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Review: Intel NUC 9 Extreme is the perfect mini-PC for gamers and professionals

Intel NUC 9 Extreme fulfills its mission of delivering practicality and good performance for everything. Check out our review

Year after year, NUCs (Next Unit of Computing), gives Intel, have been improving and adapting to serve different segments. After presenting the Skull canyon in 2016 and the Hades Canyon in 2018 (already evaluated here on Showmetech), time to meet the powerful NUC 9 Extreme NUC9i9QNX – also known as Ghost Canyon.

The new Intel NUC 9 Extreme the first Next Unit of Computing of the company to support a desktop graphics card, which is very interesting. The complete kit was presented for the first time during the CES 2020 (Consumer Electronics Show) and reaches the market to compete directly with the Asus ROG Huracan G21 it's the MSI Trident X.

Intel NUC 9 EXTREMEIntel NUC 9 Extreme was presented during CES 2020

If you still don?t know this ecosystem, NUCs are mini-PCs barebone. It works more or less like this: when buying a desktop, we can select the memory, storage, operating system and GPU ideal for working or playing. The NUC, on the other hand, delivers the closed package with the CPU, motherboard and other necessary components.

O NUC 9 Extreme evaluated came with the following specifications: processor Intel Core i9 9980HK, 16GB RAM, Intel Optane 905p 380GB SSD, Kingston KC2000 1TB SSD, and ASUS Dual GPU GeForce RTX 2070 MINI 8GB. Check out our analysis on the machine below.


NUC 9 Extreme with side designThe NUC 9 Extreme has a compact design

O NUC 9 Extreme bigger than some available mini-PCs, but still in the PC category SFF (Small Form Factor, or Small Format in free translation). In comparison to Hades Canyon, the newly presented larger model with a beautiful design, including a beehive grill with a skull. O NUC 9 Extreme it has a volume of almost five liters, to accommodate the installation of the PCI Express video card (PCI-e). In general, the NUC 9 Extreme gives Intel comes with a compact, flexible and powerful platform for your games and other activities.

Looking at the CPU card for the first time, called Compute Element, it resembles a video card, because it is connected via a PCIe x16 slot. However, only the entire central command of the computer. Next to it is the ASUS Dual GeForce RTX 2070 video card.

Side of NUC 9 Extreme NUC9i9QNXThe mini-PC has an ASUS Dual GeForce RTX 2070 video card

Before purchasing a NUC 9 Extreme It is essential to take into account that GPUs with more than 20 centimeters are not fitted in the NUC kit from Intel. This is one of the negative points, which also leads to a decrease in performance. But, on the other hand, you can win in convenience.

The chassis on the mini-PC was developed with the convenience of installing features in mind. Its dimension was designed to maintain practicality, as well as the possibility of adding two slots (up to 131 mm high and 202 mm long), next to the Compute Element.

To access the internal components, you can loosen two screws on the top panel of the chassis. In this area, you can see the fans (80 mm x 15 mm). After removing the upper component, we can remove the side panels by sliding upwards and thus assist in the installation of a PCI-e card.

Internal elements and connectivity

Intel Mini PCThe PC is available from Core i5 to i9

Now analyzing the internal components, the NUC 9 Extreme (NUC9i9QNX) works with a welded processor Intel Core i9-9980HK. It is important to remember that the mini-PC arrives on the market with Core i5 to Core i9.

The new model of Intel it has only one fan and there is a double heat sink with pre-connected thermal pads. Just like in the predecessor Hades Canyon, O NUC 9 Extreme is aligned with two M.2 slots. They are: 1x M.2 2280 and 1x M.2 22110, which are to the left of the processor. On the opposite side, there are SODIMM slots capable of operating at speeds that go up to DDR-2666 for DIMMs with up to 16 GB.

Outputs available on the mini-PCOutputs available on the mini-PC

With regard to doors, the Intel introduced four USB 3.0 ports, two RJ-45, one audio, two Thunderbolt ports, only one HDMI port and there is also the power plug. On the front of the NUC 9 Extreme we found the on / off button, two more USB ports, an SD card reader and another audio port.


During the tests, it was possible to evaluate the performance of the Intel NUC 9 Extreme NUC9i9QNX with games and, of course, the machine met expectations well. With Far Cry 5 in 4K, it worked at 46 fps in Ultra mode. And the ideal for NUC9i9QNX 1440p in ultra, where you get improved graphics, good frame rate and better resolution. The same results were obtained by playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Far Cry 5 game running on Intel mini-PCFar Cry 5 game

While you play, the fans run at a high speed, however there seems to be no risk of overheating. At these times you may notice the cooling noise, which can be a little annoying, but is easily circumvented with the use of headphones.


O NUC 9 Extreme NUC9i9QNX it is not yet sold in the Brazilian market, and in the United States the mini-PC is found for around US $ 1,640 (something around R $ 8,630, in direct conversion).

This is a complete machine, bringing together the best attributes of previous generations of the Ghost Canyon. It is a PC that allows the user to choose the best components to make games and work programs work very efficiently.

And as we always highlight in products like this, it is worth considering that the NUC 9 Extreme NUC9i9QNX a device designed for games and for those who work with heavy programs.


Model Intel NUC 9 Extreme NUC9i9QNX
Processor Intel Core i9-9980HKCoffee Lake-H, 8C / 16T, 2.4 (5.0) GHz16MB L2 + L3, 14nm (optimized), 45W TDP
Memory Kingston HyperX KHX3200C20S4 / 8G DDR4 SODIMM17-19-19-35 @ 2666 MHz2 × 8 GB
Graphics ASUS Dual GeForce RTX 2070 MINI 8GB GDDR6Intel UHD Graphics 630
Disk Drive (s) Intel SSD 905p Optane SSDPEL1D380GA (380 GB; M.2 Type 22110 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe; Optane / 3D XPoint) Kingston KC2000 SKC2000M81000G (1TB; M.2 Type 2280 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe; Toshiba 96L 3D TLC; Silicon Motion SM2262EN Controller)
Networking Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 (2 × 2 802.11ax – 2400 Mbps) 1x Intel I219-LM Gigabit Ethernet Adapter 1x Intel I210 Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
audio 3.5 mm audio connector (front) Optical TOSLINK output (rear) 5.1 / 7.1 digital output with HD audio bit stream (HDMI)
Miscellaneous I / O ports 1x UHS-II SDXC slot (front) 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) Type A (Front) 4x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) Type A (Rear) 2x Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps) Type C (Rear)
Operational system Windows 10, 64-bit, Linux
  • Performance – 9/10
  • Connectivity – 8/10
  • Update features – 10/10
  • Operating system and features – 9/10
  • Design – 9/10
  • Price – 6/10

8.5 / 10

Intel NUC 9 Extreme a machine for all tasks and games

Intel NUC 9 Extreme is a powerful machine for gamers and professionals who need a computer that can run heavy programs. The possibility of updating is one of his main strengths.


  • Performance;
  • Update;
  • Modular hardware;
  • Good cooling.


  • Price;
  • Rudo at times.