Ramblin' Dan's Workshop

The Sanctum of Fine Art and Invention

Cool and Quite NUC

Intel NUC mini PC Systems 1My Intel NUC10 has calmed down from its fits of crashing, falling down and seizing in frozen rigor mortis.

It seemed to be a combination of changes made, that didn't play well together. I love the NUC series but they can be temperamental. There are probably a hundred or more variations of NUCs. Almost impossible to nail down all the variables.

For me it was the WIN10 Linux sub-system and perhaps a wayward bad driver software. It is running fine at the moment.

I also had a chance to experiment with system cooling and the internal fan control. The fan was far too erratic, speeding way up, holding high speed far too long, then occasionally slowing back down to a whisper. The fan and cooling is user adjustable. There is no definitive “right” setting for the 10 or so variables involved. The variables are explained if ones digs deep enough in the Intel NUC archives. But no right answer is presented. It all depends on the computer working ambient environment and the tasks it is intended to perform.

There is a vast misconception by the computer tinkerers, that a PC needs to run quite and cold. The two qualities are in direct opposition. Neither are true. The processor and chips are designed to run in the 70C range and higher.

I am not going to fight the cooling battle here. Most everyone is thinking wrong.

In my case (double meaning here) I picked a default factory setting Intel calls “quite”. That doesn’t shut the fan off, but it is providing (for me) exactly the correct (and quite) fan operation curve I desire. The NUC case is cool to slightly warm, the fan is very quite, and the computer performs wonderful, and calmly, without 100% fan duty (full speed).

As a (now retired) professional buildings Energy Management and HVAC environmental temperature control expert, I am keenly aware of tuning PID loops and system response lag and anticipation factors. It’s the same conditions going on inside the tiny NUC computer case.

If you don’t fully understand thermodynamics, you can play all day with the settings and never get them right. If you do understand thermodynamics, it might take only half a day. Ha!

My advice is stay away from the manual settings and use a factory preset. Intel provides them for a reason.

My NUC10 may have been properly set-up out-of-the-box. But one of the first things it wanted to do was to update its firmware. I wanted the latest and greatest too. But the updates certainly change things from what they were previously. There is no one-fits-all strategy. That’s why the internal settings are adjustable.

Some people (like me) love to experiment. We understand that sometimes that can be a mistake,


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