- The Intel NUC 13 Pro Mini is an ultra-small form factor PC with a powerful 13th Gen Intel i7 CPU and up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM.
- Despite its compact size, the NUC 13 Pro Mini offers an impressive array of connectivity options, including 2 Thunderbolt 4 ports, 3 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, and 2 HDMI 2.1 outputs.
- The Intel NUC 13 Pro Mini is ideal for office use, home theater setups, and specialized applications, but not recommended for gaming or highly customizable systems.
The Intel NUC 13 Pro Mini is the latest ultra-small form factor PC. A trend made possible by ever-shrinking requirements for space and energy from modern components, these Miniature computers cram an impressive amount of tech into a tiny space.
Who is this computer made for? Do you want a powerful desktop computer without a massive footprint on your desk? Or, maybe you want a compact machine to use as a media powerhouse next to your TV or part of your home theater?
There are plenty of reasons to want so much power in a tiny desktop computer. But is the Intel NUC a good contender in this space? We got our hands on one to conduct benchmarks and find out how it holds up against the competition.
Keep reading to see the specs, features, and if this computer is worth buying.
Intel NUC 13 Pro: Best Deal Today
- Amazon: Intel NUC – 32GB RAM/1TB SSD – $949
- Newegg: Intel NUC – 32GB RAM/1TB SSD – $1199
- GeekNUC: Intel NUC – 32GB RAM/1TB SSD – $999
Intel NUC 13 Pro: Overview
Release date and price
The Intel NUC 13 Pro launched in early 2023. Standing for “Next Unit of Computing,” the NUC series has been around for a decade now, with the first models dropping in 2013.
Now that we’re in the 13th generation, the price is relatively stable, around $1000 to $1200. If you know where to look, you can snag one of these for under $950.
You can find the Intel NUC 13 Pro in a few different configurations. The barebones model comes with no RAM or SSD, allowing you to have full control over which hardware you use. This model will run you around $750 since you’ll need to bring your own parts.
For a little bit more cash, you can get the 16GB RAM with 500GB SSD configuration. And sitting at the top, is the 32GB RAM, with 1TB SSD configuration.
The latest generation NUC is a solid upgrade from the 12th-generation model. Despite its compact dimensions and lightweight nature at just under two pounds, the Intel Nuc 13 Pro Mini raises questions about its durability, due to its plastic frame.
It compensates for this with a formidable processing powerhouse inside. This machine houses a 13th Gen Intel i7 CPU and 32GB of DDR4. The RAM feels sufficient for almost anything you could think of, and it’s expandable even more, up to 64GB.
Our model came with 1TB of solid-state storage, which is more than enough for most users. You can expand this up to 2TB if you need even more space.
The Nuc 13 Pro Mini offers an impressive array of connectivity options, including 2 Thunderbolt 4 ports, 3 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, and 2 HDMI 2.1 outputs. It also includes the almost obsolete USB 2.0 headers, which feel a little out of place with the rest of the build.
To really get a feel for what you’re getting, you’ll need to take a look at the specs.
|Processor||13th Gen Intel Corei7-1360P, 12 cores (4P+8E), 16 threads, 18MB Intel L3 Cache, 35W TDP|
|Memory||16GB DDR4 RAM, expandable up to 64GB dual-channel DDR4-3200 SODIMMs|
|Storage||512GB PCle X4 NVMe SSD, expandable up to 2TB of 2.5-inch PCleX4 Gen4 SSD or SATA SSD|
|Display||Output 4K@60Hz HD via DP2.1, HDMI2.1, Thunderbolt4, supports up to 4x4K extended displays or 8k screen|
|Graphics||Built-in 35W Intel Iris Xe|
|Wireless Connectivity||Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX211 on M.2 slot, supports 802.11ax and Bluetooth 5.3|
|Ethernet||Intel i225-v 10/100/1000/2500 Mbps RJ45|
|Security||Discrete TPM 2.0|
|Ports||2x front and 1x rear USB 3.2 Gen 2 type A; 1x rear type A and 2x internal USB 2.0 headers; 2x HDMI 2.1 TMDS (4K@60Hz); 3.5mm front stereo headset jack|
|Audio||Up to 7.1 multichannel (or 8-channel) digital audio on HDMI and DP type C ports|
|Size & Mount||Compact, includes Vesa bracket for large screen monitor mounting|
Intel NUC 13 Pro: Review
At first glance, the Intel NUC doesn’t look like much. You would hardly expect what kind of specs await you inside this PC. Though it doesn’t have the striking appearance and design of a gaming PC, it boots up and works just as reliably.
