Intel’s “Phantom Canon” NUC sits between the company’s standard class NUC mini PC and the expandable NUC Extreme box in size, performance, and detail. This NUC Extreme is much smaller out of the box and still fits a dedicated GPU and more powerful CPU, but like most smaller NUCs, those components are laptop-class components that can’t be upgraded.
According to plausible-looking leaked images and specs from a Chinese forum post (via Tom’s Hardware), the Phantom is believed to be a next-generation follow-up to the Canyon. The new NUC, reportedly aptly named “Serpent Canyon”, combines a Core i7-12700H CPU (six P-cores and eight E-cores) with one of Intel’s Arc A770M GPUs, which allows it to run without any K makes the first of these high-performance NUC boxes. It has AMD or Nvidia GPU. The Phantom Canon NUC uses a 4-core Core i7-1165G7 and an Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU, so the Snake Canon should be a bit more powerful overall.
The Serpent Canyon’s photos make it more attractive than the Phantom Canyon box, which, as Tom’s Hardware points out, is a possible side effect of the higher-performance CPU and GPU—more power means more cooling and thus a larger case. But the PC should still offer impressive performance for its size, and its array of USB, Ethernet, Thunderbolt, HDMI, and DisplayPort outputs should accommodate most people’s accessories and multi-monitor setups. Like Intel’s other high-performance NUCs, it also has a lit-up skull on the side. It may or may not make it go faster.
Are Intel GPUs anything to be excited about; In early independent benchmarks of the Arc A380, a mid-range offering currently only available in China, it falls short of the Nvidia GTX 1650 and Radeon RX 6400 in real-world gaming benchmarks. The GTX 1650 is over three years old, and the RX 6400 is a cut-down version of the avidly reviewed RX 6500 XT, so none of this is great news for Intel.
That said, the A770M can still be a respectable performer. Intel’s drivers still have plenty of room for improvement, and compared to the A380, the A770M has a wider 256-bit memory interface, four times as much rendering hardware, and 16GB of VRAM instead of 6GB. That gives the A770M the firepower it needs to at least beat the RTX 2060 that shipped in the previous generation Phantom Canon NUC, but we won’t know for sure until we have the hardware.
If there’s one major weakness in these NUC boxes, it’s that they’re quite pricier than the larger but more powerful Mini ITX PCs. We don’t know what the Serpent Canyon NUC will cost once it’s here, but the Phantom Canyon NUC starts at around $1,400 on Amazon and SimplyNUC.
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