The Next Unit of Computing branding, known as NUC (pronounced nu-ck), has long been associated with Intel’s small form factor desktop designs featuring mobile-class processors. Last year Intel broke that design philosophy with the introduction of the NUC 9 Pro, known as Quartz Canyon, which allowed for a PCIe graphics card in a unified box. Intel today is announcing the next step on the NUC journey, with a pre-built laptop featuring 10nm Quad-Core Tiger Lake Processors.
The new NUC M15 Laptop Kit (codename Bishop County) is a pre-built notebook/laptop isn’t going to be something that an end-user can purchase outright. Rather than directly compete with its laptop partners, the unit is going to be offered to Intel’s laptop partners and channel customers for them to re-brand, potentially build upon, and then resell. This is why it is called the whitebook market, and why I used whitebook in the title of this article.
The NUC M15 design uses Tiger Lake (Intel Core 11th Gen) with Xe graphics in a platform designed to meet Intel Evo requirements for premium laptop design. This means meeting minimum specifications on wake-up time, charging, Thunderbolt, Wi-Fi, and screen power consumption. Evo still needs to be applied for by each brand that takes the M15 on for itself to modify and re-sell, but Intel states that offering this whitebook model will help a lot of regional retailers offer something a bit beyond the normal range of designs with their own unique modifications.
One of the first channel partners that emailed us about their implementation of the M15 was Schenker, a Germany-based retailer that sells across Europe and other locations. Normally we see the company implement Clevo whitebook designs, and so this is something a bit different – the Schenker Vision 15 is a 15.6-inch implementation in an aluminium unibody design with a touch display, 450 nit brightness, Thunderbolt 4, a PCIe 4.0-enabled SSD, and charging options enabled through Type-C on both sides.
Inside is the quad-core Tiger Lake Core i7-1165G7 with Xe graphics, and with the 73 Wh quick-charging battery the company claims it enables 14 hours of Wi-Fi or 10 hours of H.264 local video playback (measured at 150 nits). Schenker is claiming CBR23 scores of 1537 for ST and 5990 for MT, and will offer performance profiles for regular use or peak performance (the latter peaking at 84ºC and 40.8 dB(A) according to the company). The keyboard is listed as having LED-backlighting, and Schenker will support 25 country-specific keyboard layouts.
On storage and memory, Schenker will offer a variety of PCIe 4.0 storage options, as well as LPDDR4X-4267 memory options. Both Thunderbolt 4 ports will support charging, and an additional USB 3.2 Gen 2 port is available. A Linux version will be offered by Schenker’s sister company, TUXEDO Computers.
Shipping will start in January, with the base model offering a Shadow Grey design with the Core i7-1165G7, 16 GB LPDDR4X-4267, and a 250 GB Samsung 970 EVO Plus storage drive, which will retail in Europe for €1499 ($1531 USD equivalent pre-tax). Users after PCIe 4.0 storage will be able to select various capacities of Samsung 980 Pro. Standard warranty is 36 months. Schenker hasn’t yet applied for Intel Evo certification, but has stated that it meets the standards.
We are expecting other companies to offer similar versions of the NUC M15 design, however one of the issues with the whitebook market is differentiation. With the majority of the hardware in this unit going to be the same from other Intel channel partners, the margins might be very tight. Schenker states that they are a lead partner in this collaborative design.