Exclusive: Inside Intel’s tiny modular gaming PC

Published by Jan Heaney on

Exclusive: Inside Intel’s tiny modular gaming PC

– Intel’s been trying to build small gaming PCs for a while but this is one of the smallest, yet most full featured I’ve ever seen. This five liter box is a
full desktop gaming PC, and one of the most easiest to upgrade computers I’ve
seen in quite a while. In fact, it’s easier to upgrade than today’s desktop computers. That’s because inside
this five liter chassis, you won’t just find a traditional CPU with a heat sink and fan or a GPU board. This is called the Intel NUC 9 Extreme and I’m gonna show you
exactly what’s inside it and how it might change how you build your next gaming computer. There is a brain inside this computer that contains it’s own CPU, memory and storage that
you can plug in to this PC just like you plug in that graphics card. So to pull out most of
the main system components to this computer, I’m just gonna disconnect a few cables, attach the main brain module up here, which they’re calling the Element. NUC Element Compute module. Still have a lot of headers on there but this is the Element NUC module. And inside of here I’m gonna
show you even a little bit more how modulated this system is. So as you can see inside here, not only is the entire CPU
brain of this computer modular but inside here you can
replace the memory modules and the storage modules as well with no laptop memory sticks or solid state drives as well. It’s got support for three NVMe solid
state drives in total, two of them right in this module. So maybe a couple of years down the road you’re thinking of replacing
this Core i9-9980HK with something faster and newer, when you do that you can also replace all of your ports as well. You’ve got dual gigabit ethernet here, a pair of Thunderbolt 3 USB-C jacks that are multipurpose, HDMI and four USB 3.1
ports right on this card. And you can imagine as newer and better port technologies come out, you just swap out this one module. It’s like replacing
your entire motherboard of your computer. That’s because this
computer doesn’t really have another motherboard, all it has connecting the
rest of the computer together is this single baseboard with a couple of PCIe X16 slots and an X4 over there if you wanna add something
extra like a video capture card, instead of dedicating all
16 lanes to your graphics. So you can see there’s
not a lot going on here, this is just there to
connect these main pieces to the computer together. All the rest of the I/O, all of the rest of the processing power, it’s all here in this
modular replaceable card. Theoretically this all makes for one of the smallest future-proof
gaming PCs we’ve ever seen and if you’re worried about
that future-proof thing, Intel says it’s planning to ship at least a couple generations of this NUC Element CPU brain. The company also says it’s
500W power supply is designed to handle any graphics card on the market for the next couple of years, as long as it fits into this frame which means it needs to
be under eight inches and fits into a dual slot chassis. In addition to that, it says that you shouldn’t see any kind of performance detriment from the fact that all of this is happening
over an X16 PCIe slot. And if you don’t like this
exact five liter design with it’s prominent skull, they will be some other
options on the market. Intel is planning to ship
this as a Barebones kit, meaning you need your own storage, your own memory, operating system and graphics card if you wanna make it a gaming system. From between $1300 and $1700 and i5, i7 and i9 configurations but there will be other manufacturers building their own chassis
around the NUC Element as well, including Razer and some other companies I can’t talk about quite yet. Those will be shipping this year with the Barebone system
from Intel shipping in March. I’ve been a fan of Intel’s
tiny NUC computers for a while but I’ve never seen enough
graphical oomph in there for me to buy one myself and it looks like that’s changing here. I’m also a big fan of
small modular computers, I’ve tried to build them but I’ve never been able
to make them this small. So if this works out, I’m gonna be a customer
for this actual box. For now, I’m gonna wait
and see how it plays out. We’re in Las Vegas all this week for the Consumer Electronics Show so you can check out our other videos of intriguing gadgets as well, including laptops, foldables and more.


Vault Hunter · January 7, 2020 at 3:34 pm

"We designed it so that it might look small but it can handle any GPU on the market."
"How are you gonna power and cool those higher-end cards?"
"Don't worry, we made it so small those triple-fan tactical nukes won't even fit in here."

