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Intel Pulls Wraps Off NUC 9 'Ghost Canyon' Extreme Kit and Compute Element

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Intel has finally revealed its NUC 9 Extreme Kit, a tiny gaming desktop, and its Compute Element for modular builds here at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. The official announcements come after a series of revealing leaks over the past months.

Code named "Ghost Canyon," the new kits and the Compute Elements powering them are based on Intel’s 9th Gen Coffee Lake-H CPUs: the Core i3-9500H, i7-9750H and i9-9980HK. And the NUC 9 Extreme Kit is the first NUC to support discrete graphics (up to 8 inches) through a PCIe x16 slot. This makes it the first NUC that gamers or content creators can seriously consider.

It also features two Thunderbolt 3 ports, Intel Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, a pair of Gigabit LAN ports and HDMI 2.0. 

As kits, the NUC 9 Extreme will come with a compute unit, chassis and a 500W power supply, but you’ll still need to supply your own RAM, storage, operating system (OS) and, should you want it, discrete graphics.

Intel NUC 9 Extreme Kits Specs

NUC9i9QNX NUC9i7QNXNUC9i5QNX
CPU Intel Core i9-9980HK Intel Core i7-9750H Intel Core i5-9300H
Graphics Intel UHD 630; Supports 8-inch PCIe discrete GPU Intel UHD 630; Supports 8-inch PCIe discrete GPU Intel UHD 630; Supports 8-inch PCIe discrete GPU
RAM Not included. Dual-channel: Up to 32GB DDR4-2666 / 64GB DDR4-2400 Not included. Dual-channel: Up to 32GB DDR4-2666 / Up to 64GB DDR4-2400 Not included. Dual-channel: Up to 32GB DDR4-2666 / Up to 64GB DDR4-2400
StorageNot included. 2x M.2 slots (NVMe/SATA, RAID-0/1 capable), 1x M.2 slot: NVMe, Intel Optane Memory M10, H10 and Intel Optane SSDNot included. 2x M.2 slots (NVMe/SATA, RAID-0/1 capable), 1x M.2 slot: NVMe, Intel Optane Memory M10, H10 and Intel Optane SSDNot included. 2x M.2 slots (NVMe/SATA, RAID-0/1 capable), 1x M.2 slot: NVMe, Intel Optane Memory M10, H10 and Intel Optane SSD
PSU 500W 500W 500W
Operating System Not included Not included Not included
Estimated Pricing $1,700 $1,250 $1,050

Intel plans to begin selling these in March, with estimated prices of $1,050 for the Core i5 version, $1,250 for the Core i7 and $1,700 for the Core i9.

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(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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The NUC 9 Compute Element, built out by Razer.

The NUC 9 Compute Element, built out by Razer. (Image credit: Razer)

Alternatively, the NUC 9 Compute Element will find its way into desktops from other manufacturers, like the Razer Tomahawk, XPG Gaia and CyberPower Compact Nox Mini, among others. Those OEMs can pair it with RAM, storage, OSes, graphics and even their own cases.

Intel NUC 9 Compute Elements Specs

NUC9i9QNB NUC9i7QNBNUC9i5QNB
CPU Intel Core i9-9980HK Intel Core i7-9750H Intel Core i5-9300H
Graphics Intel UHD 630 Intel UHD 630 Intel UHD 630
RAM Not included. Dual-channel: Up to 32GB DDR4-2666 / Up to 64GB DDR4-2400 Not included. Dual-channel: Up to 32GB DDR4-2666 / Up to 64GB DDR4-2400 Not included. Dual-channel: Up to 32GB DDR4-2666 / Up to 64GB DDR4-2400
StorageNot included. 2x M.2 slots (NVMe /SATA, RAID-0/1 capable, 1x M.2 slot: NVMe, Intel Optane Memory M10, H10, and Intel Optane SSDNot included. 2x M.2 slots (NVMe /SATA, RAID-0/1 capable, 1x M.2 slot: NVMe, Intel Optane Memory M10, H10, and Intel Optane SSDNot included. 2x M.2 slots (NVMe /SATA, RAID-0/1 capable, 1x M.2 slot: NVMe, Intel Optane Memory M10, H10, and Intel Optane SSD
PSU Not included. Requires 180W via EPS 12V connector Not included. Requires 180W via EPS 12V connector Not included. Requires 180W via EPS 12V connector
Operating System Not included Not included Not included

Pricing on the Compute Elements on their own was not immediately available. 

It appears that Intel is attempting to build an ecosystem here: one with OEMS on board. The question will be if enthusiasts and gamers will pick up a platform with a mobile CPU and an entire module that needs to be upgraded over one with a desktop CPU or motherboard.