It might not be the best choice for gaming, but the NUC is packed with plenty of power to use as your daily desktop or a specialty use like running a server. The NUC does three things very well: It’s simple, easy to use, and easy to work on.
If you’ve ever used a NUC before, you can appreciate the upgrades that come with the 13th-generation Pro model. Due to the smaller manufacturing process or modern process, the latest Intel CPUs can run without generating much heat or requiring tons of power.
The result is an extremely impressive performance for processor-heavy applications. It will get a little loud when pushed to the limit since the single fan has to spin much faster to compensate than if you had multiple, larger fans.
The Intel NUC 13 Pro sports a plain black plastic finish, with a VESA-compatible case. If you want to, the NUC lets you mount it to the back of your monitor or TV, so you can pretend it isn’t even there.
As for dimensions, it measures just under 5 by 5 inches, meaning it will roughly fit in the palm of your hand or your pocket. The power adapter adds some weight to it, but it remains a very portable system. If you like carrying a desktop computer with you to plug in when you arrive at an office or hotel room, this design is perfect for it.
The design is nothing impressive in terms of appearance, but the efficient use of space is what is really remarkable. Somehow, they have squeezed a remarkable amount of computing power into a size that will fit in the palm of your hand.
With the prevalence of smartphones, this is nothing impressive anymore. But it is still surprising to find a full-fledged desktop in such a small form factor.
Ports and Connectivity
Unlike competing desktops like the Mac Mini, the Intel NUC 13 Pro offers an impressive array of ports and connections for its small size.
You’ll find two USB-A ports on the front, along with a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the power button. Around the back, you’ll find the majority of connectors.
There are an additional two USB-A ports and a 2.5G ethernet port for wired internet connection. You also get two HDMI 2.1 ports, and two ThunderBolt 4 ports, all of which support up to 4K resolution. If you want to connect a bunch of massive monitors for a graphic design workstation, office powerhouse, or stock trading rig, the NUC is perfectly poised to help you out.
For wireless connectivity, the Intel NUC sports the latest Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 connections. You can easily connect your wireless speakers, headsets, printers, and accessories. This is definitely something that will come in handy if you want to use your NUC as a smart-home hub.
The 13th-generation Intel Core i7 processor does all the heavy lifting with this system. With 12 cores and 16 threads, it has the raw computing power to handle just about anything. At up to 5.00GHz, the insanely high clock speed feels at home in any workstation.
What makes this CPU even more impressive is how little energy it uses. This means a lot when you’re trying to build a power-sipping rig that takes up as little space as possible. Since the energy usage is low, the heat generated is even lower.
The result is that the Intel NUC can work overtime without overheating. In fact, the single fan inside keeps everything within stable temperatures. The only complaint might be that it is a bit louder than a larger desktop.
Since that one fan has to spin significantly faster than a larger one, it makes a bit more noise in the process. So, don’t be alarmed when your little NUC gets noisy under load.
The Intel NUC is not a graphics-focused machine by any means. Even still, we can appreciate the solid effort this system makes. The integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics processor is enough for what your typical office user will ask of it.
Whether that’s 3D modeling, computer-assisted design, or just running some spreadsheets, this GPU is more than enough to handle it. What’s more is that you don’t need a massive rig on your desk, taking up space, just to feed a power-hungry graphics card. So, it’s ideal as an office workstation.
No one’s going to stop you from booting up some games on office time, either. The Intel NUC might not have an RTX card. But gaming performance is still surprisingly good. Most of the latest titles will run on low to medium settings at roughly 60 FPS.
