Intel kills its NUC business

Intel has just decided to shut down its Next Unit of Compute (NUC) business selling mini PC, PC, boards, and modules directly to customers, as the company told partners they will stop direct investment into that part of their business.

We first wrote about Intel NUC in 2014, but the company’s first NUC was launched in 2013, and I can only imagine Intel decided to kill the NUC business in order to focus on its core business which is to sell processors. They won’t directly compete against their customers anymore, although it’s unclear if this was part of the decision…

Intel kills NUC business

I have mostly read praises about the NUC family over the years, but I’ve had a mixed experience myself. One family member asked for a reliable mini PC, so I recommended a Core-i5 NUC and while it mostly worked fine, we had to purchase a separate USB WiFI dongle as the built-in wireless module would not connect reliably to our router 6 meters away. Its useful life was also much shorter than I expected, and after three years it started to become unreliable either being very slow or crashing, and no OS re-installation would fix that.

But back to the main story that was first reported by ServeTheHome, and later confirmed by other publications such as Engadget and Tom’s Hardware. Intel also reached out to ServerTheHome to confirm the news after its publication:

We have decided to stop direct investment in the Next Unit of Compute (NUC) Business and pivot our strategy to enable our ecosystem partners to continue NUC innovation and growth. This decision will not impact the remainder of Intel’s Client Computing Group (CCG) or Network and Edge Computing (NEX) businesses. Furthermore, we are working with our partners and customers to ensure a smooth transition and fulfillment of all our current commitments – including ongoing support for NUC products currently in market

So the good news is that Intel will keep its current commitments and still support the latest Intel NUC 13 and earlier models, but we won’t see an NUC 14, at least not from Intel. However, other companies may take over as noted by Liliputing, since some companies such as Simply NUC started by selling NUCs from Intel but eventually started to roll their own NUC-like designs. The company issued a statement about the company’s intention to “Double Down on Continued NUC Innovation and Growth” with John Deatherage (SimpyNUC CMO) who previously helped kickstart the NUC business at Intel reaffirming the company’s commitment to “delivering small form factor solutions”.  So as Intel kills its NUC business, and others are likely to take over hopefully with help from Intel on the software/driver side, we can probably proclaim “the NUC is dead, long live the NUC!”.

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21 Replies to “Intel kills its NUC business”

  1. The idea was originally to create a market competitive with the Mac mini.

    Mission accomplished – the current sponsored post above this is a small form factor PC.

    1. > The idea was originally to create a market competitive with the Mac mini.

      Whose idea? Yours or Intel’s?

        1. *One* _reviewer_ thought the NUC back then would compete with the Mac Mini. And the next sentence reads ‘other reviewers have seen it as a more powerful Raspberry Pi’ also citing one single source.

          Back then the NUC could only be acquired w/o RAM, storage and an OS as such it targeted a completely different crowd than Mac Mini buyers (who mostly neither know nor care about all three things).

    2. The Mac Mini until the recent M1 ran Intel under the hood from 2006 as the Power PC chip didn;t last very long.
      The 1st Nucs didn’t turn up to 2013 and was a form factor they pushed that they have stopped because now its main stream and slowly replacing what was the ‘desktop’ PC.
      The Arm based M1 Apple silicon didn’t arrive until 2020 and is still a considerably different product that Intel still doesn’t really have a direct competitor.

    3. They are not exactly targeting the same market, especially the business market.
      For example, my local McDonalds is using NUCs as the self ordering kiosks, and this is not the target market of the Mac Mini at all.

    4. > The idea was originally to create a market competitive with the Mac mini.

      Wrong but not entirely. Basically, the 2011 first gen NUC was made as thin-client with the VESA bracket in mind for universities, hospitals, point-of-sale and set-top boxes (well, closer to what we now call streamers and was then media PCs). However, Amlogic came up with the first tv dongles that same year. So, Intel started looking towards the high-end of the all-in-ones of the day: the 2011 & 2012 iMacs which is basically the 2nd gen NUCs.

      Anyhow, the NUC’s cancellation has nothing to do with Apple and everything to do with the trade war.

  2. Well, like often when they make a product around their own components it’s not fantastic enough to sell to the masses. However it usually shows the way for their partners. We’ve seen their motherboards a long time ago, I don’t know if they still make any. In my opinion they should focus on making CPUs, and only create boards/machines etc to serve as reference designs (and even then they could partner with a company used to do this) and significantly cut costs.

