Braswell Pentium NUC Review (NUC5PPYH Review)

Not so long time ago we took a good look at the Intel NUC5CPYH mini PC kit, which was based on a Celeron N3050 CPU. Today we take a look at its more powerful cousin, the NUC5PPYH that is based on the quad-core Intel Pentium N3700 CPU. This Intel NUC5PPYH review is going to be a bit shorter than the previous review due to the fact that the two units are otherwise identical. Literally, as you can’t tell the two units from each other unless you look at the model number written on the bottom plate. If you haven’t already done so, reading the NUC5CPYH review will give you good background.

The Braswell family of processors has 4 members. The dual-core Celerons N3000 and N3050 are on the lower end, quad-core Celeron N3150 in the middle and the quad-core Pentium N3700 at the top. Intel has chosen to offer a NUC with two of the Braswell CPUs. The list below describes the main differences between the N3050 (NUC5CPYH) and the N3700 (this model, NUC5PPYH):

  • N3700 has 4 cores instead of 2 on the N3050
  • The CPU burst frequency is 2.4 GHz on the N3700 vs 2.16 GHz on the N3050
  • N3700 has 16 execution units in the GPU vs 12 EUs in the N3050
  • The GPU burst frequency is 700 MHz on the N3700 vs 600 MHz on the N3050

You can take a look at Intel’s website for detailed comparison. Basically the CPU is significantly more powerful and the GPU slightly more powerful.

Features

  • Intel Pentium N3700 quad-core CPU, 2.40 GHz, 6W TDP
  • Single DDR3L memory slot, max. memory 8 GB, 1.35V
  • Intel HD Graphics with 16 execution units, burst frequency 700 MHz
  • HDMI and VGA connectors
  • 7.1 surround audio (via HDMI)
  • 4 USB 3.0 ports (fast charging on one of the front ports, max. 1.5A)
  • Consumer infrared receiver
  • Support for a single 2.5″ SATA drive
  • SDXC slot for a memory card (UHS-I support)
  • Realtek Gigabit Ethernet adapter
  • Intel Wireless-AC 3165 Wireless adapter (802.11ac, BlueTooth 4.0, Wireless Display)

What’s in the Box

Like it’s more modest cousin, it arrives in the typical cube-shaped box that many of the previous NUCs have been delivered in. In addition to the NUC itself there is a power adapter that can be used pretty much anywhere in the world thanks to multiple plugs, VESA mounting hardware to attach the NUC behind your TV, a quick start guide/poster, Intel inside sticker and warranty terms and conditions.

You will need to add a single memory module and some form of storage. It could be a 2.5″ SATA drive (be it SSD or HDD), SD memory card or an external USB drive or a stick. The installation of the components into the unit is a five minute job – if you’ve never done it before watch the video below.

 

Windows on the NUC5PPYH

I installed Windows 8.1 on the NUC to run the benchmarks below. Installation from a USB drive was easy, but if you’re going to put in Windows 7 be prepared for a challenge. I wrote a separate article on installing Windows 7 on the Braswell NUCs, as it’s a bit tricky.

NUC5PPYH CPU info

As it was the case with the slower NUC5CPYH, the overall performance in Windows is surprisingly good. The system is very responsive when doing basic things like web surfing or browsing through the image collection. My setup contained a 4 GB DDR3L-1600 memory module and an SSD drive. If you plan to use your NUC as a desktop PC, do yourself a favor and install an SSD drive instead of a conventional hard drive – this makes a bigger difference than any other choice you can make when building your NUC.

Benchmark results

Intel HD Graphics driver for Braswell version 10.18.14.4234 was used for all of the following tests and screen resolution was set to 1920×1080.

In 3DMark the result for Cloud Gate is 2121 (Graphics 2308, Physics 1653) and for Ice Storm it’s 23147 (Graphics 24885, Physics 18602). In our previous test the NUC5CPYH scored 1489 in Cloud Gate and 17542 in Ice Storm, so we’re seeing approximately 30-40% increase in performance here.

NUC5PPYH 3DMark Benchmark results

In Cinebench R15 the OpenGL test gives a result of 13.81 fps, which is about 10% more of what the N3050-powered NUC reached. Even if this is a rather small improvement, the CPU score of 141 cb is significantly better though (110% improvement!). Single core result is almost identical.

