Tiny computers

Until recently my main 'always on' computer at home was a fairly standard black box which took up a quite a bit of space in a room that I would prefer not to look too much like an office. Standing about 14 inches high and 22 inches deep it was, when I bought it in 2011, relatively compact. When running the cooling fan was fairly obvious although not intrusive.

Last month I decided that it was time for a replacement. The computer was fine running Windows 10 but, by today's standards, it had become a slow. I started looking around.

More or less real life size
To my amazement, I discovered the Intel NUC range. Tiny boxes, only about 4 inches square and an inch and a half deep, weighing in at 470g: my previous 'compact' machine was 7 times as heavy at 3.3kg.

The NUC has plenty of connectivity including 4 USB 3.0 sockets, USB-C for fast expansion, HDMI and an SD card reader. Inside there's an 8th generation Core i5 processor with 4 cores running at up to 3.8GHz. Storage is a fast solid state disk and graphics up to 4k at 60Hz flow smoothly. Comparisons are always difficult but the processor runs twice as fast as the previous machine and the disk is about three times faster. It runs virtually silently, gently gurgling.

It's still early days but so far I haven't found any disadvantages over more conventional boxes. And the diminutive size means that the house doesn't look like an office. So everyone's happy.