Intel NUC 9 Extreme – Tiny and powerful gaming PC

Intel revealed its new NUC 9 Extreme mini gaming PC at CES 2020, showcasing the advancements it has made in miniature PC design.

As the new mini desktop PC begins to roll out globally, Intel has provided many international publications with the NUC 9 Extreme to review.

This first look at Intel’s mini gaming PC shows that it lives up to the promise of its “Extreme” branding.

Despite having only a 5-litre chassis, the Intel NUC Extreme can pack enough hardware to serve as a 4K gaming rig.

Powerful hardware in a tiny package

While being slightly larger than the previous-generation NUC devices, the Intel NUC 9 Extreme is a big step up.

This is largely thanks to its support for a discrete desktop graphics card, which delivers far greater performance than the CPU’s integrated graphics and turns the device into a fully-fledged gaming machine.

International publications which received the NUC 9 Extreme with Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 graphics cards installed said the device is more than capable of running modern games well.

According to Intel’s specifications for the NUC 9 Extreme, the mini PC can technically support any graphics card shorter than 8 inches that is compatible with its 500W power supply.

It also includes support for three M.2 SSDs and up to 64GB of RAM, depending on what configuration you select.

The NUC 9 Extreme can be configured like any normal gaming PC, with the exception of the CPU, which is a discrete Compute Unit board installed alongside the graphics card in the chassis.

The base specifications of the Intel NUC 9 Extreme are shown below.

Intel NUC 9 Extreme (NUC9i9QNX)
Operating System Windows 10
CPU Intel Core i9-9980HK Processor
RAM Up to 64GB DRR4 2,666MHz
Storage 3x M.2 SSD
Graphics Discrete desktop GPU
I/O 6x USB 3.1, 2x Thunderbolt 3, 3x USB 2.0 internal, Ethernet, 3.5mm audio
Connectivity Bluetooth, Wi-Fi 6
Power Supply 500W
Dimensions 238 x 216 x 96 mm

Performance and impressions

Engadget labelled the Intel NUC 9 Extreme “the king of tiny gaming PCs”, highlighting the exceptional performance of the kit despite its diminutive size.

“Yes, it’s larger than any previous NUC, which seems like a step backwards. But at five litres, the NUC 9 Extreme is still significantly leaner than any desktop with a dedicated GPU.”

AnandTech also lauded the customizability of the hardware and the ability to replace GPUs without buying a whole new mini PC.

“A love letter of sorts to enthusiasts who want it all in a mini PC, it’s improved on Intel’s earlier designs in a number of ways, making it perhaps the best high-performance NUC yet,” AnandTech said.

Benchmarks conducted by HotHardware against other desktop PCs and gaming laptops saw it performing well, consistently ranking among the top runners in a number of games and synthetic benchmarks.

Price

The Intel NUC 9 Extreme may be a dream PC for gamers, but it does come at a price.

Depending on the configuration you choose, the NUC is an expensive purchase compared to a similarly-specced full-size desktop PC.

Intel’s listing for the device shows a recommended retail price of around $1,530 (R28,900), and that is without a discrete graphics card.

The price of the system provided to Engadget to review – which included an RTX 2070 graphics card – was $3,100 (R58,000).

Now read: AMD launches fastest-ever Ryzen 3 processors

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Intel NUC 9 Extreme – Tiny and powerful gaming PC