core as Iris, just a little lower clocked. And obviously it lacks the funky 128MB of EDRAM that comes with Iris Pro. Not that Iris Pro is terribly relevant to man nor beast. Intel has made it so expensive, you can have a much faster discrete GPU for similar money.

This is what 180GB of modern, ultra-fast storage looks like. Is it just me, or does my hand look weird? In fact, aren’t hands just weird? Anyway…

Whatever, what we’re really concerned with here is small-form-factor gaming. If you want the full skinny from me on the latest NUC, grab a copy of ye olde print rag PC Format next month. It’s all in there.

While I’m mad for big-iron gaming rigs, I also love the idea of a super-compact system that’s simple to spec and gets the job done when it comes to gaming. If it’s cheap enough, it’s the sort of thing I could put to all kinds of uses. Gaming on my projector. The basis for an occasional PC in the kitchen. You get the idea.

Stick on Steam
The point is that it needn’t be an absolute gaming beast. It just needs to be viable. So let’s chuck Steam on this thing and find out what she’ll do. There are plenty of benchmarks out there, so I’ll stick largely with the subjectives. What does it actually feel like?

First up, a spot of ye olde Counter-Strike: Source. Impressively, the NUC shakes that one off with ease, even at 2,560 by 1,440 on a 27-inch panel. I didn’t bother measuring the frame rates. I just played.

Granted, we’re not talking tournament-level frame rates. But the NUC is thoroughly playable and when playing it looks like this. The same goes for some classic gaming in the shape of closely-related Half-Life 2. In its way, HL2 still looks damned fine. Here’s a screen grab straight off the NUC.

NUC has no problem doing this at 2,560 by 1,440.

Of course, it’s not a massive surprise to find some legacy stuff playing pretty well. What about the latest clobber? We’ll go easy and arcadey at first with Grid 2. Knock it down to 1080p and medium settings and frame rates in the mid 20s are your reward and the IQ looks like this.

Could I enjoy Grid 2 on the NUC? To be honest, I struggle to really enjoy arcadey clobber like that courtesy of Titan and a 4K screen. But in terms of playability it’s marginal, though there’s scope for crushing the quality further and freeing a few more frames.

The last and easily most brutal test is Metro: Last Light. It’s a handy yardstick because it’s absolutely beautiful, it’s bang up to date and it absolutely monsters graphics subsystems. Critically, there’s also only so low you can go with the graphics settings. Even set to minimum, this is a good looking and very demanding game.

This is a bit of a chore at 1080p.

But it’s a bit too much for the NUC at 1080p. It feels very sluggish and that’s reflected in frame rates only just into double figures much of the time. It’s not literally unplayable. But it’s unpleasant and there’s no scope for unleashing a few more fps except reducing the resolution.

Depending on your choice of display, you could drop the pixel count to 1,280 by 720, of course. But I’d say that only makes sense with native 720p displays. Because the NUC’s – or rather the Intel HD Graphics’ – non-native interpolation is absolutely minging.

Where does all that leave us? I desperately want the NUC to be viable. It’s a very nice device and its graphical prowess is impressive when you think back to the days when Half-Life 2 was cutting edge. It just goes to show how far things have progressed that it’s now playable at beyond-HD resolutions on such a small box. It’s worth noting, too, that all the games I tried ran flawlessly and without a hitch.

And this is just a bit of a bore at any resolution or IQ setting.

But I also desperately want NUC to be a lot cheaper. For a fully functioning NUC like this one, you’re looking at roughly £500. Which is about £200 too much to be really attractive. That’s a pity, because the NUC is a genuinely desirable bit of kit.

It’s that painful Intel pricing again
The real problem in terms of pricing is Intel’s CPUs. They’ve drifted out of control thanks to lack of real competition from AMD to the extent that Intel now charges $340 alone for the CPU inside the NUC. That leaves zero scope for sensible NUC pricing.

In that context, I suppose the fact that the NUC and in turn Intel’s latest graphics falls tantalisingly short of true gaming viability is something of a mercy. It also tells us that affordable SFF gaming hasn’t arrived yet. In this spec, Intel’s 40-unit graphics is comparable to the fastest AMD integrated graphics in its APUs.

