Intel NUC 13 Pro review: Packing 13th
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Intel NUC 13 Pro review: Packing 13th

Apr 29, 2023

Steven Parker CEO - Neowin @aSteveParker · May 31, 2023 06:28 EDT with 12 comments

GeekNUC, which is an Intel Platinum Partner, reached out to us to have a look at the Intel NUC 13 Pro, which is Intel's latest offering of Mini PC, and as is hinted with the name, includes a 13th gen Raptor Lake-P processor with Wi-Fi 6E, and Thunderbolt 4. The full name of this thing is actually Intel NUC 13 Pro Arena Canyon Tall, but for our sanity, we'll be referring to it as the NUC 13 Pro.

Below are the full specifications of this thing. I have bolded my configuration where relevant.







Operating System



Wireless LAN

Kensington Lock


I/O Ports

2 x Thunderbolt 4 2 x front USB 3.2 Gen 2 type A ports 1 x rear USB 3.2 Gen 2 type A port 1 x rear USB 2.0 type A port 2 x internal USB 2.0 headers 2 x HDMI 2.1 (4K @ 60Hz) 1 x DC jack 1 x Power button


The Intel NUC 13 is offered in a few different configurations on the GeekNUC store, with our i7-1360P Raptor Lake chip and either a 512GB SSD and 16GB of RAM or 1TB SSD and 32 GB of RAM option, or with the i5-1340P chip with only 512GB SSD and 16GB of RAM to choose from.

You can also get it without memory, storage, or an operating system license for $99 less, which affords the option of putting in better components such as different RAM sticks, a better NVMe drive, and your own choice of operating system. Even if you decide to go with your own RAM chips, unfortunately you're stuck with DDR4 with this system, DDR5 support starts with the NUC 13 Pro Extreme series, which also costs double.

If you're not familiar with Intel NUC Mini PCs, they come in a "Tall" or "Desk" variant, the main difference is that the "Desk" variant does not allow for an additional 2.5-inch SSD to be added because it misses the 2.5-inch SSD compartment.

The packaging definitely has that familiar Intel design look about it due to the color. Once you pull the top off you are greeted with the Mini PC sitting in a laminated cardboard compartment covered with thin plastic that can be peeled off.

Upon removing the Mini PC, safety documentation, and an Intel Core i7 sticker and then removing the cardboard compartment "shelf", there are 3 cardboard compartments containing the VESA mounting plate, power supply and other items that are listed below.

Intel did not feel it necessary to include a v2.1 HDMI cable, so this is something you'll have to purchase yourself, ensuring of course that it supports the modern standard and you don't get one that is only 2.0b compatible.

The Intel NUC 13 design is a familiar one for Mini PCs and actually 255g heavier than the GEEKOM Mini IT12 we looked at recently, it definitely has a good heft to it and I was initially surprised at the overall packaged weight. Coming in at just under a kilo, it's not heavy, but it certainly isn't light either.

The case is entirely black and plastic, and the top cover has a light textured feel to it, so it isn't a glossy fingerprint magnet. It lacks the premium finish I saw on the GEEKOM Mini IT11 and IT12. All four corners are rounded, and it has a balanced feel to it, so it is comfortable to hold and move around.

Intel used up to 95% recycled materials with the packaging and the NUC 13 Pro case itself is made up of recycled plastics, so even though it has a plastic "look" to it, we really should be praising the efforts of Intel to be environmentally conscience with the manufacturing of it.

The front of the NUC 13 Pro includes two USB 3.2 Gen 2 type A ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack port. Unfortunately, there's no Type C port on the front, which would have been nice, but you can find the two Thunderbolt 4, which use the Type C connector port, around the back.

As far as looks go, and as previously mentioned, it's completely black, and it's not a fingerprint magnet thanks to the slightly textured plastic surface on the lid which you can see in the above photo, it also has the "intel nuc" logo stamped in the bottom left corner of the lid. Essentially, it's a plastic shell covering a metal frame. It doesn't feel cheap, and isn't flimsy either, and even when the base is removed it remains sturdy.

Accessing the Intel NUC 13 Pro is as easy as unscrewing the bottom plate with the four Philips head screws located in the center of each rubber foot, a small hobby screwdriver is enough for the job, but you may want to use a flat-head screwdriver to prise the plate free, taking care not to damage the ribbon which connects to an SSD port that allows for an optional full sized 2.5-inch SSD to be screwed to the backplate. Helpfully, the backplate screws do not come loose from the rubber feet, so you won't lose them either.

As you can see from the above images which can be enlarged when clicked on, there is ample room to manage the SODIMMs and Kingston 512 GB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD, so you can swap it out for something else if you want. The Intel NUC 13 Pro's motherboard includes an option to add a second NVMe SSD, as long as it is only 42mm long.

The backplate only fits back in one way, this is to ensure that the NVMe is always connected to the heat spreader. There's also an option to secure a 2.5-inch SSD with four screws if the four rubbers surrounding the device information sticker are removed, this would be required since there is no "sled" to hold such an SSD in place.

On first boot, you are prompted to complete the setup of Windows 11 Pro, meaning you do not have to fork out for a license, which is nice. After the setup is completed, I am happy to report that the NUC 13 Pro is not loaded with any third-party bloatware. It ships with Windows 11 22H2, so updates were relatively minimal.

