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ASUS NUC14RVHv7 and ASRock Industrial NUC BOX-155H Review: Meteor Lake Brings Accelerated AI to UCFF PCs

Intel’s Meteor Lake series of processors has had a drawn-out launch since its details were officially revealed in September 2023. The series marks Intel’s foray into the consumer market with a tile-based chiplet configuration held together with Foveros packaging. Similar to Tiger Lake, the focus of Meteor Lake has primarily been on the mobile market – ultraportables and notebooks. However, this has not prevented Intel and its partners from introducing it as a follow-up to Raptor Lake-P and Raptor Lake-H in the SFF / UCFF desktop market.

ASRock Industrial has consistently been the first to market with ultra-compact form-factor motherboards and mini-PCs, with product announcements often coinciding with Intel’s launch of its latest and greatest mobile processors. Meteor Lake has not been any different, with the NUC(S) Ultra 100 BOX series launching towards the end of Q4 2023. In the meanwhile, Intel’s NUC business was taken over by ASUS. ASUS’s first major product announcement after the acquisition came in the form of the Meteor Lake-based Revel Canyon NUCs at the 2024 CES.

The flagship NUC Ultra 100 BOX system is the NUC BOX-155H based on the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H. The Revel Canyon NUC lineup includes a model based on the Core Ultra 7 165H with vPro capabilities, with its claim to fame being the ability to hit 5 GHz on the performance cores. This review takes a detailed look at the features and performance profile of the ASRock Industrial NUC BOX-155H and the ASUS NUC14RVHv7. The analysis also helps in establishing the potential and benefits of Meteor Lake for the UCFF desktop market over its predecessors and the competition.

Introduction and Product Impressions

The last decade has seen significant strides in processor performance as well as power efficiency. Coupled with advancements in thermal solutions, we have seen compact systems with low-power SoCs becoming capable of replacing bulky desktops for many use-cases. This trend gained mainstream attention with Intel’s introduction of the ultra-compact form-factor (4in. x 4in.) NUC in the early 2010s.

The 4×4 form-factor continues to hold sway even today, as evidenced by the variety of UCFF systems introduced by multiple vendors every year. Both the ASRock Industrial NUC BOX-155H and the ASUS NUC14RVHv7 we are looking at in this review utilize the tried and tested 4×4 form-factor.

ASRock Industrial NUC BOX-155H

ASRock Industrial has been serving the industrial systems market with compact boards and mini-PCs since the days of Intel Skylake (6th Gen) / Braswell. Having taken over ASRock’s Beebox design, the company’s product releases in this category have had a regular cadence.

The company has been regularly iterating on the original design and making improvements over the years. The glossy fingerprint-magnet of a chassis was finally replaced with a matte top in the Raptor Lake generation. This year, we are seeing a revamp of the internals to accommodate a thermal solution capable of handling the heat generated by Gen4 SSDs operating at full speeds. The NUC BOX-155H being looked at today is the tall version with support for a 2.5″ SATA drive.

In addition to the main unit, the NUC BOX-155H package comes with a VESA mount and corresponding screws, M.2 mounts and screws, a combined SATA data and power cable compatible with the SATA port on the internal board, an user manual, and a 120W AC adapter (19V @ 6.32A) coupled with a geo-specific power cord. The gallery below provides a comprehensive look at the chassis design and I/O ports placement, as well as the layout of the internal board.

Our review sample from ASRock Industrial was a barebones system. We opted to install 2x 16GB Crucial DDR5-5600 SODIMMs and a 2TB Samsung SSD 990 PRO SSD.

Access to the SSD and SODIMM slots is obtained by removing four screws from the underside of the system. The mount for the 2.5″ drive is also attached to the underside, as shown in the picture below. One of the key updates in this iteration of the chassis design is the presence of a thick metal blocks with affixed thermal pads attached to the metal mount. These pads make close contact with the installed SSDs and SODIMMs. Care must be taken by the end user to remove the plastic film covering the thermal pads after the corresponding components are installed.

The addition of this thermal solution should ostensibly lead to cooler DRAM and SSD temperatures under stress. This is one of the aspects evaluated further down in this review. The wires from the WLAN / BT card under the M.2 2280 slot get affixed to the chassis on the other side. Not seen in the above picture, but included in the gallery, is the notebook-style cooler that acts as the thermal solution for the MTL-H processor.

ASUS NUC14RVHv7

Since its introduction in the early 2010s, the NUC lineup has acted as a reference design for the 4×4 form-factor in each processor generation. The Revel Canyon NUC continues this tradition. Externally, there is not much difference between the new units and the Raptor Lake-P-based Arena Canyon NUCs. The NUC14RVHv7 being looked at today is the tall version with support for a 2.5″ SATA drive.

In addition to the main unit, the NUC14RVHv7 package comes with a VESA mount and corresponding screws, a screw configuration to lock in the power cord, user manuals and safety information, along with a 120W (19V @ 6.32A) AC adapter. Our review sample from ASUS came with 2x 8GB SK hynix DDR5-5600 SODIMMs and a 512GB Samsung PM9A1a SSD pre-installed.

