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Intel's "Element" modular platform spotted in upcoming Ghost Canyon NUCs

The modularity of the NUC 9 Extreme has a slight downside: the enclosure is the biggest ever produced by Intel for a NUC system. (Source: Intel)
The modularity of the NUC 9 Extreme has a slight downside: the enclosure is the biggest ever produced by Intel for a NUC system. (Source: Intel)
In order to house the new modular platform, Intel's upcoming Ghost Canyon mini PCs will feature the largest NUC enclosures yet. This also allows for improved cooling, and it looks like Intel has also modified the layout to include a small backplane that houses the "Element" module and can support a discrete GPU and an NVMe SSD. The "Element" module itself can be powered by laptop-grade CPUs like the Core i9-9980HK, Core i7-9750H or Core i5-9300H models.
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Two weeks ago, Intel showcased its ‘Element” modular platform designed for OEMs, and the company hinted that it could also be featured in its upcoming NUCs. Even though there was no mention in the initial announcement for the Ghost Canyon NUCs, it looks like Intel will be including the “Element” modules in the NUC 9 Extreme gaming systems that should be launched soon, as revealed by a Chinese reviewer on the KOOL Share forums.
 
Since it is a gaming NUC, the Ghost Canyon system is considerably larger than the usual NUCs. The layout was modified to allow for the modular design. Thus, at the bottom of the enclosure there is an FSP 500 W PSU, on top of which we can find a small backplane with two PCIe 3.0 X16 slots plus a heatsink in between, one PCIe 3.0 X4 slot and an M.2 22110 slot for storage. The “Element” module is  installed by default in the outermost X16 slot, and users can install their own dual-slot discrete GPUs plus an NVMe SSD.
 
Users can further choose among three 45 W CPU configurations for the “Element” module. These include the Core i9-9980HK, Core i7-9750H and Core i5-9300H, which are all laptop-grade CPUs, so slightly slower than the desktop counterparts. The module also integrates two DDR4 SO-DIMMs that can support up to 64 GB of DDR4-2400 RAM or 32 GB of DDR4-2666 RAM. Additionally, there is support for two more M.2  slots on the module, allowing users to add up to three NVMe SSDs in RAID 0 or 1 arrays. The I/O panel of the “Element” includes four USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 ports, two Thunderbolt 3 connectors and an HDMI 2.0a from the integrated UHD 630 iGPU. Internet access is provided via two GbE controllers and a Wi-Fi 6 module with Bluetooth 5 support.
 
Measuring 238 x 216 x 96mm, this Ghost Canyon system is the largest NUC produced by Intel. As such, it comes with additional cooling on the top plus improved airflow in the sides and back. There is no info on pricing for now, but Intel is expected to launch these systems in early 2020.

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Front ports (Source: KOOL Share)
Front ports (Source: KOOL Share)
Backside I/O panel (Source: KOOL Share)
Backside I/O panel (Source: KOOL Share)
The PSU is placed at the bottom and on top of it sits the small backplane. (Source: KOOL Share)
The PSU is placed at the bottom and on top of it sits the small backplane. (Source: KOOL Share)
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Bogdan Solca
Bogdan Solca - Senior Tech Writer - 1565 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2017
I first stepped into the wondrous IT&C world when I was around seven years old. I was instantly fascinated by computerized graphics, whether they were from games or 3D applications like 3D Max. I'm also an avid reader of science fiction, an astrophysics aficionado, and a crypto geek. I started writing PC-related articles for Softpedia and a few blogs back in 2006. I joined the Notebookcheck team in the summer of 2017 and am currently a senior tech writer mostly covering processor, GPU, and laptop news.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 10 > Intel's "Element" modular platform spotted in upcoming Ghost Canyon NUCs
Bogdan Solca, 2019-10-22 (Update: 2019-10-22)