Ultra-compact form-factor PCs have emerged as bright spots in the PC market over the last decade after Intel introduced the NUC. The NUCs started out as replacement for bulky tower desktops in applications where the physical footprint and system capabilities were significantly more than the actual requirements.

The company celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its introduction last year with the introduction of the first UCFF NUC family with hybrid processors. The Alder Lake-based 4"x4" Wall Street Canyon NUCs came with significant improvements over the previous generation in both performance per watt and value proposition metrics. Barely a couple of quarters down the road, Intel is updating its Pro line of UCFF NUCs with the 13th Gen. Core Processors (Raptor Lake). The new Arena Canyon NUCs carry forward the same hardware features of the Wall Street Canyon SKUs, with the primary update being the change in the internal SoC.

Raptor Lake-P brings incremental gains in terms of both performance and power efficiency over Alder Lake-P. We already saw one of Intel's partners - ASRock Industrial - take the lead in delivering UCFF mini-PCs based on Raptor Lake-P. Intel's Arena Canyon NUCs target the same market segment as the ASRock Industrial NUC(S) BOX-13xxP/D4 SKUs. However, Intel is planning to offer a more comprehensive list of processor choices, along with barebones and pre-built options for each.

Intel sampled us with a pre-production version of the NUC13ANKi7 - the slim version of the NUC 13 Pro equipped with a Core i7-1360P processor. This review provides a comprehensive look into the performance profile of the system and how it stacks up against the previous generation as well as other competitors in the market.

Introduction and Product Impressions

Intel's Raptor Lake processors build upon the heterogeneous computing paradigm introduced with hybrid processors in Alder Lake. While the desktop processors enjoyed a few minor microarchitectural tweaks for better performance, the -P series owes its improvements to the maturity of the Intel 7 manufacturing process. The updated voltage-frequency curves have enabled Intel to increase the turbo clocks for both performance and efficiency cores. Some I/O improvements such as additional Thunderbolt 4 ports and USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 support are also in the mix for Raptor Lake-P, but their adoption is dependent on other board component choices.

Intel's Arena Canyon NUCs are visually identical to their Wall Street Canyon counterparts - down to the placement of the I/O ports and the layout of the internal board. In fact, one of the primary reasons for Arena Canyon to get released within a few quarters of the Wall Street Canyon seems to be the similarity in the internal platform. Intel has decided to minimize the changes by going in with the same DDR4 SODIMMs support and Burnside Bridge retimers on the Type-C ports. This means that the Thunderbolt 4 ports in the Arena Canyon NUCs do not support USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 just like the Wall Street Canyon NUCs.

There are some unique SKUs in the Arena Canyon NUC lineup compared to the Wall Street Canyon NUCs, though. There are a couple of models using the special Core i7-1370P and Core i7-1370PE processors (which have a 6P+ 8e configuration not available in Alder Lake-P). Additionally, some SKUs use processors meant for the embedded market. These have a 5-year availability window (compared the 3-year life cycle for the others). Overall, Intel has plans to release around 30 different Arena Canyon NUC SKUs (boards / slim and tall kits / ready-to-use mini-PCs) over the next few quarters.

Intel's lineup of 4"x4" mini-PCs (marketed under the Pro moniker) has evolved to target business use-cases. Keeping that in mind, the company has retained a few SKUs with vPro Enterprise capabilities for easier deployment and management by IT departments. The new vPro systems offer hardware-based remote management with cloud-based manageability, Intel AMT for out-of-band connectivity with KVM support, hardware alarms, and remote power control.

The company is also offering the NUC Pro Software Suite (NPSS) for guaranteeing uptime for digital signage applications. This involves connecting one HDMI port to the primary display and the other HDMI port to another Intel NUC's second HDMI port. By default, both NUCs drive their own primary displays. When the NPSS tool detects heartbeat failure, the operational NUC drives both displays - its own, as well as the failed system's. The tool also includes application monitors to restart unresponsive applications and explicit HDMI-CEC control via diagnostic software.

The compact nature of these systems also lend to usage in IoT and edge computing applications in vehicles, healthcare, industrial, and education domains. From a reliability perspective, Intel is qualifying all the NUC 13 Pro systems for 24x7 operation during the 3-year warranty period. These NUCs come with cutting edge features (for a UCFF system) such as support for the Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, and four simultaneous 4Kp60 displays. Features such as display emulation also make it friendly for headless operation and digital signage deployments.

