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Intel NUC 13 vs. Raspberry Pi: Which Micro PC Wins?

Intel NUC 13 vs. Raspberry Pi

Intel NUC 13 vs. Raspberry Pi: Which Micro PC Wins?

Key Points

  • Micro-desktops, such as Intel’s NUC 13 and Raspberry Pi, are gaining popularity as compact and powerful alternatives to traditional computers.
  • Raspberry Pi was developed in 2012 with the goal of teaching kids computer science and programming.
  • Intel’s NUC 13 is a more simplified and user-friendly option, suitable for business, personal use, gaming, streaming, and home theater setups.
  • The Raspberry Pi is smaller in size and offers endless possibilities for customization and computer programming.
  • The Intel NUC 13 has a more powerful processor, as well as more graphics capabilities and storage options compared to the Raspberry Pi.

Tech seems to be getting smaller and smaller in size while continuously reaching new, impressive heights. Previously, at-home computers were giant towers that took up a large portion of your office space. Now, micro-desktops (occasionally referred to as “mini PCs” or “micro PCs”) are becoming increasingly popular.

Don’t be fooled by their small stature, though! These tiny but mighty technological powerhouses can pack quite a punch. Both Intel’s NUC 13 and the truly fascinating Raspberry Pi are great starting points if you’ve just discovered mini PCs. However, they offer different benefits for users, so it’s important to get to know the ins and outs before you choose one. Let’s dive in.

Intel NUC 13 vs. Raspberry Pi: A Brief History

Raspberry Pi is a unique, credit card-sized computer that can be plugged into nearly any computer monitor or projector. It has full PC capabilities, but it requires a bit of heavy lifting to put together — despite its compact size. No, it’s not incredibly dense; you’ll simply need to go through a bit more setup, which we’ll discuss in a second.

It was developed in 2012 in the UK with a simple goal: teaching kids computer science. At the time, computer science in grade school was very minimal. Raspberry Pi was a cost-effective method of getting kids a bit more interested in programming beyond what was available at the time. They could learn how to code with languages like Python or gain familiarity with a less common operating system such as Linux.

Intel NUC 13 vs. Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi allows you to get more hands-on with your computing projects.

Intel’s NUC 13 is more simplified. It’s more akin to a traditional tower computer, though that shape has been morphed into a small cube. Operating via the Windows operating system, the NUC takes up very little surface space wherever you decide to put it. Because of this, many users swear by it.

There is not much of a learning curve with the NUC 13. You can take it out of the box and use it almost immediately. Most people purchase the NUC 13 for business or personal use. It can even be good for gaming, streaming, or home theater setups.

Intel NUC 13 vs. Raspberry Pi: Side-by-Side Comparison

NUC 13Raspberry Pi
Size3.19 lbs, ‎6.93 x 5.98 x 4.21 inches1.17 lbs, ‎7.87 x 4.88 x 3.31 inches
Processor13th Gen Intel Core1.5 GHz Broadcom BCM2711 SoC
Operating SystemWindows 11 ProRaspberry Pi OS (Linux)
Storage‎16 GB DDR4 RAM, 512 GB SSD hard drive8GB RAM, 64 GB SSD hard drive
PurposeHome use/ Business use/ Gaming/ StreamingMultipurpose/ Computer Programming/ Gaming

Intel NUC 13 vs. Raspberry Pi: What’s the Difference?

These computers are vastly different beasts. They are most similar in terms of their power compared to their small size, and then they venture off into vastly different territories in every other category. Let’s start with what we can see: the design.

Design

Yes, we’ve established that both of these PCs are very tiny. However, Raspberry Pi takes the cake (pun intended) for being the tiniest of the two. It can only be described as being as small as your average credit or debit card. This intentional design choice makes Raspberry Pi’s possibilities virtually endless. Remember, it is intended to get people, especially young people, excited about computer programming.

Our Pick
Raspberry Pi 4 Model B
$61.79
  • 2 × Micro HDMI ports 
  • 4 GB RAM
  • Micro SD card slot for loading operating system and data storage
  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet (GbE)
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02/20/2024 10:21 am GMT

NUC 13, however, is a bit more traditional in its design. It is meant to take a computer tower and put it in a compact package. This small cube will sit on nearly any surface without taking up much space at all. Small business owners have stated that it works perfectly for their offices or warehouses, especially when designated to help them fulfill orders.