So the only faster integrated graphics are found in even more expensive and even more irrelevant Intel CPUs. And, anyway, I doubt the faster Iris cores are true gaming items, either.

So, we’re very, very close to a scenario where you can make an argument for something like the NUC as a general gaming box. Maybe just a single generation of CPUs and 12 months away. And it may well be Intel that pulls it off first. But we’re still not quite there.

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93 Comments »

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  1. roryok says:

    Any chance you’ll try out Skyrim on it?

    • Jeremy Laird says:

      If I get a mo, yes.

    • Jeremy Laird says:

      OK, sorry, looks like a no go. Steam is playing silly buggers and the game downloads keep falling over. I left it to download Skyrim last night but the download fell over and don’t think I’m going to have time to get it now as NUC is probably being collected this afternoon. Bummer.

      • roryok says:

        thanks for trying! good article

      • CrocoDarrel says:

        Skyrim runs surprisingly (amazingly, really) fine on a surface pro. It should not only be playable, but quite comfortably so, with low textures, shadows and 720p resolution you should easily get 30fps everywhere except for that damned swamp.

        New Vegas too, would be fine on one of these things.

  2. Vinraith says:

    I’m always going to prefer a system where I can swap out outdated and faulty components.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      Yes, I like replacing those with different outdated and faulty components, too.

    • LionsPhil says:

      In theory, something like this would be neat for taking to LAN parties. That’s what my old first-gen Shuttle was great for, and I’ve used laptops for it in the past.

      • Bahlof says:

        get this case http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163232 and you can make a mad gaming computer that’s nearly 11 inches long and 7 high. Still takes two hands but is way more convenient to take then even a midsize tower.

        • PopeRatzo says:

          If you want to play games, you’re going to need something better than that little 300w power supply. The Antec in my big Coolermaster machine is almost as big as that whole case.

          I’m not even sure 300w is enough to power onboard graphics (though it probably is).

          • frightlever says:

            You can get the SG07 and SG08s with 600w power supplies. TBH it looks like a “standard” SFX power supply so you can probably put whatever you want in there.

            edited for clarity.

  3. Tams80 says:

    That face of the women in red in the Grid 2 screenshot.

    I’m going to have nightmares tonight.

  4. Sheng-ji says:

    Seems like it’s not going to be long before your phone is your (all purpose) PC and you connect it to whichever monitor or tv is closest – within the decade?

    • Keyrock says:

      My guess is yes. Tegra 4 can already do near 360/PS3 level graphics. Tegra 5 next year is supposedly going to be 2.5x more powerful. 5 years from now there will most likely be mobile chips that can take the Pepsi Challenge with PS4.

      • pupsikaso says:

        5 years from now there will also be far more advanced games and graphics.

        • HadToLogin says:

          But PS4 and XB1 will be the same. And games will be made for PS4 and XB1 in mind, unless somehow consoles will die…

          • Grey Poupon says:

            If a cell phone would become a better gaming platform, when you plug it into a TV and a controller, the consoles will surely die. Though I doubt that’ll happen. Being able to do something in theory is quite different from actually doing it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Zunt says:

      Hm, OK, my guess is no. Phones and wearables are always having to make compromises to keep low power and small(ish). Devices that aren’t making those compromises should always be able to outperform them. Whether “throwing more graphics at the screen” will always be the desire is another question.

      • Boozebeard says:

        The thing is mobile devices are more popular so prices are more competitive and the technology is being pushed faster. This is partly due to the contract focused market of mobile devices influencing people into adopting what are very expensive high end devices.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        Heat and power means I agree with you ‘no’ hypothesis. Phones that literally burn a hole in your pocket(with a 5min battery life)

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      The connection will probably be wireless, ala Chromecast/AirPlay, in which case, the future is here!
      The thing is, smartphones are already capable of graphics far above even a few console generations ago. You can get a playstation emulator for Andorid, (see here), but then, you probably don’t still play playstation games much any more do you?
      Of course, in five years time your phone should be at least at PS2 levels, but how much further will PC gaming be by then?
      Anyway, I’ve just realised there’s a version of SCUMMVM for android, of to play Beneath a Steel Sky again :) (at least now I don’t need to spend a couple of hours swapping floppy disks to install it).

