Test and review: Intel NUC6i7KYK – mini PC Skull Canyon NUC for casual gamers

Test and review: Intel NUC6i7KYK - mini PC Skull Canyon NUC for casual gamers

Attention to the fastest in the history of NUC system was fixed long before the official presentation in March. A few days ago NUC6i7KYK system, code-named “Skull Canyon”, finally went on sale. We got a new mini-PC NUC on tests, so it will be interesting to see the performance of Intel Core i7-6770HQ processor with integrated Iris Pro graphics, and an extensive set of interfaces.

According to Intel NUC6i7KYK size is no longer a book, but a very interesting toppings. Previous NUC system also relied on the processor Skylake, but of the family U, a in our case, a flagship HQ, which is at least functional versions found in many of today’s high-end gaming laptops. Intel Core i7-6770HQ Skylake generation processor has four physical cores at 3.5 GHz. Interesting and integrated graphics. Instead of the usual Intel HD Graphics solutions are used by Iris Pro version. It is equipped with a large number of execution units, as well as a dedicated memory. Thus, Skull Canyon system is not only suitable for everyday office scenarios, but also for games – probably for this reason that Intel has added an embossed skull logo on the top cover of the mini-PC. Of course, ambitious gamers integrated graphics is unlikely to suit, even if it refers to the complete configuration Skylake architecture.

The remaining components are also impressive: in two available slots for high-speed M.2 SSD with PCI Express interface, a wireless network standard, 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2, note the abundance of modern ports. Mention USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, and HDMI 2.0. The latter provides a high bandwidth, sufficient for 4K monitors with a refresh rate of 60 Hz. For gamers have another advantage: thanks to the Thunderbolt 3 mini-PC is theoretically possible to connect a PCI Express graphics card via an external module. Two DDR4 module has SODIMM format, there is an infrared port and card reader. Of course, not without an integrated sound card with optical output and a 3.5mm audio jack. High performance CPU and GPU impose appropriate requirements on the power supply. Intel, along with the flagship NUC delivers 120-watt power supply.

Test and review: Intel NUC6i7KYK - mini PC Skull Canyon NUC for casual gamers

But everything has its price. For new barebone Intel asked 580 euros or 49 thousand. Rubles in Russia. And the SSD and RAM have to buy and install yourself. If we consider the price of the additional components and the Windows operating system, the assembly will cost even more. As for the compact class computer of the performance is not so cheap.

Intel NUC6i7KYK: Hardware

Before you consider Intel NUC6i7KYK body in detail, let me talk about the hardware.

“The heart of the” NUC became the new flagship Intel Core i7-6770HQ. The processor was officially announced at the beginning of the year, he is focused on high-performance gaming laptops. Like any processor Skylake, Intel Core i7-6770HQ produced by 14-nm process technology. In contrast to the “junior” processors Core i5, which also have four cores, supports technology Hyper-Threading, which allows execute eight threads simultaneously. The clock frequency depends on the load, the base frequency of 2.6 GHz in Turbo mode can be increased up to 3.5 GHz. As with other processors for laptops, the maximum frequency is maintained at a load of up to two cores.

On cores and cache different from Intel Core i7-6700HQ, which is installed in most gaming laptops, no. Processor Core i7-6770HQ also equipped with 6 MB of L3 cache, the second level cache is 1 MB in total. The data cache and instruction L1 is the usual 32 KB per core. Maximum power consumption Intel Core i7-6770HQ not increased. As in the past, Intel indicates TDP of 45 watts. Partners Intel processor goes for $ 434.

Test and review: Intel NUC6i7KYK - mini PC Skull Canyon NUC for casual gamers

Unlike previous HQ cpus, Intel increased the graphics subsystem. Instead of the traditional integrated graphics Intel HD Graphics to Intel Core i7-6770HQ processor integrated Iris Pro. GT4e Option provides full iGPU configuration, ie, the largest number of execution units EU at this stage of development of the architecture, which operate at a maximum frequency of 950 MHz (100 MHz slower). Namely iGPU contains 72 execution units, as well as 128 MB of eDRAM memory, which should significantly increase graphics performance Intel Iris Pro 580 as compared to the Intel HD Graphics 530.

