Lately I have been very much into small form-factor computing, so I decided to have a look into the Intel NUC and specifically the DN2820FYKH model which is the most basic NUC your money can buy.
After doing some initial reading on the NUC I liked the idea alot, a small form-factor PC that could run Windows or *Nix for me and use a very small amount of power. Ofcourse you may wonder why I chose to choose the low-end budget model but there are 3 very good reasons;
- It’s the only model that will house a 2.5″ disk, instead of a special PCI-express SSD (which is awesome, but I had a 2.5″ SSD laying around)
- It comes with the wireless & bluetooth receiver already built in, which is a €25,- value
- This means, if you factor that in, the base unit would cost you €100,- ! Extremely cheap for what you get in return
Now the specifications arn’t “AWESOME”, it comes with a Intel® Celeron® N2820 (2.4GHz dual-core, 1MB cache, 7.5W TDP) which ofcourse it’s that last part that interests me the most, 7.5W TDP. It’s low energy, the memory is also 1.35V instead of 1.5V (beware of this when buying RAM but it’s about the same price)
More information on specifications can be found here.
Once you open it you find the 2.5″ HDD bay, the reason why this model is thicker than all it’s rivals, mounting the HDD is a bit tricky as the cables to the SATA backplane run over one of the screws. Also I found the quality of the finish a bit lacking, not what I expected of Intel but possibly what one can expect for the price-range.
The HDD level lifts out entirely (you don’t really have to undo the connectors), to allow you to install a single module of RAM (upto 8 GB, I chose 4 GB for my test).
But more crucially this is also where the half-height PCIe mini-card slot is, which one could use to mount a mSATA SSD (with a bit of modding) and that would open up the top HDD bay for a low-power, low RPM 2.5″ disk that could house movies if you don’t have a NAS to stream from. Unfortunatly I tested putting a Samsung 500GB 840 EVO mSATA into the half height PCIe mini-card slot, but it didn’t reckognize it.
I was a bit let down by the fact that Intel didn’t include a driver disk, however upon opening the little leaflets included in the box I found out that there is a link to the Intel Download Center which includes zipped packs containing all the latest drivers for the NUC kits. This is a very nice add-on.
The biggest part of the hardware that was a let-down for me is the build quality. It feels a bit unfinished. Edges arn’t smooth and the whole layout of the HDD tray could have been done better when it comes to cable and screw placement. That said, it’s a one time job to install the RAM and HDD (probably) so the internals arn’t much of a concern and the external of the housing is sleek and has a good finish. I’m a bit baffled by the placement of the powerbutton on the top, possibly for when you use the mounting-kit but if you’re placing it inside a kabinet this may be akward. Same goes for the HDD activity LED.