Intel Arc-powered NUC 12 mini PCs appear online – but don’t get excited yet

Intel NUC 12 mini PC laying on its side
(Image credit: Intel)

Intel’s NUC 12 Extreme, the incoming (and potentially power-packed) mini PC codenamed ‘Serpent Canyon’ featuring the company’s own Arc graphics cards, has been spotted listed in various incarnations at an online retailer.

You may recall that a month ago we were treated to leaked specs of the multiple configurations that the NUC 12 box of tricks should come in, and those rumors seem to be on the money – assuming these product listings which have popped up aren’t wrong.

As highlighted by VideoCardz (and originally flagged up by @momomo_us on Twitter), the US retailer Provantage has the NUC 12 Extreme listed in three main flavors, just as was leaked before. There’s a top-end unit with the Arc A770M GPU alongside 16GB of system RAM and a Core i7 Alder Lake CPU, with an Arc A730M plus 12GB version (that also boasts a Core i7 processor), with the third variant sporting the lesser Arc A550M graphics card and 8GB of system RAM (with a Core i5 chip).

As you may know, current NUC 11 gaming models employ Nvidia graphics cards, so it’s an important change for Intel to be able to switch to its own GPUs (though how this is actually working out in practice, well, we’ll come back to that momentarily).

Pricing is pitched at $1,040 (around £850, AU$1,490) for the base NUC 12 model, up to $1,310 (around £1,080, AU$1,880) for the flagship machine.

Analysis: A good sign, or should we firmly put caution first here?

Concerning the pricing, it’s too early to judge on that front. At this point, the supplied price tags could easily be placeholders, so for now they can be regarded as a useful ballpark, but nothing more.

While there’s no stock available yet, the NUC 12 models being listed at Provantage now suggest that the retailer expects to have products to sell sooner rather than later. Basically, there’s a possibility we might see stock coming through in a matter of weeks (rather than months).

So, are these retail listings popping up now a promising sign for those who might be keen to get a NUC 12 as a compact PC able to make a decent showing of playing games given those discrete graphics cards? Well, who knows ultimately – it wouldn’t be the first time retailers have jumped the gun, and put item listings up way too early.

Furthermore, there are still doubts hanging around like black clouds over the performance of the Arc GPUs and their drivers so far. And the Arc Alchemist desktop launch has been seriously delayed, and a very odd affair all-around, with GPUs only available in China thus far.

Indeed, we recently heard some pretty worrying things about desktop Arc graphics cards running into serious hardware flaws, something that Intel denies, but clearly there are gremlins in the works somewhere looking at the launch so far. Early drivers in dire need of refinement appear to be the cause of the most egregious issues right now, so hopefully we'll see improvements in that area.

In short, the delay of the NUCs is naturally wrapped up in the Arc delay, and the way things are currently looking, we’re not too confident that the next-gen mini PCs will be on sale anytime in the near future. We may, however, be wrong in that speculation, and here’s hoping that’s true – not just for ‘Serpent Canyon’ NUCs, but for broader availability of some affordable discrete Arc GPUs, too.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).