Setup Notes and Platform Analysis

The review sample of the NUC12DCMi9 came package in a fancy casing, signifying its premium nature. Since the review configuration was a DIY configuration, the package contents only included the main unit, power cord, and a USB key containing the drivers for the system. The retail packaging is bound to be quite different, as these pre-production samples are packaged to make unboxing videos attractive.

The NUC12DCMi9 sports the Intel VisualBIOS with a modern interface. It has plenty of enthusiast options to fine tune the performance. The video below presents the entire gamut of available options.

The specifications of our Intel NUC12DCMi9 review configuration are summarized in the table below.

Intel NUC12DCMi9 (Dragon Canyon) Specifications
Processor Intel Core i9-12900
Alder Lake-S , 8C + 8c / 24T, (c) 1.8 / 3.8 GHz, (C) 2.4 / 5.0 GHz, (5.1) GHz
14MB+30MB L2+L3, Intel 7, 65W TDP
Memory Mushkin Redline 4S320NNNF32G DDR4 SODIMM
22-22-22-52 @ 3200 MHz
2x32 GB
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 770
Disk Drive(s) Western Digital WD_BLACK SN770
(1TB; M.2 Type 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe; SanDisk BiCS 5 112L 3D TLC; SanDisk In-House Controller)
Networking Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX211
(2x2 802.11ax - 2400 Mbps)
1x Intel I225-LM 2.5G Ethernet Adapter
1x Marvell FastLinQ Edge 10 Gbit Ethernet Adapter
Audio 3.5mm Audio Jack (Front)
Capable of 5.1/7.1 digital output with HD audio bitstreaming (HDMI / USB-C)
Miscellaneous I/O Ports 1x UHS-II SDXC Slot (Front)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) Type-A (Front)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) Type-C (Front)
6x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) Type-A (Rear)
2x Thunderbolt 4 (40 Gbps) Type-C (Rear)
Operating System Retail unit is barebones, but we installed Windows 11 Enterprise x64 (22000.527)
Pricing (As configured) $1755
Full Specifications Intel NUC12DCMi9 Specifications

The block diagram of the NUC12DCMi9 in relation to the bandwidth sharing between the various ports in the system is provided below. The components in white with a black background are those present on the baseboard / daughterboard, while the rest are present in the Compute Element.

Unlike the Beast Canyon NUC in which the two Thunderbolt 4 Type-C ports in the Compute Element are enabled directly from the CPU, the Dragon Canyon NUC puts both behind a single PCIe 4 link from the PCH. The saving grace is the x8 DMI link, but the two Thunderbolt 4 can't get full bandwidth simultaneously. The DisplayPort signals muxed into them come from the display controller in the CPU. All of the I/Os are off the Alder Point PCH. Despite the alleviation of the DMI bandwidth issue, the focus on the PCH for most of the I/Os is reflective of a typical desktop PC. Hopefully future desktop platforms can adopt some of the I/O features of Tiger Lake and bring in native Thunderbolt support on the CPU die itself.

In today's review, we compare the NUC12DCMi9 (Dragon Canyon) and the NUC11BTMi9 (Beast Canyon) - both configured without a discrete GPU. In the table below, we have an overview of the two system configurations.

Comparative PC Configurations
Aspect Intel NUC12DCMi9 (Dragon Canyon) Intel NUC11BTMi9 (Beast Canyon)
CPU Intel Core i9-12900 Intel Core i9-11900KB
GPU Intel UHD Graphics 770 Intel UHD Graphics for 11th Gen
RAM Mushkin Redline 4S320NNNF32G DDR4 SODIMM
22-22-22-52 @ 3200 MHz
2x32 GB
Kingston HyperX KHX3200C20S4/8G DDR4-3200 SODIMM
20-22-22-42 @ 3200 MHz
2x8 GB
Storage Western Digital WD_BLACK SN770
(1TB; M.2 Type 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe; SanDisk BiCS 5 112L 3D TLC; SanDisk In-House Controller)
Sabrent Rocket NVMe 4.0
(500 GB; M.2 Type 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe; Kioxia 96L 3D TLC)
(Phison E16 Controller)
Wi-Fi Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX211 Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210
Price (in USD, when built) $1400 (barebones)
$1755 (as configured / No OS / No dGPU)
$1350 (barebones)
$1606 (as configured / No OS / No dGPU)

The next few sections will deal with comparative benchmark numbers from our new test suite for mini-PCs based on Windows 11.

Introduction and Product Impressions System Performance
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  • thestryker - Thursday, February 24, 2022 - link

    Thanks for the preview, and looking forward to the rest of the review. While looking to verify which chipset was used I noticed the link to specs in the article's specs table goes to the 11th, not 12th gen ark page.

    It's interesting to see some of the drawbacks of using the desktop platform over the laptop one. Of course end users could likely replace these CPUs with Raptor Lake which comes out later this year rather than having to replace the whole element card as would otherwise be the case. I'm also a big fan of them putting 10g on this one with overall minimal price increase.

    Z690 is capable of bifurcation so I wonder what the reasoning for omitting it is.
  • Interu wa shinde iru - Friday, March 4, 2022 - link

    so this is intel's new marketing strategy, take it to the forums!
  • Dug - Friday, March 11, 2022 - link

    There's no room would be my guess for no bifurcation.
  • Operandi - Thursday, February 24, 2022 - link

    This thing a cool idea in concept but is awful in execution.

    They are making their own 100% proprietary form factor and they can't beat legacy existing iTX solutions in a performance per volume comparison ahd have to use off the shelf notebook cooling solutions and just a bunch of random fans pushing hot air out of the chassis? If they have complete control over where components are going to placed and the size, shape of the form factor they can come up with something smarter than this.

    I would like to see large passive heatsinks for the CPU, chipset and whatever else needs cooling on the 'compute board' and utilizing a front to back or top bottom (depending on how the case is designed / shaped) in a push - pull cooling configuration with large 92, 120, 140mm fans depending on use case. This is such a lazy, garbage design and a wasted potential for better form factor which the industry really needs.
  • lazarpandar - Thursday, February 24, 2022 - link

    This is 100% my reaction. The whole removal of the motherboard is cool but the way they've implemented it offers zero benefit. What are we supposed to take away from this lol
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, February 24, 2022 - link

    Cool. People will still buy it.

    My only annoyance is not knowing if you can use a 12th gen compute unit in the 9th gen chassis.
  • Operandi - Thursday, February 24, 2022 - link

    Which people? The ones big into buying overpriced garbage? 'Cool' and good for them I guess.
  • Samus - Friday, February 25, 2022 - link

    Yeah...I see these things just FLYING off the shelves.
  • lazarpandar - Friday, February 25, 2022 - link

    What specifically did you think was cool about his post
  • arashi - Saturday, February 26, 2022 - link

    Probably the part where his employer's name appeared.

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