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Barebone NUC's , worth getting?

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Was thinking of getting one of these instead of building a PC for my mother.

 

But, im a bit lost on the HDD and OS part? Safe to assume there is none? And these are Extra, like running a USB HDD with a OS on it, i see that they also sell USB sticks with windows on it as well.

 

Is the idea you might by 2 NUC's and be able to take you OS/desktop with all work on it with you? So rather than indivdual PC's you have a few of these around and carry your OS on a key?

 

THouhts?

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Think of it as a very small form factor motherboard with CPU soldered on and minimalistic with it's I/O options, as in no PCI/PCIe, couple of USB, usually one SATA port, network, built in Bluetooth and WiFi.

 

You have to supply your own OS, be it on HDD or USB drive.

 

Alternative to NUC you have options like cheap Windows tablets under $100 though you have much less configurability, the OS choice is usually frozen in stone. Or small standard form-factor motherboards with onboard almost-everything - without any expansion cards installed they can be kept pretty small.

 

For me the choice of a NUC would come down to if you want something very small as in can be taken away and used with a HDMI cable on a TV, or maybe installed into a car.

 

As for a computer choice for someone else at novice level my preference would probably go to an older desktop or laptop. I don't see much advantage other than price and portabilty, ease of use if anything is probably on par or lesser than a standard desktop or laptop.

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I like them, and I use them for home and work projects, but I'm also aware that they suit only certain applications, and may not be cost effective for others.

I've used a 2820 Celeron as a linux web server at home, and at work we have used them to run small touchscreen systems.

I run a VMWare ESXi host on an i5 NUC and run a DB operating system and a few bits on it.

While not 'high end' for graphics, the on-chip video is decent and we run triple HD systems with good desktop application performance.

 

They are basically a laptop motherboard without the memory or SSD fitted, and thus no operating system either.

Price wise, they don't compete well against similar performance laptops where for similar to what you would spend on NUC+SSD+RAM you could get a complete laptop with batteries, keyboard, trackpad, basic screen and OS included.

But if you want a small PC on big screen, they might be the right solution.

You will need 1 or 2 sticks of low voltage (1.35V) DDR3 laptop memory - depending on the model you can have up to 16GB fitted.

For storage You need to check the format for the SSD/hard disk. It will be one of 2.5" laptop drive, mSATA card or m.2 card. Some models will support two storage devices - the laptop drive, and one format of card.

Some models include WiFi, other models require the wifi card to be purchase separately.

 

Not a complex build, and easy for someone who has built before. but beware the different variants - a trap for people of all levels to take care with (or buy a pre-built system or a DIY bundle from one of several online shops).

Operating system wise, you need to supply your own (or it will come in the bundle), and a method to install it - some can be installed from USB sticks or a net boot, others will require a USB optical drive.

Windows 7 works fine, and linux is a good option too. I haven't tried Windows 8 onwards Windows XP is problematic on account of the network driver, and in some cases the video output (if you have a display port model, and a VGA monitor).

 

Also be aware that while they can look sexy sitting there by themselves, they don't hide their cables - plug in 2 monitors, keyboard, mouse, speakers, network, power and a USB optical drive, and it's less aesthetically pleasing as a desktop. Hidden behind a TV with minimal connectivity and wireless network and keyboard, and it's a different scenario.

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If your parents are computerly challenged, try Ubuntu Linux (with the default UNITY shell).

 

Ive used it for practically every relative I have, and not once had a complaint.

 

Out of the box you have to usual 'preffered apps'.

 

Libre Office (configured as default for Microsoft office Documents)

Firefox (default browser)

VLC player (default for all media)

 

not to mention the side launcher is almost identical to apples dock; so its super friendly.

USB sticks auto mount on the desktop like MAC

and there is even itunes clones available, as well as GiMP for photoshop.

 

 

The only down side i've found for 'the technology challenged' folks running Ubuntu, is that there is no iTunes port (you can hack around it, but no).

Lots of things allow access to the Amazon MP3 store (which i prefer anyway) but 'apply accessory fanboi' is a sure fire no to the ubuntu route.

 

Just an idea, as I've found again and again, for the "Online Only" elderly parents (facebook, etc) a windows licence is a HUGE waste.

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Interesting thoughts! Thanks.

 

I decided to by my mother a Laptop. I think this is much better value and more useable than the NUC idea.

 

But, it would be cool to have one of these in every room and then be able to walk around with you OS on a stick with your work, movies whatever ....friends houses..

 

So people have terminals every where... i suppose the NUC is a extension of the idea of having accessible terminals. Might even get one as a HTPC.

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The specs for a decent HTPC have risen somewhat.

 

H.265 video takes a fair bit of grunt which can even be beyond that trusty old reassigned Core2Duo with integrated graphics motherboard.

Throw in 4K video once it becomes common and the goalposts move again.

 

I just got a quad core Android HDMI device which plugs into HDMI, but so far it's been not exactly impressive when I've thrown the demanding video types at it.

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H265 is amazing though isnt it? the quality for file size is blowing my mind.

Most Core2Duo's are OK as long as there is some form of GPU to help. Just onboard no longer cuts it.

 

My go-to for media PC's are those AMD powered APU laptops that pop up from time to time at about $200 on special at JB, practically any APU handles h265 1080p without blinking... I've never thought to test 4k.

 

Much like 720p rips still have a very solid place in media, I dont see 4k being 'the norm' too soon. not until physical media can hold it easily for sale at flea markets by drifters.

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The specs for a decent HTPC have risen somewhat.

 

H.265 video takes a fair bit of grunt which can even be beyond that trusty old reassigned Core2Duo with integrated graphics motherboard.

Throw in 4K video once it becomes common and the goalposts move again.

While I've not tested it (I'm not into HTPCs), my understanding was the recent models and drivers are good for 4k decoding, including hybrid support for the VP9 codec and HEVC

I wouldn't try with the entry level Celeron models, but with the 5th gen (broadwell) i3/i5/i7 models it could be an option.
I have the 4th gen Haswell i5, but it's running ESXi, so not something to test video on.
At work we are using the 5th gen i5 models, but the VPRO variant, which has faster CPU, but one step down on on-board video (still runs triple head HD though) - but won't be able to try streaming video on them.

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nucs are nice as HTPC's or home work pc's that do not demand much horsepower

 

for instance, most people dont like the "smart tv" operating system and instead build a computer to hook up to their tv, that or they want a smart tv, but dont want to pay for a whole new tv just for the custom os. this is great because nucs are small and can fit out of the way allowing them to use it as a smart tv and a pc at the same time.

 

if you are a small time worker and need a pc to do spreadsheets and emails...etc... this pc is smaller than anything you can buy and will run extremely well, it is great for the little things that small home workers/business owners need.

 

if you are a dorm studnet, you do not usually have enough space so a nuc is better for clutter control, it works great for video watching, importing and exporting media, and to be used as a research pc, also since it doesnt have terribly high end hardware, it allows for less distractions when you are supposed to be learning (though med settings minecraft could probably be run off of it lol)

 

nucs are all around good little pc's that are nice for a variety of people not needing a desktop, but needing something like a desktop. ANOTHER great option is something like the intel computestick or similar, they have even less clutter, are smaller so they can be portable in some cases (like if you have one but no monitor, you can use it at the library, or take it to the library to use instead of their crappy computers)


nucs and computesticks are also great for internet of things, they work extraordinarily well for that, you can hook one up to a small touchscreen monitor, and flash a new operating system on it/install or make apps that could allow you to do things like control your house, it isnt uncommon, and it has waaaay more than enough horsepower

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