Intel NUC 13 Extreme Raptor Canyon
A sizzling Small Form Factor performance
LAST YEAR, Intel launched the NUC 12 Extreme Dragon Canyon with its desktop Alder Lake CPU, which we proudly featatured on our May 2022 cover. Soon after, it teased the NUC13 Extreme, based on the recently-introduced Raptor Lake processors, and the result is this machine which has also made it on our cover.
For anyone new to the NUC concept, these machines are meant for users who prefer a smaller PC with relatively little tinkering required. The systems come with a chassis, PSU, motherboard, and CPU included—our NUC13RNGi9 contains the Core i9-13900K (Core i713700K and Core i5-13600K models are available). That means you just need to pick the DDR5 RAM, storage, and discrete graphics card if required. Our writer Sam shows you how to build such a system starting on page 16.
In our model, the processor’s base power is 125W, but the thermal design of the Compute Element plus the chassis allows Intel to configure the processor with a PL1 of 150W and a PL2 of 250W, giving a turbo up to 5.8GHz. The cooling solution for the CPU accommodates a heat sink hanging off the edge of the Compute Element, while the Z690 chipset is used, rather than the newer Z790.
In terms of I/O, this puts every other mini-ITX motherboard to shame, thanks to dual Thunderbolt 4 ports, dual ethernet (including 10 Gigabit Ethernet), six USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, and Realtek ALC1220 analog audio ports. The front panel is serviced by a daughterboard to provide a USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20Gbps) Type-C port and two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports. Basically, it’s everything you need.
Those familiar with previous generation Intel NUCs may be disappointed, as the 13th gen model has grown in size. But, so have discrete graphics cards, which has forced Intel’s hand. The result is improved ease of installation and the ability to install triple-slot GPUs up to 317mm. The PSU also sees an upgrade, moving to a 750W modular one (compared with 650W in the Dragon Canon NUC), while retaining the 80+ GOLD rating. As Sam found, that’s enough room and power for an Nvidia RTX 4070Ti GPU.
RAM can be installed simply by opening up the chassis, whereas installation of M.2 SSDs requires the removal of the Compute Element from the baseboard, but this is not difficult. The installation of the GPU is easier than ever thanks to the room in the box, while also resulting in better airflow to keep things cool.
The system uses Intel’s VisualBIOS, which features a modern interface with enthusiast options to fine-tune the performance. Not that you’ll need it for Intel’s 13900K, which is a beast of a CPU. As you can see from the benchmarks, overall performance is a significant step up from the i9-12900 in the NUC 12 Extreme Dragon Canyon, although those looking for a super-compact workstation will have to factor in the increased size of the 13th-gen model. Those looking for a Home Theater PC will be pleased with the 49W power consumption when idle, which is higher than before, but still economical. In tests with a graphics card installed, none of the components went above 85°C, which is another good sign.
Intel has done a great job with its new NUC. At around $1,599 (plus extras), it isn’t cheap, but it’ll be hard to find an easier to configure mini-PC. If you’re looking for a small but mighty PC, it’s one of the best options available.