  5. Sakkura says:

    AFAIK, non-native interpolation actually happens in the monitor itself, the GPU is not involved.

    Anyway, I don’t understand why you’re whining about Intel’s GPU naming. The 40-EU versions are the 5000s, the smaller GPUs are the 4000s (like HD Graphics 4600 as found in most desktop Haswell CPUs). Throw in that expensive cache and it becomes Iris Pro Graphics 5200.

    It’s certainly better than the rebranding that Nvidia and AMD practice.

    • Jeremy Laird says:

      Interpolation can take place both in the screen electronics or on the video card. Typically, it’s the latter, ie the video card. You may be able to force the display to do the interpolation, but the normal option is to force ‘GPU scaling’ not the other way round. In my reason extensive experience, the default is GPU scaling, which is why I can usually tell you at a glance whether a monitor is being scaled / interpolated by AMD or Nvidia, each has its own ‘look’.

      The problem with the branding is simple. It doesn’t match up with the hardware. Which isn’t a lot to ask and would make things a lot clearer for buyers. Why not call all the new cores with 40 units ‘Iris’? As it is, Iris doesn’t really mean much. So it certainly isn’t better than what AMD and Nvidia get up to. It’s still crap, just in a different way.

      • Sakkura says:

        5xxx means big GPU, Iris means fancy cache. Pretty simple.

        • Jeremy Laird says:

          Except for it doesn’t. Because there’s Iris 5100 non-Pro without the cache. Like I said, the way Intel have done the branding, Iris means nothing and thus it’s not so simple.

          • Sakkura says:

            Well, the 5100 still has a TWICE as high TDP, so it can perform drastically better. I really don’t see a problem – people will think Iris 5100 is significantly better, and it is. They’ll think Iris Pro 5200 is better still, and it is.

            The only real problem is that they’re way too expensive.

          • Jeremy Laird says:

            You’re misinterpreting the TDPs which relate to entire processors, not just the graphics core. You can’t make that kind of comparison. There are all kinds of variables regarding the CPU part of the package.

            Here’s the bottom line. Intel HD 5000 and Iris 5100 are identical save for clockspeed. 5000 is clocked at 1.1GHz. 5100 is clocked at 1.2GHz. As you will be able to deduce from this. the gap in TDP has little to do with graphics. In terms of 3D performance, there’s really nothing in it – ie you wouldn’t remotely characterise the difference between them as drastic.

          • SuicideKing says:

            Yeah i sort of agree, they’re naming is much more decipherable than say, AMD’s APUs, or both AMD and Nvidia’s GPUs. At least Intel doesn’t just straight up re-brand.

            My greater with Intel’s naming is that everything is just too close and too arbitrarily segmented. Also, expensive.

          • Sakkura says:

            Jeremy, those are MAX clocks. They can throttle all the way down to 200 MHz depending on circumstances. The doubled TDP allows the 5100 to stay at much higher clocks during intense graphical workloads. The TDP difference is mainly for the GPU, though the CPU can hog it too if it needs to (realistically, when gaming, the GPU is going to be the limiting factor and thus be the main or exclusive beneficiary of a higher TDP).

      • mygaffer says:

        The NUC is a cool device hampered by the pricing. The NUC is a barebones unit being sold by Intel, you buy your own m-sata ssd, ram, etc, to pop into their little box.
        We currently have one for sale at the IT shop I work at, it is a fast and capable unit but outside of Minecraft, which it runs quite well with even an i3-3220, and smaller/older/source games, it is NOT a gaming unit. Even Intel’s best integrated graphics are not quite up to snuff in the area of anything but casual gaming and their drives, though improved considerably, still are way behind the big two in GPUs.
        If someone really wants a small machine to put the new SteamOS on, which I find a much more exciting prospect than you seem to, they should be going itx, whether they build it themselves or buy a fancy pre-built. There are some very beefy itx machines that are not too much bigger than the NUC, relatively speaking.

