INTEL NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC Review

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In this article, I give you my Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC review with specs included. For sure, it is a large and enthusiastic-looking NUC which is the Next Unit of Computing, otherwise known as a mini pc or a small form factor PC.

Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC is bigger than the average NUC which is absolutely tiny but there’s a lot more performance power inside.

And not to mention you get a cool light-up skull on the lid too and though they also give you a piece of clear plastic for the insert if you want to go a little more low-key than that.

Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC is obviously aimed at people who need some performance or gamers. This one has an Intel 11th gen Tiger Lake U-series CPU inside, the 28-watt Core i7 that you would find in a high-end ultrabook.

That is not bad, a quad-core 8 threads. This is not an H-series gaming laptop CPU. But, sometimes that’s okay because we have some pretty good graphics power here integrated into the unit as an Nvidia RTX 2060 and that’s the Max-P version not Max-Q, so full wattage.

So, you’re looking sort of at mid-tier to entry-level gaming laptops. Granted, it’s not a 3000 series GPU but given GPU shortages probably there was no hope of doing that. And in fact, even this unit is getting kind of hard to find.

But, with Nvidia DLSS and with more graphics-intensive games, not ones that are CPU hard, you’re looking at a product that can play 1080p games, current ones, pretty decently. Even sometimes in 4K or 1440p with DLSS on.

Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC does have a visa mount if you want to attach it to the back of your TV, your monitor, or whatever. It’s entry-level for VR. It should be good enough that you don’t start to feel queasy frame rates and that sort of thing. So, that’s where it’s positioned.

So, if you’re looking for something not to play Cyberpunk 2077 on Ultra but you’re okay with medium settings then this is your candidate here. Even at 1440p resolution. And, less demanding games like Battlefield, certainly Fortnite, all that stuff, sure not a problem.

The nice thing about this versus a laptop with similar specs on board is the fact that you’ve got more room for cooling design. It doesn’t have to be flat like a laptop.

Inside, when you open it up, you can see it’s got some pretty beefy copper cooling pipes and a nice heat fin along the back edge of this. So thermals on this and testing in a variety of benchmarks and running concurrent benchmarks and all that sort of thing we’re quite good. It reaches around 80 degrees centigrade (Celsius) for the CPU cores. If this was a laptop instead we’d be seeing about 95 under the same test. So good thermals.

Performance is where we would expect it to be which is to say competitive with a high-end Core i7 ultrabook.

Now, Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC isn’t cheap. Intel NUCs pretty much are never cheap. There are budget ones on the market that are not from Intel but they are sort of reference design kind of things.

There are two ways you can get this. There’s a touring kit which is about thirteen hundred and eighty five dollars with 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD and of course, you get that Core i7 and the RTX 2016 no matter what.

The bare-bones leave out the operating system the SSD and the RAM so you put your own in.

Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC does have two RAM slots. It takes the usual laptop DDR4 3200 megahertz RAM (1.2 volts) and 64 GB would be max.

And, you have two M.2 SSD slots. One’s NVMe only which you would use for the boot SSD and the second one accepts NVMe and SATA.

Since I got the bare bones kit that didn’t have the RAM, the SSD, or the operating system and I put my own RAM and my own SSDs inside, I am not going to benchmark either of those because they don’t come with the product obviously. But, I would expect perfectly normal performance if you go with the not bare-bones kit that has some RAM and an SSD inside.

By the way, it comes with the stand so if you want to set it up upright so it takes up even less space you can do that.

Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC versus a laptop. Ports are another plus here and they are pretty impressive given the small size of this.

We’ve got six USB-A ports onboard, four in the back, two in the front, and those are 3.2. Next, we have two Thunderbolts four ports, one front and one back.

Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC has a S/PDIF optical connection for 7.1 digital audio plus a regular headphone jack on the front. You have HDMI 2.0 b and DisplayPort 1.4. So, yeah, you could in theory connect up to four monitors on this thing which gets to be kind of crazy. And, there’s a full-size SD card slot and that’s a fast SDXC UHS 2.

So, connectivity is absolutely not a problem. Whatever you want to plug into this thing it’s certainly not dongle life. It’s the opposite here.

Now, inside the two M.2 slots are PCI-e3 not 4. That’s because there are not enough PCI-E lanes to dedicate to that. They went with giving that to the GPU instead which I think is obviously the wise choice here. You want the RTX 2060 to be running at maximum performance.

Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC comes with a 230-watt power supply. It’s like your typical gaming laptop size power supply and typically it consumes about 150 watts of power.

For connectivity, you have a 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet wired connection. It’s only a single one. I know some NUCs in the past have had two, probably with servers and data centers in mind more than everyday folks. I don’t know exactly. Also, there is an Intel wi-fi six with Bluetooth five, and that’s the AX-201 card.

Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC Review Summary

So, that’s the Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC. It’s quite a powerful little machine and it’s neat to see the Nvidia RTX graphics. It would have been neat if there was an H-series CPU inside but honestly cooling and size-wise it is just not a possibility.

Given the fact that so many games these days are more GPU-focused, it’s good that they put more cooling on a GPU.

Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC has enough hardware power to do things like Photoshop just fine, with a little help from the GPU if you want to do Premiere.

So, who’s this for? The people who need to save space. They want something that’s going to fit anywhere. In theory, I suppose you could take this with you and plug in a keyboard mouse and monitor wherever you go.

This is something you can mount behind the TV or your monitor and keep it out of the way. Also, you don’t have to just put Windows on this, it is also Linux compatible.

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Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC
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    Performance - 97%
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    Price - 95%
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    Value - 96%