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Game

Sega Genesis Mini 2 stock will be extremely limited in the US

Sega fans who plan to buy the Genesis Mini 2 will need to import the retro console from Japan. What’s more, the company estimates it will have approximately one-tenth of the stock that it had during the Genesis Mini launch in 2019 to sell to US and European consumers. Sega blamed the situation on the ongoing global semiconductor shortage.

A Sega spokesperson told Polygon the company had initially planned to release the Genesis Mini 2 only in Japan, but that by “using Amazon’s ‘Japan Store’ system, we found that at least a small number of units could be sold via Amazon.com, so a portion was allocated to make the North American version.” With $22 shipping from the country, US consumers can expect to pay about $125 to import the retro console once it’s available on October 27th.

That’s a hefty price hike considering the original Genesis Mini launched at a more affordable $80. The new console will feature over 50 titles, including Sonic CD, Virtua Racing, OutRun, Shining Force CD and Fantasy Zone. Judging by the packaging, it will also come with a six-button controller. One of the few complaints we had with the original was that it came with a cramped three-button gamepad.

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Game

Sega’s Genesis Mini 2 hits North America on October 27th

Sega has announced it’s bringing the Genesis Mini 2 to North America on October 27th. The company previously said its latest retro console will go on sale in Japan on the same day (though it’s called the Mega Drive Mini 2 there). 

The system follows the Genesis Mini, which Sega released in 2019. The latest edition has a fresh library of more than 50 games, including Sega CD titles. The lineup features the likes of Sonic CD, Virtua Racing, OutRun, Shining Force CD and Fantasy Zone (a Master System and arcade game that was never released on Genesis). Sega is promising a previously unreleased game as well. More than half of the games have yet to be revealed.

One of our few complaints with the Genesis Mini in our review was that it came with a three-button controller. If the packaging is anything to go by, it seems you’ll get a six-button controller this time around.

Pre-orders are open now. The Genesis Mini 2 is only available from Amazon, and it costs $103.80 plus a $22 delivery fee in the US. The console will be shipped over from Japan. 

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Computing

Get an awesome mini 3D printer with Best Buy’s Deal of the Day

Creativity strikes when it strikes, and so does a great deal. If you’re looking for an affordable outlet for your creative energy, 3D printer deals may have just what you need on offer. Best Buy’s current Deal of the Day is a $20 discount on the da Vinci Mini W+ 3D printer, which brings its price down from $220 to $200. Free shipping is available, as is in-store pickup in many locations. This is a time-sensitive deal, however, and the clock is counting down, so click over to Best Buy now to claim it while you can.

When it comes to shopping for the best 3D printers, you want to keep an eye out for something that’s fast, accurate, and easy to use. The XYZprinting da Vinci Mini W+ 3D printer ticks all of those checkboxes. It offers fast printing speed, only taking about one minute to heat up the nozzle, and despite how fast it’s able to print, it also maintains consistent accuracy, printing at a 200-micron resolution. Its printing dimensions are 5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9 inches, allowing you to print a wide variety of objects at a great size.

When it comes to putting the da Vinci Mini W+ 3D printer to use, it’s an intuitive experience with a short learning curve, and it comes with the newest user interface, which makes it easy to start with your first 3D printing project. It’s compatible with almost any device, whether it be a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or PC, and it’s also compatible with a variety of materials, making it as versatile as it is fun. It connects to devices via USB or over Wi-Fi, and its small footprint makes it a cool piece of creative tech that can await use on the corner of your desk or tucked away in a drawer or closet.

The XYZprinting da Vinci Mini W+ 3D printer is a great creative outlet, and it’s just $200 at Best Buy right now. That’s a savings of $20 from its regular price of $220, and free shipping is included as well. This is a time-sensitive deal, so click over to Best Buy now to bring home a new 3D printer.

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Computing

Mac Mini 2022: new design, better performance, and more

At WWDC 2022, Apple announced the M2 chip that would power the 13-inch MacBook Pro and redesigned MacBook Air. However, the Mac Mini was notably absent from this announcement and the event at large. Apple may still release the M2 Mac Mini, but it’s hard to tell when.

If you’re looking to get into Apple’s Mac ecosystem, the superb Mac Mini is one of the best-value ways to do it. After 2020’s M1 model, expectations are high for how Apple could follow up with new chips and new features, including a high-end model for more demanding users.

We’ve put together this roundup with as many details on the next Mac Mini as we can find. Simply read on to see what Apple has planned for its smallest desktop Mac.

Release date

Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

For a while, there were rumors of two Mac Minis being in the works, with one high-end model and one entry-level version said to be coming. After Apple’s Peak Performance event in March, it became apparent that the rumored high-end Mac Mini was almost certainly the Mac Studio, which essentially looks like several Mac Minis stacked on top of each other.

With that out of the way, we’re still waiting on updates to the main Mac Mini line. Not only has the M1 Mac Mini not been updated since late 2020, but Apple is still selling an Intel-based Mac Mini on its website, despite promising to have almost completed its transition to its own Apple Silicon chips. That means both versions could be updated sooner rather than later.

But when specifically can we expect these changes? Well, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 6th was a good bet, but the Mac Mini didn’t make an appearance. However, that doesn’t mean that the M2 Mac Mini isn’t coming out. It just didn’t launch at the same time as the new MacBooks.