In addition, the graphics core in the new Iris Pro NUC interface supports HDMI 2.0, capable of outputting 4K video at a refresh rate of 60 Hz (via an additional chip). Supports and protection standard HDCP 2.2. Televisions and computer monitors can be connected through a connector mini-DisplayPort, there is also a full-size DisplayPort 1.2. So it is possible to connect up to three monitors to Skull Canyon NUC. Gaming graphics solution supports DirectX 12, and there is hardware support for encryption QuickSync, which will be useful for home broadcast via Valve Steam.

Other hardware

The NUC you have to install drives and RAM. NUC6i7KYK platform supports two SSD in the form of maps and M.2 two modules DDR4 SODIMM format. Thus, it is possible to assemble a fast dual-channel RAID storage system supports dual channel memory operation. Intel has added to complete barebone necessary components for our tests. Namely drive Samsung SSD 950 Pro with NVMe support. According to the manufacturer, the data transfer rate for reading and writing up to 2.5 or 1.5 GB / s. Performance, according to our tests, is really quite high. In October last year, when we carried out the tests, the Samsung SSD 950 Pro was the fastest SSD in the market.

Test and review: Intel NUC6i7KYK - mini PC Skull Canyon NUC for casual gamers

Intel also installed two strips DDR4 production of Micron / Crucial to the frequency of 2.133 MHz and latency CL15-15-15-36, voltage is 1.2 V. A separate two memory strip of the same total capacity of 16 GB will cost producer in the 60 euro or 5.9 thous. rubles in Russia. Add to this the price of Windows 10 Home license.

For the mini-PC UEFI Intel NUC6i7KYK provides a fairly wide range of functions. Many other similar systems in the BIOS, you can specify the parameters except download and fan speed, but for the flagship NUC Intel has offered so much more. You can customize the Turbo mode, ie control clock speeds Intel Core i7-6770HQ, the same applies to the clock frequency of the integrated graphics Intel Iris Pro 580. Finally, the parameters available memory – the frequency and delay. Even some of the voltage can be changed.

Test and review: Intel NUC6i7KYK - mini PC Skull Canyon NUC for casual gamers

Intel NUC6i7KYK: In details

Intel still produces motherboards, available to testers with announcements of new platforms, so we were not surprised skull logo on the case. With the new Skull Canyon NUC, he returned to the market. High skylake processor, and the graphics subsystem Iris Pro should provide sufficient performance for undemanding games. Intel itself indicates that the system will cope with the most popular games at 1080p, referring to Battlefield: Hardline, Civilization V, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Grand Theft Auto V and The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim.

The compact plastic housing is not only interesting hardware stuffing, but also modern interfaces. Front NUC NUC6i7KYK offers two ports USB 3.0, memory card slot, 3.5mm combo audio jack (input and output), infrared. There is also located on / off button.

On the opposite panel contains other interfaces. Two USB 3.0 ports and a modern connector Type C. It operates in compliance with the USB 3.1 Gen 2 standard, that is, it supports high speed transmission. Not without a port Thunderbolt 3. The new connector allows you to insert the plug in any orientation. To connect monitors and TVs are available outputs HDMI 2.0 and optional DisplayPort 1.2 standard. Built-in network controller displayed at the flagship NUC via a Gigabit Ethernet interface. Of course, supported and WLAN 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2 wireless network.

On both side walls can be seen a large number of air vents that help cool the hot components. Kensington Lock no.

Below there is nothing special. Also additional air vents can be seen only four rubber feet. The bottom panel is removed, allowing access to the components: You can easily install / replace the M.2 drives and memory strip.

To get to the SSD and memory have to unscrew the four screws from the bottom. After that, you will have access to two SODIMM slots and two slots M.2. Bluetooth and WLAN module is soldered to the motherboard underneath. Intel chose to be expected unit 8260 of its own production.

For our tests we got the drive Samsung SSD 950 Pro with NVMe support. It has a capacity of 512 GB, the manufacturer’s specifications for the data transfer rate of up to 2,500 MB / s.

