This time we are going to analyze the new generation of mini PCs from the blue brand, nothing less than the Intel NUC 11 Pro i5 with a kit that the manufacturer has assembled for us with 16 GB of 3200 MHz RAM and an M.2 SATA SSD . They will be just the tip of the iceberg, since this small PC of just 11 cm on the side houses an Intel Core i5-1135G7 with Iris Xe graphics , M.2 PCIe 4.0 support , up to 64 GB of RAM and two Thunderbolt ports 3 and 4 . A strong team with the necessary power to work, study and fans of multimedia content.
The Intel NUC 11 Pro i5 presents a box-like design that with each generation becomes increasingly thin and compact, reaching in this case almost the exact measurements of a VESA mount. They will be 11.7 x 11.2 cm on the side and only 3.7 cm high , while the previous models reached just over 5 cm.
The construction of this small box is based on rigid plastic and metal for the entire lateral area that will be unibody . This area uses a low gloss bluish gray color and gently curved corners to improve aesthetics. Meanwhile, the upper area will be completely flat, a little darker and also with slightly rounded edges. It can practically be carried in a small bag, and even the power supply will be larger.
Two of the sides will be those that contain all the connection ports , with a front that we will differentiate thanks to the power button . The other two sides have a wide grill as a cold air inlet, being a good cooling system. Said grid is located in the middle of the plate, in order to ensure air circulation both above and below. A third grill is located on the rear panel, which will be the one that evacuates all the hot air pushed by a turbine-type fan. On one of these sides we will have a Kensington slot for universal locks.
Finally, the lower area of the Intel NUC 11 Pro i5 will be another metal plate that allows us access to the interior of the device to install the missing elements, that is, RAM and SSD. To do this, we only have to remove the 4 screws from the legs and the plate will be removed. These legs will be made of non-slip rubber to keep the small equipment fixed on a desk table, and in the same way they will prevent vibrations from reaching it.
Network ports and connections
We focus in detail on the two port areas of this Intel NUC 11 Pro i5, one of them considered rear and the other front as is obvious.
The front Side has:
- 2x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A
- Power button
And the rear Side with the following:
DC-In port for power supply (19V / 6.32A)
- 2x HDMI 2.0
- RJ-45 LAN Ethernet 2.5 Gbps
- USB-C Thunderbolt 3
- USB-C Thunderbolt 4
- 1x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A
- 1x USB 2.0
We see that in this device there is a bit of everything, especially highlighting the two Thunderbolt ports at 40 Gbps . Thanks to them you can take advantage of all the power of the rails of these Tiger Lake CPUs and give maximum versatility to the device. These ports allow video connections with DisplayPort 1.4, 1 Gbps LAN and of course data .
Also, USB connectivity is generally excellent with three other 10Gbps Type-A ports and a 2.0 filler. Instead of 2 HDMI, we would have liked to have a dedicated DisplayPort, although the manufacturer has thought that having such an interface in the Thunderbolt ports there is no reason to place one more.
The connector that we do miss will be the 3.5 mm Jack as an audio output, as it would be very useful for those who want to use analog headphones. Only available for Thunderbolt and HDMI output, or by connecting a headset with DAC integrated in the rest of USB. There is also an explanation for this absence, and that is that the vast majority of monitors already have a Jack output, and this equipment is expected to be located behind a monitor.
As for the network connectivity of the Intel NUC 11 Pro i5 , it will have a wired interface as we have already seen and a wireless card. In the first case we will have a 2.5 Gbps connection thanks to an Intel I225-LM chip specific to laptops. In the second case, it will be an Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 card , Dual Band with a bandwidth of 2.4 Gbps in 5 GHz and 574 Mbps in 2.5 GHz.
Internal features and hardware
We continue this analysis of the Intel NUC 11 Pro i5 now accessing the interior to see its hardware and especially the expansion capacity, which will be one of the most outstanding novelties of it.
Starting with the CPU, it is an Intel Core i5-1135G7 , the smallest of the Tiger Lake family with 10 nm SuperFin . It will be provided with 4 cores and 8 processing threads working at a maximum frequency of 4.2 GHz and 8 MB of L3 cache memory . It is an ideal processor for multimedia consumption, office automation and light work, because with a TDP of 28W we will have guaranteed good temperatures and very low consumption.
This processor features next-generation Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics , the most powerful yet for low-power processors, outperforming AMD’s Radeon Mobile. This 10nm architecture GT2 specification features 96 shader units totaling 16 TMUs and 8 ROPs . It will be a sufficient count to match the performance of an Nvidia MX250 or higher, although in this case we will not have dedicated VRAM memory. In this specification, the maximum frequency will be 1300 MHz capable of overclocking, with a bus width of 128 GB (to use RAM memory in Dual Channel) and bandwidth of 44.8 GB / s.
As for the capacity of RAM memory, thanks to its two SO-DIMM slots it will support a maximum of 64 GB and 3200 MHz in Dual Channel . The unit we reviewed comes with a more than worthy 16GB Kingston module.
And finally, the storage capacity of the Intel NUC 11 Pro i5 consists of two M.2 slots, since in this case 2.5 ”drives are not supported. The main or most important slot will be a standard M.2 M-Key format that supports PCIe x4 Gen4 NVMe drives up to 2280 . In this way the NUC will be able to house SSD with up to 7000 MB / s in sequential reading. The second type B-Key slot supports PCIe x1 Gen3 or SATA size 2242 drives . A format less used by users, and in this case it is occupied with a 512 GB SATA SSD to do the tests.
This time we have decided not to completely dismantle the device, leaving the heatsink hidden from view of the user. But to get an idea, it will consist of a finned aluminum block fitted with a turbine-type fan . This unit will be able to rotate over 2000 RPM and give us quite acceptable temperatures under continued stress. It is quite quiet , so it will not be annoying when working on demanding cards.
As a good desktop computer, it will have a fairly well designed and complete BIOS, with the Intel seal to show us all the information about our hardware. But as with laptops, it does not allow you to configure too many parameters of the main hardware.
We will have a specific section for cooling where we can configure the fan performance profile and see the telemetry in real time.
A new generation NUC arrives on the market, and the Azul brand continues to give us increasingly smaller and more powerful equipment, with a negligible consumption of 46W as is the case with this version with i5-1135G7 . Ideal for a workstation, studio equipment, or multimedia hobbyist.
The temperatures will not be a problem either, at least with this CPU, although it will obviously scale the more powerful it is until it reaches the 1185G7. In all cases we have Iris Xe graphics, the most powerful from Intel in low consumption and that will even allow us to play some non-demanding 3D games .
It easily mounts behind a monitor with its 100 × 100 VESA adapter , and will be compatible with virtually any display with HDMI and up to two Thunderbolt ports . Connectivity will be one of its great novelties and advantages due to the high-speed interfaces available. In fact its main M.2 slot is compatible with PCIe 4.0.