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Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK Review: A mini PC aimed at enthusiasts

By Steve
Jul 11, 2016
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  1. As much as we love our powerful gaming PCs at TechSpot, we also appreciate the little things, such as the recently reviewed MSI Cubi 2 Plus or Asrock DeskMini 110. The DeskMini in particular has become somewhat of a favorite thanks to its flexible design and relatively low cost. Unfortunately, it has just one weakness and that's in graphics performance.

    In an effort to capture some of the lucrative gaming market, Intel has developed a brand new NUC (Next Unit of Computing) targeting gamers with the Iris Pro Graphics 580. This new NUC (NUC6i7KYK) is said to be designed for intense game play.

    Right out of the gate we can tell you this is by no means a cost effective gaming solution, regardless of the performance (unless it can outperform the new RX 480). The barebones NUC6i7KYK sells for $630 and requires you to bring your own storage, memory and operating system, which could easily push the price beyond $1,000, as was the case with our build.

    Read the complete review.

     
  2. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,333   +267

    At least it looks sleek? That price and measured temperature though... yeesh.
     
    Steve likes this.
  3. EndlessWaves

    EndlessWaves TS Booster Posts: 164   +34

    Why did you test it with the slowest possible memory? The Intel website implies that it supports faster. Granted, it's disappointing performance seems more likely to be heat limited in this case but slow memory does frequently cause a performance hit on low end graphics.

    It's nice to see it tested against standard desktop components though for people considering buying one after a normal machine rather than just against other Mini PCs as most other reviews have done.
     
  4. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,554   +2,897

    Seriously? OMG how quickly you forget where we were 10 years ago. This is not disappointing!
     
    Steve likes this.
  5. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,508   +501

    Normally a small underclock for these type of machines go a long way, performance-wise it's not felt and the temperatures drop drastically for that 5% change in clocks (Or sometimes less).
     
  6. Phr3d

    Phr3d TS Booster Posts: 240   +43

    (risking it) Can it play Doom

    Is the fan noise / pitch improved? (last gen hit a tone similar to a mosquito at your ear, hard to ignore)

    Is this the CPU that Microsoft stated will not be supported in Win7, I.e., does this gen of NUC require Win10?

    Agreed with Kibaruk, if the BIOS is as complete as the 5 series, you can control nearly everything with ease regarding temps and peaks.
     
  7. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,216   +1,240

    Short answer, that is the memory that was provide to us for testing. It also appears to be the same memory everyone else who has benchmarked this NUC used. I also couldn't find faster DDR4 SO-DIMM memory back when I recieved this NUC. Finally the MSI Cubi 2 Plus and Asrock DeskMini were tested using the same memory so in that sense it is an even playing field.

    Also as Cliffy pointed out the performance it is anything but disappointing!
     
    Phr3d and cliffordcooley like this.
  8. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,554   +2,897

    Keep bringing them Steve. Your hard work is much appreciated here.
     
    Boilerhog146 and Steve like this.
  9. EndlessWaves

    EndlessWaves TS Booster Posts: 164   +34

    A 5-10% improvement over Broadwell for integrated graphics that are 50% larger and a revision newer?

    Had it been 50% faster it would have been stonking, a GTX 750 is only 70-80% faster than Broadwell GT3e. It would have been integrated graphics providing 85% of the performance of a GTX 750 system in a PC that's far smaller.

    I didn't really expect that, but I thought it would be enough of an improvement to exceed R7 250 GDDR5/GT 740 GDDR5 performance.
     
  10. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,216   +1,240

    Remember you are comparing a fully fledged 65w desktop processor 45w mobile part.
     
  11. Capaill

    Capaill TS Addict Posts: 290   +92

    "it's concerning that Intel has connected the Thunderbolt 3 controller directly to the H170 chip rather than the Core i7 processor. This limits the graphics card to PCIe 3.0 x4 bandwidth as it must use the DMI 3.0 link between the CPU and the PCH, which could cripple the performance of discrete GPUs using the Thunderbolt 3 interface and therefore make it somewhat pointless."

    That's very valuable information to me. Thanks!
     
  12. Oscar G

    Oscar G TS Rookie

    The ASRock doesn't have Thunderbolt. So... no deal.

    Despite this unit's somewhat compromised Thunderbolt implementation, at least it's present. It's time to start rejecting products stuck in the past. Thunderbolt is a great way to minimize the compromises of a very compact computer, so failure to take advantage of it is just dumb at this point.
     
    BuckRogers likes this.
  13. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,216   +1,240

    Is it worth paying more than double the price for Thunderbolt support when comparing the NUC6i7KYK and DeskMini. Assuming the DeskMini did have TB for a moment what would you use it for?
     
  14. BuckRogers

    BuckRogers TS Rookie

    Yes it's worth double. Because having Thunderbolt in a laptop or NUKE is priceless. You would use TB for anything you need or want 40GB/sec of bidirectional data transfer for. Docking hubs, external storage, or GPUs. If massive bandwidth being available to SFF machines doesn't interest you because 90's style computers are more interesting- there's nothing left to discuss.

    OscarG has it right. It's time to move on from products stuck in the past. You gain a lot more than just TB3 with Skull Canyon though. That's just the thing that pushes it over the edge into must-buy territory for many of us. I know it was for me. I plan on using the USB-C port for external storage myself, but will use it for a GTX 1080 if I decide I ever need more than the Iris Pro. Which in my case, I highly doubt. What I do need is a low power, but capable machine that I can leave on for long periods of time to run my various projects at the house. Combined with enough GPU power for light gaming, which this has and I'm happy.

    I've been PC gaming since the 80s and kids think that computers are just upgradable consoles. Some of us are real computer people who do work and other projects- that's what this NUC is for. That's why so many "just don't get it" as to why someone would want it, or why Intel would make it. I can't wait till consoles start their PS4 Neo phase with more frequent upgrades so we can deport these PC-Gamer-console-peasants in sheeps clothing back to their game consoles. I'll still be computing with Oscar G.
    Even if it's a $650 NUC, because that price is actually a deal if you think about it.

    The one quibble I had with the otherwise good review was that it's been proven time and time again that PCIE 1.0 x16 / 3.0 x4 bandwidth that Thunderbolt3 provides is more than enough for modern GPUs. There is no bottleneck on anything other than max FPS. No change on minimums or frametime latency. Which are by far the most important things.

    As far as costs, there will be more TB GPU cases arriving soon. If you're strapped for cash: wait for the Rosewill. Actually, if you're strapped for cash and a "bang for buck" buyer rather than a "buy what I need" buyer, then just build a butt-ugly ATX/ITX machine and go away. Yes there are better bang for buck options like mini-ITX but I find that a tasteless choice compared to Skull Canyon.

    NUCs and laptops are the future. The disappearing mainstream desktop market and Thunderbolt together will ensure that regardless of anyone's thoughts or opinions. Just a matter of (short) time.
     

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