NUC5PPYH Cinebench R15 Results

NUC5PPYH Cinebench R15 Results

Overall we have a mixed bag of results. An increase in performance of about 10% to 110% is seen in the benchmarks when comparing to the NUC5CPYH. When it comes to the GPU tests this is mainly explained by N3700 GPU having 16 executions units whereas the N3050 GPU has only 12. The Cinebench CPU test gives a whopping 110% better result (141 vs. 67), mainly due to N3700 having a quad-core CPU vs. the dual-core in N3050. The single core CPU performance of both N3700 and N3050 seems to be about the same. Keep in mind that the absolute scores are not earth-shattering in any way. The Braswell NUC is a low cost, low power unit and that’s reflected in these numbers. There are the Core i3, i5 and i7 models for those who need more computing power for more demanding tasks.

HEVC Video Decoding

The Braswell NUC is the first NUC to support hardware decoding of HEVC encoded video. HEVC is a recent video encoding standard that promises better quality video even when compressed more. It’s not yet in that wide use, but it definitely will be in the future.

On Windows 8.1 the HEVC video decoding on the hardware is supported by the display driver for the NUC5PPYH. Software such as MPC-HC supports HEVC HW decoding, although it’s by default switched off as it’s still considered to be in its early stages. You can turn it on in the settings at Options – Internal Filters – Video Decoder – Codecs for HW Decoding. Tick the HEVC checkbox and check that UHD is ticked as well.

I downloaded a couple of versions of Big Buck Bunny as well as a Samsung NX-1 sample video that were HEVC encoded to test the HW decoding support.

First I tried a HEVC encoded 4K video (3840×2160, 29.97 fps, 80 Mbps), which is scaled down to 1920×1080 on my screen (which increases the load even a little bit more), as I don’t have a 4K screen at my disposal. According to Intel 3840×2160 at 30 fps is also the maximum resolution and frame rate that the device can support. As expected, NUC5PPYH manages this just fine – CPU load constantly under 10% and playback is smooth.

NUC5PPYH plays 4k video (30 fps, 80 Mbps stream)

Finally a test of HEVC encoded 4K video at 60 fps. This was too much for the N3050 powered model, but would the quad-core Pentium with 16 EUs survive it? It seems that the result is identical to the N3050. Judging with plain eye the video seems equally bad, even if there are 33% more EUs in the GPU. It could be that the driver or the HEVC support in MPC-HC is not yet fully up to the task, or it could be that neither of the CPUs will simply be able to handle 4K video decoding at 60 fps. I guess this is something we’ll see in future.

Anyway, even if you would have a 4K TV, there’s no way that you could get a 4K picture out at that resolution as the maximum that is supported by the HDMI 1.4b interface is 4K@30fps. The only situation where you would need this is if you have 4K video stream at 60 fps and you would like to watch it downscaled to full HD (1920x1080p). Movies these days are typically at 24 frames per second (so called 24p), which the NUC plays just fine.

Turning the NUC5PPYH into a HTPC

In our earlier article we already explained that NUC5CPYH makes a nice Linux-based HTPC using OpenELEC, but support for the HEVC decoding is still not there. Everything what I wrote there applies also for this model. You will get some extra power reserves, but it seems that NUC5PPYH at the moment cannot achieve anything more under OpenELEC than NUC5CPYH does.

EDIT: Now that HEVC decoding is supported, this might not be true any more! Read more here.

Conclusion

It is interesting to note that the Braswell N3700 NUC is bridging a gap in Intel’s NUC product line. It is more powerful than the low-end N3050 NUC, but it’s not on the same level as the Core i3 models. I expect the NUC5PPYH to become a rather popular model, as the price difference between the slower Braswell model is only about $50. Then again, in order to go for the faster i3 model you’ll need to shell out at least $100 more.

The benchmarks give you a clear message: the NUC5PPYH beats it’s Celeron-based cousin NUC5CPYH hands down and yet on the other hand the absolute performance from this N3700-powered Braswell is still rather unimpressive. However, even if the NUC is not a powerful number cruncher it has enough power for basic desktop use: web surfing, checking your emails, office applications will all be just fine with this one. Of course only light, casual gaming will be possible with such a low powered CPU/GPU. I’d imagine this would also make a nice terminal in a lobby of a hotel, convention or other place like that.

