Thursday, March 17th 2016

Intel Debuts the Skull Canyon Gaming NUC

Intel announced its first "gaming grade" NUC. As if the very concept of NUC wasn't disruptive to the small form-factor desktop segment enough, the company is upping the ante with one that's prepped for gaming. Codenamed NUC6i7KYK, the new Skull Canyon NUC is about double the size of the average NUC. It has sufficient muscle for sub-1080p gaming, but is also prepped for external graphics solutions, such as the Razer Core.

To begin with, the Skull Canyon is driven by a Core i7-6770HQ processor based on the "Skylake" architecture. This quad-core chip features HyperThreading, which enables 8 logical CPUs, 6 MB of L3 cache, 128 MB L4 cache, and Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580. The CPU cores run at speeds between 2.60 GHz and 3.50 GHz, while the iGPU ticks at 950 MHz. With 576 execution units, 72 TMUs, and 9 ROPs, the integrated graphics core is good enough for gaming at sub-1080p resolutions such as 720p and 900p.

If you absolutely need more pixel-crunching power, then the Skull Canyon features a 40 Gb/s Thunderbolt 3 port, letting you use external graphics cards. The barebones version of the Skull Canyon will be priced at US $650, which is a bargain if you consider that the OEM channel price of the i7-6770HQ itself is $435. A fully-loaded variant with 16 GB of dual-channel DDR4-2133 memory, 256 GB SSD storage, and Windows 10 pre-installed, will be priced at US $999.
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36 Comments on Intel Debuts the Skull Canyon Gaming NUC

#1
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
So it'll be faster than the i7 5775C then, in games? Should be interesting. Now put that IGP in a desktop i3 and be done with it, but that won't happen.

And this is too expensive to be disruptive anyway.
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#2
Furunomoe
Frick said:
And this is too expensive to be disruptive anyway.
Agree. Unless small form factor is really important, even at the base price of $650, one can surely get a much better specced "standard size" PC.

If this priced for something like $499 barebones. It would be quite interesting though.
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#3
Ubersonic
Bit odd that they are using a USB-C port instead of a proper Thunderbolt port, they are the same width so you're not really saving any space, just forcing people to buy an extra cable which will be more flimsy and easier to break. Oh, I see now lol.

Aside from that this looks great, the power of a high end desktop minus the GPU in a form factor about the size of a VHS cassette it brutal. Factor in that people who want more GPU power will be able to use the external PCI-E enclosures (which are finally emerging like 5 years after Intel first announced them and we saw prototypes) and the future is looking pretty cool. I may well look into this when it's time for my next system overhaul.
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#4
Chaitanya
a discrete would have been better. still it can make good steam streaming box
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#5
Steven B
Ubersonic said:
Bit odd that they are using a USB-C port instead of a proper Thunderbolt port, they are the same width so you're not really saving any space, just forcing people to buy an extra cable which will be more flimsy and easier to break. Oh, I see now lol.

Aside from that this looks great, the power of a high end desktop minus the GPU in a form factor about the size of a VHS cassette it brutal. Factor in that people who want more GPU power will be able to use the external PCI-E enclosures (which are finally emerging like 5 years after Intel first announced them and we saw prototypes) and the future is looking pretty cool. I may well look into this when it's time for my next system overhaul.
That is a Thunderbolt 3 port........
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#6
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
Really?!? $1,000 "Gaming" NUC and it can't even play current games at 1080p? They should have picked a cheaper processor, like the i5-6440HQ(Same clock speed, no HT, no stupid Iris Pro Graphics) and put the saved money into a discrete GPU.

But I know this isn't something Intel plans to actually sell a lot of, it is just a platform for them to brag about their Iris Graphics.
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#7
crsh1976
newtekie1 said:
$1,000 "Gaming" NUC and it can't even play current games at 1080p?
How do you know? Iris Pro has been getting quite good, and you'd think a standard rez like 1080p is something the GPU on this processor can pull without sacrificing too much eye candy.

Seriously, we all agree iGPUs aren't as good as dGPUs, but they've come a long way since the crappy GMA/HD Graphics of yore (especially the top ones with dedicated DRAM).
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#8
Ubersonic
Steven B said:
That is a Thunderbolt 3 port........
No it's a USB-C port, Thunderbolt 3 uses them instead of regular ports so you need to buy different cables for no good reason /joy
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#9
GhostRyder
newtekie1 said:
Really?!? $1,000 "Gaming" NUC and it can't even play current games at 1080p? They should have picked a cheaper processor, like the i5-6440HQ(Same clock speed, no HT, no stupid Iris Pro Graphics) and put the saved money into a discrete GPU.

