Intel NUC 12 Pro NUC12WSHi7 Review

8.2 Total Score
EXCELLENT

The Intel NUC 12 Pro NUC12WSHi7 mini PC shows that diminutive machines are still portable powerhouses for productivity, but the price will hold most folk back.

PROS
  • Packs a ton of horsepower
  • Stays quiet under most conditions
  • Great port selection
  • Upgradeable RAM and storage
CONS
  • Middling graphics performance
  • A bit more expensive than competitors

Need a small desktop PC? You’ll struggle to find one smaller and more powerful than the Intel NUC 12 Pro NUC12WSHi7. This tiny computer is smaller than a paperback novel yet it packs the performance to handle video editing, coding, and most productivity tasks. Having a miniature PC this powerful doesn’t come cheap, though, that makes the NUC 12 Pro a tough sell for budget buyers.

With the NUC12WSHi7, Intel once again proves that tech changes. The Apple Mac mini has long been our favorite and most expensive mini-PC around, but the Intel NUC 12 Pro now packs immense power and a much higher price tag. Now you have an excellent machine with plenty of power for most home and office settings. The 12th-generation Intel CPU surpasses expectations and will be a blast using this mini PC.

That said, as good as the NUC12WSHi7 is, competition in this category is tough, with competitors like Apple offering the Mac Mini M2 for around the same price, but with a sleeker design and more powerful performance. However, the Intel NUC 12 Pro is still king when it comes to space and connectivity for its size.

Intel NUC 12 Pro NUC12WSHi7 Review ports

About the Intel NUC 12 Pro

Here are the specs of the Intel NUC 12 Pro in this review:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-1260P
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD
  • Wireless connectivity: 3x USB 3.2 Type-A, 2x Thunderbolt 4 with DisplayPort Alternate Mode, 2x HDMI 2.0, 1x 3.5mm audio jack, 1x Ethernet
  • Wired connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
  • Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Size: 4.6 x 4.4 x 1.5 inches

The Intel NUC 12 Pro uses Intel’s mobile processor and uses compact DDR4 memory. Despite its size, its connectivity and storage support is fantastic, and it easily matches the port options available on most budget tower desktops.

Intel packs the NUC 12 Pro with a wide range of future-proof and useful connectivity options, the small size notwithstanding. This includes three USB-A 3.2 ports, ideal for wired peripherals like keyboards and mice, alongside two Thunderbolt 4 / USB-C 4 ports.

The Thunderbolt ports include DisplayPort Alternate Mode, meaning both can work as video connections when connected to a monitor with a Thunderbolt or USB-C port. Connecting to other displays through a USB-C to DisplayPort or via a USB-C to HDMI adapter is still possible.

That may not be necessary, since the Intel NUC 12 Pro includes two HDMI 2.0 ports too. Other connections include a 3.5mm headphone jack, located up front; and wireless connectivity comes in the way of Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 standards.

Intel NUC 12 Pro NUC12WSHi7 Review interior

Design

Desktop computers rarely get this small, but the Intel NUC 12 Pro has managed to pack in solid performance in addition to its tiny profile. It measures about 4.5 inches wide and deep and is only 1.5 inches thick. So far, it’s the smallest NUC around and even the Apple Mac Mini is almost three inches larger in width and depth. (Both mini desktops are about equal in thickness). Mini desktops PCs are nice, most people don’t just need a system this compact – they’re buying it for a reason.

The Intel NUC 12 Pro’s dimensions make it easy to place on, under, or inside a desk. Also, it comes with a VESA mount for attaching to displays, display stands, and other accessories that support VESA mounting. This is very useful for business users looking to place the NUC12WSHi7 out of sight and may come in handy for a super-sleek home office setup.

Its size and external power supply make it very portable, meaning you can carry it along to the office with ease. It’s not going to replace your laptop, of course; you’ll still need a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. However, the NUC 12 Pro could be a good choice if you often stay away from home and want the convenience of your desktop in your hotel room or rental. A NUC 12 Pro with a foldable keyboard, mouse, and portable monitor will easily fit in luggage.

Intel NUC 12 Pro NUC12WSHi7 Review inside

Ports

Intel packs the NUC 12 Pro with a wide range of future-proof and useful connectivity options, the small size notwithstanding. This includes three USB-A 3.2 ports, ideal for wired peripherals like keyboards and mice, alongside two Thunderbolt 4 / USB-C 4 ports.

The Thunderbolt ports include DisplayPort Alternate Mode, meaning both can work as video connections when connected to a monitor with a Thunderbolt or USB-C port.

Connecting to other displays through a USB-C to DisplayPort or via a USB-C to HDMI adapter is still possible. That may not be necessary, since the Intel NUC 12 Pro includes two HDMI 2.0 ports too. Other connections include a 3.5mm headphone jack, located up front; and wireless connectivity comes in the way of Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 standards.

Intel NUC 12 Pro NUC12WSHi7 Review ports

Performance

From experience, NUCs and SFFs often sacrifice performance, but the Intel NUC 12 Pro is changing that trend. It delivers the kind of performance you’d usually get from premium portable laptops and easily beats some budget mid-tower desktops.

Our review unit, the NUC12WSHi7 comes with Intel’s Core i7-1260P processor, making it the most powerful Intel NUC 12 Pro out there. It has four performance cores and eight efficient cores, making for a total of 12 cores and 16 processor threads.

The Intel Core i7-1260P processor on its own doesn’t disappoint. It achieves a Geekbench 5 single-core score of 1689 and a multi-core score of 9678. This places the NUC 12 Pro at par, or slightly above, the performance of premium laptops like the Dell XPS 13 Plus and Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED. The NUC 12 Pro also holds up well against the midrange Dell XPS Desktop, which hits a single-core score of 1599 and a multi-core score of 10355.

Storage performance is fantastic, too. The Intel NUC 12 Pro achieves an impressive storage read speed of 4866 megabytes per second in CrystalDiskMark, easily beating other premium laptops we’ve tested this year. That’s great if you often work with, open, or transfer large files and the 512GB SSD alongside 16GB of RAM makes for fast operation.

Bottom Line

If you need the smallest desktop PC with great performance, the Intel NUC 12 Pro NUC12WSHi7 is king. Beyond size, I don’t find anything that defines the NUC 12 Pro, especially at its price. It delivers excellent processor and storage performance – for its size; it packs impressive connectivity – for its size and is easy to carry around and use – for its size.

It’s smaller than the Apple Mac Mini and yet packs more connectivity options. It also stacks well against the Lenovo ThinkCentre M-Series, HP’s Z Mini, and Dell’s Precision Compact – all these competitors are larger, slightly expensive, and have fewer ports.

However, if you don’t need the smallest NUC possible, then the Intel NUC 12 Pro isn’t for you. Its processor performance is great, but nothing you can’t find in a less expensive tower PC, like the HP Envy TE01-3022. A tower PC can also offer a discrete graphics card for gaming and boosting graphics performance far beyond what the NUC 12 Pro can reach.

Overall, the Intel NUC 12 Pro NUC12WSHi7 is still a niche desktop for niche clients, and it fills that niche incredibly well. If you need Windows 11 on a tiny desktop, I would recommend the Intel NUC 12 Pro, but if you’re open to options, the new Apple Mac Mini M2 is a solid deal that delivers power and versatility at a great price.

Last update on 2024-07-17 at 19:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Intel NUC 12 Pro NUC12WSHi7 Review
Intel NUC 12 Pro NUC12WSHi7 Review
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