Skyler Fly · January 7, 2020 at 3:43 pm

Hmm, interesting evolution of Nuc

Alpha Adhito · January 7, 2020 at 3:45 pm

Laugh in custom Velka 3

jak p · January 7, 2020 at 3:46 pm

Not really a new concept. PCI computers with a external backplane have been around for decades. Only thing that’s new is marketing this concept to consumers.

fake user tas · January 7, 2020 at 3:47 pm

2300$ bye Bye

Lukas Rönnberg · January 7, 2020 at 3:47 pm

Ah yes! The verge given a exclusive view of a gaming computer. Perfect considering there great reputation in the computer building community!

m1 · January 7, 2020 at 3:47 pm

He screws with confidence

Chris Dillon · January 7, 2020 at 3:48 pm

You can't future proof. Time advances, things change, black swans. The NUCs are cool, this is better than the old skull extreme ones but the tiny barebones NUCs are where it's at.

Shokase · January 7, 2020 at 3:49 pm

Seems like the future…

Jabby Borromeo · January 7, 2020 at 3:49 pm

It's like a velka 3, but for intel specific parts

Paravan · January 7, 2020 at 3:51 pm

But does it run AMD?

Bu5hm45t3r · January 7, 2020 at 3:52 pm

does verge focus on audio?

Austin Karren · January 7, 2020 at 3:53 pm

What about thermals

Rajesh M · January 7, 2020 at 3:54 pm

Modular? What a joke.

pokeguy4 · January 7, 2020 at 3:56 pm

Let me get my "cpu aplicator tool"

r v · January 7, 2020 at 4:03 pm

lol this is terrible

Christopher Zarate · January 7, 2020 at 4:06 pm

For this to sell, Intel needs to put a Ryzen 3950 in there! Haha.

Jay Kamli · January 7, 2020 at 4:07 pm

Does it support ryzen 😂

Vincenzo Mario Saltamartini · January 7, 2020 at 4:11 pm

I'll buy the Razer nuc

Varun Biday · January 7, 2020 at 4:12 pm


Andyl Ouabi · January 7, 2020 at 4:45 pm

I actually think this is a good idea

qwertmom · January 7, 2020 at 4:46 pm

Hahahahahaha remember that one video you guys made?

Maciej · January 7, 2020 at 4:53 pm

Yeah, I'm not buying this story

Arjen Woudstra · January 7, 2020 at 5:11 pm

So basically its a plastic Mac Pro?

yuprulesing · January 7, 2020 at 5:13 pm

I would never go this route, non standard everything inside, once they stop making parts for this thing, it's a giant overpriced brick on your desk. If you are billionaire, go nuts..you have money to waste.

Mohaned Abdalla · January 7, 2020 at 5:20 pm

This so funny

Moi 2926 · January 7, 2020 at 5:27 pm

You can pull out the mother board.

omie81 · January 7, 2020 at 5:31 pm

Isn't this socket a dead end right now? Meaning no CPU upgrade possible?

Vignesh Balasubramaniam · January 7, 2020 at 5:37 pm

All Intel did was reduce upgradability. You can't upgrade the memory independently of the CPU, since its soldered onto that board. A CPU socket was already a good form factor, and it already allowed for easy upgrades. And it allows for independently upgrading of the CPU and memory.

Callahan Macy · January 7, 2020 at 6:02 pm

Calls it a gaming computer in the beginning, then says at the end you'll need to purchase a graphics card… So not a gaming machine. Good job pal.

Jon Palsmar Rosengreen · January 7, 2020 at 6:09 pm

Just a friendly reminder that you guys still owe an apology to the community.

The Unboxing Room · January 7, 2020 at 6:16 pm


Bobby Olejnik · January 7, 2020 at 6:17 pm

How has nobody thought of that before. I love it and I can’t wait to buy it when it comes out!

Blake Swan · January 7, 2020 at 6:26 pm

So this is good for LAN parties, if that is still a thing? I'll pass

FORMOSTV RECODE · January 7, 2020 at 6:35 pm

what a joke
i think hades canyon is the last nuc done right

Hus 9 · January 7, 2020 at 6:40 pm

This is innovative

almost christian · January 7, 2020 at 6:43 pm

I'll wait for a Ryzen brain for this

Mrbeanington's retro gaming · January 7, 2020 at 6:46 pm

The Verge 😑😑😑😑😑

rubayet rushdi · January 7, 2020 at 6:59 pm

There is not a lot going on here…what were you thinking! It's basically not modular , rather a compact setup! Not buying!

Abricson K · January 7, 2020 at 6:59 pm


Kingshuk Sarkar · January 7, 2020 at 7:00 pm

The skull looks close enough like the skull logo from Red Digital

Patricia Diaz · January 7, 2020 at 7:43 pm

What happen to streamers who need extra pcie slot for elgato 4k pro as there two that motherboard and video card so then why not add extra pcie slot.

