Intel's made a significant business of making its own compact PCs, from tiny models the size of a tin of mints to gaming models the size of shoeboxes. But it's the end for NUCs both modest and meaty, as the chipmaker is pulling out of the mini PC market.
The company doesn't explain why it's ending production of first-party NUC machines. However, there's little doubt the company is reeling from a bleak computer market prompted by both a rough economy and the early pandemic surge in sales. Intel's revenue has plunged by more than a third in the past two quarters, and its PC-oriented Client Computing Group has been one of the worst-hit divisions. As ServeTheHome notes, a move like this lets Intel offload a non-essential business and focus on making chips. The company sold its server business to MiTAC earlier this year.
Intel launched the first NUC in 2013 as a tiny, barebones PC kit meant to showcase both the latest processors as well as the possibilities for compact desktops. Over time, they evolved into more complete systems with robust performance and, in some later incarnations, dedicated GPUs. You could use them at home, but they also had a following in business — they were useful for compute clusters and other situations where size and simplicity mattered.
The good part of this is supposedly that we'll get more models from mainstream manufacturers now that Intel's no longer competing directly with its own customers. Meanwhile, NVidia is headed in the opposite direction, icing out partners and doubling-down on its own GPU products.
The killer for me with mini PCs is the external power bricks and, at the higher end, sticker shock. Unless I had something very specific in mind, I tended to end up with a Mac Mini or a Pi whenever I went looking. The NUC Dork Skull always sent me to Zotac instead when I wanted one that could play games, too.