The NUC 9 Extreme Mini PC NUC9i9QNX is poised to revolutionize what we call compact gaming PCs, featuring Intel’s latest cutting edge technology in a modular component form that makes it easy to scale.
For those who have been in the field for a while the game, the new NUC 9 Extreme is an evolution of the Skull Canyon of 2016 and of Hades Canyon of 2018, which is why it has now acquired the name of Ghost Canyon.
Design and build
Modularity is Intel’s great asset for this new NUC team, because while other compact computers have parts and components welded on board, which limits expansion options, the new NUC 9 stands out with standard components easy to interchange.
In fact, it is even possible to upgrade the processor simply by replacing the entire Compute Element with a more modern version. The same goes for the GPU, which you can replace with future generations of graphics that come out on the market.
Intel had to resize its interior to accommodate the new Core i5, i7 and i9 processors, using a five-liter chassis for all. As can be seen in the photo, grids prevail everywhere with the skull graphic printed on its sides.
Visually, many might think that this is a conventional SFF (Small Form Factor) PC, but when you access it you notice that the parts are divided between modules instead of the typical motherboard with CPU. , RAM and graphics memory.
In fact, the Compute Element contains the CPU and its cooling, as well as slots to support M.2 SSD and RAM in SODIMM format, with a card for wireless connectivity and system ports. Everything is extracted in one unit.
The others are expansion cards with the option to install a maximum of two, as the chassis has one x16 type slot and one x4 type slot, but limited to cards no larger than 8 inches or larger than 2 locations. If you fill both slots, the x16 card will run at x8 speeds.
Finally, the connector allows you to install a third M.2 SSD if you choose to install it alongside the PCIe expansion cards. Please note that this particular slot only supports NVMe drives. If you add an SSD drive, any card installed in the x16 slot will go down to x8 speeds.
It highlights the fact that for any change you make indoors, you will hardly need any tools. The main motherboard, power supply and power cables are preinstalled in the chassis without the possibility of modification.
In essence, Ghost Canyon operates as a hybrid computer, on the one hand, retaining the benefits of having a customizable and expandable computer, and on the other hand, without losing the essence of compact minicomputers.
In fact, Intel provides the equipment with a sort of case like a backpack that serves as protection and makes it easier to carry the equipment as if it were a handbag. You can take it on the go without a monitor and peripherals.
Specifications and ports
Here, the Compute element is the one that has the greatest importance and the most weight. Inside there are two M.2 SSD slots that support NVMe and SATA storage drives. One supports drives that are 110mm in length and the other supports 80mm.
An additional M.2 NVMe SSD with a maximum length of 110mm can also be installed in the chassis, but if you want to mount a RAID 0 or RAID 1 configuration, you must install the two M.2 drives inside the chassis. the element of calculation. Compute Element also supports Optane memory.
All versions of Compute Element support up to 64GB DDR-2666MHz RAM, but only Core i7 and Core i9 variants support overclocked RAM through XMP profiles.
In the connectors section, on the back you will find four USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) Type A ports, 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, 2 Gigabit LAN ports, an HDMI 2.0 jack, and a 3.5mm audio and headphone jack.
The additional graphics with which the NUC 9 Extreme is configured give us additional video outputs such as DisplayPort, HDMI 2.1 and DVI, expanding the possibilities of using multi-monitor setups.
If we look at the front of the equipment, in order to facilitate access, we find next to the power button 2 additional USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) type A ports, a slot for an SDXC card with UHS-II support and another 3.5mm headphone jack.
At this point, it should be clarified that if you want to renew or extend a component of your NUC 9 Extreme equipment, you can use the compatibility tool Developed by Intel to see which products are approved.
For power and performance reasons, we assume that the NUC 9 Extreme used in our tests comes with a Core i9-9980HK processor, in the absence of Intel adding the ability to use the latest and greatest. modern Intel Core 11 Gen processors.
It is accompanied by 16 GB of RAM and a 380 GB SSD which is accompanied by a 2 TB secondary. The graphics section is addressed by the RTX 2070 graphics card from Nvidia, which boosts the power offered by the UHD Graphics chip. 630 integrated.
We used our regular tests with Cinebench, 3DMark, and PCMark to get benchmarks on how well the processor is able to handle the bursts of heavy CPU usage and compare it with other equipment on the market.
With the former, the values are 8820 in multicore mode and 1199 on the single-core side. In the extended PCMark 10 test, we got a score of 8580. You can see the graph where we compare it to other computers.
Obviously, it doesn’t deliver the same performance that you can get with a full-box gaming PC, where it’s possible to deploy a more advanced cooling system while safely overclocking the system.
You won’t be able to push the components to the max, but you will be able to get much closer to them than previous generations of Intel NUC equipment, which represents a huge leap forward for the brand in terms of performance and equipment volume. .
Neither do we know of any PC systems in this format that you can achieve such high performance in games with, which is a privilege to have engines that roar so loud inside in a format you can take with you. anywhere.
In fact, the figure of 8750 obtained in 3DMark allowed us to see how much better the performance is than gaming gear, like the ROG Zephyrus G14 from Asus or the Gigabyte Aorus 15.
Acoustics and cooling
Generally speaking, the solution is not particularly loud, although using advanced graphics forces the system to use fans to dissipate it, which ends up producing additional noise.
That’s the price to pay to pack so much power into such a compact size. This is made worse by the fact that the NUC 9 Extreme relies on massive grilles throughout its structure to optimize the temperature, which results in greater exterior noise.
This mini PC throws a lot of heat through these raised honeycomb-shaped side panels, which let air pass efficiently, to which must be added its two 80mm air extractors mounted on the top of the chassis.
The price of a team with a configuration of this type and cut the game it’s not really economical. Keep in mind that this is a system that works like a desktop computer, assembled with the most advanced components in a compact form factor.
Intel Compute modular components come with their price tag, being something dedicated from Intel, so the end price is above average. The configuration analyzed here with 32 GB of RAM comes to a price of $ 3,048.99 if you buy it through PcComponentes.
You can choose to reduce the price by eliminating the presence of the graphic Nvidia RTX 2070, with which you will save a figure close to 650 $. However, this will depend on the graphics power of the integrated Intel chip, thus losing all of its potential for games you run in 1080p quality.
It seems clear that although the Intel NUC 9 Extreme uses standard components to expand RAM or NVMe M.2 type SSD storage, it still has some reliance on Computer Element modules.
The more manufacturers join in supporting the new technology, it is likely that we will have more component alternatives to choose from, which means we will be able to access more competitive prices.
In front of a PC the game More conventional, presented in tower format, it has obvious advantages when it comes to having a much simpler and more achievable assembly for the average user that will not require advanced knowledge.
However, component extensions will not be as numerous as they can be on a large format tower computer.
The NUC 9 Extreme takes a giant leap towards the performance that a mini PC should deliver (until what use of the 11 Gen Intel Core 11 Gen processors can deliver), but it’s something that you will have to be willing to pay a high price.
- Intel Core i9-9980HK processor
- 16 GB RAM
- 380GB SSD + 2TB SSD Storage
- Nvidia RTX 2070 graphics
- Power 500 W
- Wifi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity
- Connectors: 6 USB 3.2 Gen2 ports, 2 Thunderbolt 3 USB C ports,
- MicroSD slot and 2 Gigabit Ethernet
- Video connectors: 2 HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI
- Windows 10 Home operating system
- Dimensions 238 x 216 x 96 mm (5 liters)
- Weight 4.1 kg