The Best $750 Ultra-Compact NUC PC Build – January 2023

By Ari Altman | Published November 9, 2022 | Updated November 9, 2022

Intel Nuc 12The 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 funny thing is that Intel supports the NUC platform in fits and starts, sometimes going nearly two years without issuing an update, which leads well-known partners like Gigabyte, Asrock, and Asus to step in. Luckily, after what seemed like an endless wait, we’re able to feature an Intel NUC in our NUC guide again!

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

For January 2023, we recommend an ultra-slim, 1.5″-tall NUC with the incredible Core i5-1240P. This CPU 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 Gen 4 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 Thunderbolt outputs. And new this month is our recommendation to turn your NUC into an all-in-one, interactive workstation: an awesome touchscreen monitor with a mount on the back for the NUC! Look for this monitor in our optional products section later in this guide.

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

    Intel NUC 12 Pro Kit (Wall Street Canyon) @Newegg

    The tiny but powerful NUC is the perfect embodiment of Intel’s original NUC design. It uses the classic 4″ x 4″ motherboard layout. That translates to a palm-sized case measuring 4.6″ x 4.4″ x 1.5″, yet packs in the modern, ultra-fast Intel Core i5-1240P. This cutting-edge CPU 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, dual M.2 drive slots, and an amazing four UHD video outputs (two via HDMI 2.0, and two via Thunderbolt 4).
    The Guru’s Tip

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

  • Memory

    G.Skill 2x8GB Ripjaws 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!

  • Monitor

    Acer UT241Y 24″ Touchscreen Monitor

    Nothing makes the computing experience more immersive and interactive than a touchscreen. Why keep your PC in the dark ages when your tablet and smartphone have had touchscreens for years? This exceptional model from Acer offers a big 23.8″ 1920×1080 IPS panel, a dual-hinge stand for both upright and desk surface use, built-in speakers, and of course full touch functionality.
    The Guru’s Tip

    Acer thought of everything with this monitor - it has a built-in mount to allow attaching a NUC PC directly to the back of the monitor!

  • 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!

  • 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.

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