As a HTPC, it will be excellent with a single caveat. No 4K@60Hz from this NUC (there is no HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort interface) but as long as you don’t need more than 4K@30Hz it will do pretty much whatever you require. Anything at 1080p resolutions will be a piece of cake. If you’re running OpenELEC though, you can get pretty much the same performance out from the lower cost NUC5CPYH model. That being said, if I was buying hardware for a HTPC now I’d probably take this Pentium-based NUC5PPYH over the Celeron-based model.

If you’re interested in one, our resident guru, the NUC Guru can assist you in choosing the parts that will work nicely together and give you a shopping list with exact items to buy. There are also some suggested setups below.

Recommended Setup for Windows Users

Product US UK DE FR
Intel NUC NUC5PPYH $172.69 - EUR 182,67 -
Kingston KVR16LS11/8 8GB Memory Module $47.18 £49.45 EUR 66,84 EUR 62,89
Samsung EVO 750 250GB SSD drive $139.95 - EUR 112,99 EUR 117,88
Check the total price of the whole setup on Amazon.com!

Recommended Setup for HTPC / OpenELEC

Product US UK DE FR
Intel NUC NUC5PPYH $172.69 - EUR 182,67 -
Kingston KVR16LS11/4 4GB Memory Module $29.24 £24.99 EUR 30,00 EUR 28,79
Sandisk SSD Plus 120GB SSD drive $61.17 £63.51 EUR 78,90 EUR 65,36
Check the total price of the whole setup on Amazon.com!

46 Responses

  1. Maarten says:

    Nice review! I do have an additional question: Using this NUC as a Windows based HTPC not only with KODI but also including the ‘backend tools’ like Emby Server, Transmission, SickRage, Couchpotato, … Will it have enough power to handle all of this without performance hickups or should I go for the i3? Transcoding & gaming are less relevant at this moment.

    I currently run these tools on a Synology NAS (212+) but he’s clearly not strong enough for this task. So I’m looking for an alternative that is not too expensive…

    • Olli says:

      Thanks Maarten! I think it should not be a problem for this NUC. Depending of course what you are doing with the Emby and is it transcoding something for a mobile device at the same time as you’re watching a movie in Kodi..

    • Maarten says:

      Just wanted to confirm I’ve installed this NUC to perform the tasks above and it works like a charm & the performance is good. Only 1 issue left: I’m using Windows 10 and have frequent USB3 disconnect issues with my external data disk even after installing the latest drivers. I guess the intel drivers for windows 10 for this NUC are not 100% OK yet… 🙁

  2. Calico says:

    Thanks for this review,
    Could you please tell us more about fan noise and speed comparing to the other version ? Better ? Similar ?

    Thank you

    • Olli says:

      To be honest I don’t notice any difference. I’d bet that the fans are identical given that both have a TDP of 6 watts. In any case both units are really quiet. You can adjust the minimum fan speed and I believe it’s 40% by default. With this setting you can hear it but it’s not noisy. Think about a typical “better” laptop. The good thing is, that at least in room temperature of 20-22 degrees celsius the fan never seems to speed up even if you run heavier apps / benchmarks.

      I usually set the minimum fan speed to 25%, which makes the NUC almost silent. Not totally, but close enough for me.

  3. Emakaay says:

    It would be nice to compare these Intel nuc with the asrock beebox. These have the a slightly slower or same could, and more options to connect (display port)

  4. Emakaay says:

    Could =cpu

  5. joeredrog says:

    Great review. I bought mine to run the latest version of Ubuntu Linux for arduino programming.

  6. Is the IR receiver a standard RC6 compatible eHome CIR?

    • Olli says:

      The IR receiver can actually support multiple protocols, not just RC6. But by default it works fine with a standard Microsoft eHome remote.

  7. Erik says:

    I was really surprised to notice that the fan sound was quite annoying. Even at lower speeds it was clearly noticable. Did I recieve a bad fan you think? Can you hear your NUC5PPYH at 2 meter (~7 feet) distance?