A new Mac Mini is still on the way, and that idea is bolstered by a discovery made by iOS developer Steve Troughton-Smith, who unearthed an interesting clue in firmware for Apple’s Studio Display monitor. The firmware made mention of an as-yet-unreleased Mac dubbed “Macmini10,1,” which Troughton-Smith believes could be referring to an M2 Mac Mini. Having it mentioned in official firmware is a strong indication that Apple is almost ready to deploy the Mac, and even with WWDC out of the way, it could still release in 2022.

As for the high-end Mac Mini that is set to replace the Intel-based version, the timing of this model is less certain. We’ll have to wait and see.

Price

The latest Mac Mini, sitting under a PC monitor.

Now for the price. The current M1 Mac Mini starts at $699, with a second model costing $899. The Intel version starts at $1,099, meanwhile. That pricing structure makes sense, so we wouldn’t be surprised if Apple stuck with it for the new models.

The only caveat is that there are rumors swirling that the forthcoming high-end Mac Mini will get a redesigned chassis. When Apple has done this in the past, it has sometimes come with a price increase — see the 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro for a recent example — so we could see a similar situation hit the Mac Mini.

A familiar design?

Renders of the next Mac Mini, complete with a new design.

As we outlined above, one rumored Mac Mini — complete with a redesigned chassis — turned out to be the Mac Studio. However, there is another rumor that has not yet been disproved that suggests the Mac Mini will still get a new look.

In May 2021, leaker Jon Prosser released renders depicting the next Mac Mini with a much slimmer design than its current iteration (largely due to the more power-efficient Apple Silicon chip inside), with an aluminum body topped with a plexiglass-like surface. He also asserted Apple has been experimenting with different color options, but whether this will make it to the finished product is unknown.

As well as that, in August 2021, Mark Gurman stated in his Power On newsletter that the Mac Mini “will have an updated design and more ports than the current model.” However, he did not go into specifics regarding the shape and size of the upcoming device.

The slimmed-down design attested by Prosser makes sense. With the advent of the M1 chip, Apple has been able to design its computers around the chip’s greater efficiency compared to Intel processors by cutting their bulk. We’ve already seen the results in the totally overhauled 24-inch iMac, which was reduced to a minuscule 11.5mm in thickness, and the Mac Mini could be next to get this treatment.

It’s also believable for another reason. The Mac Mini is a popular computer in server farms thanks to its small size, which is one reason we doubted the rumored “multi-stack” Mac was actually a Mac Mini (and in the end, it was released under the Mac Studio name instead). If Apple thins down the Mac Mini’s chassis, it will be good news for server farms, which will potentially be able to squeeze even more of the machines onto their racks.

All that said, there was a dissenting voice in the form of well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a tweet from March 2022, Kuo explained that “the new Mac Mini in 2023 will likely remain the same form factor design,” and suggested that Apple will not go for a slimmed-down appearance. Kuo accurately predicted that there will be no new Mac Mini at WWDC 2022 since he said 2023 will see the next new Mac Mini.

Even better performance

The Apple Mac Mini 2018 under a monitor with two external speakers.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

We can’t be certain of the next Mac Mini’s performance for one big reason: It’s not yet clear what chip it will use. Right now, rumors suggest it could be either the as-yet-unreleased M2 chip or the M1 Pro.

Right now, the M2 seems to be making the stronger case, especially since the new M2 MacBook Air launched at WWDC (along with hardware refresh for the 13-inch MacBook Pro). It would seem odd for Apple to launch an M2 Mac — its next generation of chip architecture — then also launch a previous-generation M1 Pro Mac Mini alongside it. Such a move could potentially make the Mac Mini instantly feel out of date. For that reason, an M2 Mac Mini feels much more likely, with an M2 Pro Mac Mini perhaps following later in 2022 or 2023.

So if the M2 is the most probable chip we’ll see inside the next Mac Mini, what kind of performance can we expect?  Well, if Apple’s numbers from WWDC can be believed, the M2 will be nearly 20% faster than the M1. That’s a sizeable performance bump, although it maintains the same number of cores as the last generation. Early speculation predicted that the M2 would have more cores than the M1, which ended up not being the case.

When we eventually get a high-end Mac Mini, its M2 Pro chip (assuming that’s what it comes with) will be a noticeable upgrade over the M2. The current M1 Pro and M1 Max have various options, with memory ranging from 16GB to 64GB. They also include the following core options:

  • M1 Pro with eight-core CPU and 14-core GPU
  • M1 Pro with 10-core CPU and 14-core GPU
  • M1 Pro with 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU
  • M1 Max with 10-core CPU and 24-core GPU
  • M1 Max with 10-core CPU and 32-core GPU

The M2 Pro and M2 Max (if the Mac Mini gets it) are likely to upgrade those core counts, although it’s too early to say what the complete lineup might look like. However, Mark Gurman has stated Apple is working on a 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 Pro chip featuring 12 CPU cores and 38 GPU cores. A previous newsletter from Gurman had also suggested Apple was planning an M2 Pro chip with 12 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores. It’s possible that one or both of these will be offered inside the upcoming Mac Mini.

