The name says it all. Late last year, Intel quietly introduced the Next Unit of Computing (NUC): a miniature, barebones desktop PC that represents a modern take on the traditional beige box. The NUC sits a mere two inches tall and comes nestled within a 4-inch square chassis. It also retails for just shy of $300. Don't let its diminutive size or price fool you, though. The Core i3 system is speedy, stable and more than capable of handling day-to-day computing tasks. Yes, it's a hell of a departure from the noisy monstrosities we lusted after just a few years ago. And it's a lot quieter, too.
Before you get too excited, though, let's temper that enthusiasm just a bit. As with any bare-bones kit, you'll need to install your own memory, storage, wireless networking components and operating system. In other words, unless you're willing to get your hands a bit dirty, the NUC isn't for you. And then there's the question of its price, which becomes a lot less tempting once you factor in the laundry list of necessary components. So, is the NUC deserving of its "Next Unit of Computing" title? Let's explore this question together.