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Graphics Intel Upgrades Hardware

Intel Teases Skull Canyon Gaming NUC: Core i7, Iris Pro Graphics, Thunderbolt 3 (hothardware.com) 92

MojoKid writes: Intel first hinted at their upcoming Skull Canyon NUC small form factor PC at CES 2016 in January, but the company is now ready to give this slightly bigger, badder NUC its official debut. Skull Canyon manages to cram high-end Intel silicon within an enclosure that measures just 8.5" x 4.6" x 0.9" and has a volume of just 0.69 liters. Inside, there is a sixth generation Intel Core i7-6770HQ processor with 45W TDP and integrated Iris Pro Graphics 580 with on-board eDRAM. On the memory front, up to 32GB of 2133MHz DDR4 is supported, while storage duties are covered by two M.2 slots that support the latest NVMe PCIe SSDs. Also on-board is Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, and GbE and even a consumer infrared sensor if you want to use Skull Canyon as a media box. For external ports you'll find a full-size HDMI 2.0 port, Mini DisplayPort 1.2, four USB 3.0 ports, an SD slot which can accommodate up to 512GB, and support for Thunderbolt 3 (40GBps) and USB 3.1 using a USB Type-C connector. Intel says that a barebones Skull Canyon NUC (NUC6i7KYK) has an estimated street price of $650. Preorders for the NUC6i7KYK SKU will begin next month and shipments will commence in May.
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Intel Teases Skull Canyon Gaming NUC: Core i7, Iris Pro Graphics, Thunderbolt 3

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  • but wait... (Score:5, Funny)

    by bugs2squash ( 1132591 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @10:50AM (#51714979)
    order in the next 10 minutes and they'll send you two NUCs, just pay an additional $2000 S&H. Operators are standing by, call now !
    • I'm holding out until they throw in The Ginsu and The Spiral Slicer . . .

      . . . "But wait, there's still more!"

  • I might buy it if it can run Kings Quest IV at max graphics.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Overpowered for a media player, weak GPU for a gaming box - I don't see where this fits in.

    • It would make a nice micro home server / VM box, though with those specs and dimensions it'll probably be a noisy bugger.

      Also, TB 3 opens the door for an eGPU...

      • to bad TB3 is only pci-e X4 and the EGPU's docks cost just as much as a good video card also they have stuff like usb and Ethernet ports in them that eat away at the pci-e X4.

      • I can see about using this for a general purpose desktop. Gaming performance is "meh"... but good enough. Two M.2 cards means decent SSD ability, or if the NUC supports it, RAID.

        For something to toss in a cabinet and work as a VM server, similar. Disk performance for small VMs would be decent from the M.2 SSD, and with USB and Thunderbolt, one has many options to pick one's poison when it comes to additional storage, be it a USB HDD, a NAS, or if one wants to spend the dough, go for more TB3 external stu

    • Plenty of GPU power for casual games, and similar GPU performance to high end cards from ~2008, which will still enable you to play quite a bit of games with decent visual quality.

      • Wow, so basically you're saying this is competitive with a cheap, used PC from several years ago. When can I get one??
  • I would rather have this than some walled garden xbox or playstation.
    • That's what NUCs are good for, in my book. This one is a little bigger with that 9" dimension, and I'd be concerned about the 45W TDP - I like the 15W Skylake i7s much better, but if you need more gaming horsepower...

  • While the addition of a Razer Core helps overcome some of the drawbacks of the system, I would think that a laptop like the Stealth is a better solution as it gives the owner more portability. This report also suggests that other devices can be used with a Core which is what I would want.
  • I am glad to see they keep pushing the boundaries for small form factor computers. Just wish they do something about all these damn cables!!! E.g. Are we ever going to get combined power and data?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "and support for Thunderbolt 3 (40GBps)"

    you mean 40Gbps, unfortunately

  • by SumDog ( 466607 )

    I just got all the parts to built a desktop mATX rig with dual NVMe SSDs (on on board, the other via PCI-E adapter). I was only going to use it for development anyway, and this would have provided that for about the same price, maybe even a little less, at a much better form factor (I was going to go itx but dual M.2s weren't really available without giving up the only PCI-E slot).

    Oh well. Maybe I'll pick one up used after a year when they're down to like $700 loaded.

  • Next Unit of Computing (NUC) is a small-form-factor (SFF) personal computer (PC) designed by Intel.

    so intel released a machine for an obscure proprietary form factor. color me unimpressed.

    • Actually they did so in 2012 as a competitor to the Mac-Mini. This is the 6th generation of the product and quite frankly at this point it's less obscure than some of the "common" form factors like pico-ITX and nano-ITX which are far less common than NUCs are.

      • Youre completely missing the point.
        • And you're completely missing an apostrophe.

        • Youre completely missing the point

          The point being that a person can't get excited about a niche product because it's niche and doesn't fit his mainstream requirements?

          The vast majority of people using a computer this small don't give a shit if the form factor is proprietary as long as the form factor is supported, available and actively developed. In that regard the NUC ticks all the boxes, far more so than some of the non-proprietary form factors.

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        All of this low profile stuff is relatively obscure to the point where Linux users make up a very significant chunk of the user community.

        As far as the Mac Mini nonsense goes... low profile PCs predate the Mini. I had one myself. In fact, I advocated that Apple pursue this path rather than their stupid lampshade concept. I did so in this very forum.

