The technology behind Intel’s line of ultra portable, space-saving NUC PCs ramps up with each new product line. The company unveiled a brand new line of NUCs today which keeps that trend going strong: the Ghost Canyon series.
10 years ago, if someone told you a PC the size of your foot could run a high-end stream and play demanding graphical games like Control, you’d laugh. You’d also probably ask “What’s a high-end stream, and what’s Control?” because neither were a thing 10 years ago.
Jokes aside, the new NUC can do both. It’s a monster of a rig, even for it’s incredibly small size, and, more importantly, it’s modular and upgradeable. Not only is that a first for NUCs, it’s also vitally important for any PC gamers who have ever thought about picking one up. As any PC gamer or streamer knows, PCs can get outdated fast. Having the ability to upgrade as new tech comes out is a necessity for full-sized rigs. And now, it’s in the NUC, too.
Ghost Canyon specs
To run a big game and stream to Twitch requires some beefy component solutions. Even more so if you’re dealing with something as small as a NUC. Luckily, Intel did its research. Which, admittedly, was probably easy to do since they, you know, make processors.
Speaking of CPUs, the Ghost Canyon comes outfitted with the best—an unlocked 9th-gen i9 9980HK. This CPU is an eight-core monster with a 16MB cache that can hit clock speeds of 5.00 GHz when going turbo. The Ghost Canyon also comes in i7 and i5 variants. The CPU includes integrated graphics, Intel UHD 630, but if you’re gaming, you probably won’t be using that. We’ll get into that later, though. For now, let’s dive into memory.
The Ghost Canyon NUC’s RAM capabilities are impressive. It supports DDR4 SO-DIMMs up to 2666 at 32GB, or 2400 at 64GB, depending on how much RAM you need. Included in the build is also a PCIe x4 slot, WiFi 6 technology for next-gen wireless, a 500W internal power supply, two Thunderbolt ports, two gigabit LAN ports, and six USB 3.1 ports. The Ghost Canyon has the connectivity of a full PC for, quite literally, half the size (or less).
The first modular NUC
I already mentioned that the Ghost Canyon will be Intel’s first modular NUC, but I didn’t mention just how big of a deal that really is.
Gaming PCs and work PCs, whether your rig is for playing Cyberpunk 2077 or rendering a 4k video, share one big thing in common. Every couple of years, when new gaming tech is pushed or videos just keep getting bigger and bigger, PC hardware gets outdated. The biggest weakness NUCs and other teeny tiny PCs have always had is lack of freedom. Smushing everything down to a marketable size has always meant that if you want to replace one thing, you will replace everything, and that’s not very cost friendly. Why would I get a NUC, when I have to replace the whole thing to upgrade my GPU?
With the new Ghost Canyon, you can change out RAM. You can change out your graphics card. You can change out internal components left and right until you’re perfectly happy with it. If a new part comes out that supports a feature you want to explore, you can actually pick it up for your NUC. It’s a game changer—enough of one to make me consider trading out my big rig for a compact one.
As for the GPU specifically, any mini form factor GPU will fit in the Ghost Canyon’s PCI slot. It supports up to the RTX 2070 Mini from Nvidia, which is a pretty powerful card that can run any modern game at or close to maximum graphical settings. If you’ve got the cash, your GPU will be able to handle quite a lot for quite a long time. And with the unlocked Intel i9 9980HK processor, there isn’t a lot of anything the Ghost Canyon won’t be able to do, either.