Karl Manning · January 7, 2020 at 8:11 pm

He’s articulate and passionate, perefrct fit for the video.Was worries they’d give someone that doesn’t know anything about computers

Eric Diepeveen · January 7, 2020 at 8:17 pm

CPU “Brain”. uugh

Alexandre Hosang Filho · January 7, 2020 at 8:28 pm

Intel just invented the pcie riser 😳

Flüg · January 7, 2020 at 8:43 pm

Upgrading a regular computer : Two screws off the case side, now you have access to everything
Upgrading this computer : 4 screws out of the front, unplug the motherboard (that's what it is), unscrew and remove the heatsink for the entire unit, welcome to laptop class components in your desktop, now you can upgrade the ram or the storage.

How is this easier? The price on this is also horrendous.

DELTA A17 · January 7, 2020 at 8:43 pm

Do they know that nearly all gaming computers are modular?

A 1 · January 7, 2020 at 8:49 pm

Can you us how you actually took those parts out? You keep saying it’s easy but you are not showing it

The Happy Greek · January 7, 2020 at 8:51 pm

$13-1700 for a barebones system with no memory, storage, or graphics

uh, what? No thanks

toosas · January 7, 2020 at 9:17 pm

a bit of an apple-esque joke. Lock people into their own proprietary world

Swanee-Shore · January 7, 2020 at 9:37 pm

TIL the best way to indicate the size of square shapes is in litres.

Lucas Czarnecki · January 7, 2020 at 9:43 pm

I normally wouldn't publish an opinion like this online but… I wonder every single time I watch a Verge video with this guy: How on earth does he have a job? This guy doesn't seem very knowledgeable; he isn't pleasant to look at or listen to; his reviews tend to say that every product is an unoffensive 7-out-of-10. Where is the entertainment? Where is the journalism? Where is the personality?

Sandon Spalding · January 7, 2020 at 10:31 pm

Cargo shorts?!

King · January 7, 2020 at 10:32 pm

my question is cooling. Is that fan going to sound like my gaming laptop? IF yes then what's the point.

CIRUS MEDIA · January 7, 2020 at 10:36 pm

@0:41 .."there is a brain inside of this computer"

Neilas Astelan · January 7, 2020 at 10:46 pm

"NOOK" you mean, 'nuk'?

GEM Max · January 7, 2020 at 11:05 pm

Is this PCIe slot able to do Gen 3, 4, or 5? Because Gen 4 is here and Gen 5 is just around the corner.

Ray Foss · January 7, 2020 at 11:07 pm

This is too practical. The future will involve at least more power, more water cooling. I can see this being great for some companies… but the F word still stands strong, there is no such thing as future proof

Ioannis Tzon Tsolakidis · January 7, 2020 at 11:18 pm

To be fair when I had my Pentium 4 with DDR RAM and IDE HDD, I upgraded to a Pentium D, which required a new motherboard and new DDR2 RAM, and got a SATA HDD. Then, I upgraded to an i7 950 which required a new mobo and new DDR3 RAM, and got a SATA SSD. Then, I upgraded to a an i5 9600K, which required a new mobo and new DDR4 RAM and got an NVME SSD. Making the upgrade just a card replacement makes absolute sense. What's everyone crying about.

prud475 · January 7, 2020 at 11:24 pm

take a shot every time this guy says module

TomBoi · January 7, 2020 at 11:51 pm

Resell is going to be hell with these if you get one and upgrade the CPU

Casual User · January 8, 2020 at 12:03 am

Who is this guy, I love him he should get more videos

invaderzimie · January 8, 2020 at 12:31 am

proprietary hell

Rex H · January 8, 2020 at 12:48 am

I was on board until I heard the price for just the shell. Jesus Christ…

S.H.T .N.T · January 8, 2020 at 1:04 am

Why would you spend so much on it when u can get better performance under a velka 3 case for example
I say "discontinued"

NoNiche · January 8, 2020 at 1:39 am

Nice brainwashing Intel, this is bigger than our NUC at work, keep trying

Gerald H. · January 8, 2020 at 1:51 am

What size of Allen Wrench do I need to take this apart and reassemble it?