        • Lestibournes says:

          I can play most of the AAA games I own, including some 2012 releases, on Intel HD 3000 as long as I use the minimum graphics settings, and the games usually still look very good even then. Intel HD 5000 is surely going to be able to play my entire library at above-minimum settings. 30 FPS is just fine for single-player games.

          Being able to run Half-Life 2 means nothing to me, as it played just fine on an Intel GMA X3100, an integrated chip from at least 7 years ago.

  6. stalker says:

    You guys might find this interesting – A crowdfunded/crowddesigned enthusiast miniITX case – http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ncase-m1-mini-itx-pc-case

    • Optimaximal says:

      I don’t understand – is it going to be made available or not, because there’s writing on the wall that it was only going to be made available for people who backed that campaign.

      It looks epic!

  7. The Tupper says:

    “Is it just me, or does my hand look weird?”

    You have a WOMAN’s hands, m’lord!

    • jon_hill987 says:

      I’ll wager these dainty pinkies never weighed anchor in a storm.

    • Kittim says:

      You have a woman’s purse!
      I’ll wager that purse has never been used as a rowing-boat.
      I’ll wager it’s never had sixteen shipwrecked mariners tossing in it.

      • Premium User Badge

        emertonom says:

        Amazing. I don’t know how you keep doing it, but you’re right again.

  8. Mr.Radar says:

    I think that AMD will dominate the first generation of Steamboxes. Their top-end APUs are only $150 retail (I’m sure OEMs can get a decent discount off of that) and they are fast enough for HD resolution gaming (though just barely). They’re promising that their next-gen Kaveri chips, with integrated graphics based off the same GCN architecture as their current top-end GPUs, will be ready early next year and they should perform even better than the current ones.

    I’m predicting that by Black Friday 2014 we will see at least one Steam Box retail at under $500 and probably 2 or 3 more under $600 and those will almost certainly be AMD powered unless Intel starts putting their high-end integrated graphics in their low-end processors (unlikely in that short of a time span). Because the traditional console/”living room gaming” market is extremely price-sensitive these boxes will make up the majority of the pre-built Steam Box market (excluding streaming-only devices). Intel will probably still be providing CPU power to most Steamboxes in the > $650 price range due to their much better performance per watt and performance per Hz but AMD still absolutely dominates them on integrated GPU performance per dollar at the low end.

    • Jeremy Laird says:

      Yup, that’s a good point. AMD APUs typically much more aggressively priced, which is critical for this kind of system. Don’t think AMD APUs are terribly compelling right now. But the next generation or two could be really interesting.

      • mygaffer says:

        Kaveri should be awesome and blow Iris Pro out of the water.

        • SuicideKing says:

          Don’t hold your breath. Also, Broadwell. So it’ll be effectively the same difference between the two companies as it is today, assuming Kaveri is that good.

      • SuicideKing says:

        Me neither, they tend to need faster than normal RAM, and at the same time they’re occasionally CPU bottlenecked and run hot, requiring a better cooling solution as you shrink the case.

        Hopefully Kaveri reduces these issues.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It’s nVidia who are being wrestled into pulling their socks up regarding Linux drivers, though.

      • Nouser says:

        To be fair, Intel are the ones pushing ahead both their drivers and the Linux graphics stack.

        • Grey Poupon says:

          If Mantle gets its Linux drivers it’ll probably make AMD a much better choice for budget Steamboxes, though the APU’s aren’t GCN AFAIK. Though Mantle also strips Steambox of one of its biggest advantages which is OS overhead (or lack thereof). Wonder how well W8 works with the Valve Nipple Stimulator pad.

  9. Premium User Badge

    SvDvorak says:

    I think it will take quite a while longer before machines that small with have acceptable gaming performance, atleast matching an ok gaming PC. I’m more interested in having a light unit (probably lower performance than the one in the article) set up in the living room which could utilize the streaming functionality that SteamOS will bring. Then you could have both small form factor and great visuals as long as you have a decent gaming rig in the other room.

