Intel is launching new notebook computers. Yes, that’s right, Intel itself has a new laptop of its own design, which will be sold through various partners in early 2021. NUC M15 is the latest computer in the company’s expanding Next Unit of Computing product line, which manufactures micro desktop computers.
NUC M15 is a high-performance notebook computer designed to compete with global XPS and Spectre computers.
However, you won’t actually see Intel’s name on the cover. That’s because Intel essentially provides this laptop to boutiques, which will equip it with various storage configurations and brand it themselves (this process is known as a “white label” in the industry).
This is not the first time Intel has done this: more than a year ago, it produced the MAG-15 gaming laptop, which has been sold by multiple smaller brands around the world, including Schenker in Europe, Electronics, and Maingear in the United States.
However, NUC M15 is another beast. The M15 is not aimed at game enthusiasts looking for impressive performance and cooling at an attractive price, but a very efficient laptop.
It is equipped with a 15.6-inch, 1080p IPS display (with or without touch), a 73-watt-hour battery, which Intel claims can be used for up to 16 hours, and Intel’s 11th-generation Core i5-1135G7 or i7-1165G7 Quad-core core processor.
The M15 replaces Nvidia’s discrete graphics but uses Intel’s Iris Xe integrated graphics. You will be able to get 8 or 16GB of RAM (soldered, so it cannot be upgraded after purchase) and various storage configurations (depending on the brand sold).
All of this is packaged in an aluminum monolith with a thickness of 14.9 mm (0.59 inches), and the thick rubber is 3.64 pounds (1.65 kg). Even if the visual effect is a bit dull, the fit and appearance of a high-end laptop can meet your expectations.
The standard, the well-spaced Chiclet keyboard is in the center of the display, and below it is a large glass Windows Precision touchpad. On the side, there are two Thunderbolt 4 / USB 4 Type-C ports, two USB-A 10Gbps ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a full-size HDMI port.
The two USB-C ports are on the opposite side, and you can charge from either of them, which is very convenient. The only thing missing is the SD card slot.
If these specifications sound familiar, it’s because they are actually the same as the Asus ZenBook 14 and Dell XPS 13 we reviewed recently, plus countless other thin and light productivity laptops released this fall.
The main difference with the M15 is that it has a 15-inch display. Most productivity laptops are equipped with 13-inch or 14-inch screens, and 15-inch laptops tend to be more expensive and pay more attention to performance.
There are some other subtle differences, such as the front LED light bar can be used with Windows’ Alexa application. Just like the Echo smart speaker, the light bar will glow blue when you hear your Alexa’s voice command.
Four microphones are installed on the top edge of the lid to help the M15 pick up your voice from the entire room.
The M15 also has a Windows Hello compatible webcam for face login, and a status detection function to wake it up when you approach the computer and automatically log in.
It can also keep the computer unlocked as long as you are sitting in front of the computer. It is similar to what was seen on the Dell Latitude 7400 last year.
Intel said that the goal of this computer is to provide smaller companies with premium laptops so they can build a computer ecosystem without having to invest in the R&D level of larger companies.
The company described to me M15 as “a high-quality product higher than mainstream products, but still aimed at ordinary users” and “optimized for various use cases.” It said that it saw “opportunities in the market for high-end notebooks with larger screens, thinner and lighter, and incredible battery life” and designed the M15 for this.
The M15 is not technically affixed with the Evo logo, which means a certain level of performance and features, including more than 9 hours of battery life, fast charging, Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6, and instant wake-up.
But it is manufactured to meet the specifications, and Intel hopes its partners will submit their final branded machines to pass Evo certification.
Regarding driver support, Intel stated that its goal is to provide support for everything involved, which will ease the burden on small companies with limited support resources.
The company also said that it plans to bring more NUC laptops to the market in the future, and it will not become an annual event. But it also said that it will not have a full range of products like Dell or HP, and any models it designs and sells will be targeted at specific use cases.
Intel did not disclose the brand that will eventually sell the M15 early next year, but many companies that sold gaming laptops last year are likely to participate, and Intel hinted that more boutique brands are expected to carry the M15.
Intel also said that its partners will ultimately determine its price, but it expects the price of the M15 to be between $999 and $1,499, depending on the configuration.