ASRock Industrial NUC BOX-N97 and GMKtec NucBox G2 Review: Contrasting Compact ADL-N Options

Intel has been maintaining a low-power / low-cost x86 microarchitecture since the introduction of the Silverthorne Atom processors in 2008. Its latest iteration, Gracemont, made its debut in the Alder Lake lineup. The hybrid processors in that family teamed up the Gracemont efficiency cores with the Golden Cove performance cores. Eventually, Intel released a new line of processors under the ‘Alder Lake-N’ (ADL-N) tag comprising only the Gracemont cores. As a replacement for the Tremont-based Jasper Lake SoCs, ADL-N has found its way into a variety of entry-level computing systems including notebooks and compact desktops.

ASRock Industrial’s lineup of ultra-compact form-factor (UCFF) systems – the Intel-based NUC BOX series and AMD-based 4X4 BOX series – has enjoyed significant market success. At the same time, the expanding market for compact computing systems has also brought many Asian manufacturers such as ACEMAGIC, Beelink, GMKtec, and MinisForum into play. As ADL-N ramps up, we are seeing a flood of systems based on it from these vendors. We took advantage of this opportunity to source two contrasting ADL-N mini-PCs – the ASRock Industrial NUC BOX-N97 and the GMKtec NucBox G2. Though both systems utilize a quad-core ADL-N SoC, the feature set and target markets are very different. Read on for a detailed analysis of the system features, build, performance profile, and value proposition of the NUC BOX-N97 and the NucBox G2.

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