[GLLUG] Small Form Factor PC

John Winters john at sinodun.org.uk
Mon Aug 4 07:57:36 UTC 2014

On 04/08/14 06:20, Paul Hewlett wrote:
[...of Raspberries Pi, Shuttle PCs and NUCs...]

Just a few additional points.

The Raspberry Pi is in a completely different ball-park from the NUC, in 
terms of both cost and power.  The RP copes as a media playback centre 
(provided you cough up the extra £3 or whatever it is for the licence to 
activate hardware graphics acceleration), but is seriously underpowered 
for use as any kind of general purpose PC or server.  I use one running 
XBMC (needs re-booting every day or so - I suspect a memory leak - but 
is otherwise fine) and another as a secondary DNS/DHCP server (rock solid).

I have a couple of NUCs - one has a Core i5 (4th gen), 16G of RAM, an 
SSD and a 1TB 2.5" HDD.  It is my general domestic server and is 
seriously fast.  As I write this it is running 8 separate VMs for 
various purposes and quietly yawning.  The other is a Core i3 and is 
used as a desktop PC with the unit itself sitting on the back of the 

Note that the early NUCs had no room for any kind of conventional hard 
drive - it was an mSATA SSD or nothing.  The current range includes 
models with the option for a 2.5" HDD as well.

The TranquilPC case is indeed very nice, but I had quite a lot of 
trouble with my order to them.  I ordered a complete system built using 
their case.  First they debited by credit card in full, then told me 
there would an 8 week delay in shipping because they couldn't get the 
motherboards from Intel.  I pointed out they were in contravention of 
the CC companies' terms on charging, at which point they discovered they 
could get the necessary m/b quite quickly.

When it arrived the unit itself was very nice, but the PSU which they 
sent was complete crap.  It was under-specced for the unit (not enough 
Watts) and carried a warning sticker saying it would get hot in use.  It 
also didn't carry a valid CE marking and so was illegal to supply in the 
EU.  When I first complained they responded that it was fine, but when I 
threatened them with rejecting the entire order they then sent me a 
proper power supply and I sent back the dud one.

About a month later they contacted me and said I hadn't returned the dud 
power supply.  Happily I had sent it by recorded delivery and so was 
able to prove that I had.

Sadly, I have heard that they carried on shipping these dud power 
supplies to other customers, so they were now doing it deliberately and 
couldn't claim ignorance.  In short - avoid TranquilPC.

The NUC itself however is brilliant - extremely low power consumption 
and very powerful.  Not cheap, but highly recommended.


> I have been using a raspberry pi with xbmc with some success. However
> the interface is very laggy and have been investigating a replacement
> recently. I also have a shuttle PC but would not recommend it as the
> wired Ethernet drivers for Linux are problematic.
> An Intel nuc seems like a good idea. Alternatives are the zotac range or
> the gigabyte bric.
> Zotac have recently announced the cs1540 which looks good but I cannot
> currently find any sellers.
> Tranquil PC make a very nice case for Intel nuc board.
> One warning , it is very easy to come up with something that is
> expensive. The Intel nuc boards are not cheap.
> I have bought a Solidrun Cubox i4 pro for just less than £100 and plan
> to put xbmc on it to see how it works.

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