Next to the two memory banks, you can see the cooler Skylake processor with integrated Iris Pro graphics core. From CPU to the radiator heat is transferred using heat pipes thick copper, and then ejected outside the housing by a radial fan. The cooler is based on the 60-mm fan and numerous aluminum fins. The remaining components are not actively cooled, they will have to be content with the air flow created in the body radial fan.

The kit comes with an external power supply, rear Intel NUC has a corresponding power socket. BP is much more powerful than in the previous case the NUC, it provides up to 120 watts. It also comes with a quick installation guide. We also added Intel Guide NUC testing.

NUC system nominally closed the two plates, but you can use the VESA mount and optional, to mount a mini-PC behind the monitor or TV.

Test and review: Intel NUC6i7KYK - mini PC Skull Canyon NUC for casual gamers

Intel NUC6i7KYK: Tests

As with other models of the NUC, at Intel NUC6i7KYK used integrated graphics. Below we look at the performance of Iris Pro 580 in the tests.


Intel Core i7-6770HQ processor is one of the fastest mobile skylake models, it is significantly faster than the same processors U, not to mention the Celeron, which are used in many of the mini-PC. The result is a high performance not only in everyday office applications, but also in our tests. In both tests, Cinebench we got a performance of 7.72 or 703 points, almost twice higher than that of the socket Intel Core i3-6100T mini PC MSI Cubi 2 format STX Plus. In general, CPU provides the performance is not worse than the desktop.

In the test, the 7-Zip compression, we got a performance above 20,000 points, including due to the dual-channel DDR4 memory to 2.133 MHz with a bandwidth of 24.49 Gb / s. Drive Samsung SSD 950 Pro showed a rate of 1.9 GB / s, which is below the promised level. But it still gives you enough performance, leaving traditional 2,5 “SSD far behind, not to mention the hard drives. Intel NUC6i7KYK easily cope with office applications, as well as perfect for viewing 4K video. Note, however, that the system is sold as a barebone, so performance will depend on the installed components.

Gaming performance

The greatest interest at the new flagship NUC is a graphical performance. By increasing the number of execution units EU and the allocated memory eDRAM mini PC copes with old and undemanding games. Thus, aging Anno 2070 was in the resolution Full-HD 39 fps, 40 fps we got in the old Tomb Raider. If you prefer to play with a frame rate of not less than 60 fps, you’ll need to reduce the graphics quality settings. While Resident Evil 5 games or Street Fighter IV will not have to take this step. Here magic strap is achieved and at the maximum setting, and sometimes the performance is even twice as high.

But if you plan to run modern games and heavy, you have to sacrifice picture quality or resolution. Game Grand Theft Auto 5, for example, with a minimum level of detail in 720p or 1080p resolutions showed from 34 to 45 frames per second, that is, the speed is at the level of the old-generation consoles. But to improve the quality of graphics and even think it is not necessary. In some games, there is exactly the opposite: there are unpleasant artifacts that may be associated with the problem iGPU Intel drivers. But most of all, of course, the sad deterioration of graphic detail. For example, The Witcher 3 game Iris Pro does not look as nice as we would like, although sufficient fps.

Of course, ambitious gamers Intel Core i7-6770HQ with integrated graphics hardly suitable. As before, it is better to buy a system with a discrete GPU. But with the old games a new NUC copes without any problems. Overall, the graphics performance Iris Pro 580 is below AMD Radeon R7 240. Salvation may be external boxes with discrete graphics cards that we have seen on Computex 2016. They are connected through Type C connector, and allows you to comfortably play the NUC. In addition, due to the hardware support QuickSync NUC can be used as a client home broadcast Steam. But there will have to put up with quite a high latency.

Test and review: Intel NUC6i7KYK - mini PC Skull Canyon NUC for casual gamers

Noise level

Of course, the high computing performance of Intel Core i7-6770HQ require adequate cooling, especially in view of the close body. Mini PC Intel NUC6i7KYK can not be called quiet. Even in Windows idle 10 small 60-mm fan leads to a noise level of 36.2 dB (A) at a distance of 30 cm. It can not be considered annoying, but the work Mini-PC noticeable. When the load on the CPU or the graphics subsystem noise level increases significantly. Under extreme load Prime95 and Furmark Skull Canyon system to work with a noise level of 46.3 dB (A). Of course, the level of 50 dB (A) is not reached, unlike some gaming notebooks. But this noise level is not suitable for every living room, not to mention the bedroom.

