Intel NUC 12 Serpent Canyon First Impressions

This is what Intel’s fastest beast will look like: Its mini-PC with i7 CPU and Xe GPU!

Intel is already preparing the next-generation successor to the current Intel NUC mini-PCs, known as Phantom Canyon. This is the Intel NUC 12 “Serpent Canyon”, which will offer 12th generation Alder Lake CPUs and DG2 graphics chips based on the Xe-HPG architecture for maximum gaming on such a small form factor PC as the NUC.

In general, gaming PCs are huge because they must house high-end technology as well as elaborate cooling solutions to maintain the hardware at a safe temperature. To be able to play at full capacity on a little PC, and even more so if it is not even ITX but in NUC format, is nearly unfathomable, but with the next generation of these mini-PCs, Intel appears to want to make it a reality.

Intel’s new mini-PC with high-end hardware

According to a leaked presentation, the Serpent Canyon enthusiast variant of the NUC 12 series will be the successor to the current NUC 11. The PC will have two primary components: the Alder Lake hybrid architecture and the DG2 internal GPU option with Xe-HPG architecture.

The NUC 12 “Serpent Canyon” series will be available in three distinct configurations, with the top-of-the-line model featuring an Intel Core i7 processor and up to 16 GB of dedicated graphics memory. This will be followed by a model with a Core i7 processor and 12 GB of VRAM, and ultimately a model with a Core i5 processor and an 8 GB memory GPU. The leaked Xe-HPG DG2 SKU specs confirm GPUs with 16, 12, and 8 GB of RAM, so that’s what we’ll get in these next-gen Intel mini-PCs.

Now, there’s no explicit mention of what these mini-PCs debuting next year will offer in terms of graphics, but based on what’s out there, it appears quite clear that the DG2 GPUs will be preferred. The rest of the specs appear to be DDR4 RAM in SO-DIMM configuration at 3,200 MHz with up to to 64 GB in dual-channel, confirming that Alder Lake would support DDR5 and DDR4 memory.

Apart from M.2 PCIe 4.0 and 3.0 SSDs, the NUC 12 will include front and back Thunderbolt 4 ports, an Intel 2.5 GbE LAN, and Intel Wireless, AX411 (Bluetooth 5 + WiFi 6), six USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, two USB 2.0 ports (with internal header), a 3.5mm audio jack, 7.1-channel digital audio, and HDMI, as well as an external 19V (330W) power supply.

Intel Alder Lake K

Finally, in terms of design Intel looks set to keep the skull logo it debuted with the Skull Canyon years ago, and will likewise feature configurable RGB lighting. A vertical stand will be included and the equipment will have a 3-year warranty, but at the moment the price and release date are unknown.

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