Extremely compact Tiger Lake work surface

Intel introduced the Willow Cove microarchitecture with its Tiger Lake processors in the second half of 2020. They are designed to cover a wide range of performance and applications, with TDPs ranging from 7W to 65W.

While mobile systems are the main market for 7W-15W SKUs, higher TDP processors have found themselves in a number of different factors, from laptops and UCFF mini-computers to fully developed gaming desktops. Many ultra-compact Tiger Lake-based minicomputers have been introduced by various vendors in the last few quarters, but challenges in the global semiconductor supply chain have led to a meager supply. ASRock Industrial was one of the first to announce a ‘NUC’ based on Tiger Lake – the 1100 BOX series. Introduced in October 2020, it began appearing on the channel in early 2021.

We’ve already seen the possibilities of Tiger Lake on the gaming desktop (Beast Canyon NUC). In that system, Tiger Lake appeared in the 8C / 16T 65W TDP avatar. Developments related to ultra-compact factor-format machines (UCFF) in the last decade have resulted in systems that are successful in handling 28 W TDP processors, and this has become the de-facto standard for high-performance UCFF computers. The ASRock Industrial NUC 1100 BOX series has three SKUs, all based on 28W TDP Tiger Lake-U processors. The leading SKU is the NUC BOX-1165G7 based on the Intel Core i7-1165G7.

Competitively, Tiger Lake UCFF computers are coming at a time when systems based on AMD’s compelling 7nm Zen 2 based Ryzen 4000U series of processors are already well established in the market. Advances in energy efficiency and wattage performance, along with a host of platform updates, have enabled Zen 2-based mini-computers to present a credible challenge to Comet Lake-based systems in terms of value proposition. Can Tiger Lake move the metric back to Intel? This review deals with the features and capabilities of the NUC BOX-1165G7, with some comments on what the Tiger Lake brings to the machine table in this form.

Introduction and product impressions

ASRock is a well-known retailer in the consumer computer market. In 2011, the company established the ASRock Industrial business unit, which focused on industrial motherboards. The division developed in 2018 as an independent supplier with an exclusive focus on B2B products. The company has products for implementation in small businesses (offices), automation, robotics, security and other industrial / IoT applications.

First of all, the company develops motherboards and sells them to various system integrators who can create additional values ​​themselves. For example, the OnLogic ML100G-40 is based on the ASRock Industrial 4X4-V1000M AMD Ryzen Embedded motherboard. As we saw in our review of the ASRock Industrial 4X4 BOX-V1000M and 4X4 BOX-4800U, the company also sells retail computers based on developed motherboards in the retail channel. The motherboard case is very reminiscent of ASRock’s Beebox series. ASRock has not updated Beebox since the introduction of Kaby Lake, probably not wanting to enter the ASRock Industrial BOX series of UCFF computers.

ASRock Industrial has two different actively cooled UCFF PC series – the NUC BOX series based on Intel processors and the 4X4 BOX series based on AMD Ryzen. Using processors configured with TDPs up to 28 W, these clones of major Intel NUCs serve a wide range of applications. The NUC 1100 series Tiger Lake-U motherboards come in three different versions, as we noted in our reporting on the line’s presentation last year.

The NUC-1165G7 mounts a 4.09 x 4.02-inch (103.9 mm x 102.1 mm) motherboard in a 110 mm x 117.5 mm x 47.85 mm case. The height allows ASRock Industrial to integrate support for the 2.5 “SATA drive if the end user requires its installation. With its B2B focus and the need for the system to serve embedded and industrial applications, the company also integrates a clock and TPM hardware (from Infineon) on the motherboard. The soldered processor (Intel Core i7-1165G7) has four hyperton-enabled cores.It can work with a TDP that can be configured between 12W and 28W, with the ASRock Industrial setting at 28W in the NUC BOX-1165G7.

Our review sample was barebones, similar to the system currently sold on the channel. We configured it with 64GB of Kingston’s HyperX Impact DD4 SODIMMs (now Kingston Fury) and ADATA’s initial PCIe 4.0 low-power SSD-XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite.

The specifications of our ASRock Industrial NUC BOX-1165G7 overview configuration are summarized in the table below.

Specifications ASRock NUC BOX-1165G7
Processor Intel Core i7-1165G7
Tiger Lake -U 4C / 8T, 2.8 – 4.7 GHz
Intel 10nm, 12 MB L2, 12 -28 W (28W) —
Memory Kingston HyperX Impact KHX3200C20S4 / 32GX DDR4-3200 SODIMM
20-22-22-48 at 3200 MHz
2×32 GB
Graphics Intel Iris Xe graphics (96EU)
Disk drives ADATA XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite
(2 TB; M.2 type 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe; Micron 96L 3D TLC)
(Silicon Motion SM2267 Controller)
Networking Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200
1 × GbE port (Intel I219-V)
1 × 2.5 GbE port (Intel I225-LM)
Audio 3.5 mm headphone jack (Realtek ALC233)
5.1 / 7.1 digital output capability with HD audio bit rate (HDMI / DP)
Various I / O ports 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (rear)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (front)
1x Thunderbolt 4 Type-C (front)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (front)
Operating system The retail unit is barebones, but we installed Windows 10 Enterprise x64
Prices 583 USD (barebones)
1073 USD (configured / without OS)
Full specifications NUC BOX-1165G7 Specifications

The ASRock NUC BOX-1165G7 does not come with a pre-installed OS. You can download the required drivers from the ASRock Industrial product support page. In addition to the main unit, other package components include a 90W adapter (19V @ 4.7A), a US power cord, a VESA bracket (along with the required screws), two M.2 screws, and a quick-start guide.

The different features of the chassis and the internal look of the motherboard can be found in the two galleries below.

In the next section, we will look at BIOS options along with motherboard platform analysis. After that, we have several sections that focus on different aspects of performance before concluding with an analysis of the value proposition of the system.

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Naveen Kumar

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