Note that both Gurman and 9to5Mac have separately claimed that Apple is testing an M2 Pro Mac Mini but have not mentioned an M2 Max version, so we’re skeptical that the Mac Mini will get that chip at this stage.

Features: More ports and monitor support

The port selection in the rear of a Mac Mini.

The new chips won’t just mean more power — they will also affect the features you can expect to find in the upcoming Mac Mini. That’s because they control a number of things beyond simply raw performance, such as the port selection and external monitor support.

While the M1 Mac Mini was a step up over its Intel predecessor in almost every way, it had one notable drawback: Instead of the four Thunderbolt ports the Intel model offered, the M1 edition only came with two. The most likely explanation is that that was a limitation imposed by the chip itself.

There are no such worries on Macs with M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, for example, offer three Thunderbolt ports compared to the two found on the M1 MacBook Pro. And according to both Mark Gurman and Jon Prosser, the Mac Mini will also get a more generous port selection.

While Gurman has been coy about the exact port arrangement, Prosser has laid his cards on the table: Four Thunderbolt/USB-C ports, two USB-A slots, one Ethernet port, and one HDMI port is his prediction, and that matches the offering on the current Intel-based model. There could also be a MagSafe-style power adapter like the one on the 24-inch iMac, Prosser believes.

The M1 Pro and M1 Max chips could fix another annoyance linked to the M1 chip: The poor support for external monitors. Every M1 Mac is limited to one external display (barring the Mac Mini itself, but that’s only thanks to its HDMI port). That’s something we lamented in our M1 MacBook Air review, and it isn’t really good enough these days.

Luckily, the latest Apple chips have remedied this situation. The M1 Pro allows up to two 6K displays to be attached to the 2021 MacBook Pro, while the M1 Max can support up to four monitors (three 6K and one 4K). With the Mac Studio, meanwhile, you can attach up to five external displays (four 6K and one 4K). The Mac Mini doesn’t come with its own display, so external monitor support is crucial — and the more you can connect, the better.

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Game

Sega’s Mega Drive Mini 2 includes Sega CD games

is set to relive some of its past glories once again with another retro console. The company has announced the . While the system has only been confirmed for Japan for now, it seems likely Sega will bring it to other markets as well. If and when it comes to the US, it’ll probably be called the Genesis Mini 2.

The Mega Drive Mini 2 will include Sega CD games in its of 50 titles. The full list hasn’t been revealed, but it includes , Virtua Racing and Shining Force CD. It also features , which was never released on Mega Drive/Genesis — it was an arcade title that arrived on Master System. It’s worth noting the library may be different in other countries.

Sega says all of the games have been faithfully reproduced. You’ll be able to save your progress at any point too.

The company will release the Mega Drive Mini 2 in Japan on October 27th. It will cost ¥9,980 (around $75). Sega is also making a cosmetic attachment that looks like an adorably smaller version of the Sega CD accessory. Using an included spacer, you can mount the original Mega Drive Mini, which is slightly larger than its successor, as well. The Sega CD attachment will cost ¥4,500 (roughly $37).

We were big fans of the , which Sega released in 2019. It had a solid selection of games that were adeptly emulated and USB ports that allowed users to plug in alternate controllers. Fingers crossed Sega includes the six-button version of its controller when it inevitably offers the Mega Drive Mini 2 outside of Japan.

Sega Mega Drive Mini 2

Sega

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Game

GameSir T4 Mini Game Controller Review

Gaming saw a big uptick in the past two years, partly thanks to new consoles and partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a great time not just for games and consoles but also for gaming accessories that diversify the market with more options, particularly when it comes to input controls like keyboards, mice, and, of course, controllers. With many people going mobile again, the need for more portable accessories has also become more apparent. The GameSir T4 Mini is part of that new generation of controllers that has mobility at its core, and we take it for a spin to check whether or not it makes some compromises along the way to achieve its goals.

Design

The GameSir T4 Mini, as the name suggests, is a smaller version of the gamepad maker’s GameSir T4 Pro, which, in turn, is designed to be an alternative to Nintendo’s first-party Switch Pro controller. Looks can be deceiving, as they say, and the T4 Mini actually packs quite a lot inside and then some. In fact, it even surpasses its older Pro sibling in at least one aspect.

That smaller size has a lot of benefits with very few drawbacks. It’s easy to slip into a bag or even into a large pocket, making it convenient to take with you anywhere you go, especially if you’re using it with a smartphone. It will definitely be a hit with kids or people with smaller hands, but it’s comfortable to hold and use for most people.

Its compactness will have some downsides, of course, especially for those with large hands. The plastic material that helps keep it light might scare off some gamers, but it’s quite sturdy and durable in practice. The biggest design consideration you might want to keep in mind is the lack of “wings” or extended grips, something that brings confidence in some gamers but doesn’t do much for others.

The most noteworthy part of the GameSir T4 Mini’s design, at least apart from its small size, is its translucent black body, which not only gives a glimpse of its innards but also lets the LED lights shine through. These lights can be configured to some extent or turned off completely to preserve the battery. It’s not an essential feature, especially since you’ll be relying mostly on muscle memory anyway, but it’s still a nice touch that could appeal to gamers who have a penchant for such lighting.