        Beyond the really compact stuff like Book PCs, the major PC vendors all had low profile desktops that were heavily used in business.

  • by slaker ( 53818 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @11:19AM (#51715173)

    I've got some NUCs sitting around. There's one behind my TV at home and we use them in my office for presentation systems and the like. They range from Celerons to i5s (mostly i3s) and they're all Haswell or newer, with the latest having M.2 for storage.

    So here's what I want to say: NUCs get hot. M.2 SSDs also get hot. There's almost nothing that can be done inside the NUC enclosure to cool the damned things down. You can point a box fan at one or put it on a large block of aluminum and it's not going to have much impact for the internal temperatures. Almost every NUC does a certain amount of thermal throttling, so there seems to be very little difference between an i3 and an i5. Putting an i7 in the same space with the same basic cooling options really isn't going to help.

    All the arguments that apply to trying to claim that a "gaming" laptop with a high end CPU and no discrete GPU are also going to apply in this case. I understand that Thunderbolt in theory brings some options to the table in that regard but in practice I'd rather have an Expresscard given how limited (and expensive) support for Thunderbolt is on Windows and how well I know external Expresscard PCIe bridges work.

    • Just because they get hot doesn't mean it is a problem. Unless you are saying it is throttling performance because it is getting too hot?
      • by slaker ( 53818 )

        I am very much saying that it's a problem, especially when combined with an M.2 storage device.

        • We're deploying i5 NUCs with M.2 850 EVOs as our standard workstation device now.
          They don't get noticeably hot. It's never been an issue.

      • He is, if you read the post without skimming through it.

      • Throttling is a big problem for a lot of these mini computers and many laptops. People think you need a lot less cooling because the new chips idle at such low power, but at 100% the higher end chips will put out the same amount of heat as the old chips. The 45W this thing puts out is right around the TDP that a laptop chip would have put out 10 years ago. A desktop i7 at 100% is right there with the P4. I like to be able to run my computers at 100% with no throttling indefinitely, which is why my compu

  • by jbohumil ( 517473 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @11:39AM (#51715331)
    This might be great for a music workstation. If the Thunderbird port can support low latency audio interfaces like the Focusrite Clarett series you could have a really nice compact set up that would be workable for performance or studio use.
  • I have a NUC, a nice little 4x4x2 form factor running linux. Great little thing takes up no space on my desktop. This new one is twice as wide. Too bad they couldn't keep the current size...
    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      Yeah, and too bad a superbike weighs more than a scooter, too. And an M2 50 cal machine gun weighs quite a bit more than a 32 snubnose. Sheesh. BTW, the smaller NUCs aren't going away.

  • I've looked at NUCs a few times now for various situations and every time I've been turned off by the requirement for 19V PSU. Not 12V not 24V, but 19V. Nice and non-standard, and exceptionally non-standard in situations where you may need a tiny computer (i.e. not somewhere where a wall socket is available).

    • by dj245 ( 732906 )

      I've looked at NUCs a few times now for various situations and every time I've been turned off by the requirement for 19V PSU. Not 12V not 24V, but 19V. Nice and non-standard, and exceptionally non-standard in situations where you may need a tiny computer (i.e. not somewhere where a wall socket is available).

      19V / 19.5V seems to be a very common input voltage for laptops. It is related to the Li-Ion chemistry and also how the voltage converters and regulators are set up in most laptops. I suspect they are leveraging this technology and didn't bother improving it for NUC applications. Laptop power bricks are common enough and NUC type devices are niche products, even if they are very useful in certain applications.

      • I know what it's related to, except that the NUC is not a laptop. Laptops are common and are used in situations mostly run on battery or on the move. NUCs are as you said niche products. Niche products typically fit niche requirements. i.e. small computers sitting on the back of a piece of equipment, in a piece of equipment, etc. In that regard 12V is a far more suitable choice and one that is easily made by many of its competitors.

        Side note lithium chemistry sits around 3.7V nominal. The difference betwee

  • For all their improvements,

    âoeWe have improved graphics 30 times what they were five years ago,â Bryant said [...]

    for all their assertions that,

    "Iris and Iris Pro, can outperform 80 percent of discrete graphics chips,"

    their GPU's still aren't achieving even half the GFLOPS of my nearly 5 year old GTX 670. These chips might be fine for the 80% of total "PC game players" which, depending on how you choose to define that class, includes people playing Facebook games or other similar low-end titles. These things are not, however, remotely sufficient for any true PC gamer, as even my above-mentioned 670 with 2GB of dedicated memory, is starting to get a bit long in the

    • by Anonymous Coward

      These Intel GPUs are substitutes for discrete Gfx cards that cost around US$ 60... the type of Gfx card people buy and then regret the fact.

      • The $60 market was where people who just wanted to run dual head would buy. They didn't care much about the GPU, it's just that the built-in graphics could only drive one monitor. Now, with Intel you can drive up to three and don't even have to use crappy old VGA on any of them either.

  • The previous generation of high end Iris Pro graphics (The 6200 seen in some HTPC-oriented Broadwell parts) had very good performance for price. It matched or beat the performance of the Nvidia 940M in numerous real-world and synthetic tests. It even turned in decent performance in GPGPU tests. For a laptop or a small form factor living room PC, the Iris Pro can't be beat at the moment.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.