  10. NathanMates says:

    Ideally, that should have more (6+) USB ports for living room use. I have an older laptop hooked up to my TV running Skype, Chrome (for Amazon/Hulu streaming video), XBMC, etc, and it has the following USB devices hooked in from time to time:

    1) Webcam (skype)
    2) Wireless keyboard/trackpad
    3) Sensor for wireless remote (one of those $10 eBay specials, works great w/ XBMC)
    4) Wireless-N (laptop only does 802.11g)
    5) USB -> Playstation 1/2 gamepad converter. (Or wired X360 controller)
    6) Thumb drive

    The BRIX devices have 4 USB 3.0 ports, two in front, two in back. I’d gladly take a pair more USB 2.0 ports in back, even if the wireless moves internal. Four ports are in use 100% of the time, and having to buy an external USB hub only adds to the cost.

  11. Stochastic says:

    I don’t understand the push for ultra-diminutive boxes like these, at least as far as gaming is concerned. Something sandwiched between the NUC and mini-ITX standards would be ideal in my opinion, as it would still be small enough to fit just about anywhere but large enough that heat is less of a concern. Also probably cheaper.

    EDIT: Now that I think about it, a small, well-designed mini-ITX case is probably small enough already.

    • Awesumo says:

      ^That. Smaller than a desktop is good, palm size is unnecessary. Something the size of a 17inch laptop or a games console would be ideal.

      • DanMan says:

        I gladly take something the size/volume of a Blu-Ray player.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        I’d want to stack it with my amp and cd/dvd player. I’ve just measured my Marantz amp it’s 11*44*37. Why the need for integrated GPUs mobile chips, stop this sillyness

    • james.hancox says:

      The new gaming version of the Gigabyte Brix looks like a better compromise. Big enough to fit a 65W version of the Iris Pro in (with fancy L4 cache and much higher clocks), but still smaller than a 360 controller: http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/12/gigabyte-brix-gaming-pc/

    • Panda Powered says:

      I’m pretty content with my SilverStone SG02 box. I’ve had it since 2010 using regular ATX sized components for everything but the mATX motherboard.
      The only problems I’ve had with it is that I haven’t invested in good cooling so several moving fans (cpu-fan, two gpu fans, one in the psu and one for the hdd’s) = noisy and it quickly build up dust and need cleaning a few times per year.
      When I’m done with living on breadcrumbs and rainwater at university I’ll probably fix that issue.

  12. Awesumo says:

    This is definately what a PC will look like in the future – I mean why not? Netbooks are getting more powerful and they are pretty tiny.
    Is it ready for mainstream yet? No. Not that small anyway, Still ~5 years away from the tech being up to it.
    You could still easily put a full scale top-end PC into something the same size as the XBone, the only limit there is if you can get the cooling up to spec. The Big stack of a desktop PC is something that should go, they are big and ugly things that are remnents of what computing was in the 90’s

    • Yaksha says:

      How are you going to fit 2 GTX 780 in SLI in an Xbone? Or are we talking about different full scale top end pc’s? Those big ugly things you refer has a nice place in my living room hooked up to my tv and a nice blue led lighting. It doesn’t make noise, it’s a full multimedia set up for watching movies and playing the latest games in full graphical detail, i also use it for work as it’s linked to my desk on a 24Inch 1440p screen for photoshop and Indesign and also to play games. You think of a desktop pc too much in the classic way. I like these portable pc’s but in no way will they ever replace a real ‘desktop’ .

      • airmikee99 says:

        My thoughts exactly. These small computers will go great in the living room, or as an option for gamers that can’t afford a real gaming computer, but there’s no way these living room computers are going to replace full power desktops.

        Apple has been selling the Mac Mini for almost 9 years now, and sales are still pathetic compared to full size Mac computers.

        • LionsPhil says:

          I’m not sure price will ever be much of a reason either, since you can potentially get more bang for the same bucks buying non-laptop components and putting up with a bigger box.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Too true, when you want quality HiFi you need a big box for your amp to house a big transformer and all the suppression shielding. EXACTLY the same thing applies to PCs!

