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Intel axes Nvidia-powered NUC X15 laptops for Arc GPU reseller push

Soon enough, you won't have to turn to a large PC vendor to buy an Arc laptop

Intel is discontinuing its line of NUC X15 laptop kits with Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 series GPUs. Resellers will instead be offered laptop kits with Intel's Arc graphics chip family.

The semiconductor giant recently issued a discontinuation notice [PDF] for the gaming-focused 2021 laptop kits, which used 11th-gen Intel Core H-series processors in tandem with a GeForce RTX 30 GPU. The last order date for the kits is September 9, and the final products will ship to resellers on November 9.

For the past few years, Intel has been providing NUC laptop kits to IT resellers as white-label products that let them compete in the notebook market with large PC vendors. These kits are barebones laptops, which makes them attractive to the channel since it eliminates the expensive engineering resources typically needed to build such devices. But this means it's up to resellers to add their own differentiation through things including memory and SSD configurations, software, and branding.

While Intel didn't give a reason for why it's discontinuing the 2021 NUC X15 laptop kits, a webpage updated last week shows Intel is preparing a new generation of NUC X15 kits that will use a 12th-gen Intel Core i7-12700H CPU in tandem with either an Intel Arc A550M or Arc 730M GPU.

The webpage does not indicate when the new NUC X15 laptops will launch. But given that Intel is cutting off orders for the current line in September, it wouldn't be surprising to see these new kits arrive around then. Otherwise, Intel potentially risks leaving resellers without an adequate supply.

This change-up in the NUC X15's graphics chip is part of the ongoing rollout for Intel's new discrete Arc GPUs, which started earlier this year but has been beset by delays due to "software readiness" issues and COVID-19 lockdowns in China.

The new generation of NUC X15 laptop kits will be among the first designs to use the higher-end Arc 550M and Arc 730M GPUs, which carry the brand names Intel Arc 5 and Intel Arc 7, respectively.

In a May update, Intel said laptops with these GPUs were expected to arrive in early summer after an initial rollout focused on the lower-tier Intel Arc 3 GPUs, which are starting to appear in laptops in the US.

The Arc 550M is Intel's mid-tier option, sporting 16 Xe cores and 8GB of GDDR6 memory, while the Arc 730M is one of two high-end options, packing 24 Xe cores and 12GB of GDDR6 memory. There is a more powerful Arc 7 GPU, the A770M, which has 32 cores and 16GB of GDDR6 memory, but the new NUC X15 kits apparently won't be using that variant, as evidenced by the webpage.

By contrast, the two Intel Arc 3 GPUs, the A370M and A350M, come with eight and six Xe cores, respectively, while packing 4GB of DDR6 memory.

This first generation of Intel Arc graphics, collectively known as the A-Series, comes with several features, such as hardware-based ray tracing, hardware-based AV1 encoding and decoding, and an AI-powered image upscaling technology called XeSS.

This coming wave of Arc-powered NUC X15 laptop kits for resellers means notebook aficionados won't have to turn to a large PC vendor in the future if they want to try out Intel's new graphics tech. We're also hoping the discontinuation of last year's designs means Intel is getting issues with Arc GPUs sorted out to support a larger rollout. ®

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