Computers are a funny hobby. It’s easy and rewarding to pour your heart, soul, and of course budget into them in order to create something that meets your very specific needs. But the needs of today are not the needs of tomorrow, and the inevitable march of progress means the aging tower serving your media behind a television might not do as good a job as one of today’s Mini PCs (such as the Intel® NUC!). So we talked with Alex Tozzi, a software developer, tech enthusiast, and gamer, to find out how he’s been managing his personal network of gadgets and where his Skull Canyon Intel NUC (NUC6i7KYK) fits in.
Q and A
Q: TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF—WHAT DO YOU DO?
A: I deal mainly in full stack web development and back end web processes for a lot of internal employees. I code a lot of SPA (single page application) web app development using a combination jQuery/Typescript/.NET (C#, etc.)/SQL among other things. It’s alphabet soup, really.
Q: HOW ARE YOU USING YOUR INTEL NUC?
A: The Intel NUC fills a really cool niche for me in that I use it as my media room PC/backup media server. I use a wireless keyboard/trackpad combo connected to the Intel NUC which resides in my living room and hooked up to my main TV. I have, elsewhere in my apartment, a home NAS/media server with about ~11 TB of usable, redundant storage. While it is a powerful machine, sometimes I can be serving up media to 4-5 close friends and that machine bogs down a bit while transcoding. I’ve been able to make the Intel NUC run a second instance of Plex Media Server and use it for my personal use. A future project may involve figuring out how to load balance the two servers.
The Intel NUC also serves as a remote desktop machine for when I am working on my main machine, but wish to have two intensive background processes occur without affecting my gaming. Whenever I decide to buy a third backup UPS, I plan to keep the Intel NUC on 24/7.
Q: WHAT GAMES ARE YOU PLAYING? ARE YOU USING THE INTEL NUC AND, IF SO, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE?
A: I mainly play MMOs/RPGs/RTS (Massively Multiplayer Online Games, Role Playing Games, and Real Time Strategy games, respectively)—you could say Blizzard has a monopoly on my time with World of Warcraft/Starcraft/Diablo (though more Path of Exile in recent months). I haven’t yet used the Intel NUC as a gaming machine outside of less intensive games like Hearthstone, but I have toyed with the idea of picking up something like a Razer Core to use with the Intel NUC and take it with me as a more mobile machine than my current behemoth of a gaming rig/workstation.
Q: HAVE YOU EVER USED OTHER MINI PCS? IF SO, HOW DID YOU USE THEM AND HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT THEIR PERFORMANCE/CAPABILITIES.
A: This is actually my first experience with any kind of Mini PC—but definitely not the last (until I started working ~2 years ago, I couldn’t afford much of anything, now, well, I keep buying things to tinker with). It blows my mind that this Intel NUC is smaller than my cable box from Comcast (by nearly half of its weight/volume, at that) and it sits very neatly on my TV stand.
Q: HAS THE INTEL NUC6i7KYK REPLACED ANY OF YOUR EXISTING DEVICES?
A: It did not immediately replace any devices for me—but, to be fair, I had none in its category.
It has begun to overtake my Xbox One as a media center of sorts because it is faster, easier to use (wireless keyboard/trackpad), can directly decode all of the native file formats stored on my media server (can be much faster if the server is already transcoding other media, and because the Xbox cannot natively decode .mkv). It can also play the files directly from my media server if for some reason I want to bypass Plex.
Finding a niche
Tozzi is clearly passionate about his computing environment. It not only serves as an entertainment and working environment for him, it also provides entertainment to his friends. So the fact the Intel NUC6i7KYK seamlessly inserted itself into this complex and compute-rich environment speaks volumes about its power and flexibility.
Learn more about Intel NUC