Saurabh Parmar · January 8, 2020 at 1:56 am

Excellent script in this one 👌🏼 loved it

Johan Flodqvist · January 8, 2020 at 2:13 am

So, let me get this straight. You want me to pay a minimum of 1300, and for that i get a case, cpu and psu and some sort of bord. And the futureproof is that theyre planing on doing at least a couple(?!) of series. Well, I will pass on that 🙂

LimitedWard · January 8, 2020 at 2:25 am

How is this easy to upgrade? You're basically swapping out 90% of the computer. Want to increase the ram? Better pop off that heat sink for some reason. Oh and did we forget to mention we'll only support this form factor for 2 years because no one wants it or can afford it?

Tav · January 8, 2020 at 2:32 am

Overpriced. Why do they think small form factors are worth so much more money for less performance? Everyone knows size doesn't matter…

BryanPlays- Railfanning and more · January 8, 2020 at 2:40 am

Give now

Damian Ramirez · January 8, 2020 at 3:23 am

If Intel is using Mobile processors for this NUC they should also use Mobile Graphics cards!
Like an RTX 2080 from gaming laptops… this would make the nuc even smaller like the size of the Xbox One X!

Like the Hades Canyon but more powerful…

alex mcaniff · January 8, 2020 at 4:07 am

You also could buy a velka 3, get the same performance(if not better), have better upgrade paths, and pay less

It is also smaller

TheChezmatt · January 8, 2020 at 4:21 am

Let’s see what Linus says…

VO Vo · January 8, 2020 at 5:03 am

Ghost canyon will be EPIC FAIL, previous gaming NUC was a better concept. Desktop itself fails to attract console gamers.

Ay Zee · January 8, 2020 at 5:48 am

$1700 for basically a processor and motherboard. AMD enters the chat

Chae Rin · January 8, 2020 at 6:15 am

this is revolution

HaX Von Cydow · January 8, 2020 at 7:13 am

They EoL the last NUC Hades Canyon in less than 12 months…so yeah…no.

zappy do · January 8, 2020 at 7:35 am

these design only worry issues on power circuit damage if one goes down entire parts may damage

Tazboy · January 8, 2020 at 7:38 am

That monitor have a blue tinge😱

Rudra · January 8, 2020 at 7:47 am

Awesome until he mentioned the price

Magicmastr2 · January 8, 2020 at 7:47 am

That moment when you realize that Gamers Nexus came out with a video covering this on the same day. Can someone remind the verge what an exclusive is?

foxster.mp4 · January 8, 2020 at 8:04 am

from 1:14 comes a lot of “inside (of) here”. Lol

gege p · January 8, 2020 at 8:07 am

this is not what I imagine when I hear 'modular' word

james w · January 8, 2020 at 8:11 am

Is it me or did he sound like he did not know what the hell he was talking about….. it's more or less Single board computer with a pcie expansion card and you can pick your own memory and m.2 with form factor mark up

charlescdot · January 8, 2020 at 9:04 am

drink everytime he says module

Tanishq bhaiji · January 8, 2020 at 9:17 am

This is anti-pcmr

Tschan Andrews · January 8, 2020 at 11:15 am

… NEED(!) 🦋

Elliott's Lab · January 8, 2020 at 12:10 pm

I will stick to itx, it’s just as small and has been supported for years

Private Arc · January 8, 2020 at 12:43 pm

Pretty much gaming laptop hardware without battery and screen at gaming laptop prices.

Robert Anthony Bermudez · January 8, 2020 at 1:12 pm

Still cant beat Asrock desk mini

Robert Anthony Bermudez · January 8, 2020 at 1:14 pm

Also this is verge, we won't forget

Robert Anthony Bermudez · January 8, 2020 at 1:15 pm

And the host in this video talks obviously like he's paid by intel

Wang Ruoxu · January 8, 2020 at 1:26 pm

Yes, we are going to replace the i9 9980 HK with the i9 9980 SG.

Marq · January 8, 2020 at 1:36 pm

The Verge still consistently pulling in hundreds of thousands of views for their videos shows how much power corporations have over YouTube.

Melchizedek Phuah Siow Jin · January 8, 2020 at 1:57 pm

One of the most exciting things from CES, if not the most. Thanks for the coverage!

ArdieI · January 8, 2020 at 2:11 pm

1300$…… all yours Intel

Joiion · January 8, 2020 at 2:38 pm

1300$ for the barebones model 🤨 I’ll pass

Stratos · January 8, 2020 at 3:40 pm

Nuc 8 was the best. So small, yet so powerfull.

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