The great thing about the Raspberry Pi is that the design is really up to you. While you can buy a system kit, which includes a basic case and everything you need to get started, you can also fabricate your own completely unique case if you want to.

Intel NUC 13 vs. Raspberry Pi
The Intel NUC 13 Pro sports a plain yet polished design.

Processor

The latest Raspberry Pi iteration boasts a Broadcom CPU and GPU combo, clocked at 1.5 GHz. The BCM2711B0 chipset powers this setup, transitioning significantly from the older 40nm SoCs to a refined 28nm process. While the clock speed of 1.5 GHz might not initially seem like a significant leap from the previous generation at 1.4 GHz, the CPU employs the newer Cortex-A72 microarchitecture.

This architecture, replacing the former Cortex-A53, enables a deeper 15-instruction pipeline, out-of-order execution, and greater efficiency, ultimately providing a performance boost despite seemingly modest clock speed advancements.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Intel NUC 13, with a 13th-generation Intel i7-1360P processor built on a 10nm process, is a formidable contender in its own right. Notably, this processor encompasses 12 cores and 16 threads. Four of these are performance cores, and eight of them are efficiency cores — a blend of raw power and energy efficiency.

The P-Cores can turbo boost up to an impressive 5 GHz, while the E-Cores have a peak of 3.9 GHz. Combined with a substantial 24MB Intel Smart Cache, this makes the Intel NUC 13 a powerhouse in multitasking and compute-heavy scenarios. It is in another league compared to the Raspberry Pi.

Graphics

The Broadcom processor on the Raspberry Pi already packs quite the punch for loading intense graphics. As of 2022, a Vulkan update enhanced the graphics experience on the Raspberry Pi by expanding its 3D potential. The Vulkan 1.2 update allows users to experiment with 3D graphics without overwhelming their Raspberry Pi.

Intel Core i5-1340
Intel NUC 13 PRO
$719.00
  • 512 GB SSD, 16 GB RAM
  • Windows 11 Pro
  • Clock speed: 4.60 GHz
  • 13th Gen Intel Corei5-1340P processor
  • Built-in 35W Intel Iris Xe Graphics can handle 3D animation, CAD models, and video rendering
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02/20/2024 02:42 pm GMT

Conversely, the graphics on the NUC 13 are perfect for streaming or light gaming. Every NUC model takes lessons from the previous one and improves upon them, especially in terms of graphics. Older NUC models were a bit lackluster in the graphics department, but by the time the 13 came about, the improvements were impressive to the toughest of critics.

The answer lies in Intel Iris Xe graphics, which give you some impressive performance without needing a ton of wattage or active cooling. Neither of these micro PCs can stand up to an actual gaming computer when it comes to playing anything in your Steam library. So, don’t get too excited. But if you want something to output to a 4K display for watching movies, both of these little systems are graphics powerhouses.

RAM And Storage

The Raspberry Pi’s most noticeable downside is its small storage size, which matches its small physical appearance. The NUC 13 is not that much bigger than the Raspberry Pi, but it is still able to host nearly triple the RAM and SSD storage of its credit card-sized competitor. 

With the Raspberry Pi, it is all about the USB ports. You can run your entire operating system off of a flash drive or SD card via an adapter plugged into one of the USB ports. At the same time, you can use another USB for your long-term file storage, by plugging in an external hard drive or SSD.

The Intel NUC has more conventional and versatile storage. You get a PCIe slot for a much larger capacity and faster SSD. Plus, you get a full-sized SATA port for an even larger SSD.

Intel NUC 13 vs. Raspberry Pi
The Intel NUC is much more upgradeable, given its more conventional interfaces for RAM and SSDs.

Software

This is another area where the NUC 13 might have more buying potential. If you’re feeling explorative, the Raspberry Pi is well worth it. However, if you need something simple, the familiarity of the software built into the NUC 13 might be helpful for you.

Remember, the Raspberry Pi exists with the goal of getting people interested in computer programming. You can do a lot with its Linux operating system; it’s just a bit more open-ended than the safe familiarity of Windows. It’s not so easy to determine which operating software is “better” in this particular case. Instead, it’s important to assess your own needs before committing to one of these computers.

