Most.Guru LogoType

Intel NUC - 5th Generation

(NUC = Next Unit of Computing)

This is a high end “barebones” machine and needs ram and storage added at minimum (see below).  You will also need a keyboard and mouse as well as a display if you do not already have these peripherals.  Other useful add-ons are listed below too.  With highly efficient processors, the fans on these machines can run very slowly and the machines are silent except when under extreme load.

These machines are tiny: only about 4.25 inches square!

If you would like professional assembly of your system and optimal operating system installation, please contact us.

NUC – 5th generation

If you are worried about the 6th or 7th generation for any reason, you could try the 5th gen. NUCs and save something on cost.  Keep in mind, however, the 6th generation is usually more than 8% faster across many measuring metrics and the 7th generation even faster.

Intel NUC - 'Tall'

(The version above is the "tall" version which also allows you to add a 2.5 inch drive in addition to the M.2 solid state drive.  It is awesome as a very small workstation or tiny server!)

Intel NUC - 'Short'

(The version above is the “short” version which only allows you to add a single M.2 solid state drive.  It is fabulous as an ultra-tiny, silent desktop!  Please note: to store terabytes worth of files, you will need an external drive or a networked file-server.  ALSO, it is often a little more expensive than the “tall” version due to demand.)

In either case, to finish your NUC build, you will need these additional items.

RAM for the NUC

for 5th generation

We recommend at least 16GB ram for "future-proofing" the system.  It is also more in keeping with this high-end device.  RAM for the NUC should be bought two modules at a time so as to take advantage of the memory controller's dual channel feature.

Storage for the NUC

Primary storage (for Operating System and applications)

These drives are solid state and very fast!  “Cold” boot times of less than 9 seconds are not uncommon.

Transcend M.2 card (80mm)
Transcend M.2 SSD

This above links to a 128 gigabyte model which should probably be your minimum size if:

Other capacities are also available:

There are also Samsung M.2 cards (120G, 250G, 500G) which are very good.  They have slightly lower capacities but have slightly faster write speeds.  However, they also have slower read speeds.  For most workflows, read speed generally tends to impact the user-perceived speed of the computer more, which is why we recommend the Transcend cards first.

Finally, there are also physically smaller (for example, 60mm) variants of these M.2 cards.  They tend to be slightly more expensive (makes sense — smaller is more difficult to make).  Physically larger variants (as above) fit in the NUC perfectly, so it makes sense to get the less expensive version.

When PCIe M.2 SSD cards come down in price a bit more we will start recommending specific ones.  They also fit in the NUC and can potentially make the system even faster.  If you are eager to try, Kingston HyperX Predator 240GB seems very good, but our experience with it is still limited.  Make sure you pick the M.2 version the HHHL version comes with an adapter for older desktop computers and is not needed for the NUC.

Secondary storage (for data)

These drives use conventional platters for maximum capacity in a small form factor.

Western Digital RED 1TB NAS hard drive
WD 2.5 Inch "red" drive

This hard drive is much less heat sensitive than others and will give long life even in the smallest of enclosures.

Accessories for the NUC

Display adapters

The NUC has both a mini HDMI port and a DisplayPort (which supports the DisplayPort 1.2 protocol and is capable of driving three different 1,920 x 1,200 screens through a splitter or by daisy chaining).
Multi-Head Display adapters
Single-Head Display adapters
“Headless” adapters

This is necessary if running NUC as a server and you want to connect via graphical remote desktop.

Page Last Edited: Thursday, May 3, 2018
Page First Published: June 19, 2017

Search this site

What's New or Important?