Connection and Controls

Although advertised as a multi-platform game controller, the GameSir T4 Mini is clearly designed with the Nintendo Switch in mind. The layout of buttons, sticks, and D-pad follows that of the Joy-cons, and the arrangement of the A, B, X, and Y buttons is the exact opposite of the Xbox layout. There are also special buttons for Home, Screenshot, Plus (+), and Minus (-) that only make sense on a Nintendo Switch.

Of course, all those buttons can be used with any compatible device, which officially includes the Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS, and PCs. The T4 Mini mainly connects via Bluetooth, but it can also connect to PCs with a USB-C cable. There is no compatibility with any of the other consoles, whether Xbox or PlayStation.

Despite its size, the GameSir T4 Mini’s buttons offer excellent travel and have enough stiffness in them for responsiveness but aren’t too clicky or sticky. The analog joysticks feel very comfortable, especially with the depression in the middle for your thumb. The triggers and D-pad felt they could have had more depth, though, but aren’t huge deal-breakers.

For those who constantly fret about breaking the four main buttons because of some repeated mashing, the T4 Mini thankfully offers that familiar but still uncommon Turbo button. You can set that mode for a single button or for a set of buttons, and it can mean the difference between victory and defeat for some games.

Performance and Battery

As far as the gaming experience goes, the GameSir T4 Mini is pretty much on par with more expensive game controllers. It boasts of a 6-axis gyro that will let you drive more intuitively in some Switch games, though not on other platforms. GameSir also boasts of the controller’s asymmetric dual motors that might feel slightly stronger compared to other controllers, probably because of its diminutive size.

That vibration feedback is something you might want to keep in mind when taking the T4 Mini out with you, as it will naturally affect battery life. The LED lighting, while fancy, can also have a drastic impact on how long you’ll be able to use the controller. GameSir advertises an average of 10 hours, and that’s more or less what we got in our testing.

That’s not much if you compare it with the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller’s 40 hours, but that’s also a much larger controller. You’ll only need three hours to fully charge the controller, which is probably a good opportunity to take a break, especially if you’ve been gaming for a long period of time. The controller automatically turns off after 15 minutes of idling, though, just to be on the safe side.

Wrap-up

It’s almost impossible to find the perfect game controller because gaming behavior and needs can vary highly between individuals. Some prefer a bigger controller to confidently hold, while others prioritize portability instead. Many want all the bells and whistles that money can buy but might not have enough resources to actually buy something like that.

The GameSir T4 Mini Multi-Platform Game Controller, however, almost comes close to perfection, especially for those with smaller or average hands. It doesn’t have many downsides to its size, other than having to fit a smaller battery, but that might actually be a good thing that will force gamers to take a breather once in a while. And at only $35.99, it’s definitely a steal for anyone who likes to take their game anywhere, whether on a Nintendo Switch or on a phone.

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Computing

Razer Announces All-White Pro Type Ultra and Pro Click Mini

Razer isn’t just a gaming brand anymore — the company is expanding its office and work-friendly peripherals with a series of new updates. Razer announced the new Pro Click Mini wireless mouse, Pro Type Ultra wireless keyboard, and Pro Glide XXL mouse mat as part of its new Razer Pro productivity suite, designed for the new work-from-home era.

The new keyboard and mouse come with features you’d expect from the best around, including long battery life and solid connections to your PC. However, it also features dampened switches to reduce noise while typing, which is a useful feature that’s becoming increasingly important as families have to work, study, and play together in confined spaces.

Even HP is marketing its latest Envy Inspire printers with noise reduction technology as a pandemic-borne necessity.

According to Razer, the new Pro Type Ultra wireless keyboard also comes with silent mechanical switches, which can minimize distraction if you’re sharing a working or gaming space with other family members.

“Refined and improved through community feedback, the Razer Pro Type Ultra is the next generation of Razer’s Pro series of keyboards, bringing a quieter, more luxurious typing experience to the office space,” the company said of its latest workspace inspired keyboard. “With silent mechanical switches, rated for up to 80 million presses, the keycaps feature a soft-touch coating for all-day typing comfort”

For added ergonomics, the keyboard comes with a plush leatherette wrist rest, which was one of our biggest complaints about the original Razer Pro Type keyboard. Other features include the ability to pair with and switch easily between four different devices, 200 hours of battery life, and compatibility with Razer’s 2.4GHz Productivity Dongle for lag-free use or for use in areas with congested wireless signals.

“The new Pro range features multi-device wireless connectivity, extended battery life, and a quieter sound profile,” Razer said of its new productivity products. “Coupled with Razer’s expertise in producing high-performance, durable, ergonomic hardware, the new Pro range delivers the ideal work, home office, or mobile peripherals for today’s flexible workspace locations.”

Razer's new Pro Type keyboard comes with dampened switches for silent typing.

The Pro Click Mouse is designed to complement the keyboard. Like its sibling, the mouse can be paired with multiple devices simultaneously — up to three via Bluetooth — and can also work with the USB Productivity Dongle. It has silent tactile switches, which are becoming a common theme for work from home peripherals these days, and uses Razer’s advanced 5G optical sensor for accurate tracking and precise control alongside programmable buttons and a large scroll wheel.

