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Using a Mini PC As a Server: What You Need To Know

Is using a mini PC for server tasks the right choice for your needs? Using a powerful Intel NUC as a server is a smarter way to manage your data needs. Intel NUCs are small, powerful, and efficient, making them the perfect choice for home media servers, small business servers, or as part of a more efficient small data center rack.

Two people working on multiple computer monitors

The Intel NUC

Intel’s Next Unit of Computing series of mini PCs, commonly referred to by the abbreviation NUC, use authentic Intel chipsets and processors and the latest technology to give you full-sized power in a small form factor package. They are available in a range of configurations to support different business needs. Some are used embedded in vehicles or industrial machinery to provide data or control functions, others may be used as small desktops, digital signage control units, or even gaming systems. With the right configurations, however, they can be a great mini PC for server use in the home or office.

How NUCs Support Server Functions

Using the Intel NUC as a server has been growing in popularity as the technology that drives NUCs continues to mature. The latest generation of NUCs takes advantage of leading technical innovations to provide the performance you need, whether you just want to better manage your home media or you need computing resources your company can rely on.

  • Processing - Intel’s processors are widely considered the industry standard by which other chip manufacturers are judged. Perhaps the most well known of these processors is Intel’s Core family. These multi-core processors provide reliable performance and the options you want for data management. From variable clock speeds to extremely fast operations, the Core I3, I5, and I7 family is perfect for any computing application, including using a mini PC for server duties.
  • Memory - NUCs offer customizable RAM options that let you determine how much is needed for your application. While 8 gigs may be enough for most desktop applications, the NUC can go much farther. With the wide availability of 32-gigabyte sticks and two RAM slots to use, your NUC can run up to 64-gigabytes of physical ram. Of special note for mini PCs used for servers, however, is Intel’s new Optane memory options. Much more advanced than the virtual RAM you’re used to from a computer, Optane aims to truly bridge the gap between memory and storage, allowing for faster file retrieval from Optane-compatible SSD storage systems.
  • Storage - How much is enough? NUCs give you plenty of internal storage options for your files and media, but they also support the use of cloud storage options and the latest external local storage platforms. From conventional SATA drives to M.2 SSD storage, you can pick what suits your use of an Intel NUC as a server the best.
  • Superior Connectivity - NUCs are meant to work well with other technology, and come with an array of the most popular connection ports to support using your mini PC for server functions. HDMI and USB 3.0 ports allow for easy connection to everything from computer monitors to the largest widescreen televisions. USB peripherals provide for the input devices you need and offer an easy way to connect other storage solutions. For faster data transmission, though, the Intel Thunderbolt port unlocks a lot of additional functionality. Whether you’re connecting multiple NUCs into a full rack server or want the fastest data transfer for your files, Thunderbolt-compatible peripherals let you compute faster.
  • Fewer Required Wires - Want to cut down on cabling? Intel NUCs come with built-in wi-fi connectivity using Intel’s Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265. With three-times the speed and bandwidth of 802.11n wi-fi, connections are fast and secure. An ethernet port is also available to support wired connections, and certain Intel processors let you take advantage of Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology. A single ethernet cable can both power and connect your mini-PC for efficient server setup.

Close up of connector cables

  • Remote Administration - Your IT team will love the capabilities built into Intel’s vPro processors and compatible hardware. vPro allows for remote administration--including updates and resets--from anywhere in the world. Whether your server is on or off, n physical presence is required. This helps cut down on man-hours needed for regular maintenance and new system rollouts.
  • Improved Security - With Intel Authenticate, you can be sure that only authorized personnel can access your systems or data remotely or in person via your mini PC for server security you can be confident in.. With security being an increasingly important consideration, This built-in protection is an invaluable part of a broad cybersecurity program.
  • Energy Efficiency - The current server standard, the venerable x86 U1 consumes an average of 150 watts, making energy cost a not insignificant consideration as server needs increase. An Intel NUC as a server, however, uses a maximum of 25 watts per unit. That’s an energy savings of just over 83% that can be reinvested into further tech advances or just used to pad your bottom line. In addition, the NUCs more efficient technology generates less overall heat, for lower ancillary cooling and environmental costs.

The Right Choice For Your Server Needs

As an Intel Partner, we’re proud to help you understand what a technology strategy using Intel NUCs can do for your business. Whether you’re looking for embedded control systems for IoT devices, an easy-to-implement computing solution for your employees, or a server solution to support your entire operation, there’s an Intel NUC configuration that can help you thrive.

Fill out our contact form and one of our experts will be in touch to talk with you about your needs, where you want your Intel NUCs to take your company, and how we can help make it happen. Support your digital resources with a mini PC for server functions from EWC Technologies.

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