Intel’s NUC 11 Extreme Mini-PC, also known as the Beast Canyon, hit stores on time, but prices are well above what Intel announced last July. At least at Amazon.
There are a few listings for Intel’s top configuration, which is equipped with a Core i9 11900KB processor. The cheapest is a barebone kit priced at $ 1,770 (via FanlessTech) plus an additional $ 55 for shipping from a marketplace seller. So that’s $ 1,825 to start with, and you’ll need to add at least RAM, storage, and an operating system to get it working. A separate graphics card is optional.
The same seller also lists a putty build with 16 GB DDR4 RAM, a 250 GB Samsung 980 SSD and Windows 10 for 1,895 US dollars including shipping and another with 32 GB DDR4 RAM, a 1 TB Samsung 980 SSD and Windows 10 Pro shipped for $ 2,085 on. As with the barebones kit, you can optionally add a full-size graphics card to any of these configurations.
Beast Canyon isn’t a cheap line of products, although early listings on Amazon include an additional premium or early-adoption tax, if you want to call it that. Or market vendor gimmicks. Anyway, Intel said in July that Core i9 configurations would start at $ 1,350 while Core i7 models would start at $ 1,150.
These price points apply to barebone kits that are delivered without RAM, memory or operating system. Incidentally, more expected pricing can be found at SimplyNUC, which sells a Core i9 configuration with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD for $ 1,599 and a Core i7 model with the same additional components for $ 1,399.
SimplyNUC also offers the ability to customize the setups with more powerful hardware, including discrete GPUs (though they are way above MSRP, like $ 999 for a GeForce RTX 3060). However, both models are lagging behind, and it is not clear when either will actually be in stock and shipping.
Aside from price and availability, Beast Canyon is an interesting product. It’s a single-edged mini PC based on Intel’s Tiger Lake-B desktop chips. The top CPU option, a Core i9 11900 KB of the 11th TDP.
These NUCs come with a 650 W PSU with 80 Plus Gold certification and can accommodate dual-slot graphics cards up to 308.4 mm (12.14 inches) in length. The power supply delivers at least enough watts to cope with a GeForce RTX 3070 or a Radeon RX 6800, and depending on the quality of the device, maybe even higher (we haven’t tested one of them yet). And if you can actually find a GPU, of course.
The other nice thing is how these are built. A replaceable compute element cartridge contains the motherboard, the processor, the RAM and the memory, which not only enables gradual upgrades but also a comprehensive change across the board. And all of this packaged in an 8-liter chassis with the dimensions 357 x 189 x 120 mm (14 x 7.4 x 4.7 inches).
As neat as they are, the timing of their arrival coincides with a lack of GPUs. While they’re optional, it’s hard to imagine paying relatively high prices for one of them and then relying on built-in graphics. But they are there, and I can imagine they will get cheaper on Amazon as more inventory becomes available.