New NUC Elements - The Modular Little Big PC

Staff Writer By Staff Writer - March 10th, 2021
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Those top techs at Intel have just released details of their latest options in the NUC range, and this powerful modular mainstream design has instant appeal, with quite a few new Mini PC options, or combinations of options, joining the Intel NUC Elements family of products!

Starting with the NUC Element U-Series, we see that Intel has created a very easy and flexible way to add the important parts of a computer (Intel Compute) to a wide range of cases for normal PC usage at home, in the office or at school, or integrate it into more specialised solutions for signage, monitoring and manufacturing - it’s unique due to the tiny size of this Intel Modular Compute unit, or more accurately the new performance options available in such a small size being so excellent.

How small is the NUC Elements Compute? About the size of 5 credit cards stacked, or 95 x 65 x 6mm precisely.

Because of this impressively slim design, and modular case options from Intel + partners, it's a design that's suited for more and more the more you think about it, so let’s check out some of those modular options and use cases.

Illustration of NUC elements for use as everyday PC
The NUC Elements could be an everyday PC
Illustration of NUC elements for use as office collaboration display
It's also ideal for powering a large digital collaborative display in the office
Illustration of NUC elements for use as
The modular design is great for making new things possible too
Illustration of NUC elements for use as
You could apply it in large scale manufacturing too

The Intel Element product range includes:

  • Intel NUC Compute Element (with processor, memory, and wireless capability)
  • Intel NUC Chassis + Board Element (for easily adding storage, sources & outputs to make a PC)
  • Intel NUC Board Element (For easy application by engineers in custom use cases)

Via Intel: In business today, one size does not fit all. Intel developed the Intel NUC Element line of products to give you a better way to design, build, and service custom deployments to meet a wide range of customer needs. With the performance and reliability you’ve come to expect from Intel, this modular product line is another example of how Intel-designed innovations are answering the world’s toughest business and education challenges. To build a customized deployment for your market, start with an Intel NUC Compute Element with the Intel® processor you need. Select SKUs also come with the Intel vPro® platform for remote manageability, hardware-enhanced security, and PC fleet stability. Use an Intel NUC Chassis Element to build a full mini PC solution for collaboration or rugged environments. Pair the Intel NUC Compute Element with an Intel NUC Board Element qualified for 24/7 sustained operation or with your own or a third-party board. 

Picture of the NUC element compute top protective cover
From the top, NUC Element Compute resembles an SSD
11th Gen CPU logos for the 2021 NUC Elements range
Their are a lot of 11th Gen options to choose from
The underside of the NUC Elements Compute
The NUC elements circuit board viewed from underneath

The new NUC will be available soon with a large range of powerful Intel processors, you can get the Compute Element with i3, i5, i7 or celeron performance, to suit the task and budget.

Using the new CPU options for a list, the Intel Elements 11th Gen Compute list expected to release first in NZ is as below.

Intel Element Compute Model Intel CPU / Option
CM11EBv7 Intel® Core™ i7 processor with Intel vPro® technology
CM11EBi7 Intel® Core™ i7 processor
CM11EBv5 Intel® Core™ i5 processor with Intel vPro® technology
CM11EBi5 Intel® Core™ i5 processor
CM11EBi3 Intel® Core™ i3 processor
CM11EBC Intel® Celeron® processor

Looking at the CM11EBv7 for a more in depth peek and specifications we find there is a lot more to this little PC than the fancy 11th Gen Intel i7 processor.

  • Form Factor: U-Series Compute Element (95 x 65 x 6 mm)
  • CPU: Intel® Core™ i7-1185G7 Processor!
  • Included Memory: 16GB (dual-channel) LPDDR4x-4266
  • Integrated Graphics: Intel® Iris® Xe Graphics

The large NUC Element range sure makes it easier to design and build, and the Intel team has clearly tried to make the power of this modular design more accessible and affordable, with case / board options to suit a variety of I/O cables and connections.

For those looking to use the NUC Elements U-Series Compute right away, in the home, office or school for example, the Intel NUC Pro Chassis Element is likely perfect with its slim clean lines and minimalistic design.

The Intel PRO Chassis Element is an actively cooled chassis with I/O board installed, there are two design implementations, the BASE (CMCM2FB) and Video Capture & Audio (CMCM2FBAV). Both are qualified for 24/7 operation, and have a Kensington locking for added security. Looking at the differences between them the Video Capture & Audio Pro Chassis is ready for video capture via the HDMI passthrough.

Picture of NUC Elements PRO Base Chassis inputs and outputs
The Element Pro BASE Chassis has a plentiful rear I/O, with HDMI, USB and LAN
Picture of NUC Elements PRO Video and Audio Chassis inputs and outputs
The Element Video Capture & Audio Chassis adds more suitable extras

For deployments in harsher environments, such as a shop floor or factory, choosing to use the Intel NUC Rugged Chassis Element is the best solution - the modular core design makes it easy to swap your NUC Elements Compute between all the case/board options, should your requirements change later on.

The three rugged versions are qualified for 24/7 operation and temperatures from 0-40˚C, this is the ideal PC solution to keep edge analytics, digital signage, or surveillance cameras up and running around the clock. And with a 3-year warranty, it’s performance that’s designed to last.

Shown below, these are named NUC Elements Rugged Expandable, Dual LAN, and Multi HDMI, each getting its name from the inputs and outputs.

Picture of NUC Elements Rugged Expandable Chassis
The Elements Rugged Expandable Chassis still pack a lot in
Picture of NUC Elements Rugged Dual Lan Chassis
The Dual Lan version of the Elements Rugged Chassis for better networking
Picture of NUC Elements Rugged 4x HDMI chassis
With 4x additional HDMI, this Rugged Elements case is suited for media

For talented engineers, or those inventing new ways to get stuff done, may want to integrate their Intel Element Compute into a custom device and they can. Intel Elements Compute can be paired with an Intel NUC Board Element, these set to be available with three design options: Expandable, Dual LAN, and Multi HDMI. Simply choose the I/O that best suits your needs, the Intel NUC Compute and Board can now be integrated.

For the NUC Elements to really succeed for the modern consumer it needs a collaborative solution, and for that Intel have partnered with a few talented manufacturers who are busily designing more mainstream I/O and case options to plug the Intel NUC Elements Compute into, the most exciting for most is likely the laptop, and thinking about it a little more, the general laptop design, keyboards and connected screen hasn’t really changed too much over the years, sure there are high resolutions available now but how long has 1080P been a thing? A really long time! Imagine being able to upgrade your laptop by sliding in the new Compute, it’s a nice thought from both the point of view of my pocket, and the planet. The keyboard PC is a good example of implementation, the small size of the Intel NUC Compute makes these and much more, possible.

Picture of aftermarket chassis for Intel Elements U-Series NUC Compute
Modular Bays, Trays, AiO PC, Keyboard PC, Mini PC, Projection PC & Laptops - just some of the industry creations so far!

So there we have it, exciting times ahead! The modular components are so good for those just-in-time system building needs, the small size is perfect for a wide range of deployments, and you get easy upgrades with forward-compatible components.

The new Intel 11th Gen NUC Elements U-Series range is set to become available very soon, we’ll keep our eyes on the Intel NUC Store and update with the latest as soon as it does!

Written By

Staff Writer

For the words, not the glory!

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