One of the key improvements made in the Revel Canyon NUC over the Arena Canyon NUC is the move to a completely tool-less operation for the components installation. A sliding mechanism holds the bottom of the chassis in place. The slider can also be locked with a twist, if needed. Pulling out the metal underside reveals a receptacle for a 2.5″ drive. This also incorporates a copper block with thermal pads, as shown in the picture below.

The SATA ribbon cable with both power and data is pre-installed in the system. The M.2 SSDs are locked in place with the help of a rubber peg / screw holder system that doesn’t require any tools to mount / dismount the drive.

Review System Specifications

Evaluation of SFF / UCFF systems is performed with the BIOS settings at default. However, ASRock Industrial has always recommended us to present results from both the default (CPU Performance set to Normal Mode) as well as a tweaked configuration (CPU Performance set to Performance Mode). The difference between the two settings relates to the power limits configuration for the processor. By default, it is set to 28W, while the performance mode increases it to 40W.

One of the key differences between the BIOS features of the Arena Canyon NUC and the Revel Canyon NUC is the adoption of a dynamic PL1 configuration as the default. Based on the minimal help text, this seems similar to the skin-temperature aware power management (STAPM) scheme used in recent AMD systems. Tools running in the OS detect the PL1 setting as 64W for the ASUS NUC14RVHv7, but the BIOS actually configures it to be dynamic.

The full specifications of the review samples are provided in the table below.

Systems Specifications
(as tested)
  ASUS NUC14RVHv7 (Revel Canyon vPro) ASRock NUC BOX-155H (Performance)
Processor Intel Core Ultra 7 165H
Meteor Lake-H 6P + 8E + 2LPE / 22T, up to 5.0 GHz (P) up to 3.8 GHz (E) up to 2.5 GHz (LPE)
Intel 4 (CPU) / TSMC N5 (iGPU), 24MB L2, Min / Max / Base TDP: 20W / 115W / 28W
PL1 = 64W, PL2 = 64W
Intel Core Ultra 7 155H
Meteor Lake-H 6P + 8E + 2LPE / 22T, up to 4.8 GHz (P) up to 3.8 GHz (E) up to 2.5 GHz (LPE)
Intel 4 (CPU) / TSMC N5 (iGPU), 24MB L2, Min / Max / Base TDP: 20W / 115W / 28W
PL1 = 40W, PL2 = 64W
Memory SK hynix HMCG66AGBSA095N DDR5-5600 SODIMM
46-45-45-90 @ 5600 MHz
2×8 GB
Crucial CT16G56C46S5.M8G1 DDR5-5600 SODIMM
46-45-45-90 @ 5600 MHz
2×16 GB
Graphics Intel Arc Graphics
(8 Xe-cores @ up to 2.3 GHz)
Intel Arc Graphics
(8 Xe-cores @ up to 2.25 GHz)
Disk Drive(s) Samsung PM9A1a MZVL2512HDJD
(512 GB; M.2 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe;)
(Samsung 7th Gen. V-NAND 176L (136T) 3D TLC; Samsung Pascal S4LV008 Controller)
Samsung SSD 990 PRO MZ-VP92T0B
(2 TB; M.2 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe;)
(Samsung 7th Gen. V-NAND 176L (136T) 3D TLC; Samsung Pascal S4LV008 Controller)
Networking 1x 2.5 GbE RJ-45 (Intel I226-LM)
Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX211 (2×2 802.11ax – 2.4 Gbps)
1x 2.5 GbE RJ-45 (Intel I226-LM)
1x 2.5 GbE RJ-45 (Intel I226-V)
Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX211 (2×2 802.11ax – 2.4 Gbps)
Audio Digital Audio with Bitstreaming Support over HDMI and Display Port (Type-C) Realtek ALC256 (3.5mm Audio Jack in Front)
Digital Audio with Bitstreaming Support over HDMI and Display Port (Type-C)
Video 2x HDMI 2.1 (Rear)
2x DisplayPort 2.1 over Tye-C Alt-Mode (Rear / Thunderbolt 4)
2x HDMI 2.1 (Rear)
2x DisplayPort 2.1 over Tye-C Alt-Mode (Front / USB4)
Miscellaneous I/O Ports 2x USB4 / Thunderbolt 4 Type-C (Rear, up to 40 Gbps)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C (Front)
2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (Front)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (Rear)
1x USB 2.0 Type-A (Rear)
1x USB4 / Thunderbolt 4 Type-C (Front, up to 40 Gbps)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C (Front, with DP Alt Mode)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (Front)
2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (Rear)
Operating System Windows 11 Enterprise (22631.3593) Windows 11 Enterprise (22631.3527)
Pricing US $700 (barebones)
US $816 (as configured, no OS)
US $700 (barebones)
US $990 (as configured, no OS)
Full Specifications ASUS NUC14RVHv7 Specifications ASRock Industrial NUC BOX-155H Specifications

In the next section, we take a look at the systems’ setup process and follow it up with a detailed platform analysis.

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