I've had every version and type of the NUC so I might be able to help a bit. Unfortunately fan noise is one of those subjective things that's hard to nail down. What is too loud for one person might be perfectly fine for someone else.
The quietest NUCs I've used are the Ivy Bridge-based Celeron and the DN2820. The i3 and i5 models are slightly louder but much of that can be controlled with the fan settings in the bios. The D54250 is the loudest of them all, likely because it runs the hottest. It also seems to run with a higher pitch, which makes it slightly more noticeable.he DN2820 is pretty quiet by my standards but it's not silent. Also if you use a spinning hard drive that adds a little to it. I've tried the i3s, the Celeron, and the DN2820 in my living room as HTPCs and all were totally acceptable. The only time I heard anything from them was when the room was completely silent and even then only when I was within a few feet (which I'm generally not when I'm watching tv). Right now I'm using an i3 as my HTPC and have no issues with fan noise at all.
All of the NUCs are far quieter than any desktop (or even laptop) I've used.
I'm not sure if you live near a retail store that sells them and/or has display models but that would be a good way to decide for yourself.
I hope this helps.
Thanks for your reply; most appreciated.
You mention that you've "..tried the i3s, the Celeron, and the DN2820 in my living room as HTPCs and all were totally acceptable...". Could you please confirm that the DN2820 is the Celeron one, as I got a bit confused here.
I plan to use the NUC for iTunes play (to airplay receiver), watch DVDs and BDs (ripped), MS Office application. Do you think the Celeron/DN2820FYKH will be ok for that purpose, or should I go for an i3 CPU or better?
The alternative to a NUC is a Shuttle XH61V Barebone + Intel Core i3-3225 (LGA1155, Dual Core, 3.3GHz, 3MB, 55W, HD4000). That unit will have more i/o ports + Optical out, and might be a bit more versatile.
Do you see any big difference between them? I hope you can find some time to answer, even though it's not only NUC stuff here :-)
Have a great evening.
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The Celeron I mentioned is the Ivy Bridge-based Celeron (the previous NUC generation). The DN2820 is the Bay Trail-Based NUC (current generation).
I would say the DN2820 would be up to the tasks you mention. I would think the Shuttle's CPU would still be faster than the Bay Trail NUC, even though the Shuttle is using a 3rd gen CPU.
It's a question of cost vs. performance. Everything you mention is well within what the DN2820 can do but you'll get better performance from an i3, especially the new Haswell i3 NUC. But then again you'll be paying quite a bit more for it.
Sorry I can't give a more definite answer but it's a bit subjective.
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I have an DN2820FYKH (OpenELEC, 4GB SODIMM, 64GB SSD drive).
I also have a son with high audial sensitivity (he hears things the rest of us cannot). He was sitting within 1m of the NUC with the TV off and everything else in the room off. We didn't realize, but the NUC was playing a 1080p at the time. It's also summer here so our cooling systems are struggling.
He couldn't tell it was on until he went to turn it on and saw it was already powered up.
So our unit, at least, is pretty quiet!