In addition to the NUC that we all already know we were shown a prototype of a new model that should be about $100 less than the more powerful Core i3 based device. This one will feature a Celeron CPU, but in most other respects should be about the same. Intel will be pushing out a few other models in the near future as well including a Core i5 and Core i7 model that will have triple display capability (HDMI). Now as we looked over the NUC we did notice something. Although the NUC is a pretty solid product it is missing a few things that we saw with Nettop products; there was no option for analog audio. Now while this might not seem to be a big deal (and in many cases it is not) we thought that the concept of a budget SFF system that has no legacy audio outputs was a little odd. While it is true that most new monitors come with HDMI or DisplayPort in many business environments they are missing. This means that you will need to buy additional hardware and completely negates the savings that you would get with picking up a NUC for use.
When we mentioned this we were told that some of Intel’s partners had thought about this as well. This means that you might not have to make the leap to HDMI just yet (of course it may still end up costing you more).
After NUC we talked a little about the tablet market and how to properly benchmark these devices. There are quite a few options out there and not all of them are accurate or give a proper indication of performance. Three of the tests that were talked about are TouchXpert, WebXpert, and Moblemark. Both TouchXpert and WebXpert were created by the same guys that developed the old ZifDavis set of benchmarks that many remember as one of the most solid set of tests that you could find. These benchmarks were developed with Windows 8 in mind and with WebXpert you are getting one of the only benchmarks that can actually be run in the Modern (Metro) interface.
It looks like we were pretty close to the mark with what we would see from Intel this year (which is not a bad thing) they are pushing the advantages of the smaller computing unit along with tablets and ultrabooks. We saw quite a few demos showing off what is possible with Atom and the ULV versions of the Core CPUs. Intel did make it very clear that Haswell will not be the death bell for the desktop PC socket; that market is simply too lucrative for anyone to walk away from. This same message has been echoed by other companies including motherboard and memory manufacturers.
So in the end there was not much new from Intel at CES, but Intel still had some pretty cool things to see. Haswell and Ivy Town (the 2011 flavor of Ivy Bridge) are still due out about mid-year 2013 which should be a good thing for both the mobile and high-end desktop PC markets.
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