EDIT: Read the full review here.
I’ve finally received the NUC6i7KYK which many know better as the Skull Canyon NUC. Many consider this as the most interesting NUC release in years.
Intel has said goodbye to the form factor of previous NUCs and packs this one in a rather flat case (1.1 inch / 28 mm) that’s almost twice as wide as the previous NUCs, but equally deep. However, the new design is not what makes this NUC that interesting but the contents of the box certainly are. The unit packs a 45-watt Core i7-6770HQ processor and Iris Pro 580 GPU.
Skull Canyon NUC Features
- Intel Core i7-6770HQ processor (Quad-core, max. 3.5 GHz, TDP 45 W)
- Intel Iris Pro 580 Graphics
- Two DDR4 SO-DIMM sockets (up to 32 GB, 2133+ MHz)
- Two M.2 slots with flexible support for a 42 or 80 mm SATA or PCIe SSD
- Integrated Wireless-AC 8260 and Bluetooth 4.2 adapter
- SDXC card reader (UHS-I)
- Four USB 3.0 ports (including one charging port)
- Consumer infrared sensor
- Intel Gigabit LAN adapter
- One Mini DisplayPort version 1.2
- One Thunderbolt 3 port with USB 3.1 (USB Type-C connector)
- One full-size HDMI 2.0 display port
Kicking the Tires
On the front we have a power switch, SD card reader, two USB 3.0 ports (yellow one is fast charging compatible), headphone jack and an infra red receiver.
Behind the unit you will find a DC connector, optical sound out, gigabit Ethernet, two more USB 3.0 ports, Mini Displayport 1.2 connector, USB 3.1/Thunderbolt 3 connector and a full size HDMI connector.
This NUC is shipped with a larger power brick than the previous models. You also have an alternative cover in case that mean-looking engraved skull is giving you nightmares. VESA mount, quick-start guide and some screws are included too. Finally there’s a small hex key to open the top cover.
Under the Hood
Unfastening 4 screws on the bottom cover will give you access to the mainboard. The larger heatsink-fan assembly is certainly the reason for the new form factor here.
As this is a barebones kit, you will need to bring your own memory chips and SSD drive. Note that the unit does not have a slot for a 2.5 inch drive – it’s M.2 SSD or nothing. Or two of them, as there are two slots. Supported M.2 drive lengths are 42 and 80 mm. I used a Samsung SM-951 NVME SSD (it’s not locked at 1600 Mb/s like on the previous i7 NUC) and HyperX HX424S14IBK2/8 DDR4-2400 RAM.
The Skull Canyon NUC runs the familiar Intel Visual BIOS. As you can see in the following photos, it does offer more possibilities to tweak the performance than the i3 and i5 models did. Also, the DDR4-2400 RAM is detected in 2400 MHz mode even if the technical product specification says that unit supports 2133 MHz RAM.
More to Come
I’ll still need to run some benchmarks and write a full review of the unit. Expect to read it here early next week!