A user on Chinese tech giant Baidu's forums has posted an apparent confirmation of the next-gen Intel NUC mini PC, including a detailed breakdown of the hardware (note that the page linked to it is in Chinese).

Naturally, the NUC 12, codenamed "Serpent Canyon" followed by the "Phantom Canyon" NUC 11, will use Intel's new 7th Gen Alder Lake i12700-12H processor, upgraded from the i7-1165G7 that was introduced. found in its predecessor. . That alone is a significant improvement, but what's more interesting is the graphics card.

While all previous NUC 11 models used Nvidia GeForce GPUs (down to the RTX 3080 found in the console-killing NUC 11 Extreme), the NUC 12 is said to use Intel's Arc A770M portable GPU instead. With 32 Xe cores and 16GB of video memory, the A770M is currently the highest performing graphics card in Intel's mobile Arc lineup and is already showing up elsewhere in gaming laptops.

While we don't know exactly how well the A770M performs yet, expectations place it in the same performance ballpark as Nvidia's RTX 3060 Ti; in other words, a decent option for 1080p gaming. There is no word yet on the cost of the NUC 12, nor a release date, although the Baidu forum user claims that it is "coming soon".

The Intel NUC series are small form factor PCs that can be used for a variety of purposes, primarily for use in business and educational settings where there isn't room for a full-size desktop. However, some NUCs are designed for gaming, and this new model seems to fit that bill.

(Image credit: Intel)

Analysis: Is China the playing field for the start of a GPU war?

Perhaps it was an inevitable move by Intel now that its Arc graphics cards are finally hitting the market (albeit only in China so far). While Intel could realistically target CPU competitor AMD, Nvidia still owns the majority of the discrete GPU market, so it wouldn't make much sense for Intel to continue to use hardware from a major competitor in its products.

Intel's laser focus on the Chinese market for the new Arc GPUs was interesting and made the manufacturer's goals quite clear. It sure seems like Intel isn't aiming to challenge Nvidia's dominance of the high-end graphics card market, but rather to take on AMD at the more affordable end of the market.

Chinese consumers (and the Asian market in general) are more interested in budget GPUs, especially given the prevalence of internet cafes in that part of the world. Still, Intel's launch of the new Arc cards hasn't exactly been smooth sailing. High starting prices for the Arc A380 desktop and low starting performance numbers for Arc A7 cards painted a troubled picture for Intel's long-awaited return to the GPU market.

We reached out to Intel for comment and confirmed our suspicions that the Chinese market is being targeted primarily due to the prevalence of cheap GPUs there. Intel also added that it plans to "scale Arc A-series 3 graphics products with our partners around the world in the coming weeks" and noted that the Arc release has been heavily affected by "software preparation delays" and COVID-19 lockdowns. .

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