A powerful gaming PCs used to require a massive tower enclosure, but small form factor PCs are now commonplace. Intel’s latest Next Unit of Computing (NUC) barebones platform could unlock a new era in tiny gaming computers, along with some help from Razer. The company’s new Tomahawk N1 pairs the NUC 9 Extreme Compute Element with a full-sized graphics card for a remarkably small but powerful system.
The entire Tomahawk system has a volume of just 10 liters — it’s easy to confuse this device for an external GPU enclosure, but there’s a whole computer inside. Razer plans to offer various configuration options with up to a Core i9 processor, 64GB of DDR4 RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super. The CPU is a laptop part, but these are the most powerful 45W variants. The system also has an impressive array of I/O options including 6 USB 3.1 ports (USB-A), two Thunderbolt 3 ports (USB-C), dual ethernet ports, and all the display ports you’d usually find on an Nvidia GPU.
This system features a standard desktop graphics card on one side of the case. On the other side, you have the Intel NUC card. The GPU slides into the Tomahawk like any standard ATX case, so you’ll be able to swap cards whenever you want. The RAM, SSD, and NUC card are all upgradeable, too.
The Tomahawk N1 has an all-aluminum case with tempered glass panels on both sides, allowing you to see the hardware packed inside. The GPU fills almost the entire window, driving home how compact this system is. This case and the bundled hardware are the selling point of Razer’s offering. Intel will begin selling the NUC 9 Extreme in March, but you’ll have to add your own memory, storage, OS, and GPU. Razer’s Tomahawk N1 comes with everything you need, and it fits larger GPUs.
2020 might be the first time NUCs are a viable option for gaming, lowering the barrier to entry and saving space at the same time. However, these boxes won’t be cheap. Intel’s hardware will start at $1,050 for a Core i5 variant. Razer will include more components, along with that slick custom case, so the price will be much higher. The company hasn’t settled on a price, but it’s apparently floating $2,300 starting. There’s no timeline for release, but that just means more time to save your pennies.