  3. To me the Next Unit of Computing or NUC product range represented engineered innovation coupled with product support as opposed to duplication and discontinuation.

    I also accept that the cost associated with R&D has to be passed on to the customer and the more niche the end-product the higher the price. There is also the impact of budget copies lowering the ability to recover the R&D required for visionary products resulting in less funding.

    Support also adds to the cost when it includes part compatibility testing, technical help channels, UEFI (BIOS) updates and warranty includes shipping. 

    Unfortunately without Intel’s direct investment my concern is that the ‘next’ generation of products will be more generic, costlier and potentially have more issues with less support and also less frequently released.

    1. I totally agree – big loss for the ecosystem – big fan of NUC here – currently own 3 for various roles (kodi, RDP thin client…).
      I’ve tried the competition – gigabyte brix but lasted about 2y before bios crashing

      1. My mother-in-law uses ASRock Beebox with N3150 – I think, since 2016. Initially she complained about Win7, afterwards got Linux Mint 18.3 and this SBC is still running on daily basis w/o any problems. Sure, OS is not supported any more, but seems like next upgrade will be together with a new hardware running AMD CPU.

  4. Maybe in fact they wanted to compete with PCEngines’ WRAP/ALIX/APU ? After all, those had been there since 2001 or so (my ALIX were bought in 2004 and are still running 24×7). Now that PC Engines is EOL ( ), there’s nothing else to compete against.

    By the way, I think many of us have great memories of PCEngines. I hope Pascal managed to live from his activities because these devices certainly showed the way to small, robust and fanless PCs long before the NUC, and their robustness is still unrivaled.

    1. I wonder why he says “the x86 silicon currently offered is not very appealing for our niche of passively cooled boards”, or does he mean AMD only?

      1. I’ve never had an AMD later processor system that didn’t melt. Intel invented the low power processor in the P3 days. AMD never caught up in my experience.

        I’m Intel NDA followed that time frame. P3 won over P4. They could never power reduce the P4.

    2. I do remember a project where a small pc was needed, robust and fanless and that during the optimazation phase the casing was replaced by a real fanless casing with heat pipes. I believe that was a combination of limited cooling and a wet environment.

      If you _need_ fanless the NUC was not the only or even the best option.

  5. The concept of the NUC was a great idea that has spawned a whole new genre of PC.

    But Intel consistently failed on the pricing, which is ironic since they will have been able to manufacture the processors for the least amount of money.

    But they will still continue with the processors, so the market will remain vibrant for them, especially if they follow the N100 model that has finally had the kind of impact over ARM that has long been missing in the lower end of the market.

  6. NUC was a great line of personal computers. I am sorry to hear they are gone. I still have one from 2013. Somehow NUC fitted the gap between Raspberry Pi and Mac Mini but the whole concept had two major flaws:

    1. Broke the existing PC market where Intel was providing CPU and components but other brands with complex distribution channels the whole computer to end consumers.

    2. Poor software support. Mac mini has Mac OS, Raspberry Pi has Raspberry Pi OS Linux distro. On the other hand although most Linux distros are excellent for Intel NUC, somehow they were primary sold and used with Windows and the enormous bloatware (as the practice example in the article).

    On top of that, unlike Intel’s MinnowBoard, NUC didn’t offer all the GPIOs required for hobbyists/small/one-off embedded projects.

  7. They are all I use. Your problem may have been overheating damage as they use laptop fans with no common form factor.

    But the power savings makes fo little choice in a small personal setup. I run 5 of them, and now will have to vet a replacement.

    Or you will for me 🙂

    1. There are a huge range of options now as all the ‘big’ guys do micro format pcs’s that are sort of more mac mini shape than Nuc.
      Even ‘workstations’ are now mini HP Z2 G9 Mini Workstation…
      To a huge array of Nuc style offerings with some of the best now being AMD with the Beelink GTR7 being one of the latest and greatest.
      Likely still for wattage/perf the Arm based Mac Mini’s still rule the roost and strangely for Apple they are extremely cost effective even though they do enforce obsolescence as SSD likely could be non soldered which likely greatly reduces life expectancy.

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