You won’t be playing Cyberpunk 2077 on max, but for its size, the NUC delivers more than enough gaming power than we ever expected. Just don’t buy it as your sole gaming rig. The small form factor limits your expansion capabilities, so you’ll never be able to upgrade your GPU if you want to.
No matter how good it runs, it still uses the CPU and shared graphics memory to power things. So, it will never be as good as a gaming rig with a dedicated graphics card.
We put the NUC to the test with Vulkan and OpenCL benchmarks to see its graphics capabilities. Overall, you can see performance is decent, especially considering it relies primarily on the CPU for graphics processing.
RAM and Storage
If you opt for the barebones version, you can choose specifically which SSD and RAM combination you want to use. With support for up to 64GB, you’ll have a pretty high ceiling for how much extra memory you can cram in here.
Conversely, if you go with one of the pre-configured options, you’ll get either 16GB or 32GB of RAM. Both of these options are more than enough for most applications, but you’ll save some money with the 16GB option. So, go that route if you’re working with a limited budget.
We opted for the 32GB option, which provides a good mix of value and performance. For storage, this model comes with a 1TB solid-state NVMe drive. Both the RAM and the SSD are from Kingston, one of the more reputable memory brands.
The RAM and storage were made to be as easy to upgrade as possible. Four screws on the bottom of the NUC give you access to the inside of the system. In a few minutes, you can quickly pop the system open and expand your components.
The Intel NUC comes with everything you need to get online and get to work or play. Right out of the box, you boot it up to Windows 11 Pro. If you want to downgrade to Windows 10 for compatibility reasons, or just because you like it, you can easily do that.
Linux compatibility is standard, and you can choose from a wide range of supported distros. Given the creative applications many users put their NUCs through, having Linux support is a must for building unique apps.
Intel NUC 13 Pro: Pros and Cons
- Powerful CPU
- Plenty of connections
- Noisy fan
- No upgradeable graphics
Intel NUC 13 Pro: Is It a Buy?
There are plenty of reasons to buy the Intel NUC 13 Pro, and there are just as many reasons to avoid it. So, let’s look a little closer at who might benefit the most from this system, and who should stay away.
Buy it if…
You want a small PC for the office, or if you’re outfitting your business with office computers.
The Intel NUC Pro 13 is the perfect office PC. Whether you want just one, or if you need a few dozen to configure your company’s office, this PC will slot right in. Since it barely takes up any space, it will feel right at home on any desk. The powerful CPU ensures that your work gets done without any slowdowns.
If you want a small PC for your home theater.
This system is ideal to use as a home theater computer. You can load up all of your apps and streaming services, and slide it right behind your TV. Since it is a full-fledged desktop, you get additional benefits that you won’t get from a Firestick or Roku.
The primary benefit is that you can host your own media using the built-in storage. If you want to set up a more complex PLEX server for streaming your media or get into peer-to-peer multimedia, the NUC gives you the perfect foundation.
If you want a compact system for a specialized application.
This one is really up to your imagination. But if you’re building something that requires desktop-level computational power, without the massive footprint of a full-size desktop, the Intel NUC is perfect. Since you can load Linux, Ubuntu, or Windows, you can easily install any type of custom software you could imagine.
Don’t Buy it if…
You want a gaming rig.
While the Intel NUC 13 Pro can hold its own when it comes to games, it is by no means the best at it. The nail in the coffin for its gaming performance is evident when you realize that the GPU is not upgradeable. You’re stuck using the Intel Iris system no matter what.
You want a highly customizable system.
Sure, you can upgrade the RAM and SSD on the Intel NUC, which is more than we can say about many of the latest computers. But, you still lack things like full-size PCI expansion slots. This will limit your ability to add a new graphics card, streaming card, or multimedia card.
There is only so much you can do with the limited space. So, if you’re someone who likes to install as many hard drives as possible, or wants more than 64GB of RAM, this might not be the best system for you.
Still, the NUC offers a lot of expansion options for its small size, so we can’t complain too much.