The Best $750 Ultra-Compact NUC PC Build – September 2022

By Ari Altman | Published September 6, 2022 | Updated September 6, 2022

Asrock 4x4The Ultra-Compact PC, Defined

Need a powerful PC for work-for-home or small business use, but can’t stand the thought of a big, bulky desktop tower on your desk? Then go for an ultra-compact NUC PC, which uses a 4″ (10cm) square motherboard. In case that doesn’t translate for you immediately, it’s really small!

The NUC platform was created by Intel years ago, and has continued to prove incredibly popular. Intel supports it in fits and starts, however, sometimes skipping whole generations. Going forward, we anticipate that the vast majority of systems, whether using Intel or AMD chips, will come from manufacturers like AsRock, Gigabyte, and Asus, three of the leading motherboard manufacturers.

This Month’s Build, Featuring Intel’s 12th-Gen Platform!

Finally, after what seemed like an endless wait, we’re able to feature an Intel processor in our NUC guide again! For September 2022, that processor is the incredible Core i5-1240P, and it comes courtesy of AsRock. The 1240P is a 12-core, 16-thread powerhouse, despite being rated at just 28 Watts. It also has the excellent Intel Iris Xe G7 graphics solution on board. Because this is a barebones kit, you need to add your own RAM, solid-state drive, and operating system. We suggest 16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM, a fast 500GB PCIe solid-state drive, along with Windows 11. By the way, this system also has WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, and support for up to four monitors thank to its array of HDMI and DisplayPort outputs.

Need even more power? No problem! We list an incredible pre-built PC in the optional products section of this guide that is honestly an unbeatable deal. For around the same price as our Intel-based build, you get the top-of-the-line AMD Ryzen 7 5700G, an eight-core, 16-thread desktop-class CPU, along with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD included. The only drawback is a slightly larger size (5″ x 5″), but anyone serious about extreme computing in an ultra-compact form factor ought to check it out.

With all that said, if you decide you want extreme power but don’t need something quite this small, check out the other options in our Small Form Factor Build Guides, which leverage the power of midrange and high-end desktop-class processors.

Final Thoughts

Note that we provide links to Amazon or Newegg for our US readers, and our Amazon links will auto-convert for our readers in Canada, the UK, and parts of the EU, with regional substitutions made where necessary. If you decide to purchase any of the products we list, please use the links provided, which helps support continued development of these guides.

Required Components

  • Barebones Mini PC

    ASRock NUC BOX-1240P @Newegg

    The tiny but powerful NUC from Asrock is the perfect embodiment of Intel’s original NUC design. It uses the classic 4″ x 4″ layout, but packs in the modern, ultra-fast Intel Core i5-1240P, which features 4 multi-threaded “performance cores”, along with 8 efficiency cores, for a total of 16 task-stomping threads! It has built-in Wi-Fi 6E, dual 2.5Gbps LAN ports, a slot for an M.2 drive, another for a 2.5″ drive, and an amazing four UHD video outputs (one HDMI 2.0, one DisplayPort 1.4, and two DisplayPort 1.4 over USB Type-C).
    The Guru’s Tip

    Remember, as a barebones system, this box needs RAM, storage, and an OS!

  • Memory

    G.Skill 2x8GB Rijpaws DDR4-3200 C22 SODIMM

    This compact SODIMM kits uses the laptop standard, allowing it to pack 16GB of capacity into a tiny footprint. It offers great performance thanks to its 3200 frequency.
    The Guru’s Tip

    We think 16GB is plenty of capacity for the kind of uses this system will be tasked with.

  • Solid-State Drive

    WD_BLACK SN770 500GB NVMe

    WD knocked it out of the park with its ultra-high-performance, bargain-priced SN770 PCIe Gen 4 drive. Optimized for excellent real-world performance thanks to WD’s years of SSD development, it easily keeps up with much more expensive drives. This 500GB model can provide sequential read speeds of 5000MB/s and write speeds of 4000MB/s.
    The Guru’s Tip

    The barebones system we're recommending supports PCIe Gen4 speeds, so yeah, we're going there... this drive is fast! Need something bigger? Then just pick up the 1TB version of this drive!

  • Operating System

    Windows 11 Home USB

    Windows 11 take everything people loved about Windows 10, and then takes it to 11! It adds significant under-the-hood changes to make it faster and more secure, and of course, the interface is sleek too!
    The Guru’s Tip

    Originally released only as an update for existing Win10 users, Win11 is the OS you want on your new PC!

Optional Products

  • The Ultra-Compact Small Office PC

    MINISFORUM Elitemini B550

    Take everything you want in a modern PC and then scale it down, and you get the EliteMini B550. Despite the slim profile (it’s 5″ square and 1.9″ thick), it packs in a lot of power. It’s equipped with the AMD Ryzen 7 5700G 8-core, 16-thread desktop-class CPU, Vega graphics, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB solid-state drive, and built-in WiFi. It has 5 USB ports in total (including a Type-C), and it can simultaneously support three monitors with resolutions up to 4K using its dual HDMI and DisplayPort output. It can even be upgraded with a second M.2 SSD plus a 2.5″ SSD. It’s basically the perfect small office PC!
    The Guru’s Tip

    While this is slightly larger than the NUC format, the power it offers is simply amazing, and we think anyone considering an ultra-compact PC should take a look given the exceptional price!

  • Hard Drive

    WD Blue 2TB 2.5″

    Want to add a bunch of storage to your system at low cost, and without taking up much space? No problem – just add this high-capacity 2TB hard drive to your build! Not only is it a good value, but it’s also very quiet and energy efficient.
    The Guru’s Tip

    This is a great way to expand the storage capacity of an ultra-compact PC, as you'll already have a quick SSD in the system for the OS and apps.

  • The Budget Wireless PC Headset

    ‎SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless

    SteelSeries has made a name for itself in the gaming headset world with its no-nonsense focus on performance. The Arctis 1 follows in this tradition with high-end drivers, lossless 2.4 GHz wireless for ultra-low latency wireless connectivity on both PC and PS4/PS5, a detachable bidirectional microphone, and 20 hours of battery life.
    The Guru’s Tip

    This headset will also work with your smartphone, thanks to its Bluetooth capability.

  • The Deluxe Wireless Keyboard/Mouse Combo

    Logitech MK875 Keyboard/Mouse Combo

    This combo includes two great Logitech products at one great price. The keyboard has a curved profile and a built-in wrist rest for unbeatable comfort. And the mouse is among our favorites ever, the MX Anywhere 2S, with a great ergonomic grip and the Darkfield laser sensor, which allows it to track on anything, even glass! Both peripherals connect to your PC with a single tiny, Logitech Unifying USB receiver, or via Bluetooth.
    The Guru’s Tip

    We suggest using the Bluetooth functionality of these peripherals, meaning you won't need to use any of the USB ports on your mini PC!

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