Starting At $340
Intel NUCs (this stands for “Next Unit of Computing,” by the way) can do almost anything. These tiny computers take almost no space, don’t use much electricity, and can have plenty of computing power. The Intel NUC 13 Pro isn’t as powerful as the Extreme, but it’s also much quieter.
Most NUC devices come as a kit of sorts, giving you the case with a motherboard and processor, but letting you add your own memory, storage, and operating system. This is how most Intel NUC 13 Pro units will work, but in our case, we’re looking at a review unit preloaded with everything you need.
Intel seems to intend the NUC 13 Pro for business use cases, but we were more curious to see how it functions as a standard desktop computer replacement.
Our Review Unit
- CPU: Intel Core i7-1360P
- GPU: Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics
- RAM: 32GB Dual-Channel DDR4-3200
- SSD: 512 GB PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD
Typically, when you buy an Intel NUC, you’ve got a few other parts to buy, which we’ll look at in more detail later. In this case, Intel sent a complete unit, so we didn’t need to add any other components to test it. Our review unit is the NUC13ANKi70001, which is a smaller, fanless model powered by a 13th-generation Intel Core i7-1360P processor.
Not every unit in the NUC 13 Pro line features an i7 processor. You can also get i5- or i3-powered models, assuming you don’t need quite as much computing power. Using a lower-spec processor will cut down on energy usage, which is handy as these are intended to be left powered on all day.
You can also find slightly more powerful versions of the NUC 13 Pro than we’re looking at. If you require all the processing power you can get, you can find models with Core i7-1370P processors that run up to 5.2GHz.
Who Is the Intel NUC 13 Pro For?
Earlier, we mentioned that Intel is largely aiming these at businesses, but didn’t elaborate on what that means. Basically, the NUC 13 Pro has certain features that a home user will almost never need, but business users will need all the time.
These features include hardware-level KVM functionality, remote administration, and unattended control. These do add to the overall cost of the unit, and most home users won’t use these features, but some of them can be beneficial, even for residential use.
For years, Intel NUCs have made great home theater PCs. Yes, this takes much more setup than plugging in an Apple TV or a Roku, but you get much more control over how the system works. These miniature computers are also much more powerful than your typical streaming box.
A NUC with enough power, like the Intel NUC 13 Pro we’re reviewing, also makes a great platform for setting up a Plex server. In this case, some of those business features, like easy remote control of the PC, make maintaining your Plex server even better.
Of course, given the business-facing nature, these make great computers overall. They even make surprisingly capable casual gaming machines, as long as you keep your expectations in check.
A Solid and Sustainable Build
- Dimensions: 1.45 x 4.6 x 4.4in (37 x 117 x 112mm)
One of the main points Intel is highlighting about the NUC 13 Pro is how much recycled material it uses. The chassis uses up to 75% post-consumer plastics, and all of the packaging is recyclable, so there is no waste there.
When it comes to the chassis itself, you wouldn’t necessarily think of it being recycled. While the plastic build isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as a Mac mini, for example, it still looks nice enough that most people won’t feel the need to hide it.
While we’re talking about “the chassis,” there are actually two different types. For our review unit, we’re using the “Slim” option, but there is another “Tall” chassis. That model includes a fan, so you’ll find it on more powerful models that run heavy-duty workloads.
There is only a single button on the NUC 13 Pro, which is the power button, located directly on the front of the unit. You’ll also find a pair of USB ports on the front, but we’ll look at those more in-depth later on in the article.
What’s Included and What You’ll Need
While we received a completed kit to test the Intel NUC 13 Pro, that isn’t likely to be what you would receive buying one. As previously mentioned, Intel mostly offers NUCs in kit form, meaning they’re not complete and ready to fire up directly out of the box.
If you buy one of these, you get the chassis, motherboard, CPU, and everything required to power and run the machine. You don’t need to add much, but you will need to supply your own DDR4 RAM as well as an SSD.
The Intel NUC 13 Pro features an NVMe SSD slot, which is good in terms of speed, but it also means you can’t use an old hard drive you have lying around. You’ll also need to install an operating system. Our review unit came with Windows 11 Pro, and that’s likely what most will install, but you’re free to install any operating system you want (including Linux).
Intel does plan to offer mini complete PC builds of the NUC 13 Pro eventually, meaning you won’t need to add any of your own components. That said, if you want one of these now, you need to get it in kit form.