  13. Misfit410 says:

    Intel GPU’s are useless, to do SFF we have to play Apple iMac game and use laptops parts..
    it seems to me you could easily get a system with a Core i7 and a GTX780M (or a 760M to keep it on a budget).
    Many will go with AMD’s trinity, rather than go with a better solutions in the 8850, 8870, 8950, etc)

  14. Premium User Badge

    Zunt says:

    As the last few generations of consoles have shown it doesn’t matter how powerful the kit inside is. The console consumer wants something that Just Works, where the games Just Work, the networking is simple and the price isn’t too insane.

    The Steam OS will probably be a much more critical part of the Steam box than the CPU / GPU.

  15. baozi says:

    so … a mac mini for gaming?

  16. Apocalypse says:

    What do you mean with lack of competition? I can play in hd ns2 min details on a 4500M just fine, that a trinity mobile apu with the medium version of their APU-GPUS. Its even last generation. I would be tempted to test 2560×1440 Half-Life 2 now on this $80 CPU right now. ;-)
    Their 6800k is a ridiculous good entry gamer for a $150 APU.

  17. SuicideKing says:

    Is “pukka” an English word now?! Lol. Google tells me it means “genuine”. This probably has its roots in Hindi, where pukka means “sure”, though an alternative meaning is “genuine” as well.

    Is it pronounced “puk-ka”?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Google Jamie Oliver

      • SuicideKing says:

        Pukka Tukka?

        I’m confused even more now.

        Pukka Tukka in Hindi would translate to “sure fluke” or “sure guess”, and tukka in Finnish is apparently hair, so sticking to European languages, pukka tukka would be “genuine hair”.

        :|

        • Sheng-ji says:

          I think the tukka bit is simply londoners historic use of rhyming slang, turning the word tuck – sweets and pastries – into a word which rhymes with the pukka!

      • SuicideKing says:

        HAH! I was right. It’s derived from Hindi/Sanskrit.
        https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/pukka

      • iucounu says:

        The British slang word is ‘tucker’, rather than ‘tukka’ – cf. tuck, as in tuck-shop. ‘Tucker’ I think was initially an Australian form, which has filtered back to the UK via soap operas and TV reality shows (‘bush-tucker challenge’, in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.)

        Thus Jamie’s Pukka Tucker, or ‘real/good food’, combining Australia and India. Colonialism: nicking your slang, too.

      • Maritz says:

        Or Pukka Pies, which have been around since well before ol’ Rubber Lips was born.

  18. Wedge says:

    So… it’s still inferior to the AMD APU’s and costs 3x as much? OK.

  19. Radiant says:

    These non rig solutions aren’t really attractive to me unless I can replace/upgrade the cpu, gpu and ram at will.
    I’m not willing to spend 500 quid on something that will be obsolete in a year or two.

    At the same time I god damn hate the aesthetic of the big monolith pc.
    It’s 2013 ffs 2001 was 12 years ago.

    • LionsPhil says:

      …hide it under your desk? I mean it’s not like there’s much need to go for the CD drive any more.

      Pay no attention to the implementation detail behind the curtain.

  20. Chris Wray says:

    I like the Blackadder reference!

    SuicideKing – Only Fools and Horses my friend!

    • AdamDenton says:

      Chris Wray, you beat me to it! As a long-time lurker on RPS, I was finally motivated to create an account purely on the basis that no one had commented on such a brilliant(ly obscure) reworking of Lord Percy’s declaration. Of course, reference-spotting may be deemed rather obnoxious for your average astute RPSer (as I see them all the time on here!), but it’s an indiscretion I’m happy to make in this instance.

      • Blue_Lemming says:

        Draat! now two people have beaten me to it, consider your indiscretion shared

      • Jeremy Laird says:

        There’s usually something pinched from Blackadder in everything I write. Sad, but I’m beginning to suspect that the last thing I’ll be left with as I lie on my deathbed, faculties fading, will be Black Adder dialogue straining at my desiccated synapses. Well, maybe a little Yes, Prime Minister and Fawlty Towers, too. But mostly Blackadder.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Wot’s that you say?

