A user on the forums of Chinese tech giant Baidu posted a clear endorsement of the next-generation Intel NUC mini PCs, including a detailed hardware breakdown (note that the page linked there is in Chinese).
Naturally, the NUC 12 – codenamed ‘Serpent Canyon’, after the ‘Phantom Canyon’ NUC 11 – will use a new 12th-generation Alder Lake i7-12700H processor from Intel, an upgrade from the i7-1165G7 in its predecessor . This alone is a major upgrade, but what’s more interesting is the graphics card.
While the previous NUC 11 models all used Nvidia GeForce GPUs (until the RTX 3080 found in the console killing NUC 11 Extreme), the NUC 12 would use Intel’s own Arc A770M laptop GPU instead. With 32 Xe cores and 16 GB of video memory, the A770M is currently the highest specification graphics card in Intel’s Arc mobile lineup and is already appearing elsewhere in gaming laptops†
While we don’t know exactly how well the A770M performs yet, expectations place it in the same performance range as Nvidia’s RTX 3060 Ti – in other words, a good choice for 1080p gaming. There is no news yet on how much the NUC 12 will cost, nor a release date, although the Baidu forum user does claim it will be “available soon.”
The Intel NUC series are small form factor PCs that can be used for a variety of purposes, primarily for use in corporate and educational environments where there is no room for a full-size desktop. However, some NUCs are designed with gaming in mind, and this new model seems to fit that bill.
Analysis: Is China the Stage for the Beginning of a GPU War?
This may have been an inevitable move by Intel as its Arc graphics cards finally hit the market (albeit only in China so far). While Intel might realistically be chasing its CPU competitor AMD, Nvidia still has the bulk of the discrete GPU market, so it wouldn’t make sense for Intel to continue using a major competitor’s hardware in its products.
Intel’s laser focus on the Chinese market for the new Arc GPUs was interesting and made the manufacturer’s goals quite clear. It seems very likely that Intel isn’t aiming to challenge Nvidia’s dominance of the high-end graphics card arena, but rather to beat AMD on the more affordable side of the market.
Chinese consumers (and the Asian market as a whole) are more interested in budget GPUs, especially given the prevalence of Internet cafes in that part of the world. Still, Intel’s rollout of the new Arc cards hasn’t exactly gone smoothly. High initial prices on the Arc A380 desktop and faltering initial performance figures of the Arc A7 cards have painted a disturbed picture of Intel’s long-awaited return to the GPU market.
We reached out to Intel for comment and our suspicions were confirmed that the Chinese market is the first to be attacked due to the prevalence of budget GPUs there. Intel also added that they plan to “scale Arc A-series 3 graphics products with our partners worldwide in the coming weeks,” noting that the Arc rollout was heavily impacted by “software readiness delays.” and COVID-19 lockdowns.