We’ll talk about some potential use cases and project ideas in a minute to give you some inspiration. But before that, you’ll have to buy one, which brings us to our next discussion: the price.

Price

The price of the Raspberry Pi is extremely enticing. As of writing this article, Amazon has the Raspberry Pi 4 on an amazing deal — just $150 to get you started. Conversely, for $699, you can get a NUC 13 with everything already done for you. There is no learning curve to leap over with a NUC 13.

If you want to get started right away with a niche project, but you don’t have the budget for a full-size computer, the price of a Raspberry Pi is a no-brainer. Of course, upgrades and other accessories will add to the overall cost, but $150-200 just to get going is a phenomenal opportunity.

Fun Projects to Do With Each

Given that both the NUC and the Raspberry Pi are so tiny and customizable, they are a breeding ground for fun tech projects. Let’s look at some of the most popular use cases you can put your Pi or NUC to.

Intel NUC 13 vs. Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi is great for learning coding since there are so many hands-on projects you can get involved with.

Retro Gaming

One of the most popular projects for the Raspberry Pi is to turn it into a nostalgic gaming machine by using emulators like RetroPie. This will let you play a host of classic games from systems like NES, Atari, and even PlayStation. Here is where the customizable nature of the Pi really shines, since you can put it right inside an old arcade game cabinet if you want to.

The NUC can also be a great retro gamer, and you can focus on more resource-heavy games since it has a more capable CPU and GPU. But you might not be able to customize it as much. Still, there are some cool emulators available, such as PCSX2 for emulating the PlayStation 2 on Windows.

Networking Monitor

One of the most popular and practical applications of the Raspberry Pi is to use it as a Pi-hole — a network-wide ad blocker. Setting up a Pi-hole on a Raspberry Pi is a fun, but also practical project to help you prevent unwanted ads from displaying on all devices connected to your network without the need for individual device configurations.

Our Pick
Intel NUC 13 Pro (Core i7-1360P)
$899.00
  • Iris Xe Graphics
  • 1TB M.2 SSD, 32GB RAM
  • TDP: 35W
  • Windows 11 Pro
  • Support for 8K high-definition displays
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02/20/2024 03:22 pm GMT

The Raspberry Pi’s compact size, affordability, and low power consumption make it an ideal choice for such continuous network monitoring tasks. In comparison, the Intel NUC, with its more powerful specs, can certainly handle network monitoring and other more intensive server applications. However, for the specific task of running a Pi-hole, the Raspberry Pi offers a more cost-effective and efficient solution.

Home Automation

A Raspberry Pi or Intel NUC can serve as the brain behind your smart home. Using a platform like openHAB, you can control smart lights, thermostats, and other IoT devices from a centralized dashboard. Moreover, with the right setup, you can create automation rules, like turning off lights when everyone leaves the house or adjusting the thermostat based on time and occupancy.

The Raspberry Pi is often better suited for this use case, simply due to the lower cost and smaller footprint. However, the Intel NUC can still be a good candidate for the job.

Intel NUC 13 vs. Raspberry Pi
You can buy different kits for your Raspberry Pi, depending on what project you want to build with it.

Media Server

Both the Intel NUC and the Raspberry Pi are competent devices for setting up media servers, be it for streaming music, videos, or both. The Intel NUC, with its powerful processor and sizable storage capabilities, is particularly well-suited for running server applications like PLEX.

PLEX is a popular media server platform that organizes your personal collection of movies, TV shows, music, and other media, while also offering the ability to stream this content to various devices both inside and outside your home network.

While you can set up a media server with a Raspberry Pi, the NUC’s substantial computational power means it can transcode and stream high-definition videos smoothly. So it might be better suited for more demanding users.

Intel NUC 13 vs. Raspberry Pi: 7 Must-Know Facts

Intel NUC 13:

  1. Features a Kensington Lock on the side of the machine
  2. Features an HDMI port for connectivity
  3. Has 2 USB ports (1 USB 3.2 Gen 2, 1 USB 2.0) on the back
  4. Has 2 USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports in the front, next to the headphone jack

Raspberry Pi:

  1. It is the size of your average credit or debit card
  2. Usually costs around $200, and is sometimes on sale on Amazon
  3. Offers customizability from the ground up

Intel NUC 13 vs. Raspberry Pi: Which One Is Better? Which Should You Use?

