Intel NUC 11 Pro (NUC11TNKi5) Power Consumption and Noise
In terms of power consumption, we saw some fairly solid figures. Here are the basics:
- Idle: 11W
- 70% load: 40W
- 100% load: 49W
- Max observed: 64W
This is generally less than the 1L systems with “T” series 35W processors. At the same time, the savings are in the low single-digit Watt range and the maximum is perhaps slightly higher. For most of our readers, this would not push us to get a NUC over a 1L TinyMiniMicro PC. Just because this is a 10nm CPU does not mean we necessarily get less power consumption.
Something we wanted to note here is that this is far from a silent system. It is not terribly loud, but in the 40-70% duty range the fan is audible and louder than most of the newer TinyMiniMicro 35W nodes (8th Gen Core and newer.) The hypothesis is that the fan is ramping due to less area being dedicated to cooling.
Key Lessons Learned
Let us get to pricing for a moment. With this system, we have a unit that costs around $499, but the street price can be in the $480 range. For that, one gets the CPU, motherboard, chassis, and power supply. One still needs a SSD or two plus memory to get the system going. One also needs a Windows 10 license unless they are running Linux (Ubuntu and Red Hat are listed as supported.) Realistically, we see these hitting something equivalent to a Project TinyMiniMicro node in the $750-800 range.
That puts it firmly in the realm of the Lenovo ThinkCentre M75q Gen2 Tiny we reviewed.
There are certainly merits to both the Lenovo M75q Gen2 Tiny and the Intel NUC 11 Pro. The Lenovo unit benefits from much higher CPU performance (also with slightly more power consumption) but also AMD DASH management and a 1-year on-site warranty. The Lenovo unit is a higher-quality metal design that requires a single screw to open and service. Opening the chassis is optional since it is a pre-assembled system. To be fair, we also got accessories such as a keyboard and mouse with the Lenovo. Although it is larger, that size difference is offset partly by the NUC’s larger power supply.
What the NUC has, and is important, is that it has much better I/O. USB, Thunderbolt, PCIe Gen5, and 2.5GbE are all upgrades. In the lab, we have the M75q Gen2 along with four Intel 10th Gen Core-based systems, and those all generally have similar connectivity with 1GbE and without Thunderbolt. Intel offers a three-year limited warranty, but it is not on-site. One also has to assemble the NUC (or pay a premium for a 3rd party to assemble) and the warranty from Intel is on the NUC, not on the system with the drive(s) and memory. One then needs to install the operating system, especially if it is Windows which is another step.
Looking beyond new nodes, one can spend a lot less for similarly fast Project TinyMiniMicro nodes. If a 2.5GbE network and Thunderbolt/ USB are not major features, then simply getting a TinyMiniMicro node from a generation or two earlier will offer a much better value.
Our basic thought is that compared to Project TinyMiniMicro nodes thus far, it is not necessarily as fast, nor does one get the ease of a large OEM’s high-volume platform. The big differentiator is the I/O since the CPU is not as fast either. Intel has higher-end CPUs in NUCs, but ultimately there are TDP limitations one must contend with. That also increases cost.
Overall, this is a very nice unit. There is something nice about having a small system that one can tuck away behind a monitor, TV, under a desk, in a kitchen, or wherever. If one thinks of the system as a compute-only node, then it is not going to be as good as the TinyMiniMicro nodes that are 1L in size. If one instead thinks of this as a hub to connect multiple devices, then it is a great solution.
At the end of the day, the NUC 11 Pro has panache to it that one has to embrace. Clearly, a larger unit will be more practical. The NUC is not all about practicality, it is also about the “cool factor” of having a small system like this. Some will immediately gravitate to the platform while others will wish it had just one or two additional features that just are not possible in this form factor. We wanted to show off the unit so our readers can make informed decisions themselves.