Serpent Canyon: a compact and powerful 100% Intel 12th generation NUC

The 13e generation of Core processors should soon point the tip of its nose as the 12e happens… in NUCs. Launched in 2012, the concept of the NUC (Next Unit of Computing) was to fizzle out according to commentators at the time. But it is still there and more dynamic than ever ten years later. Intel is launching today the NUC 12 Enthusiast (code name “Serpent Canyon”). Which, as the name suggests, is more powerful than the square/cubic models, but less than the extreme versions.

Read also: “The biggest evolution of x86 for ten years”: Intel reveals the innards of 12th generation Core processors

Taking the codes of the original Skull Canyon launched in 2016, the NUC 12 Enthusiast is however almost twice as thick. But also much more powerful, Intel having integrated the latest generation of available chips – Core 12e “Alder Lake” generation, namely either a core i5-12500H or a Core i7-12700H.

While Intel had respectively called on AMD (2018) then Nvidia (2021) for its previous iterations of these compact, but powerful towers, here Intel called on… itself. This generation of micro-tower PCs (only 2.5 L!) indeed integrates the mobile versions of the first generation of external GPUs from Intel, the ARCs (“Alchemist” generation). On leaked product listings, several configurations were available, ranging from ARC 550M to ARC 770M. Intel preferring to sell through partners, for the time being its seller of choice ” SimplyNUC bets on a high-end version called “NUC12SNKi7” equipped with Core i7 and ARC 770M. A theoretically very powerful GPU (estimated equivalent to an RTX3060M) and accompanied by 16 GB of dedicated VRAM.

Interesting for its power to footprint ratio, the NUC 12 Enthusiast incorporates a large number of ports, sockets and can accommodate up to two RAM modules and three SSDs in M.2 format (x2 in PCIe 4.0 and x1 in PCIe 3.0, 2280 format ). Intel obliges, it uses Thunderbolt 4 (x2 sockets), which Intel cherishes. And on the network side, we are entitled to 2.5Gbit LAN and Wi-Fi 6E – chips, again, developed by Intel.

This compactness of a powerful and technically advanced platform is paid for: in this unique high-end version, the device delivered with only 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD already costs €1,699… Excluding taxes… Without Windows! It is therefore not a machine for the general public – it is easy to find configurations with a much higher performance/price ratio – but for those who are ready to pay for this compactness. And this level of service: NUCs can benefit from two to five years of technical support. A very important point for professionals.

In addition to the interest represented by the machine as “Tom Thumb who has some under the pedal”, it should be noted that the arrival of ARM chips allows Intel to join AMD as a designer of dedicated CPUs and GPUs . Intel goes even further than AMD with its mastery of Thunderbolt chips and networks (LAN and Wi-FI 6E). Designing here a machine in quasi-technological independence.

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