Intel NUC 11 Extreme ‘Beast Canyon’ could be the console killer of our dreams

(Image credit: Intel)

Intel has released its new NUC 11 extreme ‘Beast Canyon’ mini PC equipped with the latest 11th gen Intel Core processors, and now supports full-length desktop graphics cards, which means this small form factor PC is more powerful than ever before.

Intel’s NUC 11 releases with three basic configurations with differing types of Intel 11th gen core processors installed. Two configurations offer eight-core and 16 thread processors, the Intel Core i9-11900KB and the Core i7-11700B. The i9-11900KB is the only processor the NUC 11 extreme comes with that can be overclocked. The cheapest configuration features a six-core Intel Core i5-11400H.

The new larger eight-liter chassis has allowed Intel to equip the NUC 11 with a single PCIe 4.0 x16 expansion slot, and there’s now enough room for full-size graphics cards. Upgrading last year’s NUC 9 extreme 500W power supply to a 650W power supply, the NUC 11 extreme now can support powerful graphics cards up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080. None of NUC 11’s basic configurations feature a dedicated graphics card, however, the Nvidia GeForce 3060 Ti or RTX 3070 are available as extra configurations for an additional cost. Intel has added an x4 card slot supporting additional features and performance.

Wccftech benchmarked the Beast Canyon configured with a Core i9-11900KB processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, 16GB DDR4 RAM, and found almost no difference between it and standard, larger, gaming PC.

Analysis: Is this the mini PC’s time to shine?

Having the same amount of power as a desktop PC in a smaller form factor should entice consumers to finally consider mini PCs as an alternative to games consoles.

Mini PCs have struggled to gain a large fanbase, usually due to high prices and lower specifications compared to standard PCs. This has meant that small form factor computers have maintained a niche spot in the PC market, and had little success competing with home consoles. Valve’s failed Steam Machines come to mind.

However, mini PCs are increasingly a suitable alternative for PC gamers who want a console-like device for TV gaming instead of getting a PS5 or Xbox Series X

The NUC 11 certainly blows the new consoles out of the water when it comes to specs, even before you add a graphics card. It comes equipped with 8GB DDR4 RAM (expandable to 64GB). It also includes four M.2 SSD slots with a 256GB NVMe SSD preinstalled. Configurations of the Beast Canyon NUC with the Core i9-11900KB start at $1,599/ £1149 (around AU$2,000), with the Core i7-11700B prices starting at $1,399/ £999 (around AU$1,900) and the Core i5-11400H prices start at $1,299 (around £945 / AU$1,760), but that appears to have already sold out.

Jamel Smith

Jamel authors his own blog delving into politics, Black culture, and other important issues. He also dabbles into the realm of TikTok. He is currently suffering from fatigue due to playing Demon Souls.