There is really no clear-cut way to define which one is better — it is an apples-and-oranges debate. They are both powerful, compact machines that can do a lot despite their small stature. However, they are vastly different in their uses; one is a traditional computer, and one is designed to be curated for your own unique experience, as well as improved computer programming skills.

Therefore, Raspberry Pi is amazing for people who are curious about computers beyond a basic level of interest. If you’re thinking of taking computer programming classes, it’s a great place to begin. This is often a computer programmer’s first project since it’s relatively easy to understand if you’re just starting out. Eventually, you can use Raspberry Pi for virtually every comparable use to the average PC.

NUC 13 is great for business or personal use. You can add it to a home theater seamlessly since it’s so small. Plus, the connectivity ports are ideal for streaming. Other people use their NUC 13 for gaming; you don’t need a giant computer setup to get the same overall experience. Business owners love their NUC 13 for fulfilling orders or simple, everyday tasks.

Intel NUC 13 vs. Raspberry Pi
The Intel NUC 13 Pro sports plenty of USB and HDMI ports for your peripherals, making it easier to set up and get going than a Raspberry Pi.

Intel NUC 13 vs. Raspberry Pi: Deciding Factors

Depending on what you need it for, you can get quite a bit out of these computers. Most users report positive experiences with the Raspberry Pi and the NUC 13. Beginners and experts alike find value in their expandability.

Our Pick
CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 Extreme Kit
$174.99
  • Raspberry Pi 4 8GB Model B 
  • 1.5GHz 64-bit quad-core CPU
  • 128GB Samsung EVO+ Micro SD Card 
  • Built-in passive heat sink cooling
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02/20/2024 03:32 pm GMT

Therefore, your budget is the next considerable deciding factor, other than your intended use. If you have a bigger budget, the NUC 13 can still save you a considerable amount of money. You can get a high-quality PC for well under $1,000. Conversely, you can begin computer programming for $200 or less with a Raspberry Pi.

Either way, be realistic about your budget and skill levels. If you’re willing to learn a lot to save a few hundred dollars, the Raspberry Pi would be your best bet. If you want to use a computer right out of the box, opt for a NUC 13 despite it being a bit more costly. Both options are often available at a discounted rate on Amazon.

NUC 13 ProRaspberry Pi
What It IsPCPC
Primary UseMultimedia/BusinessComputer Programming/Gaming
Name13 ProRaspberry Pi 4
Release20232019
BrandNUCRaspberry Pi Foundation
SizeCompactCompact
Operating SystemWindowsLinux
ManufacturerIntelRaspberry Pi Foundation/Broadcom

Frequently Asked Questions

How is Intel NUC compared to Raspberry Pi?

Intel’s NUC range is a bit easier to understand for most people than Raspberry Pi. The thing with Raspberry Pi is that it was ultimately created to get more people interested in computer programming, especially at an early age.

The NUC can be used right out of the box when it’s plugged into a monitor. As a result, the NUC sometimes has better performance reports, but it all depends on user expectations and skill levels.

Is there anything better than a Raspberry Pi?

The original option is usually the best option. Raspberry Pi’s creators were innovators, establishing new technology with the goal of ultimately helping kids understand computer programming. Of course, competitors have emerged since then. Still, you’ll find that for the price, you really are offered a lot of potential with the original Raspberry Pi.

Should I get a NUC or Raspberry Pi?

Both options are tempting if you’re looking for a small desktop computer. Most people end up picking a NUC because it’s easier to understand off the bat with little to no computer programming experience. However, a Raspberry Pi can drastically expand your skill set!

Can the Raspberry Pi 4 really replace a PC?

The Broadcom processor in the Raspberry Pi is surprisingly powerful, and it can make a viable replacement for a regular PC. You might be in for a bit more complicated initial setup, and you will have to deal with a bit less performance than something like the NUC and its powerful 13th-gen. Intel processors. But it can be a valid replacement for a PC.

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