Asus plans to diversify custom NUCs as it takes over from Intel

Forward-looking: Intel announced the end of its NUC line of Mini PCs earlier this year, and Asus is the first partner to pick up the mantle. The Taiwanese company recently offered a glimpse of its plans for the brand, which include increased customization to suit various clients and use cases.

Asus recently told The Register that its successors to Intel’s NUC Mini PCs won’t be limited to the traditional form factors we’ve seen thus far. Asus plans to expand its offerings to fit numerous roles.

Like Intel, Asus will sell NUCs for embedded or industrial applications to consumers and companies. However, Intel’s NUC license will form the bedrock of a new line of custom machines utilizing ultra-small motherboards.

For example, Asus could change the number of I/O modules on a device to suit the requests of specific industrial clients. The company could also deviate from Intel’s typical four-by-four-inch form factor to offer customers more flexibility.

Asus listed several potential commercial uses for its NUCs. Mini PCs could power human interface devices like digital signage boards, self-service kiosks, warehouse controls, and point-of-sale machines, with each NUC designed to suit its unique physical environment.

The company spoke less about the prospect of slim gaming machines, potentially as part of its Republic of Gamers line, but Asus is considering the idea. Intel offered gaming-centered NUCs like the Raptor Canyon 13 Extreme, which can squeeze an i9-13900K and a GeForce RTX 4070 Ti into a 13 x 15 x 5-inch chassis.

Edge cloud computing is another possible niche for Asus NUC devices to occupy. They could provide the necessary processing horsepower for hyperscaler AI functions.

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Intel announced the end of its NUC business in July, shipping its final products in September. It didn’t explain the decision explicitly. It likely pivoted away to cut expenses amid the ongoing decline of PC sales and its record-breaking worst quarter earlier this year.

Not long after the divestment, Asus announced its agreement to design and sell NUCs on Intel’s behalf. The Taiwan-based manufacturer’s existing Mini PC business makes it an ideal partner, but the arrangement isn’t exclusive, so other companies could eventually license the NUC brand.

The first Asus NUCs could begin shipping later this year, but early 2024 is more likely.