Energy consumption

Higher appetite for new flagship NUC energy consumption can already be seen by the power of complete power supply – 120 Watt. Our tests confirmed the fears. Depending on the load, the test system consumed up to 94.3 watts of power. Under the regular Windows desktop level was less than 20 watts. Thanks to modern energy saving mechanisms are new mini-PC is not very different from other nettops. For comparison, MSI Cubi 2 Plus in the last test consumed from 11.3 to 50 watts from the power outlet.


Intel NUC6i7KYK cooling system quickly limited by the limits of their capabilities. After a few minutes load Prime processor Intel Core i7-6770HQ reached 95 ° C temperature, and then began to drop the clock frequency and voltage, so as not to overheat. Of course, all of this has affected the performance, the clock frequency down to 800MHz. In our tests, we have received anecdotal rise in temperature up to 100 ° C, but the slowdown, freezes, or “missions” was not. Under full load the motherboard and SSD heated to 76 and +38 ° C. It should be noted that in reality these temperatures will occur rarely. The processor is also heated games, but throttling was not so strong. Under scenarios office temperature is within the normal range.

Intel NUC6i7KYK: Conclusion

Intel NUC6i7KYK Performance is impressive. Thanks to Intel Core i7-6770HQ with four cores at up to 3.5 GHz compact nettop can be compared not only with high-end laptops, but also powerful desktop PCs. For office productivity scenario is more than enough, the same applies to playback 4K movies. Of course, the advantage of the mini-PC can be called a graphics subsystem Intel Iris Pro with the increased number of EU and selected eDRAM memory execution units as compared to the “younger” iGPU. All this affects the gaming performance. Older and undemanding games like Tomb Raider or Anno 2070, is easy to go with the highest level of detail in the resolution of Full-HD. But most of the performance required for modern heavy games than can give a top processor skylake. In Grand Theft Auto 5, and The Witcher 3 on a compact NUC you can play, but it is necessary to reduce the level of graphics quality. With low detail, reduced viewing range and zamylenny textures play will not be so nice. In general, Intel Iris Pro 580 performance is below AMD Radeon R7 240. On the other hand, nothing prevents translation home use.

If you need more performance, refer to the decisions of the Mini-ITX. You can install not only the socket desktop processor Core i5, but also a full-fledged graphics card. And for a comparable price. Intel barebone system is asking for a lot, from 580 euros in Europe, or by 49.1 thousand. Rubles in Russia. Add to this price M.2 SSD, memory and operating system. Our test configuration with 16 GB DDR4 and Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB easily exceeded the bar in 1000 euros. On the other hand, mini-ITX system is not as compact. Yet the advantage of the new NUC in size, with dimensions of 211 x 116 x 26 mm it is only slightly larger than the book, the body is easy to hide on the desktop.

But the small size lead to its effects on the cooling system, which limits the performance. After the read load minutes Prime95 processor includes throttling to 800 MHz, so as not to overheat. In our tests, CPU Skylake occasionally heated to 100 ° C, but in any crashes or hangs it did not lead. NUC6i7KYK system can not be called quiet, the noise level under load up to 46 dB (A).

Intel NUC6i7KYK system is very compact and fast, but at the same time very hot, noisy and, above all, very expensive. In any case, we were impressed by the flagship NUC.

Intel NUC6i7KYK Advantages:

  • Very high performance
  • A large number of modern interfaces
  • Compact dimensions
  • Reasonable power consumption

Disadvantages Intel NUC6i7KYK:

  • Hot and noisy under load
  • Very expensive
  • Gaming can be called only conditionally

Source: digitaltrends

Test and review: Intel NUC6i7KYK – mini PC Skull Canyon NUC for casual gamers was last modified: July 20th, 2016 by Tomas Shellby