This silent system isn’t the most powerful for the money, but its neat design and speedy storage are worth having
- Speedy SSD storage
- Silent operation
- Looks great
- Not powerful enough for the price
Nobody could accuse the Quiet PC UltraNUC Pro 8 Fanless of false advertising; it is indeed fanless and, as a result, is one very quiet PC.
It’s essentially the innards of an Intel NUC8i3BEK barebones kit, transplanted into a nicer case – Akasa’s Turing Compact Fanless – and provided with the storage, memory and operating system needed to become a complete PC. The Intel kit’s Core i3-8109U processor is therefore joined by 8GB of DDR4 RAM, a 250GB Samsung 970 Evo Plus SSD and Windows 10 Home.
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Quiet PC UltraNUC Pro 8 Fanless review: Specifications and features
The CPU’s U suffix should give away that it’s a lower-power processor, but this comes with the benefit of it being able to run without active cooling. Like the similarly fanless Minix Neo G41V-4, then, this PC is practically silent. Put your ear right next to it and you might hear a tiny bit of electric whine, similar to a lot of ultraportable laptops, but you wouldn’t notice it unless you were specifically looking for it.
The case’s finned design helps here, as it ends up acting like one giant radiator, allowing heat from the CPU to dissipate across the fins, instead of concentrating around the main heatsink. Don’t worry if this sounds like the whole thing ends up searing it, either: it warms up, sure, but doesn’t become too hot to touch, especially around the edges.
The Turing Compact Fanless case is also a winner when it comes to design. To our eyes, the UltraNUC Pro 8 Fanless is the best-looking mini PC we’ve seen in quite some time, or at the very least the most interesting. The gaps between the fins might leave onlookers wondering where the actual PC parts are, and both sides are capped with smartly patterned, silver-trimmed plates. For a bit of extra versatility, these also allow the system to stand upright instead of sitting flat on its feet, reducing its footprint even further.
These feet can be removed to provide access to the motherboard, which, having originated from a tiny Intel NUC kit, is unsurprisingly small. Again, you can mainly tinker with the exposed M.2 slot and two SO-DIMM RAM slots, both of which are already filled anyway. However, screw in a couple of mounting brackets and you can also install a 2.5in drive, which ends up suspended over the motherboard. This is made possible by the single SATA port and power connector on the board, a set of features the Minix systems lack.
Quiet PC UltraNUC Pro 8 Fanless review: Performance
Considering the higher price, it also performs better in our benchmarking tests, scoring 91 in the image test, 66 in the video test, 54 in the multitasking test and 64 overall. Single-core performance isn’t as good as you might hope from a system that costs so much, but multitasking performance is far better. Although the Core i3-8109U has two cores it also has Hyper-Threading, so it virtually adds two more for an effective four. It has a commendable base clock speed of 3GHz.
All that said, the Dell Optiplex 7060 Micro, which costs slightly less than the UltraNUC Pro 8 Fanless, is more powerful still. While hardly a powerhouse, its overall score of 109 makes it the better choice for CPU-heavy tasks such as media editing.
There’s a quick response from the UltraNUC Pro 8 Fanless, however, in its integrated Iris Plus Graphics 655 GPU. This is an upgrade on the Optiplex 7060 Micro’s cUHD Graphics 630. In Dirt Showdown, it produced a very smooth 54fps at 720p with High settings, and was still playable at 1080p with Ultra settings, where it managed 33fps. It’s not going to compete with dedicated graphics PCs such as the Overclockers Gaming Hydrogen, but the UltraNUC Pro 8 Fanless definitely has the best integrated graphics of the bunch.
This system also has a much quicker SSD than Dell’s. There’s still going to be a capacity issue if you tend to save a lot of photos, videos or gigabyte-hogging applications, as 250GB is all you get as standard, but it’s lightning-fast, scoring a sequential read speed of 2,765MB/s and a write speed of 2,173MB/s. Not even the Asus ProArt PA90’s SSD is that nimble, and you can also add extra space to the UltraNUC Pro 8 Fanless without replacing the whole drive, via the 2.5in mounting kit.
The mix of connections isn’t the most advanced, but all the basics are covered by four USB3 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, one HDMI output, and a 3.5mm combined mic and headphone jack. This is the only dedicated sound output, but the HDMI port can carry 7.1 surround sound, and there’s a Thunderbolt 3-equipped USB Type-C port if you want an alternative desktop monitor connector.
Quiet PC UltraNUC Pro 8 Fanless review: Verdict
It could, therefore, be a half-decent home office system, but even if the Optiplex 7060 Micro didn’t have it beat there, we like the UltraNUC Pro 8 Fanless a lot more as a living-room PC. It would look much better under a TV than the Optiplex, it has much better storage, and it would only need to connect to a single TV over HDMI. Its silent running won’t disturb you as you watch, either.