      I’m only halfway through Blackadder, somewhere in the third season…though even if i’m still supposed to get this i don’t. :(

      EDIT: What do i do with Fools and Horses? o_0 I’ve never seen (or heard of it)…I’m ’93 born so i’m probably hopeless in this discussion. XD

      Only thing i can brag about watching in “my days” is Goodness Gracious Me.

  21. TechnicalBen says:

    I wish I had £500 to buy a mini itx board, i5 chip and a low profile short/half width Gforce640. With a “special” PSU, I should be able to fit it in a tissue box.

    I’d even be happy making the case myself, but not quite able to stump the £500 in parts just yet. :(

    Although a NUC is even smaller. Put it next to a Titan just to get the idea of size disparity! :D

  22. Megakoresh says:

    Interesting kit. I would totally not mind if this thing was 3 times bigger and 3 times faster so i can run modern games at low-medium with AA and full HD at maybe 30 fps, that seems fine to me.

    Intel are good at least for trying. COnsidering they are pretty much dominating the market with their CPUs right now, they might as well have stayed idle. I hope AMD will start competing with them soon. They got off a good deal with both next gen consoles, maybe it will help get them up to speed with intel to wake those slow overpriced folks up.

  23. mashakos says:

    This article highlights the BIGGEST hurdle facing Valve regarding the Steambox:
    The NUC is a $800 machine that neither has the horsepower to go up against even last gen consoles while offering very little in the way of flexibility and general… usefulness.

    I personally believe the best form factor for a gaming PC box in the living room to be the A/V receiver sized microATX or ATX HTPC cases that are available now. Massive potential for true PC hardware, relatively low cost in terms of the case itself. They start from $60.
    I have no problem with a console the size of an A/V receiver but apparently console gamers are leery of a box tha tbig, even the fairly compact Xbox One is considered a lumbering behemoth to that crowd.

  24. Loopy says:

    Nice appropriation/paraphrasing of a classic Blackadder episode there Jeremy, kudos to you. ;)

  25. Lestibournes says:

    Gaming on Linux has been trending up for the last 5 years even without Valve’s invilvement, Valve is just accelerating the process. SteamOS is in a way a symptom of something that’s already happening, and if SteamOS can bring more games to Linux then that’s good for everyone since those games won’t be SteamOS exclusives but will work or can be made to work on any Linux-based OS, and that means anyone will be able to make a Linux-based console with plenty of 3rd-party games. Under these conditions EA and Ubisoft for instance can make their own console as well, and of course they can lock them down so players can only get games from the Origin and uPlay stores. Add a few exclusives to draw players in and you can become a major console where players have to buy all their games from you.

    So IMO SteamOS is good for other game developers and publishers who have their own digital distribution service.

  26. Aegelward says:

    For a low cost Steambox that can handle a few titles natively, personally i’d go for an AMD Kabini APU, A6-5200 would be the best choice, should get roughly equal performance to the HD5000, perhaps better depending upon the drivers. And more intense titles can easily be streamed.

    Considering these are found in laptops that are under the £350 mark, the hardware can easily be inserted into a chassis no larger than an external 3.5hdd i’d optimistically suggest a cost at the £199 and under mark.

  27. cunningmunki says:

    Surely this is where the Steam Machine beta test/POC comes in? To create a blueprint machine which will not only be small in size, but also small in price, and to set the standard for SteamOS and it’s supported games to be optimised for. Until that project is complete, things like this and the Xi3 are meaningless as “Steam Boxes” (and please can we stop using that term now that we have an official one?).

  28. waltC says:

    If you are someone who runs benchmarks all day long and is simply captivated by them, then, yes, Intel is definitely the cpu for you. But if you are someone who simply likes his 3d games to play at a high enough frame rate to be smooth at the highest resolutions your gpu and monitor can support, and you find $130 a respectable price for a 4.2GHz 6-core FX-6300 cpu, then you no doubt are already running an AMD cpu…;) In bang for the buck, AMD is all over Intel at present. Should you decide to ever actually review an NUC I’ll read it with interest. But a brief article like this simply plugging the device is a bit less than inspiring, I should say.