The Intel NUC 13 Pro also supports DisplayPort 1.4a through the Thunderbolt 4 port so I can connect my Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 using a USB 4 to DisplayPort cable and utilize the maximum native resolution for my screen, which is 5120x1440 @ 240Hz.

It's physically possible to directly attach four screens to the Intel NUC 13 Pro using the two HDMI and the two Thunderbolt 4 ports if you wanted. Regarding connectivity, there is a USB 2.0, and a 3.2 gen 2 port along with a barrel port for power on the back. Around the front, there are two more USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports and a port for a 3.5mm headphone jack.

For audio output, I linked my Edifier 360DB over Bluetooth, and I did not experience any significant audio delays. It took a few reboots for the Intel NUC 13 Pro to recognize and connect my speakers automatically, the first few times I had to disable and re-enable Bluetooth for the speakers to get connected.

As you can see from the two images above, you can affix a Kensington lock on one side, and both sides contain a mesh grill for air cooling. You may have noticed there is no card reader present, although USB card readers are relatively inexpensive, it would have been nice to have™.

Before I started running benchmarks, I ensured that Windows 11 and drivers were up to date. At the time of testing, the NUC 13 Pro was running Windows 11 Professional 22H2 build 22621.1778 and I also upgraded to the latest Intel driver which is v31.0.101.4369 (May 2023).

During one of the many restarts due to updates, I was also prompted to install a BIOS update that was released on May 23 that had the following changelog:

This download record contains options for updating the Intel® Aptio* V UEFI Firmware BIOS for Intel® NUC 13 Pro - NUC13AN

With that out of the way, and because people like that sort of thing, I ran some benchmarks and compared it to my main PC which I built in 2019 and benchmarked in December 2022.

My Main PC consists of the following:

For the benchmarks, I used 3DMark, PCMark 10, Geekbench, and Cinebench. 3DMark Time Spy tests gaming capability with DX12 graphics performance.

PCMark tests are a mix of CPU and real-world productivity tests, such as using an office suite, web browsing, light photo/video editing, and making conference calls. Cinebench stresses the entire CPU as it is a multi-threaded rendering test. Finally, Geekbench is a synthetic benchmark that is great for a quick look at the potential performance across a wide range of workloads.

Geekbench Single Multicore Compute (OpenCL)

1,671 8,162

1250 11,711

As you can see, the i7-1360P processor is starting to catch up with the four-year older i9-9900K in terms of compute score, the only thing that lets it down is the weak graphics prowess of the Iris Xe GPU.

I also tested the SSD's capability using AS SSD and CrystalDiskMark.

Despite running all of the above benchmark tests, the NUC 13 Pro did not get hot to the touch, but it did get a little warm, and there were no annoying noises coming from the single fan that cools the unit.

For kicks and to blow off a bit of steam, I decided to give Quake Champions a go to see if it would be playable, and after toning down the screen resolution to 3840 x 1080 with everything set to "Low" (which was auto-detected anyway) I can say that it was playable, just about. And here we are talking about a game that first went into closed beta in 2017 using a hybrid game engine made up of id tech and Saber tech.

One thing that is really clear about the Intel NUC 13 Pro is that it isn't a gaming PC, you will not be able to enjoy graphically intensive games on it, but it absolutely is suited as an office workstation, or perhaps a good solution for a student or office worker without a permanent desk affording the ability to pack this away after every use. This thing isn't taking up much room, you can even screw it to the back of a screen if it has VESA support with the included mount plate.

When it comes to Mini PCs, the market is saturated with options like the BEELINK SEI12 with its mobile-class 12th gen Intel i5-1235U being one such example, but that option does not include Thunderbolt 4, dual channel memory, or even a Kensington lock and more. It's the lowest denominator of a Mini PC and when you're spending hundreds of dollars to replace the job of a full-sized PC, you're going to want it to replicate it as much as possible aside from the obvious lack of GPU prowess.

The NUC 13 Pro also has the cheaper i5 entry point, and a beefier i7 model in two flavors with double the memory and storage costing $100 more, and there's even a barebones option where you can put in your own choice of memory, NVMe SSD and OS.

As I said earlier, the decision ultimately comes down to what you're willing to pay for the options you need. This Mini PC will let you connect up to four displays, whereas cheaper solutions will be limited to two screens.

Staring at $649 for the barebones i5-1340P variant, the NUC 13 Pro is not cheap by any means, but it contains the newest of the newest 13th gen Intel processor chipset with PCIe 4.0 connectivity. Aside from not being able to seriously game on it, you are still getting a powerful machine inside a tiny body.

For a while at least, there's a coupon getting you $100 off at GeekNUC when you enter the coupon code NUC13PRO100 which you could apply to the beefier variant, but happily, it applies to all possible variants on their store.

If you prefer to shop through the benefits of Amazon for free delivery and returns, you will be able to save a bit of money on our variant; our contact at GeekNUC let me know they are running a promotion through their official Amazon page starting on May 30th that gets you an extra 10% off the price when you enter the QS7QK2KQ coupon upon checkout, bringing it down to $809.10 or $899.10 for the 32 GB/1 TB option or $719.10 for the barebones variant. This promotion ends on July 30th.

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13th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-1360P 18 MB Cache, up to 5.00 GHz 16GB 512 GB Intel NUC 13 Core i7-1360P 1,845 6,152 5,701 1,823 10,154 18,337 1,903 11,883 NUC13PRO100 QS7QK2KQ