But I know this isn't something Intel plans to actually sell a lot of, it is just a platform for them to brag about their Iris Graphics.
I agree, that is way to much for this regardless of how interesting or cool it is. I can build something not much bigger than that with significantly more power for less. While I like the idea of the Iris Pro, they want a little to much for the chips with it at the moment. They need to put this in a chip that costs half or less to be more feasible.

At least it has Thunderbolt 3, but again not enough to warrant the price.
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#10
TheinsanegamerN
Ubersonic said:
No it's a USB-C port, Thunderbolt 3 uses them instead of regular ports so you need to buy different cables for no good reason /joy
There is no regular thunderbolt 3 port, intel chose to use USB C to standardize the connector.

And its working. There are already more laptops with TB3 via usb c then there were total laptops with TB1 and 2 COMBINED. Standard port that convinces people to use your tech so you sell many more units seems like a pretty good reason to me.

Also, since when is USB not a "regular port"? what is a "regular port"? the older TB used displayport connectors, were those not regular ports as well?

That aside, While its great intel has finally got iris pro into a NUC, where are the laptops using this chip? Why cant I buy a 14 inch laptop with iris pro?
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#11
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
crsh1976 said:
How do you know? Iris Pro has been getting quite good, and you'd think a standard rez like 1080p is something the GPU on this processor can pull without sacrificing too much eye candy.

Seriously, we all agree iGPUs aren't as good as dGPUs, but they've come a long way since the crappy GMA/HD Graphics of yore (especially the top ones with dedicated DRAM).
I know because it says so right in the press release.
the integrated graphics core is good enough for gaming at sub-1080p resolutions such as 720p and 900p.
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#12
alucasa
Considering how Iris 540 is, Iris 580 should be on par with Nvidia 950m or maybe 945m which quite frankly is very good for an IGPU.

I've actually been keeping my eyes on this for a bit and chose to postpone purchasing intel NUC i5 Iris 540 unit. I may go for this although I want an elegant case...

Edit: A quick google suggests that it comes with 2 lid. One with that stupid skull and another plain matte lid. That's good.
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#13
tehehe
alucasa said:
Considering how Iris 540 is, Iris 580 should be on par with Nvidia 950m or maybe 945m which quite frankly is very good for an IGPU.

I've actually been keeping my eyes on this for a bit and chose to postpone purchasing intel NUC i5 Iris 540 unit. I may go for this although I want an elegant case...

Edit: A quick google suggests that it comes with 2 lid. One with that stupid skull and another plain matte lid. That's good.
Except intel gpu drivers are utter shit.
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#14
alucasa
tehehe said:
Except intel gpu drivers are utter shit.
Which I am sure some would say the same to AMD or Nvidia drivers as well.

Anyway, there is a review for NUC with i5 (15w tdp) and iris 540. For the thermal limit, the unit is very good.
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#15
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
alucasa said:
Considering how Iris 540 is, Iris 580 should be on par with Nvidia 950m or maybe 945m which quite frankly is very good for an IGPU.

I've actually been keeping my eyes on this for a bit and chose to postpone purchasing intel NUC i5 Iris 540 unit. I may go for this although I want an elegant case...
Maybe, I'd like to see the benchmarks for the Iris 580. But still, stating that it can't do 1080p right in the press release isn't a good sign.

Plus, considering I can go out and get a full laptop with a quad-core i7, 16GB of RAM, and a GTX 956m for right about the same $1,000. This thing should be cheaper considering it doesn't have a screen or keyboard or battery.

And if you are looking for a gaming system in this small of a form factor, there are better options. You can configure a Zbox Magnus with an similar specs, but an i5, and more importantly a 970m for $1,000. That will be way better at gaming than this NUC.

If they want to call this a NUC, I'm cool with that, but don't call it a "Gaming NUC".
Posted on Reply
#16
alucasa
newtekie1 said:
Maybe, I'd like to see the benchmarks for the Iris 580. But still, stating that it can't do 1080p right in the press release isn't a good sign.

Plus, considering I can go out and get a full laptop with a quad-core i7, 16GB of RAM, and a GTX 956m for right about the same $1,000. This thing should be cheaper considering it doesn't have a screen or keyboard or battery.

And if you are looking for a gaming system in this small of a form factor, there are better options. You can configure a Zbox Magnus with an similar specs, but an i5, and more importantly a 970m for $1,000. That will be way better at gaming than this NUC.

If they want to call this a NUC, I'm cool with that, but don't call it a "Gaming NUC".
I can't dispute your point because you are indeed correct on that.

Meanwhile, what I think Intel is doing that is all-in-one chip solution which is similar to AMD's APC. What Intel has been trying to do is improve their iGPU generation by generation. And I think we can all agree that they've come a long way from GMA era or even the first introduction of Intel HD from Sandy Bridge era.

