Intel’s NUC machines have been around for a few years and are designed as a compact computing solution. The latest NUC 10 Performance is aimed directly at the creative market, content creators to be exact, but can something this size really handle image and video editing?
After a few week testing the NUC using Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro along with DaVinci Resolve the results were unanimous. The compact, palm sized machine might lack dedicated graphics, but still packs more than enough power to easily edit and manipulate hi-resolution images in Photoshop.
When it came to video editing, processing HD video was smooth, likewise realtime editing with no lag when using HD S-Log3 footage. However it did struggle once the footage was increased to 4K. While there were visible signs that the processing was being maxed out the machine still handled the edits.
At the end of the test, for a machine that cost around £900 and is found widely online for less, I’d say this is a great choice for all photographers and anyone shooting HD video and occasional 4K, but more than that it’s perfect for those who like clutter free desks and need a computer that can be easily moved.
Keeps cool under load
Stuggles with bigger 4K projects
What is the Intel NUC 10 Performance
The Intel NUC machines are known for being small, such as the NUC 9 Extreme I looked at a few weeks back, but the NUC 10 Performance is really small.
The thing is quite literally palm-sized at 117 x 112 x 51cm, making it small enough to pop into a bag without taking up much room, although you do need the power adapter, keyboard, mouse and monitor.
The idea is that this is a discrete computer that can fit neatly on a desktop or be transported easily, so if you switch between studio and other locations, then you can.
Of course, you can do this with a laptop, but a fully loaded laptop with storage and RAM is far more expensive for the same specifications. Plus, this small machine has plenty of room surprisingly for TB of ultra-fast SATA and M.2 SSD storage making it ideal for the creative market.
Using the small sub £1000 box’s and the speed and power is unbelievable, enabling you to plough through HD video editing and handling short 4K movie edits without too much difficulty.
It’s hard to believe that something so small could be so good, and that performance can be boosted with eGPU.
Build and Handling
Intel has paid attention to the NUCs case design, and while I’m not keen on the glossy plastic top, the rest of the design is beautifully finished.
You can see the attention to detail on the venting around the sides. Having used the NUC 10 Performance for several DaVinci Resolve training sessions, I can say that system kept it’s cool even under heavy load.
Access to the inside is through the bottom, and once unscrewed, you can see the 2.5-inch SATA drive attached to the base. Then in the machine’s mainframe are the two RAM slots that can take up to 64GB and on the other side the M.2 SSD slot.
Inside, it’s tight and compact, with the CPU and graphics card integrated being integrated on the mainboard. That means that the RAM and storage are fully upgradable, but anything attached to the board is not.
As photographers and videographers, graphics power is an import factor; here, the small machine doesn’t offer discrete or intel iris graphics, but the integrated UHD graphics packs enough processing power for graphics and HD video production.
However, if you need a graphics boost, the NUC 10 Performance features a Thunderbolt 3 port, so an external eGPU could be plugged in.
The onboard CPU is designed for 25W, so it won’t quite have the grunt of a desktop but should still handle most of what we need.
On the front of the box is the power button, 3.5mm stereo audio jack, USB 3.1 Type-C, USB Type-A and infrared sensor. On the side is an SDXC slot that will read all standard SD cards, including UHS-II.
On the back, there’s the DC power port, HDMI 2.0a, USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, Intel Ethernet I219-V 10/100/1000 Mbps, DisplayPort 1.2 via Thunderbolt 3 and a Kensington Lock.
Our review unit is the top model, and although not fully maxed out, it’s still an impressive specification for the price.
The CPU is Intel Core i7-10710U, 6 core 12 thread, as mentioned there’s the integrated Intel UHD graphics, 16GB of DDR4-2666 memory and 256GB M.2 storage drive. This particular model comes in at around £900.
The Intel NUC 10 Performance is squarely aimed at the growing creator community, and the balance of power and size all starts to make sense as you use the machine.
From the outset, it’s worth pointing out that the NUC does quite have the processing clout of a larger desktop as there are only the integrated graphics and the power supply is only 25w; however, what it can do is quite remarkable.
Powering up for the first time and its quickly evident that speedwise, this machine is faster than most full-sized PC’s that I’ve used. Programs loaded quickly, and flicking through a selection of RAW images from the Sony A7R II proved just how quick the machine is.
Before I loaded up a selection of imaging and video applications, I wanted to test the machine using a series of benchmarks, including GeekBench and AJA.