“The new Razer HyperScroll wheel can switch between Free-Spin and Tactile scrolling modes for quick and easy navigation of large documents and webpages, while the 4-way tilt-click function allows for easy horizontal scrolling and movement,” the company said. “With an additional 7 fully programmable buttons for ease of use in multiple applications, the Pro Click Mini is a versatile, capable mouse, perfect for the demands of modern office work.”

If you need a mousepad to do work, the Razer Pro Glide XXL is a functional mouse mat — despite its unappealing name. With a surface area of 940 x 410mm and measuring 3mm thick, the Pro Glide XXL comes with features like “increased size for greater coverage,” a “textured micro-weave cloth surface” on top of “thick, high-density rubber foam” that’s cushioned “for long-term comfort,” and an “anti-slip rubber base.” These features make the mousepad even less safe for work than it already is.

Aside from the odd name, the good news is that all three productivity peripherals come in very neutral hues of white and silver, and Razer’s Chroma RGB backlight has been switched out for a more professionally-inspired white tone on the keyboard.

Both the wireless mouse and the mousepad are available starting today. The Pro Click Mini will sell for $79 while the Pro Glide XXL is listed at $29. The Razer Pro Type Ultra wireless keyboard will be arriving in the fourth quarter to select retailers and on Razer’s website and will be priced at $159 at launch.

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Game

You can preorder the Xbox Series X Mini Fridge on October 19th

As promised, Microsoft will start shipping its Xbox Series X Mini Fridge in time for the holidays. The company said the fridge costs $100 and pre-orders start on October 19th. It will ship in December.

The mini fridge has its roots in an image Xbox tweeted to show the scale of the Xbox Series X versus a full-sized fridge. Microsoft actually made a six-foot fridge last year to promote the launch of the console. Now, after a Twitter battle of the brands victory, a mini version of the fridge is something you’ll actually be able to buy.

Microsoft worked with merchandise manufacturer Ukonic! on the mini fridge, which has LEDs and a design to match the Xbox Series X. The small appliance can hold up to 12 cans of your favorite energy drink or another beverage. There’s some space in the door’s shelves for snacks too. A DC power adaptor is included, and there’s a USB port, which could come in handy for recharging your Xbox Wireless Controller.

The mini fridge will be available via Target in the US and Canada. Folks in the UK can buy it from Game for £90. The fridge will also ship in France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Netherlands and Poland at the outset. Microsoft plans to bring the Xbox Mini Fridge to more markets next year, though where and when depends on regulatory approvals and restrictions in each country.

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Computing

Intel NUC 11 Extreme Review: A True Mini Gaming PC

Intel Beast Canyon NUC 11 Extreme review: A true mini gaming PC

MSRP $1,180.00

“The NUC 11 Extreme is too expensive, but that still doesn’t hold it back.”

Pros

  • Stays quiet
  • Solid processor performance
  • Support for full-size graphics cards
  • Excellent connectivity

Cons

  • Too expensive
  • Larger than previous NUCs

There’s an empty space on my desk where my gaming PC used to live, now occupied by Intel’s NUC 11 Extreme, otherwise known as Beast Canyon. It’s a barebones kit of welcome compromises, balancing desktop-like performance with a form factor that’s smaller than a recent game console.

It’s too expensive, inconvenient to work with compared to a full-size machine, and slightly underpowered put up against a desktop chip. But I can’t stop using the NUC 11 Extreme. It’s a smartly designed PC that makes concessions only where necessary, and it’s fit to exist in a category all its own.

That doesn’t mean Beast Canyon is for everyone. It’s targeted at a very particular market — those with an affinity for tinkering that don’t mind paying up for interesting designs. That said, if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty (and you have a spare graphics card to put inside), the NUC 11 Extreme is excellent.

Design

The side of an Intel NUC 11 Extreme.

Intel first unveiled the NUC, or Next Unit of Computing, concept in 2012. Intel provides the bones of the PC, including the power supply, motherboard, and processor, and you bring everything else (including RAM, storage, and with recent NUCs, a graphics card). The heart of the PC is the compute element, which you can slot out like a graphics card.

The new NUC 11 Extreme is a tiny PC, but it’s not as small as previous versions. The 8-liter chassis measures 14.1 inches long, 7.1 inches high, and 4.7 inches wide. The NUC 9 Extreme is taller at 8.5 inches but much shorter and slightly less wide. It also doesn’t support full-size graphics cards as Beast Canyon does.

That’s the trade-off with Beast Canyon. It’s larger than previous NUCs and other mini PCs, but it supports a full-length graphics card. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, and I’m happy with the compromises Intel made. As I’ll get to in the upcoming sections, the NUC 11 Extreme still punches above its weight class despite the slightly larger size.

That’s clear when comparing it to other small form factor options. The Cooler Master MasterBox NR200P is one of the smaller mini ITX cases that supports a full-size GPU, and it’s still 10 liters larger than the NUC 11 Extreme. There are smaller NUC cases like the Razer Tomahawk, but that machine comes with an older compute element and at a premium over the NUC 11 Extreme.

The star of the show is a massive RGB skull on the front of the NUC 11, which joins ambient RGB strips lighting the bottom of the case. You can, thankfully, tweak and turn off the LEDs if you want. The bundled NUC Software Studio allows you to independently control the skull, as well as the front, right, and left LEDs.

Skull on the Intel NUC 11 Extreme.

