Intel’s NUC lineup is a massive success thanks to the amount of power the company can pack in a small form factor (and next to no competition from AMD) and it looks like Intel is going even bigger this time. Ghost Canyon was a revolutionary concept that truly minimized the footprint of a PC without compromising the power (8-core processor with a desktop RTX 2080) however it was limited in the amount of GPUs you can add to it.
Intel Beast Canyon NUC: an insane amount of power density in an 8-liter footprint
It looks like Intel is expanding the amount of form factors its offering in the NUC line from 5 liters to 8 liters. At the 8 liter mark, this is basically an SFF (small form factor) PC and no longer a NUC but the Intel build quality will be certain to attract quite a few customers. This baby can house a full-length, massive heatsink GPU (think RTX 3090) and is powered by Intel’s 10nm SuperFinEnhanced TigerLake CPUs. These are 8 core variants that have a 45W TDP and should be more than powerful for basically anything short of intensive rendering or data center applications. Depending on how Intel times the launch, this might be the quickest way to get your hands on an Intel 10nm SFE desktop experience!
The original Ghost Canyon had a fully integrated power supply unit and Beast Canyon will be no different. We also expect Intel to continue selling the Ghost Canyon form factor and based on the images the compute element should be easily swappable in both the 5-liter and 8-liter chassis. the 5-liter chassis is actually perfect and my preferred footprint for power. By the 8-liter mark, you might as well start building a mini-ITX build which would be more powerful. At the 5-liter mark, however, Intel NUCs reign supreme. Now we also have more information thanks to some leaks on Chiphell a few months ago.
We know that the actual compute element was codenamed Driver Bay and has support for DDR4-3200 memory and 3x M.2 slots. It features 2x Thunderbolt 4 connections and Intel Wifi 6. 6x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A ports are also included and everything comes with a 3-year warranty. Beast Canyon will be available in both Core i9, Core i7 and Core i5 variants – although once again, it does not make much sense to go below the Core i9 variant.
Intel’s Compute Element platform is also heavily used by other vendors like Razer and ZOTAC and we really think they are onto something here. I have used the Ghost Canyon NUC as a daily driver and it is truly a desktop replacement. This is something no other NUC ever succeeded at as I would always gradually run into an under-powered scenario and shift to a proper desktop. The 8-core Tiger Lake should offer a massive upgrade in terms of performance and should be enough for basically all general-purpose desktop computing scenarios. Combine this with 32 GB of RAM, and a good GPU, and you are practically set – although I would almost certainly pick the 5-liter chassis over the 8 liter one.