The Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Has Won Me Over On Arc GPUs

An Intel NUC 12 enthusiast won me over to the Arc GPU

The Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast really surprised me as one of my favorite computers this year. At $2,299 (plus about $500 for parts that aren’t included, like RAM and storage), it’s the first pre-built PC that’s made me actively question my choice to build my own PC.

This is for several reasons. It’s tiny, it’s powerful, and it’s one of the first PCs to feature Intel’s new Arc GPU dedicated graphics, pitting Intel against Nvidia and AMD in the graphics card market. It also comes with a three-year warranty.

Do you see those lights? They are RGB programmable. Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Arc reactor

Unsurprisingly, the Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast is one of the most powerful computers we’ve ever reviewed at Gizmodo Australia. The model we reviewed included an i7-12700H processor and the new Intel Arc A770M GPU (which was released in October), powered by a 330W PSU (that chunky rectangle on the left in the image above).

It also included 16GB of GDDR6 RAM and 512GB of NVMe storage, which can be upgraded, but these components don’t come standard with the computer (you’ll need to purchase these components separately). This will increase the price by about $500, depending on your shopping list.

intel nuc 12 enthusiast
After booting Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast, you will see this skull. It’s such a cool shoe logo. Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Let’s start with our benchmark testing. On Geekbench, the NUC scored 12,82,859 points in the OpenCL Compute test (for overall computer performance), 1,712 points in the single-core test, and 11,596 points in the multi-core test. Very, very impressive numbers.

We got similar numbers in Cinebench. In the single-core test, the NUC 12 scored 1,756 points and took first place. That’s 49 points above our previous winner, the ASUS Space Edition Zenbook (which actually packs a 12th Gen Intel Core i9 processor), so bravo Intel. In the multi-core test, the NUC 12 scored 15,536 points in fourth place. Again, very respectable.

But how about some play testing? Well, I’ve played quite a few games on this thing, incl Fortnite, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2022), Forza Horizon 5 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and the computer consistently produced frame rates similar to my own build (which is an Nvidia RTX 3060 and an AMD Ryzen 5 3600 with 32GB of DDR4 RAM).

On Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2022), here’s how the PC fared in 2K. Perfectly finealthough I’d recommend sticking to 1080p for gaming on this PC.

An Intel NUC 12 enthusiast won me over to the Arc GPU
Screenshot: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

As such, the following results are on a 1080p display. Here is Forza Horizon 5:

An Intel NUC 12 enthusiast won me over to the Arc GPU
Screenshot: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

And here it is Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.

An Intel NUC 12 enthusiast won me over to the Arc GPU
Screenshot: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Overall, these results are great. Running games with your graphics set to high (perhaps with some minor tweaks here and there), the NUC 12 is a great 1080p gaming rig. Heck, it also makes a great 2K gaming rig in some games, though you might have to lower your graphics settings a bit.

Also, the fan noise was not too loud. With headphones on, I barely noticed any sound coming from the machine while playing.

However, it must be said that since it runs on the Intel Arc A770M, a new graphics card that was not previously supported (since the line is brand new), older games may not run on it. Just a word of warning.

Dream machine

One of the things I dislike most about gaming rigs is the fact that most cases are quite bulky. Internally, PC parts on custom-built machines don’t take up much space (although powerful GPUs are the size of bricks), so there’s plenty of free space in the case.

The Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast is built with efficiency in mind inside and out. Dimensionally, the chassis is 230mm high x 180mm long x 60mm wide, with a power supply roughly half the size of a computer. It comes with a vertical stand, but can also be used lying down (although I’d urge you to think about overheating if you’ve positioned it that way). The case is made of plastic on the outside, metal on the inside.

This makes it the size of a modem or maybe a little bigger. I love this size. If I lived in a smaller apartment, I’d want to get this type of computer: it has killer performance and one of the best size-to-performance ratios I’ve ever seen.

An Intel NUC 12 enthusiast won me over to the Arc GPU
It’s really small. Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Should I buy the Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast?

One of the most compelling arguments I can make for the Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast is the size-to-performance ratio: it’s really good. Compared to your own PC, and while you might spend a little less on a beefed-up DIY machine, you get the added benefit of the thing’s size.

Intel won me over with this computer. I’m optimistic about the Arc series GPUs, which have shown impressive results against their Nvidia counterparts, but if I wasn’t in the mood to build my own PC, I’d probably buy something like the NUC 12.

It’s an excellent computer, but he turned a blind eye and mistook it for a modem.

Where to buy Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast

Note that the Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast is available in “kit” form, where you’ll need to add RAM, storage, and the operating system separately.

Mwave ($2,299) | Computer Alliance ($2,299) | Scorptec ($2,299)

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