On the industrial design front, Intel has decided to (thankfully) go with a matte-textured chassis with an 'intel nuc' logo embedded on top. The ventilation support and thermal design appear to be retained from earlier UCFF NUCs. The top-end SKU based on the Core i7-1370P would have been more interesting to review on account of the additional cores, but the Core i7-1360P model that we are looking at today is essentially a like-for-like replacement for the NUC12WSKi7 that was reviewed in detail earlier this year. The packaging of our pre-production sample is not reflective of the contents of the retail box. The sample came with a 120W (20V @ 6A) power adapter, a cable management screw, and mounting screws.

The kit also included a 512 GB PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD (Samsung PM9A1) and 2x 16 GB DDR-3200 SODIMMs (Kingston ValueRAM).

Windows 11 Home was pre-installed (OEM deployment), but we opted to wipe the disk and install Windows 11 Enterprise 21H2 with the latest updates. In general, moving to Microsoft's latest release (22H2) is fraught with performance issues and unexpected benchmarking behavior. The full specifications of our review sample (as tested) are summarized in the table below.

Intel NUC13ANKi7 (Arena Canyon) Specifications
(as tested)
Processor Intel Core i7-1360P
Alder Lake 4P + 8e / 16T, up to 5.0 GHz (P) / 3.7 GHz (e)
Intel 7, 18MB L2, 35W
(PL1 = 40W, PL2 = 64W)
Memory Kingston ValueRAM KVR32S22D8/16 DDR4-3200 SODIMM
22-22-22-52 @ 3200 MHz
2x16 GB
Graphics Intel Iris Xe Graphics
(96EU @ 1.50 GHz)
Disk Drive(s) Samsung PM9A1 MZVL2512HCJQ
(512 GB; M.2 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe;)
(Samsung 6th Gen. V-NAND 128L (136T) 3D TLC; Samsung Elpis S4LV003 Controller; OEM version of 980 PRO)
Networking 1x 2.5 GbE RJ-45 (Intel I226-V)
Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX211 (2x2 802.11ax - 2.4 Gbps)
Audio Digital Audio with Bitstreaming Support over HDMI Ports
3.5mm stereo headset jack (Realtek audio codec)
Video 2x HDMI 2.1 (4Kp60)
2x Display Port 2.1 with HBR3 over Thunderbolt 4
Miscellaneous I/O Ports 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (Front)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (Rear)
1x USB 2.0 Type-A (Rear)
2x Thunderbolt 4 (Rear) (Type-C)
Operating System Windows 11 Enterprise (22000.1696)
Pricing (Street Pricing on March 27th, 2023)
US TBD (barebones)
$(148 + TBD) (as configured, no OS)
Full Specifications Intel NUC13ANKi7 Specifications

In the next section, we take a look at the various BIOS options and follow it up with a detailed platform analysis.

Setup Notes and Platform Analysis
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • MrCommunistGen - Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - link

    If you're just looking to dabble, you might check out Apple's Refurbished shop. I swear by their shop and use it to help my parents getting inexpensive iDevices as they don't need the latest and greatest.

    They tend to sell pretty lightly used machines that are only a generation or two old at decently discounted prices. If you buy a laptop or other mobile device, I believe that all 1st party Apple Refurbished devices get a brand new battery as part of the refurb process.

    FWIW, it looks like through the refurb site you can get an M1 Mac Mini with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD for $809. Yes, you lose out on the improvements that the M2 brings, but it saves you almost $200 too.

    The M1 is going to be plenty potent compared to your... Core2 Duo(?) based Macbook?
  • Glaurung - Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - link

    If you can't stomach apple's prices, check out refurbished/lightly used apple gear on backmarket or, for older machines you can upgrade yourself, Ebay. Apple's official refurb store is great but you will never get more than about 15% off there. I love my apple gear, but I only ever buy used/refurb, because I cannot afford the price Apple charges for new.
  • Affectionate-Bed-980 - Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - link

    For how "dead" Anandtech has been in terms of publishing GPU and CPU reviews, I'm surprised we get a NUC update and full review before this is even available for consumers!
  • abufrejoval - Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - link

    My NUC10 seems to just have burned through its Thunderbolt port: for some weeks it's lost the connection to the Sabrent/Aquantia 10Gbit NIC after a couple of days, but power cycling brought it back. Now it's just gone completely, just can't seen anything connected on TB any more.

