For the past five years or so, Intel Corporation has been building what they term the Next Unit of Computing or NUC for short. What is a NUC? It’s effectively a stripped down ultrabook computer that is housed within a small cube like box – think back to when Apple had their cube like tissue box computer but a little bit smaller If you’ve got an Amazon Fire TV unit, it’s similar dimensions though taller (stack 2.5 of them and you’ve got a NUC).
The NUC’s internals consist of a small form factor motherboard with processor, wireless card, bluetooth and video chip (in this case making use of Intel’s HD graphics chip that’s a part of the processor). As this is a “barebones” PC, you add in your memory and hard drive. In recent years there have been two options for NUC devices – one that provides for an m.2 SATA interface and one that provides for an m.2 SATA interface in addition to a standard SATA3 interface that we’ve all become accustomed to with 2.5″ SSD laptop harddrives.
For me, I went the way of picking up an i5 5th generation NUC a year ago. It works well with the m.2 SATA storage and memory. Caveat, I’ve got an additional m.2 external USB3 drive attached to it for additional storage space which for the most part works pretty well.
Recently Intel released what effectively is a stripped down workstation i7 sixth generation / Skylake device. Ars has a pretty nice write up about it over here – http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/05/intels-quad-core-skull-canyon-nuc-is-a-workstation-for-the-size-obsessed/
All in all, the NUC works great as a desktop that doesn’t require intense gaming or rendering resources and its low profile means that it doesn’t require me to have a tower below my desk (though I do in the form factor a of 4 bay QNAP NAS).