Intel NUC 11 Extreme Kit (Beast Canyon) Review: Small Bare Bones, Big Gaming

The Intel NUC 11 Extreme Kit (Beast Canyon) is a miniature barebones desktop enabled by Intel’s Compute Element and a case that fits discrete graphics cards. It’s pricey for what it is, however.

For some people, no PC tower is too big, especially if you want all of the airflow and every bell and whistle you can get. But there are other schools of thought, like those from people who like small form factor desktops or want to fit something with the power of the best gaming PCs on their desk.

The Intel NUC 11 Extreme Kit takes a bit from both schools. It is a small, 8-liter size that takes up very little space. But with Intel’s Compute Element, you can still upgrade your PC, adding more storage and RAM (though the latter uses components designed for laptops). And this design can fit longer, full-sized GPUs, so it’s less limited on that front than Intel’s older model, the NUC 9 Extreme Kit (Ghost Canyon). Perhaps the biggest compromise is that Intel is using 65W CPUs, while desktop versions can go up to 125W.

But the barebones kit starts at $1,150 ($1,350 as tested), and that’s before you bring your own RAM, storage, operating system and graphics card. For hobbyists who like small PC’s, it’s a winner, but you’re paying a heck of a premium for it.

I thought the NUC 11 Extreme Kit looked sleek — handsome even, for a PC — until I turned it on and there was an RGB skull.

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