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Intel launches 4×4 for all IT terrains

Given that KitGuru has had quite a few conversations with AMD in the past about the benefits for creating a simple PC, in the smallest possible form factor, that could perform a wide variety of tasks – it’s ironic that Intel is the company to launch the device. KitGuru takes a quick look at specs and prices to see if Intel has anything to challenge Sapphire’s Edge VS.

Intel calls the device, which measures 4 inches by 4 inches (10cm in new money), an NUC – or Next Unit Computer.

There are 2 models at launch, both of which use a Core i3 processor chugging along at 1.8GHz. For business, you get a pair of HDMI connectors and physical ethernet connection, which becomes wireless with Thunderbolt and a single HDMI for the home.

Given that both have Intel’s fastest graphics solution, HD4000, it’s a fair bet that they use the low power mobile versions of the Core processor. The QS77 chipset mainboard included can take up to 16GB of SO-DIMM in its twin sockets.

Retailing at around £299 ($399), both of these NUCs have modest specs, but Intel is planning to push through an entire series – with Core i5 and even Core i7 models to follow.

Standardising on the size of the NUC seems to be a smart move. When commenting on the launch of the product, Intel stated that it had applications in the business and consumer markets – and could even be used in a car. So much for AMD having the embedded market to itself.

Sapphire’s drive on this kind of technology has been really impressive, with the recent launch of the Edge VS bringing next-gen game console levels of graphics power to market in a stylish little box.

Given that it’s top dedicated partner put such an effort into this kind of form factor, it’s surprising that AMD was not more firmly behind Sapphire with the big budget marketing that would be needed to firm up the new category with a wider audience.

One of Intel’s sales managers for APAC, VR Rajkumar, said, “While there isn’t much on the choice front at present, we’ll be having a ‘good, better, best’ motto. We’re going to have Celeron at  the low end, and it will be Core i5 and Core i7 on the other. The benefit for resellers lies in the NUC’s form factor and quiet operation. The 4×4 inch build means that it is open to a large range of applications and markets”.

With the revelation that Intel processors will be glued to mainboards in the future, what hope is there for local system builders etc if Intel comes to market with its own complete PCs like this. Good for Ingram, bad for local PC builder?

Intel follows Sapphire into Edge territory with the launch of the 4x4 series

KitGuru says: Having first discussed the idea of a ‘PC Console’ that could sit next to a TV etc with AMD many years ago, it would be sad for Intel to bring the whole ‘Fusion everywhere’ concept to the broad market in a bigger/better way. Unobtrusive desktop power, with easy installation/use, is something that we feel a lot of people would be interested in. Even though, right now, Sapphire’s Edge VS model has a huge lead in terms of specification – how much difference will Intel’s marketing dollars make?

Comment below or in the KitGuru forums.

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