With its powerful hardware and large hard disk, this is a great-value mini PC that gets everything right
1.3GHz Intel Core i5-4250U, 8GB RAM, N/A display, Windows 8
Scan has based its mini PC on one of Intel’s NUC Kits, which are used as the base for some of the smallest mini PCs available. Its take on the NUC mini PC makes for a particularly well-designed PC, however.
The 3XS NUC N16’s 49mm-high chassis is 14mm higher than previous NUC chassis we have seen, such as that used in the PC Specialist NUC Lite. The extra height allows for a welcome new addition to the traditional NUC formula: a 2.5in hard disk. While other NUCs only have space for an mSATA SSD, the N16 has space for a laptop hard disk and an mSATA drive, giving you much more flexibility when it comes to your storage.
Our review sample came with a 1TB Seagate ST1000LM014-1EJ164 SSD hybrid disk, leaving the mSATA connector empty for future upgrades. This hybrid disk consists of a 1TB laptop disk fused with 8GB of cache, so hopes to bring you the speed of an SSD with the capacity of a standard hard disk.
To test the disk’s performance, we used the CrystalDiskMark application. In this benchmark we saw an average large file read and write speed of 45.59MB/s, compared to 29.49MB/s for a standard 7200RPM hard disk, showing the cache to make the drive significantly quicker. This will mean applications will open faster and Windows will feel snappier, so it’s certainly a worthwhile addition. The hybrid disk still pales in comparison to the speeds of an mSATA SSD, however, as we measured a huge average read/write speed of 200.65MB/s for large files when we ran the application again on the PC Specialist NUC Lite.
Sadly, a taller chassis doesn’t mean the N16 comes with any more ports. There’s still just a mini DisplayPort and mini HDMI output to connect the N16 to your monitor, but thankfully Scan includes a mini HDMI to HDMI adaptor in the box, so you can start using the PC straight away if you don’t already have the right adaptor. There are also four USB3 ports, Gigabit Ethernet and a combined headphone and microphone jack.
The N16 is based on the Core i5 version of the NUC, with a 1.3GHz Intel Core i5-4250U processor. Scan has also fitted its PC with 8GB of RAM. This configuration helped it to an excellent 48 in our multimedia benchmarks. Its multi-tasking score was particularly impressive, showing the PC is capable of handling several programs simultaneously as well as demanding media software.
The PC’s Intel HD Graphics 5000 chip is also one of the most capable integrated graphics chips we’ve ever tested, as it far outstrips what we’ve seen from other mini PCs with HD Graphics 4600 chipsets. The NUC N16 completed our Dirt Showdown test with ease, producing a smooth 29fps at High quality at 1,280×720 resolution and with 4x anti-aliasing switched on. We even saw a smooth 31fps at 1,920×1,080, but this involved decreasing detail levels to Low.
This is an outstanding result for an integrated chip, and less demanding 3D games performed even better. We were able to play the beautiful platform game Trine 2 on Medium detail at 1,920×1,080 at 30fps, so you should be able to play most games at a reasonable speed without having to compromise too much on graphical fidelity.
|Intel Core i5-4250U
|Processor external bus
|Processor clock speed
|USB2 ports (front/rear)
|eSATA ports (front/rear)
|Wired network ports
|Wireless networking support
|PCI slots (free)
|PCI-E x1 slots (free)
|PCI-E x16 slots (free)
|Free Serial ATA ports
|Free memory slots
|Free 3.5in drive bays
|Hard disk model(s)
|Intel HD Graphics 5000
|mini HDMI, mini DisplayPort
|Intel HD Audio
|Supported memory cards
|Optical drive type(s)
|Operating system restore option
|three years RTB (first year onsite)