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Intel NUC vs. Dell OptiPlex 7050: Which is the Best Micro Desktop PC?

Geekom AS6 next to NUC

Intel NUC vs. Dell OptiPlex 7050: Which is the Best Micro Desktop PC?

When it comes to tiny desktop computers, the NUC vs. Dell is a comparison many buyers find themselves making. But for most of the history of desktop PCs, mobility hasn’t been the first thing that comes to mind. It seems like it’s an unavoidable tradeoff of sacrificing mobility for power. Laptops are the go-to for mobile computers, and desktops are relegated to a primarily stationary life, keeping you chained down to wherever your workstation resides. 

But as we’ve explored, this doesn’t always have to be the case. Mini PCs are changing our perception of mobile computers thanks to fantastic innovations. Now, you can have all the best that desktop computing offers, with an extreme form factor contributing to supreme portability and some aesthetic benefits. 

Today, we’ll be looking at the amazing Intel NUC 13 Pro — which we reviewed extensively here — putting it against the Dell OptiPlex 7050. Don’t let the initial specs of these devices fool you, as there’s a lot to compare between them, and each device has some serious punches to throw at the competitor. Let’s get into it!

Intel NUC vs. Dell OptiPlex 7050: Side by Side

SpecIntel NUC 13Dell OptiPlex 7050
Size7.6” x 6.81” x 4.49”7.2” x 1.4” x 7”
Weight3.61 pounds2 pounds
CPUIntel i7-1360P E: 3.7GHz , P: 5GHzIntel Core i5-6500T 2.5-3.1Ghz
Cores & Threads12 Core (4P+8E) 16 Threads4 Core 4 Thread
Memory32 GB DDR416 GB DDR4
GraphicsIntel Iris Xe Graphics 1.5GHzIntel HD 530 UMA Graphics
StorageSATA or PCI SSDSATA or PCI SSD
Bluetooth5.3None / 4.2
Wi-Fi6ENone / 5
LANIntel i225-LMIntel i219-V
Price$1,199$132.98
IO2x Thunderbolt 4, 3x USB 3.2, 1x USB 2, 2x HDMI 2b, 1x Ethernet6x USB 3.1, 4x USB 2, 1x HDMI, 1x Displayport, 1x Ethernet, 2x PS/2
Best Older Technology
Dell OptiPlex 7050 Micro Computer (Renewed)
$157.00
  • Perfect for a workstation
  • Intel Quad Core i5
  • 16G DDR
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/17/2024 12:19 pm GMT

Intel NUC vs. Dell OptiPlex 7050: What’s the Difference?

The Intel NUC 13 Pro and Dell OptiPlex 7050 cater to a niche market: micro desktop PC buyers. But both of them boast reputable brand names.

Dell is well known for its workstation PCs, and its mini PCs pack a ton of power. Sure, they make their fair share of massive tower desktops. But they also make plenty of capable compact computers. The Dell OptiPlex 7050 is one of these workhorses.  On the surface, this PC is much less powerful than the Intel NUC 13 Pro, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve.

The NUC 13 Pro doesn’t shy away from letting you know it’s powerful, either. Since the NUC is from Intel, they can squeeze as much power out of the CPU as possible — primarily by optimizing the entire PC around the processor. This PC also gets the benefit of Intel’s latest technology. 

These small PCs each deserve an article of their own, but let’s look at the most apparent differences and similarities between these models. 

Intel NUC 13 Pro design
The Intel NUC 13 Pro sports a plain yet polished design. Dell is much more flamboyant with its use of the brand logo.

Size & Design

The OptiPlex 7050 is available in multiple formats. You’ll commonly see the SFF and the USFF versions come up for sale. USFF, meaning “ultra-small-form-factor,” is the smaller model, and that is the one we’ll be referring to in this article.

The NUC and the OptiPlex are both compact, but the USFF version of the OptiPlex 7050 is the lighter and slimmer option. Coming in at 1.6 pounds lighter and a smaller case, the OptiPlex is slim even compared to the NUC 13 Pro.

Both PCs share similarities in having ample ventilation compared to their size and opt for minimal designs. Each design follows some no-nonsense principles. You can mount them behind your monitor with the included mounting brackets, or just tuck them away somewhere inconspicuous.

Both models have most of their IO ports on the back, with minimal functions on the front. Despite being packed with IO, the OptiPlex and NUC both have a sense of purpose in their IO layouts rather than feeling cramped. 

They also look the part as they feature smooth black chassis and just enough flare to make the computers aesthetically pleasing. The Dell looks especially nice while integrating a serious amount of ventilation behind a striking vent cover. 