I am someone who keeps close eyes on power usages of my rigs and like things in compact cases. While their claim is "sub-1080p" is a letdown, I am pretty sure that they were talking about 1080p gaming with all settings maxed out. If you turn down some settings, I am positive that it can run modern games decently in 1080 as Iris 540 is already capable of such although at 30fps region.

While not many would care on this forum where power consumption and all that jazz aren't appreciated, all the CPU and GPU works are rated at 45w TDP. That itself is an achievement to my eyes.
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#17
GC_PaNzerFIN
It might not be the cheapest or sexiest consumer product, but as usual it is designed to show industry what direction to take so they can bring down the cost in long run. Fitting all the good stuff in that low TDP is certainly impressive enough. Thunderbolt probably means also support for external GPU for those who are into that sort of thing.
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#18
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
I think we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that 1.1TFlops on an Intel iGPU is actually pretty good. While @newtekie1 is right about that it shouldn't have "gaming" anywhere in the name but, for a discrete GPU, it's actually pretty powerful. In fact, I think you would be hard pressed to find another iGPU that is faster.

However, if you stop thinking about cost, you could connect a discrete GPU to this NUC using Thunderbolt but, the enclosure and card is going to run you a pretty penny.
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#19
alucasa
Intel probably learned their lesson with TDP from NUC5I7RYH. That NUC came in the usual palm size chassis and had a i7 dual-core broadwell cpu with Iris 6100 and was rated at 28w TDP (i7-5557U).

While the performance was good, the noise was a huge let down from what I've heard. They probably decided that it was better to be safer than sorry with 45w part and broke the usual NUC size.
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#20
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
alucasa said:
While not many would care on this forum where power consumption and all that jazz aren't appreciated, all the CPU and GPU works are rated at 45w TDP. That itself is an achievement to my eyes.
Sure, but the Zbox Magnus idles at under 20w, and goes just over 100w at full load. Which in itself is pretty impressive for something that gives performance somewhere between a desktop GTX960 and GTX970.
Posted on Reply
#21
alucasa
If you are bent on dismissing the product, so be it. But you are comparing a product rated at around 60w (CPU + chipset + M.S SSD) with a product that is around 120w.

Of course, the 100w product is going to be superior in terms of, in this case, GPU performance. Personally though, I need more CPU performance (in core count) than GPU.
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#22
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
I'm not bent on dismissing the product, the machine itself is good. The price and naming aren't.
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#23
alucasa
The price has a lot to do with the CPU. Quad core mobile chips carry a heavy price tag. That CPU alone is over 400 bucks. I am fairly certain that Intel debuted the chip solely for this NUC.

http://ark.intel.com/products/93341/Intel-Core-i7-6770HQ-Processor-6M-Cache-up-to-3_50-GHz

The price will go down for sure though. I ain't gonna buy it when it comes out. I'd wait and let the price drop a little.

As for naming, Intel calls NUC6I5SYH (one with Iris 540) & NUC5i7RYH (one with Iris 6100) gaming capable NUC. So, by their own standards, this skull tail NUC fits the bill certainly.
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#24
Musaab
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 Mini ITX 320$
Intel Boxed Core I5-6600K 250$
Gigabyte GA-Z170N-Gaming 5 150$

Kingston HyperX FURY Black 16GB Kit (2x8GB) 2133MHz DDR4 77$
Samsung 850 EVO 250 GB mSATA 90$
Phanteks Enthoo Evolv iTX Case 70$
EVGA SuperNOVA 550 GS 80+ GOLD, 550W 81$


Total cost 838$
All prices are Amazon and Prime.
Why should I buy Intel rubbish if I can pay less to get much more?
Posted on Reply
#25
alucasa
Musaab said:
[SIZE=4]Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 Mini ITX 320$[/SIZE]

[SIZE=4]Intel Boxed Core I5-6600K 250$[/SIZE]

[SIZE=4]Gigabyte GA-Z170N-Gaming 5 150$[/SIZE]
[SIZE=4][SIZE=5][B]Kingston HyperX FURY Black 16GB Kit (2x8GB) 2133MHz DDR4 77$[/SIZE][/B][/SIZE]

Samsung 850 EVO 250 GB mSATA 90$

Phanteks Enthoo Evolv iTX Case 70$

EVGA SuperNOVA 550 GS 80+ GOLD, 550W 81$



Total cost 838

Why should I buy Intel rubbish if I can pay less to get much more?
You should know that I have a very similar rig.
http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/threads/my-latest-mini-itx-builds.218444/

I used a lian li case though and is much smaller than Phanteks Enthoo.

Why am I interested in the intel NUC? Cuz I like the idea of having just one chip doing it all at 45w tdp. There are people go for extreme system configurations. I am one of those but I go to the opposite end of spectrum.
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