First things first. It should be noted that Intel provides two different models of the NUC. (Actually three by the time of this writing as Intel recently added a Celeron-based model, but there were only two at the time of my purchase. There’s also rumor of an i5-based model coming soon.) (My thanks to Legit Review for the following image.)
The main difference, as you can see, is that the DC3217BY has a single HDMI port and a Thunderbolt port but no integrated LAN (ie Ethernet) port, while the DC3217IYE does not include a Thunderbolt port, but has dual HDMI ports and an integrated LAN gigabit Ethernet port. I chose the latter as I prefer to hard wire as many LAN connections as possible instead of relying on WiFi (which is not integrated into the DC3217BY requiring a separate add-on card to be purchased). I don’t really see the need to connect a second display with the other HDMI port, but I also don’t see using the Thunderbolt port, so this was an easy decision for me. (Had the rumored i5 version been available it would have been a more difficult decision.)
Other than these differences, the units are basically identical. So when I talk about my unit, you can assume that you’ll have the same performance if you purchase the Thunderbolt version. Now on to some nerd speak.
The unit includes an Intel Core i3 3217-U processor. This is a 64-bit 1.8 GHz dual-core processor with Hyper Threading, thereby providing four processing threads. It is an Ivy Bridge processor utilizing 22 nm technology with a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of 17 Watts.
The 3217-U provides Intel HD Graphics 4000. To be honest, my knowledge of the technical details of computer graphics is pretty weak, so I don’t really know what that means. If anyone would care to post a crash course in the comments section or link to a good article, or even create a guest post for this site, I’d love the extra info.
The importance of the graphics depends on what you plan to do with your unit. I plan to stream media, surf the web, and play some light gaming via various gaming emulators. I don’t think I’ll require too much oomph for this as I’m not doing any photo/video editing or hardcore gaming with crazy 3D graphics, but we’ll see.
Another important thing to keep in mind for me is Linux support, especially as it pertains to graphics. Graphics cards can be notoriously difficult to properly configure in Linux as drivers are often proprietary and not fully supported in Linux. I installed Linux Mint on my unit and have had no issues with the driver.
That’s all I’m going to say on the matter for now. I realize there wasn’t much detail here, but hopefully I’ll publish an entire post dedicated to this topic in the future as I learn more about the gory details.
The NUC also contains 3 USB 2.0 ports. Yes, although the QS77 chipset used by the NUC supports USB 3.0, there are no such ports on this device. Perhaps this was done for power reasons as the full speed of USB 3.0 could draw more power than than of USB 2.0, but I’m not sure.
Two of these USB ports are on the back of the unit, with one available on the front. Having only one on the front keeps a clean aesthetic look while still providing a connection for my FLIRC infrared remote receiver. I’ve used up the other two on the back for a dongle for my Logitech k400 wireless keyboard/trackpad and XBox 360 wireless gaming receiver. So if I need more ports I’ll need to use a USB hub, but for the time being 3 ports is enough.