Which Intel NUC should I buy for VMware ESXi? (August 2020)

A question that comes up quite often is which NUC I would recommend to buy. The following article shows buying options based on Price/Performance value, performance, and special needs like Dual-NIC or vPro.

Why Intel NUC?

Intel NUCs are very widespread and reliable. They are the most common SFF systems and have great support from Intel. I'm running NUCs in my Homelab since 2013, where I bought my first NUC, the DC53427HYE. My NUCs are running 24/7 and I only had one hardware failure. The fan of a NUC6i7KYK (Skull Canyon) died after 7 months of usage. Intel replaced it within 3 days, without any issues. That was 3 years ago and the NUC6i7KYK still runs 24/7.

Intel NUC Price to Performance Diagram

The following diagram is a price to performance scatter chart. The main goal is to choose a NUC that is powerful, but also inexpensive. The CPU Performance is taken from PassMark. Prices are the average from common vendors.

As you can see, the 9th Gen NUCs are outstanding in price and performance. It's the first, and as of today only, modular approach. The 10th Generation i7 NUC has the best price/value rating, but they are very similar to the 8th Generation. If you want to buy a Generation 5, 6, or 7 I would recommend taking a look after used ones.

Top 10 Intel NUC by Price/Performance Value

The following table compares the TOP 10 NUC by Price-Performance Ratio. The base price is taken from common vendors. For 32GB I've added 2x Crucial 16GB modules ($112), for 64GB 2x M471A4G43MB1 modules ($250).

ModelCPUBase PricePrice
(32 GB)
Value for
NUC8i5BEKi5-8259U (4x2.30 GHz)$ 452$ 564$ 70218,54
NUC10i7FNKi7-10710U (6x1.10 GHz)$ 620$ 732$ 87016,06
NUC10i7FNHi7-10710U (6x1.10 GHz)$ 628$ 740$ 87815,86
NUC8i7BEHi7-8559U (4x2.70 GHz)$ 563$ 675$ 81315,70
NUC8i5BEHi5-8259U (4x2.30 GHz)$ 548$ 660$ 79815,29
NUC10i5FNHi5-10210U (4x1.60 GHz)$ 443$ 555$ 69314,56
NUC10i5FNKi5-10210U (4x1.60 GHz)$ 448$ 560$ 69814,42
NUC8i3BEHi3-8109U (2x3.00 GHz)$ 332$ 444$ 58213,21
NUC8i3BEKi3-8109U (2x3.00 GHz)$ 338$ 450$ 58812,96
NUC10i3FNHi3-10110U (2x2.10 GHz)$ 342$ 454$ 59212,27

Top 10 Intel NUC by Price/Performance Value

The following table compares the TOP 10 NUC by performance. The base price is taken from common vendors. For 32GB I've added 2x Crucial 16GB modules ($112), for 64GB 2x Samsung M471A4G43MB1 modules ($250). The performance is based on PassMark Scores.

ModelCPUBase PricePrice
(32 GB)
NUC9VXQNXE-2286M (8x2.40 GHz)$ 1725$ 1837$ 197515685
NUC9i9QNXi9-9980HK (8x2.40 GHz)$ 1639$ 1751$ 188915634
NUC9V7QNXi7-9850H (6x2.60 GHz)$ 1399$ 1511$ 164911483
NUC9i7QNXi7-9750H (6x2.60 GHz)$ 1272$ 1384$ 152211415
NUC10i7FNHi7-10710U (6x1.10 GHz)$ 628$ 740$ 8789956
NUC8i7BEHi7-8559U (4x2.70 GHz)$ 563$ 675$ 8138846
NUC8i7HVKi7-8809G (4x3.10 GHz)$ 1108$ 1220$ 13588779
NUC8i5BEHi5-8259U (4x2.30 GHz)$ 548$ 660$ 7988382
NUC9i5QNXi5-9300H (4x2.40 GHz)$ 999$ 1111$ 12498052
NUC8i7HNKi7-8705G (4x3.10 GHz)$ 892$ 1004$ 11427876


Intel NUCs with 2 Gigabit Network Adapter

There are few NUCs available that have 2 Gigabit network adapters available. The Skull Canyon was the first model to have 2 Gigabit network adapters and it's successor, the Hades Canyon, also has 2 NICs. All 9th Gen Models are also equipped with 2 NICs, and they also have PCIe Slots.