Each design is meant to be added to and modified as well. If you need to expand or repair each device, the cases are made to disassemble and reassemble easily. You’ll also find space to add a few expansions to each device. So, don’t think you’ll be limited to the initial configuration.

Processing and Performance

Even though both devices use Intel CPUs, the NUC 13’s i7-1360P blows the OptiPlex’s i5-6500T out of the water. 

Not only is the NUC CPU several generations ahead, but this i7 processor makes use of an entirely new industry paradigm. Rather than having uniform cores, this CPU combines high-performance cores with an array of lower-performance but highly efficient cores. 

The reason for this is most tasks you’ll run today don’t need the fastest clock speeds available, so the efficiency cores can process these tasks while your high-performance cores can focus on the tasks you want to get done. 

The OptiPlex 7050 uses a much older CPU at eight years old but still offers decent computing. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to upgrade past 7th-generation Intel CPUs either, thanks to board limitations.

Don’t let this difference sway you too much. The i5-6500T works fine for general computing unless you’re doing CPU-intensive work. Do keep in mind, however, that this CPU is a bit underpowered if you’re looking at gaming. 

System Memory

On the other hand, both systems have more than enough RAM, but the NUC wins again here with double the available RAM. If you’re looking at the price, though, this RAM difference might not make up for it.

Both use DDR4, so there won’t be a large difference in speed, and you can always add some RAM to your OptiPlex if 16 GB isn’t enough. But you can expand the NUC 13 Pro’s RAM as well. So, it really comes down to price-to-performance here. If you want to save a few bucks, the OptiPlex will give you similar performance in the RAM department.

RAM and storage Intel NUC 13 Pro
The RAM and SSD are easily upgradeable on the Intel Nuc 13 Pro — but not quite as easy as the Optiplex, which sports a tool-free opening process on certain models.

Graphics

Because of the small size, neither of these products uses discrete graphics cards. Despite being integrated, both of these devices are capable of tasks like 4k video playback and streaming. 

Intel provides graphics here entirely, but they use two different product lines. The Dell OptiPlex goes for the simpler solution of Intel’s HD UMA graphics, while the Intel NUC has Iris Xe graphics.

The difference here is mostly in architecture as well. Intel HD is known for being much less costly than Iris Xe, and Iris Xe is much faster than Intel HD. This comes down to Iris Xe being a new architecture for integrated graphics solutions. 

If you’re looking to do things like CAD or 3D modeling, neither of these solutions will work, but if you’re looking to game, then the OptiPlex won’t be doing much, whereas the NUC 13 Pro will have light gaming capabilities. I can’t really say either of them is a full-fledged gaming computer, though. So, look elsewhere if you are really into gaming.

Storage

Out of the box, this is another win for the NUC 13, but storage is an even playing field for both devices. Yes, the NUC has the advantage of using the latest SSD technology, but both can be expanded to include as much storage as needed.

The OptiPlex can fit up to four separate drives: two 2.5” hard drives, one 2.5” SSD, and one M.2 SSD. This is enough to have several terabytes of data, and you can get the best of what HDDs and SSDs offer. 

The NUC 13 Pro can support two M.2 drives and one SATA drive, but you can also add an expansion card for additional storage options. While you may not have a lot of extra storage available, you have more than enough unless you’re filling several terabytes of data. 

Wireless Networking

The NUC 13 Pro sets itself ahead once again, thanks to it being a much newer device. Wi-Fi 6 capabilities mean it can move up to 9.6 Gbps. Wi-Fi 6 also improved connection stability, so the NUC will perform great whether you’ve wired it into a network or not.

The NUC also has excellent Bluetooth capabilities for connecting wireless peripherals. The OptiPlex, on the other hand, isn’t as great. Wireless and Bluetooth capabilities aren’t guaranteed out of the box, so be sure to buy one that includes these if necessary. 

You’ll also still be on an older generation of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. This won’t be a dealbreaker for any Bluetooth devices you’re trying to connect, but the Wi-Fi speeds will be significantly slower. 

An upgrade might be possible, but check the installed board’s PCIe lanes compared to whatever card you buy. And, of course, you can always pick up a USB WiFi or Bluetooth module without much hassle.

Intel NUC 13 Pro ports
The Intel NUC 13 Pro sports plenty of USB and HDMI ports for your peripherals, very comparable to the USFF version of the Optiplex 7050, but slightly falling short compared to the larger model Optiplex 7050.

IO & Displays

These are workstation devices, so multiple monitors are a must. Both devices have several video outputs, but the NUC features support for up to four displays compared to the OptiPlex’s two. And the best thing? These can all be 4k displays.

The OptiPlex also promises 4k displays but requires each monitor to use a different connection. Couple this with the older CPU and underpowered graphics, and the Dell likely won’t have you at the same level as the NUC.