    So while I needed a replacement, NUC12 is still rather expensive and I am still yearning for something Mini-ITX not NUC anyway, I hit across this one: https://elchapuzasinformatico.com/2023/03/cpu-inte... which is much cheaper than a comparable NUC of that generation.

    So I just decided to order one to see if it holds water. I won't be able to reuse the RAM, but with 64GB at €120 that's no longer a pain point and it is a bit more flexible and expandable than the NUCs, while unfortunately it lacks the TB port, but will allow me to use one of my AQC107 PCIe x4 NIC in storage.

    Mini-ITX with one of my Noctuas allows to raise the sustained TDP to 35 Watts without getting annoying, while idle power consumption might not be very different. That's my main beef with desktop based Mini-ITX hardware, I want the lowest idle power and then "comfortable" peak performance without getting distracted by noise, heat or electric bills.

    H- and P-class SoCs from AMD and Intel basically allow that, but are hard-to-get in these smaller form factors: high-end notebooks obviously represent the more attractive sales channels and older parts are leak into these Chinese surplus channels only when laptops have switched to the next generation.
  • abufrejoval - Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - link

    IMHO one of the biggest missing elements for several generations now has been lack of ECC support. With both "normal" and inline ECC most likely being included in the silicon, it's really just market segmentation again and a reason to go with Ryzen, if ECC support on their APUs wasn't such a lottery game, too.

    64GB is half a billion bits where things can go wrong and I just like the odds less and less...
  • Up2Trix - Wednesday, April 19, 2023 - link

    @abufrejoval: I agree 100%. ECC DRAM is the single most important hardware feature that most people need but don't have a clue about. I curse Intel for segmenting it out of existence, and AMD for not promoting it. May the world wake up...

    Anyone know of a small form factor / NUC like computer with ECC support? Intel's NUC 9 Pro / Quartz Canyon from 2019 is the only one that I can readily find.
  • Fenturi - Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - link

    I'm not sure the price/performance is here for this one vs chips like 6800HX with a much better igpu. That said two thunderbolt ports are very interesting for my use case and would be the best feature.
  • abufrejoval - Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - link

    I see the 96EU Xe doing 5-25% better than the 5800U iGPU and iGPUs typically get Wattage priority over CPUs so a "H" class iGPUs don't do better than "U", no matter if I operate the SoC at 15-28 (AMD) or 15-64 Watt (Tiger Lake NUC).

    So the 6800 generational uplift may just put AMD ever so slightly in the lead again, but in a race of sloths vs turtles.

    For TB I keep hearing that many of the USB4 ports on AMD APUs are actually TB capable and only lack certifications... Have not had a chance to verify that.

    I can't mix AMD and Intel in my clusters, so it's too late for me to switch. But the other thing is that I needed 10Gbit and for that TB sadly was a must, because for some crazy reason vendors believe 1/2.5Gbit is adequate for NVMe systems.

    I've wanted mobile SoC based mainboards with PC type flexibilty for years, but only some crazy Chinese companies are selling that.
  • Fenturi - Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - link

    Sadly, as someone who has built my own systems going back to 486 CPUs and outrageous fast wide SCSI and a super expensive video card.

    I think the days of building desktop PC is in it's last days.

    Most people are going to only need small nuk sized units that will do most of what they need.
  • abufrejoval - Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - link

    I can beat that, started with an 80286 (actually with an Apple ][ clone before that) and SCSI fast, wide or dual channel came much later, it was MFM and RLL before, using PIO, because the 8-bit DMA from the original PC simply wasn't fast enough for anything beyond floppy. BTW that system cost me more than a new middle class car would have and the people and shops selling them, would reflect that (suits, ties and talk): Those weren't just another microwave like box at the mall.

    Yes, after more than 4 decades the PC era is drawing to a close, but I'm not sure it's from lack of scale at the desktop: it's ARM from above and below that will spell the end of the x86 evolution.

    There are way more PC enthusiasts today than there were PC users when we got hooked and custom builds just never scale: IKEA!

    To me the real successor of the PC is the smartphone, but only if it isn't actually an Apple or Google remote control.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now