It’s a decent suite, allowing you to set a solid color or set standard RGB modes like strobing or breathing. Also in the NUC Software Studio, you can monitor system temperature and usage, change your fan curve, and switch between processor performance modes.

Although the NUC Software Studio presents a decent list of options, it’s a little buggy. Jumping around the software is easy enough, but it would consistently hang for a second or two after I changed any setting. It’s not a deal-breaker, but the NUC Software Studio doesn’t feel great to use.

For my testing, I stayed on the Balanced fan mode to see the curve Intel intended. There’s a trio of 92mm fans under the top panel to keep everything cool, and they never got loud enough to bother me while testing (even in a Cinebench R23 loop). They make noise, but the NUC 11 Extreme is remarkably quiet given its size. While answering email or just hanging out online, the NUC 11 Extreme was silent.

Connectivity

Intel could have trimmed down on the number of ports with the NUC 11 Extreme, but it didn’t. As is the case with a lot of aspects of the kit, you’re giving up surprisingly little compared to a full-size desktop. You’re spoiled for port options with the NUC 11 Extreme, and in some ways, it goes beyond some full-size PCs.

Front ports on Intel NUC 11 Extreme.

Up front, you have quick access to two USB 3.1 ports, a headphone/microphone combo jack, and an SDXC card slot. That proved to be enough in my testing, though I missed a front panel USB-C connection. I often use a Samsung T5 external SSD to swap games between PCs, and it would’ve been nice to just throw it in front of the case.

Instead, I had to connect it in the back, but that wasn’t a problem. Even in this small of a size, Intel manages to cram six USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, 2.5G Ethernet, and two Thunderbolt 4 ports on the back of the case. The motherboard also includes an HDMI 2.0b output in case you want to use the integrated graphics.

Of course, the HDMI out isn’t all you have access to if you slot in a video card. It’s only there to provide the option for integrated graphics, so if you add a graphics card, you’ll have access to the ports that it has, too. In the case of the RTX 3060 inside my review unit, that included a single HDMI and three DisplayPort outputs.

Back ports on Intel NUC 11 Extreme.

Over the NUC 9 Extreme, this unit adds another two USB ports in the back and upgrades the Thunderbolt ports from Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 4. Even if you run out of ports — which is unlikely given the eight USB ports surrounding the case — you can always throw a Thunderbolt dock into the equation to expand your connectivity further.

For wireless connectivity, the NUC 11 Extreme includes Intel’s AX201 chip, which provides dual-band Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2.

Internals

Intel offers the NUC in two configurations: Either with a Core i7-11700B or Core i9-11900KB. As is the case with all NUCs, you’ll need to bring your own graphics card, SSD, RAM, and operating system. Everything else you need is already inside the compute element or the case. That includes a 650W 80+ Gold power supply and an Intel AX201 chip.

CPU Intel Core i9-11900KB or Intel Core i7-11700B
GPU Support for full-size, dual-slot GPU or Intel UHD 750
Memory Up to 64GB of dual-channel SO-DIMM DDR4
Storage Up to two PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs, up to two PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSDs
Power supply 650W 80+ Gold
USB ports Up to 12, eight included
Thunderbolt ports Two Thunderbolt 4
Networking 2.5G Ethernet, dual-band Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.2
Ports Headphone/microphone jack, SDXC reader, HDMI 2.0b

My review unit came kitted out with the Core i9-11900KB compute element, which is a beefed-up laptop chip that’s part of the 10nm Tiger Lake family. In short, you shouldn’t confuse it with the desktop Core i9-11900K, which is built using Intel’s 14nm process and requires over twice the power.

The Core i9-11900KB is a 65W chip, but it still comes with eight cores and 16 threads, and it can turbo up to 4.9GHz based on Intel’s specs. My chip never reached that speed during testing, but it got close at just above 4.8GHz. The slightly cheaper Core i7-11700B still comes with eight cores and 16 threads, but a slightly lower clock speed.

Both chips come with integrated graphics, but I was disappointed to find that they use Intel UHD graphics, not Iris Xe like many mobile Tiger Lake chips. As I’ll get to in a bit, you need a discrete GPU if you want any reasonable gaming performance out of Beast Canyon.

Otherwise the NUC 11 Extreme supports what you can bring to it. That includes up to 64GB of dual-channel DDR4 laptop memory (SO-DIMM), a dual-slot graphics card, and up to four M.2 SSDs, one of which you’ll need to install in the compute element.

Opening everything up is a breeze. There’s some nice attention to detail on Intel’s part here, including the tiny captive screws holding on the back plate, a handy door for unlatching the compute element, and an SSD slot on the bottom so you can quickly upgrade your storage.

Intel NUC 11 Extreme without a GPU installed.

Once you have the side panels off, the NUC 11 Extreme opens up to provide unprecedented access in this small of a form. The top panel, which holds three fans, flips up to give you clearance around all parts of the case. And there’s not a lot going on inside.

Most of the PC lives inside the compute element, so you’re left with a small, specially designed motherboard, the power supply, the compute element, and GPU if you have one installed. The NUC 11 Extreme has exactly what it needs, trimming the fat that often comes along with small builds.