The GeekBench 5 results were impressive.
Single Core: 1237
Put into context, the small i7 processor was faster than my MacBook Pro 2018 i9. Using the two side by side, the MacBook did have the edge, probably due to the graphics and 16GB of additional RAM, but not by enough margin to warrant the price difference.
Even comparing it against the NUC 9 Extreme, the pure CPU processing was exceptionally good.
Switching over to AJA to test the M.2 speed and the results. Were slightly slower than I expected at:
Still more than fast enough for most creative uses, including 1080p and some 4K editing.
After a quick benchmark, it was time to look at the real-world test.
Loading images into the Adobe Bridge was the first real look at the computer’s performance. The thumbnails took a few moments to load, but it wasn’t as if I had time to nip out and get a coffee while the machine handled the processing. Likewise, opening ten images in ACR was fast, and making adjustments was nice and quick with little lag.
Opening several images in Photoshop and creating cutouts, applying filters and adjusting scale, the machine processed the pictures quickly with no irritating delays or slowdowns.
When it came to editing in Photoshop, the NUC 10 was as good as any machine I’ve used recently, and the lack of dedicated graphics had little effect on the speed, or the performance I needed to maintain a smooth workflow.
However, the real test would come when the machine was faced with a couple of video editors.
First up was Adobe Premiere Pro. Like Photoshop, this loaded at speed, ready for a new project.
After setting up an HD project and dragging some S-Log2 footage, the NUC 10 handled the edits and application of Bouncecolor LUTs without issue.
I steadily increased the amounts of edits and transitions to create a short five-minute video to test the speed and features, and the results were impressive. The workflow was smooth, and editing, dragging, and dropping clips were well within the machine’s abilities.
Rendering out the final jumble of video and the render times for a two-minute video was longer than expected at 3 minutes and 32 seconds.
Next up was to create the same project in DaVinci Resolve and again edits, and the handling of footage was all smooth enough. When its camera to the export it took 4 minutes and 52 seconds.
Moving on to 4K in both applications and again with S-Log2 footage shot on the Sony A7R II and A7 III. Initial edits are again impressively smooth, but as transitions and effects are applied, you can start to see a little slow down as the graphics processing comes under strain.
However, the small machine handles the relatively short two and five-minute edits without too much issue. Above that length and you are starting to push the machine’s abilities without the addition of an eGPU.
One of the main advantages of this small machine is just how expandable it is; there’s plenty of space to max out the internal storage with a Lexar 4TB Samsung 870 EVO for the mass storage and a 1TB Lexar NM700 M.2 for the fast base system.
For the graphics processing, you can give it a boost with an eGPU, and as this is for video and photography, you don’t need the huge expensive eGPU’s required for gaming data mining.
Looking at eGPU prices, you can now get a decent set-up for around £400-500. This does obviously bounce up the price of the NUC considerably.
After a couple of weeks with the NUC 10 Performance and I was impressed, although not as impressed as I was with the NUC 9 Extreme.
The small machine was incredibly fast and enabled me to edit images and video with ease.
However, I had to stop and think hard about using the machine for the creative market. Why not just get a powerful laptop? After all, it would be more versatile, then I checked the price, and aside from one Dell at roughly the same cost, the price of a similar Spec PC laptop is roughly double and that’s before you consider upgrade options.
OK, with a laptop, you have the convenience of taking it from one room to another, but really if you’re editing a video, you should be sat at a desk for health and posture reasons more than anything.
The NUC 10 has added a load of features that make it so easy. I connected a wireless keyboard and mouse, and when I wanted to, I just unplugged it from the monitors in the studio and took it into the house and plugged it into the TV and sat back in the comfort of the sofa.
The choice of two types of display, HDMI or Thunderbolt 3, all add to the versatility.
OK, a laptop could do much of what the small NUC 10 Performance could do, but the small size and power are much more conducive to a smooth and steady workflow.
Having the ability to include so much storage capacity in one small box sets this apart. At the end of the test, I am impressed with the small NUC 10 Performance and what it can do.
I can also see the potential, and as a machine, for creatives, I think it’s an amazing device and already know a couple of people who love the small form factor, which can easily be tucked away.
And that’s the main point for the small machine; it’s minimalistic but provides power. If you need more, then you can add an eGPU. Still, ultimately, for imaging, this is just about as powerful a machine as you need; for HD video editing, it’s ideal, but for 4K, you’re pushing its abilities and should look at the NUC 9 Extreme.
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