These computers also have an impressive array of ports and connections, but the difference isn’t significant unless you’re looking for Thunderbolt support. USB, Ethernet, headphones, and HDMI are all standards here.

Best Performance
Intel NUC 13 Pro (Intel Core i7-1360P)
$799.00
  • 32 GB RAM
  • Memory storage capacity: 1 TB
  • Windows 11 Pro OS
  • Wi-Fi 6E AX211, Bluetooth 5.3
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/17/2024 12:20 pm GMT

Intel NUC vs. Dell OptiPlex 7050: Must-Know Facts

Intel NUC 13 Pro:

  • Much newer system
  • Comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support
  • Uses Windows 11 Pro
  • Extremely versatile

Dell OptiPlex 7050:

  • Not recommended for gaming
  • Older technologies
  • Still workstation capable
  • May not come with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth

Intel NUC vs. Dell OptiPlex 7050: Which is Better? Which Should I Use?

Comparing which is better is a bit unfair — mainly due to the age and the price. But if I had to pick one personally, and money was no issue, the NUC 13 Pro is the winner. If nothing else, then because of its raw power. This is mostly due to it using a lot of the cutting edge of what’s available. This performance also comes at a price. This device is listed at around $1000 for the skew we’re looking at today. 

The Dell Optiplex 7050, on the other hand, is an 8-year-old model. No matter how you look at it, it’s going to be punching up compared to a modern device. 

If you’re looking for a general-use computer, go for the OptiPlex, as it will still do most general computing tasks without any hangups. The OptiPlex line is designed to last for years and years. Don’t expect to be running the next Call of Duty at max resolution or even most AAA games. 

The NUC 13 Pro isn’t necessarily designed with gaming in mind either, but thanks to the innovations packed into it, it’ll handle most tasks thrown at it. Due to the price, it’s a bit hard to recommend the NUC 13 Pro over the OptiPlex in all cases, but if you can justify the use case, then it’s not a bad choice. 

Otherwise, if you want a general-use PC, the OptiPlex is an amazing deal at current listing prices, especially if you plan on upgrading. If you’re hoping for a gaming computer, we reviewed several great contenders under $1500, under $800, and even under $300.

  1. Dell OptiPlex 7050 Micro Computer (Renewed)
    $157.00
    • Perfect for a workstation
    • Intel Quad Core i5
    • 16G DDR
    • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    01/17/2024 12:19 pm GMT
  2. Intel NUC 13 Pro (Intel Core i7-1360P)
    $799.00
    • 32 GB RAM
    • Memory storage capacity: 1 TB
    • Windows 11 Pro OS
    • Wi-Fi 6E AX211, Bluetooth 5.3
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    01/17/2024 12:20 pm GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an NUC, and what does it stand for?

NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing. It is a concept created by Intel to reinvent the computer by squeezing all the components of a PC into a tiny, compact chassis. You don’t have to say each letter—most folks pronounce it as “nuck.”

 

 

What is the best microdesktop PC?

The best micro desktop PC will depend on what you need it for. Small business owners love both the Dell Optiplex and the NUC. They don’t take up much space at all, and they’re a great value for the price. Besides these two, you have brands like HP, MINISFORUM, ASUS, and GEEKOM, all vying for your attention.

Is Dell or NUC a better PC?

Both are amazing value options. NUC has really stepped up their game in recent years. Many people are switching over to the brand, and people are turning into NUC loyalists. They may be “affordable” but they certainly don’t cut corners in terms of quality. You’ll find that even NUC models that are under $500 provide excellent performance for users. Dell, however, has always been amazing; they have established themselves as industry leaders, constantly one-upping themselves with their ingenuity.

Should I get a mini PC?

Yes! Mini PCs (otherwise known as ultra-small-form-factor) are a sign of the future of computing. They can do all the same things as a tower desktop without taking up so much space in your office. Plus, mini PCs tend to cost way less than tower desktops due to their compact size. If you work from home, or are a student, a Dell Optiplex 7050 or NUC 11 would be great options for you!

Is the Dell OptiPlex good for gaming?

Depending on the model you get, you might be able to run some games, especially indies, but we don’t recommend this for running most games. The integrated graphics here is your biggest downside, as other integrated solutions perform better.

 

 

Does the Dell OptiPlex 7050 Micro have Wi-Fi?

The OptiPlex 7050 has Wi-Fi capability, but this isn’t standard. Ensure you are buying a model that includes this if that capability is a necessity.

Is Intel discontinuing NUC?

Intel is no longer producing NUCs but has encouraged several partners to keep producing small form factors. Currently, ASUS owns the rights to existing NUC models, but other companies will be able to produce their own NUC models.

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