Intel NUC Alternative

Intel NUC seems to being discontinued.
What do you plan to use as an alternative to NUC? I would love to discuss it with you.

How about Orange Pi 5 Plus?

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Hello @tishihara thanks for your message.

We are discussing internally which is a good alternative for Intel NUC but it also depends on the use case.

In what use case do you use Intel NUCs with balena? and why would you move to Oragen Pi 5 Plus?

I am currently running an image analysis program on the edge using an NPU that can be installed in the M2 slot. This program requires a decent amount of CPU power, and I believe the Orange Pi 5 Plus offers excellent performance considering its size and price in terms of CPU power.

But exactly, this is totally depends on use case.

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It seems that ASUS will manufacture and develop new Intel NUCs


Additionally, a lot of trusted (and not so trusted) companys produce a lot of x64 small form factor (“NUC”) boxes. E.g. the Ultra Small Form Factor machines (e.g. from HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc) will still be available in the future and are imho the best power/size factor you can get, e.g. look at the project TinyMiniMicro by the awesome Serve The Home / STH community (e.g. STH Project TinyMiniMicro Home Lab Revolution Introduction - YouTube ).
Intel might have found out that the NUCs do not work out for them, but they certainly do for other companies - and the good thing is that x64 is a lot better to support than normal SBCs - it is very likely that most x64 system will just work with the default image by balena :slight_smile:


It really is a sad period for “embedded” x86 machines, with Intel pulling out of doing NUCs, and PCEngines discontinuing their APU2 devices, which would have been my recommendation in a heart beat otherwise.

We’re currently trialing the Jetway FBZ10 as a replacement for the APU2, which is fine I guess. There’s definitely some rough edges to the device, such as not reporting the serial number in a manner that can be read by software running on the device, but its manageable for us. Jetway have other devices as well, but we’re specifically targeting the FBZ10-T, because its one of the few things out there that both has a decent number of ethernet interfaces, and supports LTE modems.

@tishihara, @nmaas87, @jonwood,

I’m just piling in here, haha. Definitely a bummer that Intel is walking away from the NUC business, as it’s been great both for some consistency in the industry and having a nice reference board from the SoC manufacturer directly.

That said, we are also partnered with ASUS and working to find out how we can be best connected with them in future. Stay tuned.

Additionally, I’ve seen some really nice hardware from ASUS generally that we might test with the Generic x86-64 image, like this ExpertCenter PN42. They continue with the tool-less design for easy upgrading / repairing, continue with VESA mounting options, and have some silly options like changing the color for the power button, lol. I don’t know, I’m pretty impressed. Curious what you guys think? Would you prefer to move to one of the Top 3 (Dell, HP, Lenovo), get something like the Seeed Odyssey boards, or build something custom instead?

Full transparency: I’m the Product Manager for balena’s third-party hardware efforts and am very interested in opinions - the good, the bad, and the ugly :smiley:

From working at universities and research centers I can attest that some of those have contracts with one of the “big companies” which they have to accquire all their compute power from. Only in very special cases they may deviate from that rule, so in some of those cases, I needed to buy all servers and workstations from Dell. Only due to supply chain issues, Laptops have grown from “only Dell” to Dell+Fujitsu+Lenovo. Raspberry Pi or other non x64 products were easier to obtain in that way, that they did not interfere with that law.

Personally, I would probably go down the route of acquiring some old+used Dell (or similar) USFF (ultra small form factor) PC if I had a need for such a project that required that much compute :slight_smile: . I must admit I love the reliability that comes with certain big brands - and I normally tend to buy used/old laptops from old leasing contracts (e.g. mostly 3 years for different kind of finicials institutes) - they come down in price a lot and quality is still on point.

In regards to the remote solutions built into modern small form factor systems, I am a bit biased. Most of them are cloud based or at least call home once in a while and thats a red flag for me / reason to dump the overall product. I most admit I also hate the Intel Management Engine stuff that is also built into nearly every Dell product - but you just cannot get around it :/. The only remote solutions I ever liked where the Dell iDRAC products, but… yeah, mostly a more necessary evil.

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