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HomeReviewsIntel Serpent Canyon NUC 12 review: Fast mini PC with Intel Core i7-12700H and Intel Arc A770M

Intel Serpent Canyon NUC 12 review: Fast mini PC with Intel Core i7-12700H and Intel Arc A770M


The Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit is a compact and powerful desktop PC. The CPU, as well as the GPU, are manufactured by Intel. This development proves to be very exciting for end customers – competition is great for business, after all.

The processor, an Intel Core i7-12700H, is a cutting-edge Alder Lake P model. Additionally, the PC features a dedicated graphics card with 16 GB VRAM, 32 GB RAM and an SSD with a storage space of 500 GB. According to its spec sheet, the Intel NUC 16 Enthusiast Kit comes as a barebone model or with 16 GB RAM and a 1-TB SSD.

The barebone version comes in at around $1,591. 99 and the version with RAM, SSD and an operating system costs slightly more at around $1,647. 64.

In this review, we have used a variety of compact desktop PCs with dedicated graphics cards to provide a comparison. The Minisforum Neptune Series HX99G looks to be its biggest rival. From the outside, the NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit looks very well made and sits securely when positioned horizontally or upright.

This is also thanks to the PC’s weight, coming in at 1. 97 kg. The optional foot, which can be attached when the PC is sat upright, adds another 443 grams to the scales – and the chunky 330-watt power adapter adds another 1.

3 kg. In practical use, we prefer to sit the NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit upright, so that fresh air can be sucked in without hindrance. Color-wise, the PC looks sleek – only when in use can you see a lit-up logo on the top of the device (in upright positioning on the left of the device).

The PC is also branded with a skull, which is a running stylistic feature of the NUC series. Alternatively, this can be swapped out for a snake head or other images. Intel has equipped the NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit with a multitude of external ports.

Even Thunderbolt has been included – twice, for that matter. Additionally, you can find six USB Type-A ports, which will very likely keep most users satisfied. There is an SD card reader on the front – a feature often left out by its competitors.

The distribution of the ports is well thought out in our eyes – in horizontal and upright use, you should have no problem routing cables. The built-in SD card reader offers USB-3 speed but is unable to take advantage of our AV Pro SD microSD 128 GB V60 test card. Both the Intel Dragon Canyon NUC and the Intel Beast Canyon NUC show what is possible with UHS-II support.

The Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit features a Killer AX1690i Wi-Fi 6E module from their own line of production. Using the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000 as a test router, we measured fast and consistent transmission rates using 5 GHz and 6 GHz connections. For faster data transmission, you can also make use of the LAN socket, which supports up to 2.

5 Gbit/s. Next to the mini PC itself, Intel also include a foot, which can be attached to the PC when it is stood upright. Aside from this, there is also a 330-watt power adapter and additional stencils, which can be used to customize the lit-up logo on the top of the device.

It is only partially possible to carry out maintenance on the Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit – at least when it comes to cleaning the fans. The top can be removed quite easily, as well as the additional covers used for heat dissipation of the built-in SSD. Unfortunately, the device has to be further taken apart if you want to clean the fans.

In our test, we refrained from doing so. The built-in components such as RAM and SSD can be replaced or upgraded easily. In our case, the Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit has space for two further SSDs with form factor M.

2-2280. The Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit is fitted with an Intel Core i7-12700H and an Intel Arc A770M – a dedicated graphics card also produced by Intel. They don’t offer alternative fittings such as other SoCs or GPU options.

We ran all performance tests using the energy profile “balanced”. We didn’t change the CPU’s performance – instead, we left it in auto mode in accordance with the BIOS settings. The Intel Core i7-12700H is an up-to-date processor with 14 cores and 20 threads.

The 6 P-cores can run at up to 4. 7 GHz under load. At maximum performance, its Alder Lake chip is supplied with up to 100 watts – however, due to high temperatures, this can only be sustained for a short period of time.

Even so, the performance rating of the CPU benchmark scores slightly above average. the Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit can decide for itself who wins in its battle against the Minisforum Neptune Series HX99G . Thanks to its higher number of cores, the Intel Core i7-12700H provides better CPU performance than the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX .

However, the difference in performance is hardly noticeable. You can find more processor benchmarks here . After its third run-through, the Intel Core i7-12700H delivered a very stable performance in the Cinebench R15 continuous loop.

Its drop in performance of only 200 points compared to its first run-through is quite low. We saw a much bigger performance drop in the Intel Dragon Canyon NUC . The Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit is firmly positioned in second place in comparison, having achieved 2.

410 points. In the synthetic system tests, the Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit weakened slightly. Its good CPU performance just wasn’t enough to achieve a good result in the PCMark 10 test.

In the Crossmark and RAM tests, our test sample performed much better again. As soon as we opened multiple browser tabs using Edge, we could see higher latencies. When playing 4K YouTube videos, the Intel Arc A770M was used at roughly 30 per cent capacity.

The Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit is fitted with Kingston’s extremely fast NVMe SSD. Although, the Kingston Fury Renegade only offers 500 GB storage, which is filled quickly if two or three larger games are installed. However, its performance is definitely impressive.

None of its competitors can keep up by a mile when it comes to this. At roughly 100 MB/s, we can see great results in the 4K read values, which positively affect loading lots of small files. In addition to this, Intel have mastered cooling the SSD, which you can see looking at the continuous read values.

Some critiques regarding storage can be forgiven since the Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit can be fitted with up to three SSDs in M. 2-2280 format. Take a look at our comparison table to see more comparisons and benchmarks.

The Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit’s 3D performance is provided by the Intel Arc A770M and the iGPU Intel Iris Xe, which lightens the load on the SoC when running in 2D. The dedicated Intel Arc A770M makes this a new model which we previously haven’t seen very often in our test facilities. Although Intel have provided good graphics solutions for decades already, this is different when it comes to dedicated graphics cards.

Our test sample performed well during the synthetic tests and was able to keep up with its competitors – with the competitors sometimes even losing out. At the same time, the Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit had to admit defeat when it came to the professional render tests. Although, during the 3DMark test it outperformed the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 laptop .

Plus, the Intel Arc A770M is able to make use of its own VRAM with 16 GB GDDR6 – its competitors often only have 8 GB. the Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit does an easy job of outperforming its main competitor – the Minisforum Neptune Series HX99G, which only has one AMD Radeon RX 6600M . Depending on the test, the Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit delivered 15-30 per cent better performance.

For more details on the Intel Arc A770M, take a look at our GPU page. You can find more comparisons and benchmarks in our G PU comparison table. One problem which the Intel Arc A770M has becomes clear when looking at its gaming performance: Many games were unable to reach the performance levels expected from a graphics card like this.

Its results were poor compared with the synthetic test results, where its GPU proved to be faster than an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 laptop . We suspect the main problem not to be a lack of optimal game support. The driver is also a main point of criticism here, which Intel need to address to improve their graphics card’s performance.

After the launch of its desktop counterpart last year, there was also a lot of disillusionment – but bit by bit, Intel put a lot of work in to get these problems under control. We hope that future driver optimizations will provide better results for new games. The difference in performance between the individual games is quite high at times.

In F1 2021 and Metro Exodus we saw good frame rate results, whereas the Intel Arc A770M struggled with The Witcher 3 and GTA V. At 1,080p, most of the games we tested can be played smoothly by the Intel Arc A770M. The Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit is cooled by a combination of heat pipes and two fans, which lead heat away from the case effectively.

In practical use, it works quite well – although it must be noted that its competitors do slightly better on average. At no load, the system almost always ran quietly and was almost silent at a mere 32 dB(A). Under load during our stress test, its noise emissions rose to 44.

5 dB(A) – which was a much more noticeable volume. The Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit’s case temperatures were unremarkable, which means that heat is quickly and effectively led away from the case and there is no heat build-up. However, under load, the temperatures reached up to 97 °C.

In comparison, the Intel Arc A770M ‘s temperatures peaked at 76 °C. The GPU was able to run at full performance the whole time. In all things power consumption, the Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit simply can’t keep up with its competitors.

Especially at no load, we saw a considerably higher consumption. We measured a peak of 271 watts, which we didn’t see with any of the other mini PCs. Even so, the large 330-watt power adapter always provides an adequate power supply to the device.

The Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit is an interesting device with a fast Intel Core i7-12700H , which showed great performance in our tests. When it comes to its Intel Arc A770M, we are still torn. At first glance, the dedicated graphics card’s performance is quite good and can even be compared to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 laptop – but even so, more and more problems became clear during our game tests.

In the past, Intel have put lots of effort into developing their drivers and have definitely taken a step in the right direction. The graphics card’s performance, alongside that of the driver from 28th February 2023, just isn’t quite there yet. Oftentimes it even falls quite far behind.

The look of the Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit is a matter of personal opinion – not everyone likes a lit-up skull. However, this can be remedied by the fact that you can customize the logo yourself. As expected from Intel, the overall build quality of the device is great.

The Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit is a stylish mini PC with a fast Intel Core i7-12700H. The Intel Arc A770M offers a solid base performance and lots of VRAM. Nevertheless, it doesn’t quite live up to our expectations.

We expected a bit more from its built-in cooling system, which had great potential to cool the device’s components. Nonetheless, we weren’t enamored by its noise emissions at high load. Here, the Minisforum Neptune Series HX99G provides a much quieter experience.

Additionally, Intel need to work on their drivers’ GPU performance. Here, AMD and Nvidia still take the lead. A positive feature which deserves recognition is the 16-GB VRAM, which isn’t seen often with any of its competitors.

Furthermore, the Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit features a multitude of external ports, including Thunderbolt. This makes the mini PC future proof and provides lots of opportunity for expansion. The barebone version of the Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast Kit can be purchased on Amazon for $1,591.

99. The version with 16 GB DDR4 RAM and 1 TB SSD retails for $1,647. 64.


From: notebookcheck

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