    • Olli says:

      Maybe you’re more sensitive to fan noise than I am, but I really thought it was rather quiet, almost silent even – definitely at 2 meters. What have you set as minimum duty cycle in the BIOS? I usually set it to 25% or 30%. Of course it’s possible that your unit has a defective fan.

      • Erik says:

        Are you using fixed or custom cooling settings? Are there any other bios settings I should consider for best performance?

        • Erik says:

          Fixed setting 18% seems to be my highest fan setting to consider my unit quiet. Above that that fan sound from my unit is low but annoying (tiresome high pitch sound).
          I hope the units thermal can live with 18%…..

  8. Scott says:

    I’m considering the NUC5PPYH as reviewed, or the older BOXD34010WYK1 which is the i3 from 2013. The older model on discount I can get for $290, not much more than the $250 for the 5PPYH. The new i3 model is $470, a big jump up in price.

    It looks like with the older model I’ll need to use a mSATA ssd rather than m.2.

  9. AsapH says:

    Hi Olli, thanks for the review. One Amazon customer complained that the Braswell models’ chasis is made of plastic instead of aluminum like the core-i versions. Can you confirm?

  10. Ante says:

    Thanks for the review Olli. Could you please tell us something about the temperature. How does it compare to celeron version.

    • Olli says:

      Hi Ante,

      I did not take measurements when I had the device. My gut feeling was that it was not heating significantly more than the Celeron version, but I don’t have the chance to compare now.

  11. Dmitry says:

    Hi to all! Sorry for my bad English… May you help me? I am use NUC DN2820FYKH (CPU Celeron 2830) and NUC5PPYH. In both cases the problem is observed with exit ESC key in Memtest86+ in Linux distros with 2 different Logitech K120 USB keyboard. In other Linux/BSD applications ESC key works fine. Therefore exit from Memtest86+ in this situation it’s possibly by Power Off, this is not good. NUC users could test this ESC key and try to exit from Memtest86+ on their keyboards?

  12. Jeroen says:

    Thanks for the review, I purchased the NUC5PPYH for HTPC purposes, along with a Samsung 850 Evo SSD and the suggested Kingston RAM. Working like a charm with Kodi so far. I’m running Windows 10 and I was wondering what settings you use in order to minimize the boot-time.

    Also, do you have experience with the Intel Ready Mode?

    For those interested in the VESA mount -> it’s a 100×100 VESA mount that is included in the package. If you need a larger mount (like my 40 inch Samsung TV, which uses 200×200), you need a separate VESA adapter.

    • Walter says:

      Jeroen, how are your random read/write speeds with the 850 EVO? Mine are only 25% of Samsung spec. Sequential are 100%.

  13. Alex says:

    Thanks for the review.
    I’m wondering if there is a big difference between this quad core and the celeron dual core when using owncloud? Is either of them able to max out GB Lan when copying files with owncloud?

  14. Franco says:

    Thanks for the review.
    I have a 4GB Kingston ecc memory (KVR16LSE11/4); may I put this module into the NUC5PPYH or it need the non-ecc one?

  15. andyxm715 says:

    you will need non-ecc memory

  16. Grant says:

    I am interested in a NUC for HTPC purposes with OpenElec / Kodi, linking to media saved on my Synology DS415play NAS.

    I currently don’t have a 4K tv but would prefer to future proof the NUC purchase for few years.

    What would be the cheapest NUC that can offer solid performance on 4K@60fps via a HDMI 2.0?

    I Would need a gigabit port and I have a Harmony Ultimate remote so IR required too.

    Many thanks

    • Olli says:

      There’s no NUC with HDMI 2.0 yet and will not be within the next year or so. Consider getting a Braswell NUC now and only upgrade when you really need the 4k support.

  17. Victor says:

    Hello,

    I’ve been doing a bit of research about HTPCs and your review was really useful. I only have one doubt about this particular model, and excuse my little knowledge about it.
    You said it comes with “Intel Wireless-AC 3165 Wireless adapter”, does it mean it comes only with the “connector” and I need to buy also a “Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165”?
    In that case I can see there are 3 M.2 models for that: 2230, 1216(3.3V), 1216(1.8V). Which one fits here?

