The latest generation of Intel NUC tiny PCs have apparently been confirmed, according to a user who posted a thorough component breakdown on the forums of Chinese internet giant Baidu (please note that the page linked there is in Chinese).
Naturally, the NUC 12 — codenamed “Serpent Canyon,” after the “Phantom Canyon” NUC 11 — will make use of an upgraded version of Intel’s 12th-generation Alder Lake i7-12700H CPU, which replaces the i7-1165G7 featured in the NUC 11. This is a considerable increase on its own, but the graphics card is more intriguing.
The NUC 12 is expected to employ Intel’s own Arc A770M laptop GPU as opposed to the Nvidia GeForce GPUs that were used in all of the NUC 11 variants prior to it (up to the RTX 3080 found in the console-destroying NUC 11 Extreme). The A770M, which already appears in other gaming laptops, is Intel’s highest-spec graphics card in the Arc mobile portfolio with 32 Xe-cores and 16GB of video RAM.
Although we don’t yet know the A770 Capabilities M’s in detail, predictions place it in the same performance range as Nvidia’s RTX 3060 Ti, making it a respectable option for 1080p gaming. Although a member on the Baidu forum claims that the NUC 12 will be “available shortly,” neither a price nor a release date have been announced as of yet.
The Intel NUC family of small-form-factor PCs are primarily utilized in corporate and educational settings when there is insufficient room for a full-size desktop. But some NUCs are made specifically for gaming, and this latest variant appears to meet the bill.
Is China serving as the prelude to the outbreak of a GPU war?
Given that Intel’s Arc graphics cards have finally entered the market, this decision by the company may have been expected (albeit only in China so far).Even while Intel may really be aiming for its CPU competitor AMD, it wouldn’t make much sense for Intel to continue using a major rival’s hardware in its goods. Nvidia still controls the largest share of the discrete GPU market.
The new Arc GPUs from Intel have an intriguing laser focus on the Chinese market, which has made the company’s objectives very obvious. It appears that Intel is more interested in competing with AMD at the lower end of the market than in challenging Nvidia’s hegemony in the high-end graphics card industry.
Budget GPUs are more popular with Chinese customers (and the Asian market as a general), especially considering the high number of internet cafés in that region. But the introduction of Intel’s new Arc cards hasn’t exactly gone well. Intel’s long-awaited comeback to the GPU market has been plagued by high starting costs for the Arc A380 desktop and weak early performance numbers from the Arc A7 cards.
Our assumptions that the Chinese market is being targeted first because of the high presence of low-cost GPUs were validated when we contacted Intel for feedback. The Arc deployment has been severely hampered by “software readiness delays” and COVID-19 lockdowns,” Intel further stated, adding that they want to “grow Arc A-series 3 graphics solutions with our partners internationally in the coming weeks.”