NUCs are awesome, powerful computers in a compact size, but one thing they can struggle with is ports. When you shrink everything down to a 4X4 footprint there isn’t exactly a ton of room for extra ports. USB ports in particular are relatively hard to come by on the typical NUC. Unless you’re looking at something like Phantom Canyon (I still say it’s not a NUC), you’re going to max out with four USB ports total. Depending on the model that can be a combination of USB 2 & 3, or even USB-C. For example, on Frost Canyon, you give up one traditional USB port for a USB-C port on the front.
Handy to have a USB-C port, sure, but now you’re down to only three regular USB ports. With keyboard/mouse dongles, webcams, printers, 3D printers, USB sticks, external hard drives, chargers, etc. you can run out of ports pretty fast.
That’s why I love GoRite. With their functional lids you can add ports easily without sacrificing a lot of space. I’ve used many of their lids on many of my NUCs and I’ve always come away happy. Originally their lids sported the “muscle car” look, with a swoop top. It’s a nice look and I’ve always liked it, but I’ve also wished for something a little less sexy and a little more practical in terms of shape; a bit less Mustang and a bit more Volvo, if you get my drift.
Once again they’ve come through with a new design that does just what I need. They sent me one of their latest lids (at no charge) and I am smiling again.
The GR-LID-4XUSB connects to the two USB 2 headers on the NUC’s mainboard and gives you four extra USB 2 ports. Sure USB 3 ports would be great, but most NUCs don’t include USB 3 headers. And let’s face it, there are still so many USB devices out there that are happy with USB 2, you’ll fill them up in a hurry. That opens up your on-board USB 3 ports for the faster devices. A typical scenario for me is to have one or two dongles (my Logitech gamer keyboard has it’s own dongle and doesn’t share, so I need one for a mouse too), a webcam, and a phone charger all plugged in most of the time. All of those are fine on USB 2, so this lid would cover them easily.
This also means it’s compatible pretty much all 8th generation or newer 4X4 NUCs. Here are the models they list as compatible:
- Bean Canyon NUC Model Numbers:
- NUC8i7BEH, NUC8i5BEK, NUC8i5BEH, NUC8i3BEK, NUC8i3BEH, NUC8i3CYS
- Provo Canyon NUC Model Numbers:
- NUC8v7PNH, NUC8v5PNH, NUC8vi3PNH, NUC8v7PNK, NUC8v5PNK, NUC8vi3PNK
- Frost Canyon NUC Model Numbers:
- NUC10i7FNH, NUC10i5FNH, NUC10i3FNH, NUC10i7FNK, NUC10i5FNK, NUC10i3FNK
- Tiger Canyon NUC Model Numbers:
- NUC11TNHi7, NUC11TNHi5, NUC11TNHi3P, NUC11TNKi7, NUC11TNKi5, NUC11TNKi3P
That’s a big list! This lid isn’t compatible with Panther Canyon (different header on the mainboard) but not to worry, they have one just like it specifically for Panther Canyon. I don’t have a Panther Canyon (and that makes me sad), so I can’t say much about it other than it looks just like this one.
I decided to install this on my Frost Canyon. Installing the lid can be a bit tricky, once again because of the small form factor. There’s really only one option for running the lid’s cables, and the opening is a tight fit.
It’s entirely doable, and I was able to get both cables through the opening and around the board with a little patience and finesse. I was tempted to just use some pliars to pull them through, but thought better of it. I didnt want to risk tearing a cable or doing any damage on the board. The opening comes out right next to the SSD, so a light touch was better.
Once I got the cables through, it was a simple matter of connecting them to the headers. After that, the only mildly difficult step was making sure the cables didn’t cross over the SSD as that would interfere with the thermal pad that presses on the SSD when the case is back together. Not too difficult, just something to be aware of.
The lid is fully plug & play. When you power on the system Windows immediately detects the controllers (2 of them, one for each header) and the ports work pretty much immediately.
Once installed, you can do stupid stuff like this:
As much as I like the look of the older GoRite lids, I have to say this look is now my favorite.
It’s clean, solidly built, and looks like it’s meant to be there. Sure it’s not a conversation starter like the old ones, but it’s easy on the eyes and as a bonus you can set things on top of it without them sliding off. In fact it’s the perfect platform for Qi charging. I have GoRite’s original Qi lid and it works great, but if your phone case is smooth it can slide down that slope. This one wouldn’t have that problem. If I know GoRite, that’s something they’re working on already.
Nicely done, GoRite!