    Many thanks!!

  18. Djon says:

    Is it possible to have both an M.2 SSD AND a larger 2 TB disk in this machine? I’d like a fast SSD for the Windows 10 OS and a big disk for storage.

  19. Oisin says:

    Has anyone gotten ESXI to work on this NUC?

  20. morow01 says:

    Can it display 2560×1440 via HDMI?

  21. Thankyou; the most useful review on this NUC yet.

    I notice not that they are selling a variation with a “soldered down” 32Gb eMMC with Windows 10 pre-installed and a 3GB SO DIMM which is very tempting and I have found no specific review of that model yet.

    To quote Intel; “Now available as a complete Mini PC” http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/nuc/nuc-kit-nuc5pgyh.html and apon clicking the link we get a 404, (way to go Intel).

    Here is re-seller site that seems to have capture the glossy info https://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=33838&cPath=1552

    You still get the option of adding an SSD/HDD and Windows 10 is included but I am not going to argue the virtues of W10 vs OpenElec because I am unqualified to do so but I do know how to use Windows.

    This is an attractive package but I think I will throw out the 2Gb SODIMM and install a 4Gb SODIMM

    Cheers

    Mike

    • Olli says:

      Thanks for the comment Mike,

      If you can get the prebuilt NUC for a good price, it can be attractive yes. I feel that the 32GB storage is too small for Windows 10 and you’re anyway thinking of disposing the 2GB RAM module… Of course there’s some value in the Windows license included.

      What I would do: find the cheapest price for the NUC5PPYH, buy a cheap 120GB SSD (that likely is still a lot faster than the eMMC), throw in 4GB RAM and find a cheap Windows 7 (or 8) license. Then use the free upgrade to Windows 10. At least here in Europe the sale of a Windows license attached to a laptop is permitted, so you can buy old Win7/8 licenses dirt cheap in eBay.

      It’s a bit more work, but not necessarily that much more expensive and you get an SSD instead of the eMMC. Not sure how fast the eMMC is really and can’t find any benchmarks either. The 4GB eMMC in the older Braswell NUC was rather slow though.

      This all depends on how much work you’re willing to do for the setup, so your mileage may vary of course.

      Cheers,
      Olli

  22. hi i have buy this nuc
    i have a problem when try install windows 10, not find the hard drive and ask for some driver
    i can’t find anywhere ahci drivers

    the hd is a 1 TB hsgt, and the bios correctly find

    thank you for the helo

  23. Sajad says:

    Is it possible to add an external sound card? I have creative Xi Fi external sound card.

    Thinking to buy for multimedia purpose.

    Thanks

  24. alehof says:

    Hello all!! I’m having this issue: When I set up the resolution of my NUC 5ppyh to 1080p, everything flies! But the moment I set it to 4k (native resolution of my TV), performance goes down… BADLY, everything lags, even the mouse!! I’m running Windows 10 with every single Windows and Intel NUC drivers update installed.
    Any Ideas??
    Thank you all!

    • It’s not really an issue : Refresh rate is 24 Hz when you switch to 4K resolution, instead of 60 Hz in 1080p. This is a limitation with HDMI 1.4, and you can’t do anything about it.

      • alehof says:

        I don’t really saw it neither, besides that known limitation. But the NUC lags seriously when switched to 2160p, and it shouldn’t. At least according to intel…

  25. dhruv pandit says:

    hi,
    i just got this NUC, can someone please help me for readymode technology from intel.
    i have enabled it from BIOS, and also installed readymode application.

    now how should it works?
    should i shutdown my NUC?or make it sleep?

    i want to access / make it available via teamviewer any time.

    please guide me for the same.

  26. Pistolgui says:

    Hi,
    I have a NUC NUC5CPYH.
    I want to disable m2 slot in BIOS. But I don’t see the checkbox to enable M2 slot with the version 62.
    Is it possible ?
    Please help.

  1. October 28, 2015

    […] Continue reading […]

  2. December 2, 2015

    […] N3700. This NUC is a barbone, so it has the cpu onboard and it is fanless as you can see here: Braswell Pentium NUC Review (NUC5PPYH Review) The price is 175 euro's, so not that expensive. The only thing I need to add for my friend is a […]

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