It’s not without issues, though. The latch for the graphics card PCIe slot is almost impossible to reach with a card installed. I had to push the back end of a screwdriver between the GPU and the compute element to get it open, and you have to remove the GPU before getting at the compute element.

Support for full-size graphics cards should come with a big asterisk, as well. It’s true that you can slot a full-length, dual-slot GPU into the NUC 11 Extreme, but that’s it. That doesn’t take into account the extra modular power cables, either, which need to share the space with the tail end of the GPU.

The NUC 11 Extreme has exactly what it needs, trimming the fat that often comes along with small builds.

Dual-slot is the limit, though. If your cooler even protrudes slightly past the dual-slot mark, it won’t fit in the NUC 11 Extreme. Nvidia Founder’s Edition cards might pose an issue, too. The RTX 3080, for example, has a fan on both sides. One fan would be directly against the back side of the power supply in that case.

Overall, though, this is the most pleasant small form factor experience I’ve ever had. I have a few niggles with the graphics card slot and the extra cables, but those are easy to overlook with the clear attention Intel paid to the building experience. The NUC 11 Extreme continues to make a case for barebones, small form PCs.

The most disappointing part of the NUC 11 Extreme is that you can’t buy it complete. Adding RAM, an SSD, and Windows is easy enough, but Beast Canyon really shines with a GPU installed. And adding the price of an expensive graphics card on top of the already high price of the NUC 11 Extreme is a tough sell.

The premium makes sense, though. You can’t build anything quite like the NUC 11 Extreme with off-the-shelf parts. If you’re willing to shop around and have a mini ITX graphics card, though, there are options like the Velka 3 that are actually smaller than the NUC 11 Extreme.

Processor performance

Getting down to the raw power of Beast Canyon, it’s more powerful than I expected. The Core i9-11900KB isn’t quite on the level of a full desktop part, but it doesn’t need to be in this small of a package. There’s a small trade-off, but it’s much smaller than it should be considering the size of Beast Canyon.

I started testing with PCMark 10, which provides a nice overview of performance across a long list of tasks. The NUC 11 Extreme earned an overall score of 7,520, which is just slightly off the MSI Aegis RS 10 —  a mid-tower desktop packing a full-size Core i9-10900K. It handily beat the flagship Tiger Lake chip in the HP Elite Dragonfly Max, too, scoring nearly 3,000 more points.

Compute element in Intel NUC 11 Extreme.

PCMark 10 is demanding, too. The processor reached a maximum temperature of 93 degrees Celsius during the benchmark, but it never downclocked. Even when slammed, my i9-11900KB continued to boost slightly above 4.8GHz.

Cinebench R23 came next, which pushes processors to their limits by forcing them to render a complex 3D image. Here, the Core i9-11900KB earned a single-core score of 1,636 and a multi-core score of 11,424. The multi-core score is on the high end, though a desktop Core i9-10900K can still outpace it by about 30%. Any other Tiger Lake chip, however, doesn’t even come close.

The Core i9-11900KB actually beat the desktop Core i9-10900K in the single-core test by about 23%. Although a strong showing, Cinebench revealed some weaknesses of Intel’s design. The Core i9-11900KB peaked at its maximum operating temperature of 100 degrees Celsius — according to HWiNFO64 — before downclocking to 3.4GHz. Even with a solid cooling solution, the NUC 11 Extreme is susceptible to throttling when pushed to the limit.

GeekBench 5 isn’t nearly as demanding, and the NUC 11 Extreme once again showed its power. Similar to PCMark 10, the Core i9-11900KB beat the desktop Core i9-10900K in the single-core test and came in a close second in the multi-core one. It shot way ahead of the NUC 9 Extreme, too, beating the older unit by around 23%.

It’s a competent counterpoint to a desktop chip, and performs far above any other Tiger Lake offering available.

Handbrake told a similar tale. The NUC 11 Extreme shaved 13 seconds off our encoding time of the Elysium trailer compared to the NUC 9 Extreme. That said, Handbrake showed that the Core i9-11900KB is still, at its core, a mobile part. Compared to the desktop Core i9-10900K, the chip was a full 30 seconds slower.

Finally, I turned to PugetBench for Premiere Pro to see how the NUC 11 Extreme would handle video editing. This kind of machine seems perfect for the task, and my results back that up. Overall, it scored above a desktop Core i9-10900K configured with an RTX 3060 and 32GB of RAM. That’s mostly on the back of smooth playback performance, however, as the NUC 11 Extreme fell short of the desktop in the export and GPU scores.

You’re not getting the full performance of a desktop chip with the NUC 11 Extreme, but at less than half the wattage, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s a competent counterpoint to a desktop chip, and performs far above any other Tiger Lake offering available. Heat was an issue in Cinebench, but that benchmark is a bit of a stress test. You shouldn’t experience throttling in most tasks.

Gaming performance

I only ran a few gaming tests with the NUC 11 Extreme because it doesn’t actually ship with a graphics card. Your performance is going to depend on what you slot inside. Still, I wanted to get an overview of how the RTX 3060 inside my review unit would stack up against one inside a full desktop. And good for Intel, there’s virtually no difference.

The NUC 11 Extreme averaged exactly the same frame rate as a desktop configured with a Core i9-10900K and RTX 3060 in Fortnite at 1080p Epic settings. Up to 1440p, only three frames separated the NUC 11 Extreme from the desktop, with the NUC averaging 83 fps (frames per second) and the desktop averaging 86 fps.

