March 2, 2024

ASRock Industrial: Barebone mini PCs with Intel Meteor Lake and AMD Hawk Point

Intel’s new mobile processors of the Meteor Lake family are ideal not only for laptops, but also for budget mini-PCs. ASRock Industrial is one of the first buyers. Four different types of NUC(S) Ultra 100 BOX are equipped with Meteor Lake. At the same time there are two new 4×4 boxes with AMD Hawk Point.

Both the larger NUC Ultra 100 BOX and flat NUCS Ultra 100 BOX are offered in two versions with Intel Core Ultra 7 155H or Intel Core Ultra 5 125H. There are a total of four variants to choose from.

The Core Ultra 7 155H has 16 cores (6P + 8E + 2 LPE) and a large integrated graphics unit with 8 Xe cores. The Core Ultra 5 125H is the entry-level model with 14 cores (4P + 8E + 2 LPE) and the smaller iGPU with 7 Xe cores. Both chipsets are equipped with a 28W TDP.

While Meteor Lake only takes a small step forward in CPU performance compared to Raptor Lake, GPU performance increases dramatically. After years of lagging, Intel can catch up with AMD’s APUs. This makes the chips more interesting for laptops and mini PCs that don’t have a dedicated graphics card.

Intel Core Ultra H vs. Core i-13x0P in notebook as of Q4/2023

Nok Ultra 100 Box

With dimensions of 117.5 x 110.0 x 49 mm (L x W x H), the ASRock NUC Ultra 100 BOX is the larger or taller of the two. Although the weight of both is about 1 kg. In addition to the aforementioned processors, two SO-DIMM slots accommodate up to 96GB (48GB per module) of DDR5-5600. Depending on whether a Core Ultra 7 or Core Ultra 5 is used, a 120W or 90W external power supply is used.

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NUC Ultra 100 BOX with Intel Meteor Lake (Image: ASRock)

On the front, the large box offers Thunderbolt 4 ports including DisplayPort 2.1, 10Gb/s USB-C, DisplayPort 1.4a, and 10Gb/s USB-A as well as a headphone and microphone combo port. On the back there are two HDMI 2.0 sockets, two 2.5Gb/s Ethernet ports, two USB-A (10Gb/s) ports and a power connection for a 19V power supply.

Inside there are two M.2 slots for SSDs with PCIe 4.0 x4, one of which supports the M.2 2242 and 2280 formats, and the other supports only the 2242 short form. There is also a SATA port.

Also as a slim version

The latter is not available in the flat NUCS Ultra 100 BOX because there is simply no space for a 2.5-inch SSD, as dimensions are only 117.5 x 110.0 x 38 mm (L x W x H). This version is flattened by about 1cm.

However, in addition to the aforementioned ports including Thunderbolt 4, USB-C, and audio, there is a second USB-A port on the front. However, at the back there is only one 2.5Gb/s Ethernet network. The Slim version has two versions of the newer HDMI 2.1 standard and also two USB-A sockets on the back. However, one of the two M.2 slots only works with PCIe 4.0 x1.

NUCS Ultra 100 BOX (Slim) with Intel Meteor Lake (Photo: ASRock)

In all versions, the WLAN radio module with WiFi 6E occupies a third M.2 slot with the electronic switch. Cooling is always done with a fan, and as barebones systems, no memory must be purchased.

ASRock doesn’t provide any information about pricing for the new barebones Mini PCs. Provides manufacturer-specific product pages More information about equipment.

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AMD alternative with Ryzen 8000U

A few days ago, ASRock also released two new mini devices equipped with the new AMD processors foot. These are the 4X4 BOX-8840U and 4X4 BOX-8640U as equal-sized counterparts of the NUC Ultra 100 BOX with dimensions of 117.5 x 110.0 x 49mm (L x W x H). There is currently no slim version here.

Instead of Intel Meteor Lake there is AMD Hawk Point. In the case of the Ryzen 7 8840U, the Phoenix APU series update brings eight Zen 4 cores and a large iGPU with 12 CUs. The Ryzen 5 8640U has six cores and 8 CUs. Both are also specified at 28W TDP and are direct competitors to Intel chips.

AMD Ryzen 8040HS, 8040U to 7040HS, AMD Ryzen 7040U

However, AMD’s barebones interfaces are poorer, with only HDMI 1.4b, DisplayPort 1.4a (via USB4) and only one 2.5Gb/s Ethernet, with the second port only providing 1Gb/s. There’s no Thunderbolt 4 on the front, instead there are two USB4 ports and one 10Gb/s USB-A as well as an audio combo port. The aforementioned HDMI and Ethernet ports can be found on the back, which are accompanied by two very slow USB 2.0 ports. So the duel on equal footing with Intel is not in terms of hardware.

8040 Series 4×4 case with AMD Hawk Point (Image: ASRock)

More information about the new barebones architectures with AMD Hawk Point is available here Manufacturer product pages.