A user on the forums Chinese tech giant Baidu posted an apparent confirmation of the next generation of Intel NUC mini PCs, including a hardware breakdown (note that the linked page is in Chinese).
Naturally, the NUC 12 – codenamed ‘Serpent Canyon’, following the ‘Phantom Canyon’ NUC 11 – will use Intel’s new 12th generation Alder Lake i7-12700H processor, upgrading from the i7-1165G7 found in its predecessor. That in itself is a significant upgrade, but what’s more interesting is the graphics card.
While earlier NUC 11 models used Nvidia GeForce GPUs (up to the RTX 3080 found in the killer console, NUC 11 Extreme), the NUC 12 is claimed to use Intel’s Arc A770M laptop GPU. With 32 Xe-cores and 16GB of video memory, the A770M is currently the highest-spec graphics card in Intel’s Arc mobile lineup and is already appearing elsewhere on gaming laptops.
While we still don’t know exactly how the A770M will perform, expectations put it on the same performance bar as Nvidia’s RTX 3060 Ti – in other words, a decent choice for 1080p gaming. There’s still no news on how much the NUC 12 will cost, nor a release date, although forum user Baidu claims it will be ‘available soon’.
O Intel NUC series are small form factor PCs that can be used for a variety of purposes, primarily for use in business and educational environments where there is no space for a full-sized desktop. However, some NUCs are designed with gaming in mind, and this new model seems to fit that bill.
Analysis: Is China the stage for the start of a GPU war?
This was perhaps an inevitable move by Intel now that its Arc graphics cards are finally hitting the market (albeit only in China so far). While Intel may realistically be betting on its CPU competitor AMD, Nvidia still holds the lion’s share of the discrete GPU market, so it wouldn’t make much sense for Intel to continue using a major competitor’s hardware in its products.
Intel’s laser focus on the Chinese market for the new Arc GPUs has been interesting and made the manufacturer’s goals very clear. It appears that Intel is not looking to challenge Nvidia’s dominance in the high-end graphics card arena, but rather to take on AMD at the more affordable end of the market.
Chinese consumers (and the Asian market as a whole) are more interested in low-end GPUs, especially given the prevalence of Internet cafes in this part of the world. Still, Intel’s release of the new Arc boards hasn’t exactly gone smoothly. High starting prices on the Arc A380 desktop and faltering initial performance numbers from Arc A7 cards painted a troubled picture of Intel’s long-awaited return to the GPU market.
We reached out to Intel for comment and had our suspicions confirmed that the Chinese market is being the first target due to the prevalence of low-end GPUs there. Intel also added that it plans to “scale Arc A-series 3 graphics products with our partners globally in the coming weeks” and noted that the Arc release was heavily impacted by “software readiness delays” and COVID-19 lockdowns.