Intel NUC 11 Extreme Mini PC for Audio

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KVRist
395 posts since 5 Feb, 2012

Post Fri Oct 22, 2021 4:03 pm

Although I am currently using a late 2015 MacBook Pro as my music workstation (running Cubase 11,) it's not quite powerful enough to run multiple instances of all the CPU-intensive plugins I would like to use while writing songs (e.g., Diva, Repro-5, some of the newer Arturia instruments, etc.)

I'm pretty agnostic when it comes to computer platforms. In fact I use an small Intel NUC 2 (quad core 2.7 GHz i7) with Vienna Ensemble to offload some of the computing power in order to run more plugins.

But I would like to run everything off one computer if possible. So I was looking at replacing my MacBook Pro with the latest generation of the Intel NUC "mini" PC. I realize I could get (or build) a faster PC tower. But that's big and likely to be as noisy as a room fan.

So I am just wondering if anyone has any experience with the Intel NUC 11. It's an 8-core i9 whose base frequency is 3.3 GHz with speedboost up to 4.9 GHz. It supports 64 GHz of memory, 8 TB of SSD storage, a full length graphics card of your choosing, and most importantly for me 2 Thunderbolt 4 ports. I should mention that I don't play games. So I would get the cheapest/fanless graphics card that still provides decent performance. Here are a list of the full specs on Intel's website:

https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en ... 20NUC%2011

Thanks for any real world information you might have.
Matrix-1000, MicroWave with Access programmer, MicroWave II, MKS-50 with MidiClub programmer, MKS-70, MKS-80 with Kiwi Patch Editor, Nord 2 Rack, Nord 3 Rack, Prophet REV2 module, Pulse 2, Shruthi, Virus TI

KVRist

Topic Starter

395 posts since 5 Feb, 2012

Post Fri Oct 22, 2021 4:13 pm

Oh, I should mention that I am not going to spend $6K on a new 16" M1 Max MacBook Pro with similar memory and storage specs especially when it is likely to take another year of two for most plugin developers to create M1-native versions of all their software.
Matrix-1000, MicroWave with Access programmer, MicroWave II, MKS-50 with MidiClub programmer, MKS-70, MKS-80 with Kiwi Patch Editor, Nord 2 Rack, Nord 3 Rack, Prophet REV2 module, Pulse 2, Shruthi, Virus TI

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KVRAF
4295 posts since 29 Sep, 2010 from Maui

Post Fri Oct 22, 2021 7:08 pm

It's a small PC, the only reason to use one is for space considerations or possibly portability, depending on the amount of portability you're seeking. You might be able to save some money over a mid range laptop by acquiring your own ram and drives aftermarket (and everything else, barebones doesn't even come with a power cord apparently). Beyond that, they are pretty expensive really, for what you get I think. If you add the cost of (new) drives, memory, OS, peripherals and display, the cost is not overly attractive even. :shrug:

*I dunno, maybe. I am not really up on current processor prices etc. In the end, if it meets your
needs, there's no reason not to use one. At least these days they actually have physical drives
in them.

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KVRian
1218 posts since 2 Sep, 2019

Post Fri Oct 22, 2021 7:57 pm

I can't imagine that thing is going to be quiet.

You can trade in your MacBook Pro to Apple, just like trading in an iPhone when you upgrade, and get a decent amount towards a new Mac.

You can still get an Intel based MacBook Pro or a Mac Mini. That might make more sense for your situation.
THIS MUSIC HAS BEEN MIXED TO BE PLAYED LOUD SO TURN IT UP

KVRist

Topic Starter

395 posts since 5 Feb, 2012

Post Fri Oct 22, 2021 9:13 pm

jamcat wrote:
Fri Oct 22, 2021 7:57 pm
I can't imagine that thing is going to be quiet.
Probably not. But my other NUC is a quad-core 2.7 Ghz i7 in a super tiny case (smaller than a book) and it's totally silent. So hopefully someone who has experience with the new NUC 11 Extreme can chime in.
jamcat wrote:
Fri Oct 22, 2021 7:57 pm
You can trade in your MacBook Pro to Apple, just like trading in an iPhone when you upgrade, and get a decent amount towards a new Mac.
I think I would get more selling my current 2015 MacBook Pro myself. But moreover, I just don't want to spend $6,000 on a 16" M1 Max MacBook Pro in order to get 64 GB of memory and 8 TB of storage especially when not nearly enough DAW and plugin developers have created M1-native versions of their software.

If I am going to spend that kind of money I will just wait until Apple comes out with an "M2" iMac that is even faster than their new laptops (for which I am paying a premium for their mobility / form factor). By then most plugins will have been ported to the new Apple silicon.
Matrix-1000, MicroWave with Access programmer, MicroWave II, MKS-50 with MidiClub programmer, MKS-70, MKS-80 with Kiwi Patch Editor, Nord 2 Rack, Nord 3 Rack, Prophet REV2 module, Pulse 2, Shruthi, Virus TI

KVRian
989 posts since 3 Oct, 2011 from Christchurch, New Zealand

Post Sat Oct 23, 2021 1:48 am

The issue with the ‘extreme’ nuc is it’s not really all that small, partly down to thermal requirements but mainly due to needing to be big enough to fit a full sized GPU ( and needing a psu big enough to power said GPU )

You can get similar results with a off the shelf sff pc ( with the catch that you need low profile gpus for most of them) - ot you could go with a custom mini-itx build ( I did a ryzen m-itx build a while back - if you can live with just one expansion slot fit your GPU you can get a lot of grunt in a small case quite cheaply that way )

KVRAF
3001 posts since 5 Nov, 2014

Post Sat Oct 23, 2021 4:01 am

Gadget Fiend wrote:
Fri Oct 22, 2021 9:13 pm
But moreover, I just don't want to spend $6,000 on a 16" M1 Max MacBook Pro in order to get 64 GB of memory and 8 TB of storage especially when not nearly enough DAW and plugin developers have created M1-native versions of their software.
What do you need 8 TB of storage for?

KVRist

Topic Starter

395 posts since 5 Feb, 2012

Post Sat Oct 23, 2021 9:58 pm

Passing Bye wrote:
Sat Oct 23, 2021 4:01 am
What do you need 8 TB of storage for?
I have a number of really large sample libraries that take up over 4 TB. I upgraded my MacBook Pro hard drive to 2 TB which is now almost full (with 1 TB of MP3 files, thousands of image files, etc.) I have offloaded the files that won't fit on my internal drive to an OWC Thunderbay drive bay with 4 one terabyte SSDs that are almost all completely full. It's just hard managing (and backing up) all those files scattered over multiple drives.
Matrix-1000, MicroWave with Access programmer, MicroWave II, MKS-50 with MidiClub programmer, MKS-70, MKS-80 with Kiwi Patch Editor, Nord 2 Rack, Nord 3 Rack, Prophet REV2 module, Pulse 2, Shruthi, Virus TI

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KVRian
649 posts since 21 Aug, 2017 from Brasil

Post Sun Oct 24, 2021 6:10 pm

Gadget Fiend wrote:
Fri Oct 22, 2021 4:03 pm
I realize I could get (or build) a faster PC tower. But that's big and likely to be as noisy as a room fan.
Big, yes...
But silent...

https://youtu.be/BoRp3SI2UKM

https://youtu.be/VgJlXnRt9cA

KVRian
709 posts since 22 Apr, 2004 from Switzerland

Post Tue Oct 26, 2021 2:40 am

Bigger towers are easier to cool and therefor can be more silent and easier to expand if needed.

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