Having two NICs is great, even for home labs, but they are only available in special and expensive NUCs. The problem I have with those is that they are not only more expensive but also have a higher power-consumption due to their graphics card.

ModelCPUBase PricePrice
(32 GB)
Price (64GB)
NUC9i9QNXi9-9980HK (8x2.40 GHz)$ 1639$ 1751$ 1889
NUC9i7QNXi7-9750H (6x2.60 GHz)$ 1272$ 1384$ 1522
NUC9i5QNXi5-9300H (4x2.40 GHz)$ 999$ 1111$ 1249
NUC9V7QNXi7-9850H (6x2.60 GHz)$ 1399$ 1511$ 1649
NUC9VXQNXE-2286M (8x2.40 GHz)$ 1725$ 1837$ 1975
NUC8i7HNKi7-8705G (4x3.10 GHz)$ 892$ 1004$ 1142
NUC8i7HVKi7-8809G (4x3.10 GHz)$ 1108$ 1220$ 1358
NUC6i7KYKi7-6770HQ (4x2.60 GHz)$ 780$ 892$ 1030

Intel NUC with vPro Technology

If you want to build a remote controllable System, you have to buy a NUC with vPro Technology. NUCs with vPro are available in Generation 5, 7, 8, and 9. How to get the AMT Remote Management up and running is explained here.

ModelCPUBase PricePrice
(32 GB)
NUC9V7QNXi7-9850H (6x2.60 GHz)$ 1399$ 1511$ 1649
NUC9VXQNXE-2286M (8x2.40 GHz)$ 1725$ 1837$ 1975
NUC8v7PNHi7-8665U (4x1.90 GHz)$ 711$ 823$ 961
NUC8v7PNKi7-8665U (4x1.90 GHz)$ 711$ 823$ 961
NUC8v5PNHi5-8365U (4x1.60 GHz)$ 548$ 660$ 798
NUC8v5PNKi5-8365U (4x1.60 GHz)$ 528$ 640$ 778
NUC7i7DNHEi7-8650U (4x1.90 GHz)$ 760$ 872$ 1010
NUC7i7DNKEi7-8650U (4x1.90 GHz)$ 672$ 784$ 922
NUC7i5DNHEi5-7300U (2x2.60 GHz)$ 691$ 803$ 941
NUC7i5DNKEi5-7300U (2x2.60 GHz)$ 502$ 614$ 752
NUC5i5MYHEi5-5300U (2x2.30 GHz)$ 496$ 608N/A


Additional Tips

  1. Thanks for the nice post.

  2. I really appreciate the performance/dollar scatter chart. Of course the entire post is great.

  3. Wow, that comparison is just awesome and will help a lot of homelab folks! Thanks!

  4. Great Summary
    What I miss is a Power consumption chart

    • I'm currently working on charts for the NUCs that I own. I'm testing Idle, Average Load, Stress-Test, and Standby. I'm also trying to compare "CPU Power to Power Consumption Ratio".

      Unfortunately, I will never have data for all NUCs. I could use specs like TDP or Watt of Power Supply, but that would be very inaccurate.

  5. Hi, Bro.
    I'm fan of the virten.net. Great information and knowledge for my home lab.
    I have two of Kingston 16GB 2G x 64-Bit DDR4-2133 CL13 260-Pin SODIMM ,DDR4-2133 CL13-13-13 @1.2V

    If I buy Mini PC Intel NUC_i5-10210U (BXNUC10I5FNH1). Is it will works with my existing memory above?
    thank you very much

  6. I just got an Intel NUC 7i5BNK off ebay. I am having an issue that I cannot figure out. This should have 2 cores and 4 threads. ESXi shows Logical Processors = 4. Sockets = 1, Cores per socket =2. Its missing 2 cores. As such the total CPU available is 4.4GHz when it should be 8.8. I have no idea what's going on here or why its doing this. Any idea at all? Hyperthreading is enabled and BIOS is up to date. Thanks for any help!

    • You are mistaking Threads and Cores. With 2 Cores and hyperthreading active, you have "4 Threads" or "4 Logical Processors". A thread will never become a core.
      The 7i5BNK has 2 Cores with a Base Frequency of 2.2GHz, so 4.4 is corect. Hyperthreading does not increase the overall GHz.

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