Intel NUC 11 opened up.

That was the case in Civilization VI, too, where the NUC averaged 141 fps at 1080p Ultra and the desktop averaged 143 fps. At 1440p with the same settings, the two machines were within a frame of each other. The NUC 11 Extreme’s side panel offers plenty of air to the GPU, and based on my limited range of tests, cards should perform about as well as they do in a desktop.

If you order a NUC, you won’t get this performance without adding a graphics card. The UHD graphics inside the Core i9-11900KB are pitifully slow for gaming. They’re available, but a bit of a non-option. In fact, I couldn’t complete my 1440p tests because the integrated graphics simply wouldn’t hold up.

3DMark Time Spy showed just how much of a difference there is. With the RTX 3060 installed, the NUC 11 Extreme earned an overall score of 8,953. With the GPU out, the machine scored just 828 points, less than a 10th of what the RTX 3060 could manage. I couldn’t push past 1080p High settings in Fortnite, either, with the integrated GPU averaging just 15 fps.

Civilization VI was a little better at 1080p with Medium settings, but even then, the UHD graphics averaged just 23 fps. The integrated graphics aren’t good for gaming unless you’re willing to drop down to 720p and run at Low settings, and even then, some games may struggle.

You’re clearly supposed to add a GPU to the NUC 11 Extreme. The integrated graphics aren’t very good, but the good news is that you’re giving up virtually nothing between a full-size desktop and the NUC 11 when it comes to GPU performance. The design of the chassis allows plenty of air inside, so most cards should hold up.

Our take

The NUC 11 Extreme is excellent — as long as you can deal with its high price. The kit starts at $1,150 for the i7-11700B, and that doesn’t include an operating system, RAM, an SSD, or critically, a graphics card. Add those into the mix, and you’re looking at a machine that easily costs over $2,000, and that’s without a high-end GPU.

It’s way too expensive, but that’s kind of the point. You already know if the NUC 11 Extreme is for you. It’s not a machine that’s trying to hit a certain price or offer a certain value. Instead, it showcases excellent small form factor design, a unique way to lay out a computer, and performance that gives even full-size desktops a run for their money.

If you’ve been looking at the NUC with envy, it will deliver on your expectations — given that you have a graphics card to slot inside.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other mini PCs, but nothing quite like the NUC 11 Extreme. Unless you seek out a boutique case and configure your own rig, there isn’t another machine that crams as much power as the NUC 11 Extreme does in this small of a case. Most mini ITX cases are not only larger, but also more difficult to work with.

That said, you can save some money by building your own machine if you’re OK with a slightly larger case or can settle for a mini ITX GPU.

How long will it last?

The point of a NUC is that you’ll be able to upgrade it with a new compute element over time. Assuming Intel continues delivering them, you’ll be able to use the NUC 11 Extreme until the power supply gives out.

Should you buy it?

Yes, as long as you know what you’re getting into. The NUC 11 Extreme isn’t just a mini PC, so if you’re looking for something you can set up and forget, a machine like the M1 Mac Mini is probably better.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

Retro Games is making a mini version of the Amiga 500

Commodore’s Amiga 500 was one of the most popular home computers in the era just before the PC swallowed the world. Now, thirty years and change since its heyday, Retro Games is making a “mini” version of the computer and games console. Much like Retro Games’ last machine, a “mini” version of the Commodore 64 that can’t use the Commodore name, this will be branded as THEA500 Mini.

Retro Games has said that the console will include 25 titles from the vast (and excellent) Amiga library including Another World, Worms, Simon the Sorcerer and The Chaos Engine. The full list of titles hasn’t been released, but if Bart vs. The Space Mutants and Dalek Attack aren’t on there, I will cry.

Much like pretty much every other retro console, a glossy software layer will smooth out the rougher edges of this software. Users will be able to save and resume titles part-way through play, and you’ll be able to side-load titles you (ahem) own over the included USB port.

Rather than simply emulating the vanilla Amiga 500, the hardware will also run the Enhanced Chip Set (ECS) layers found in the Amiga 500 Plus, a short-lived revision released in 1991. You’ll also be able to harness the advanced graphics architecture (AGA) of the much-pricier flagship model, the Amiga 1200.

Looks more like a CD controller to me.

Retro Games / Koch Media

Hardware-wise, it’s likely to be a similar sort of moulded-plastic-around-a-mini-board situation as found in THEC64 Mini. But on the accessories front, it’ll ship with the Amiga’s famous two-button mouse, and a joypad that, to my eyes, seems to be based on the Amiga CD32’s gamepad rather than the 500’s (which, to be fair, was more famously a joystick-led machine).

Image of Retro Games' THEA500 Mouse

Retro Games / Koch Media

THEA500 Mini will launch at some point in early 2022, and is expected to cost $140 (£120, €130) when it arrives. The only misgivings I have at this point is that Retro Games’ previous work with the THEC64 Mini made that a hard product to love in several ways. Hopefully, however, many of those issues have been resolved for the new model, which was the object of lust for many people soon be knocking on 40.

Oh, and here’s the greatest advert for a computer ever made:

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Repost: Original Source and Author Link