The UltraNUC from Quiet PC is one of the smallest PCs we've ever seen. Although undoubtedly thicker than a modern laptop, it's much smaller in the other two dimensions, and weighs well under half as any laptop too. See all Budget PCs reviews.
It's based on a bare-bones platform from Intel – following its ‘Next Unit of Computing' form factor – which system builders can configure by the addition of a processor, memory, solid-state drive, and operating system. See also Group test: What's the best budget PC?
Quiet PC allows you to configure the platform to your requirements by selecting your options for each of these. We show alternatives alongside the specification of the unit supplied to us.
We looked at the entry model, with the only customisation a quota of 8 rather 4 GB of memory, which adds £47 to the base price of £345.
As supplied, the UltraNUC didn't include a monitor, keyboard or mouse. While adding the cheapest keyboard and mouse can only cost £10, unless you have a spare HDMI monitor (or you're happy to use a TV), you'd need to budget from around £100 for a display. And thanks to a supplied mounting kit, the UltraNUC can be screwed to the rear of the monitor, thereby turning it into something like an all-in-one PC.
While the styling is perfectly acceptable, it's not particularly exciting as you might hope for a small PC that's designed to be largely unnoticed. Unlike many desktop PC, where opening up the case is discouraged by warnings of warranty invalidation, Quiet PC's two year collect-and-return warranty specifically states that the company has an “open case” policy. As such, we took the opportunity to take a look inside, facilitated by the removal of just four screws.
Construction appeared very solid and, except for a couple of leads for connection to an optional Wi-Fi adaptor, it's free of the plethora of wires that tends to be found in most desktop PCs. Having praised the open case policy, however, it must be said that the scope for upgrading is very limited: swapping the memory and/or SSD, and adding Wi-Fi. Most upgrades will have to be external anyway.
On turning the UltraNUC on, the first thing we noticed is that it's totally silent, as you might expect from the company's name. A fan does kick in if necessary although that seemed to be a very rare occurrence in our use. Our UltraNUC came with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed and it booted to a perfectly clean build with no bloatware or nag screens to buy full versions of pre-installed trial software. This is something Quiet PC makes a point about, its CleanBuild promise, even said to extend to its Windows PCs.
The LibreOffice suite is installed as part of Ubuntu, its three components of Writer, Calc and Impress being the equivalent of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and with the ability to import and export these Microsoft formats.
We didn't measure the UltraNUC's speed since our usual benchmarks don't run in Linux. However, we found that the combination of a dual-core 1.1 GHz Intel Celeron 847 processor and no additional graphics hardware was perfectly adequate for normal office productivity use. High-powered graphics or games are out of the question of course.
You can specify better components: 1.8 GHz Intel Core i3-3217U or 1.8 GHz Intel Core i5-3217U from last year's Ivy Bridge range, which add £82 and £210 respectively to the final price.
Also available are larger mSATA SSDs, up to 240 GB for an extra £124, as well as a dual-band Wi-Fi/Bluetooth card for £22.