Intel NUC

Posted September 20, 2013

A project I’d like to begin in a few months is to move gaming emulation off of my iMac to a dedicated Windows 7 box. There would certainly be many obvious benefits to this, but honestly the most rewarding part would be Hyperspin. I don’t currently have the space for a full arcade cabinet, and can’t picture myself standing up to play games for any real length of time, so all I really need is a headless device to connect to a plasma television.

Something simple, small and affordable. This isn’t a task requiring some bonkers custom water-cooled gaming rig with red and blue LEDs and dry ice. We’re talking pixely Simon Belmont here for the most part (ok, and NARC), not modern gen or even last gen gaming. Initially I considered an old Mac mini running Bootcamp, but then started noticing compact PCs at cheaper prices, such as the Intel NUC. For $300 you get an Intel Core i3, but you’ll need to install your own memory and hard drive, say 8GB of DIMMs for $70 and a 128GB mSATA for $140. And $3 for a missing power cord. And for that $500 you get 3 USB 2.0, 1 Thunderbolt and 1 HDMI.

For $600 the current Mac mini offers an Intel Core i5, same Intel HD Graphics 4000, 500GB hard drive, 4 USB 3.0, 1 Thunderbolt, 1 Firewire 800, 802.11n, SDXC, IR, Bluetooth, and audio in and out. It’s also assembled and likely comes with a power cable. The only benefit I see to the NUC seems to be SSD support for a $300 base, while Apple only offers it on their $800 Mac mini at an additional cost of $300 for 256GB. But considering Windows 7 would eat up a suggested ~50GB, that certainly puts a dent in the NUCs [not optional] SSD.

Where’s the Mac mini Windows equivalent.

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