Connectivity: Plenty of Ports for Everyone
- Thunderbolt 4 ports: 2 (supports USB-C 4.0 and DisplayPort 2.1)
- USB ports: 3x USB 3.2, 1x USB 2.0
- Ethernet: 2.5 Gbps Intel i226 Ethernet
- Bluetooth version: Bluetooth 5.3
- Wi-Fi version: Wi-Fi 6E
The Intel NUC 13 Pro features plenty of connectivity for all sorts of workflows. One of the highlights here is a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports on the back of the unit. Both of these support DisplayPort 2.1 as well as USB-C 4.0.
You’ll also find a full-sized HDMI port and an Ethernet port on the back of the unit. There are a total of four USB ports, two of which are located on the front of the device. Three of these are USB 3.2, while the remaining port is USB 2.0.
On the front panel, next to the pair of USB ports, you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack. This supports stereo audio, but the NUC 13 Pro is capable of handling 7.1 channels of digital audio as well.
Finally, there is also wireless connectivity to consider. The NUC 13 Pro features Bluetooth 5.3 for connecting mice, keyboards, headphones, and more. You also get Wi-Fi 6E, which adds an extra band that could be useful if wireless network congestion is a problem for you.
Performance: Portable Power
We’ve mentioned this already, but the Intel NUC 13 Pro typically won’t come with RAM or an SSD, as you need to provide those yourself. Because of this, we weren’t really factoring in RAM or SSD performance while evaluating this unit. Still, you may want to keep in mind that performance may suffer with less RAM or slower storage.
The Intel Core i7-1360P is a 12-core processor. These are divided into four P cores and eight E cores. The P cores are the more powerful, while the eight E cores are more efficient and a big part of what keeps the NUC 13 Pro from drawing too much power.
Running productivity applications like Microsoft Word or Excel felt plenty fast, with those P cores showing their performance. Running 30+ tabs in Microsoft Edge didn’t bog the computer down, but part of this likely has to do with the 32GB of RAM.
If you’re editing 4K video, you may want to look for a computer with more GPU power, but for browsing and editing documents, there doesn’t seem to be much that will slow this model down. Those P cores are the most important, but four is plenty for most productivity applications.
One significant thing to note about the Intel NUC 13 Pro is that every model is certified to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is covered under Intel’s three-year warranty, so you don’t need to worry about leaving your NUC on all the time.
Gaming on the Intel NUC 13 Pro
Intel makes no pretensions of selling the NUC 13 Pro as a gaming PC. This computer isn’t meant for gaming, as the fanless design helps to hint at. That said, what if you want to do a little gaming when you’re done with work for the day?
I installed “Hi-Fi Rush” via the Xbox app and tried it on the default settings. The game felt pretty good, and while the settings were sensibly set to medium and low, the game still looked nearly as good as it does on the Xbox Series X, just not quite as smooth.
Opting for a more PC-centric game, I also tried “Age of Empires IV,” which seemed to run equally well. While the Intel Iris Xe graphics aren’t going to give a dedicated GPU a run for their money, they handled the games I tried surprisingly well.
Should You Buy the Intel NUC 13 Pro?
If you’re looking for a PC but don’t want to take up a ton of space or run up your electricity bill by leaving it on all day, the Intel NUC 13 Pro is a perfect option. Even if you don’t run as much RAM as we had in our review unit, the powerful processor means that standard productivity apps will run quickly and smoothly.
Maybe you haven’t ever used a NUC or similar computer, and you’re not sure if you want to buy and install your own RAM and SSD storage. Sure, it isn’t for everyone, but especially these days, installing these components is almost as simple as plugging in a few cables. Still, if this isn’t for you, it’s nice to know Intel intends to sell fully loaded models eventually.
While Intel may have businesses and edge computing in mind with the Intel NUC 13 Pro, these tiny powerhouses have plenty to offer everyone. Whether you’re building a home theater PC or just need a small but powerful desktop computer in your office, the NUC 13 Pro is worth considering.
Starting At $340
Here’s What We Like
- Small chassis stays out of the way
- Powerful for the size
- Fanless design means it's whisper quiet
- Supports both HDMI and DisplayPort 2.1 over Thunderbolt 4
And What We Don't
- Not the greatest gaming performance
- Power can vary based on RAM and SSD choice
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