Kaby Lake NUCs: Specs Prediction and Some Thoughts

EDIT: The specifications have been released by Intel. The information on this page is not relevant anymore! See our article covering the released specs.

It’s again the time of the year when Intel is about to release their new Core i3 and Core i5 NUCs. This time there is also an i7 NUC. All three of them will be powered by the Kaby Lake SoC and they share quite a few specifications. The following is my prediction and not confirmed specs yet! However, I’m sure we’ll need to wait only until CES 2017 to get the detailed specs.

Kaby Lake NUC Specifications

The i5 and i7 Kaby Lake NUC will look identical.

Kaby Lake i5 NUC with the higher chassis (2.5″ slot for SSD).

Shared specifications

Let’s first have a look at what is common for all of the NUCs.

  • Memory: Dual-channel DDR4L-2133, max. 32 GB
  • Display Connectivity: HDMI 2.0 port (4k 60Hz support, via LSPCon), DP 1.2 via USB type-C
  • M.2: Single M.2 slot capable of accepting a 2280 or a 2240-sized SSD
  • SATA: Single slot for a 2.5″ SATA drive (not present in the compact NUC7i3BNK and NUC7i5BNK)
  • Card reader: Inbuilt Micro SDXC card reader
  • Networking: Intel Gigabit Ethernet and Intel Wireless-AC 802.11ac network adapters, Bluetooth 4.2
  • USB ports: 2 USB 3.0 ports in the front (one with fast charging), 2 USB 3.0 ports in the rear, 1 USB 3.1 Type-C port in the rear, Dual-USB 2.0 header on mainboard
  • Other: Consumer infrared receiver, user-customizable ring LED in the front face, HDMI CEC support…

Core i3 Model (NUC7i3BNH & NUC7i3BNK)

  • CPU: Intel Core i3-7100U, dual-core, hyperthreading, 15W TDP, 2.4 GHz
  • GPU: Intel HD Graphics 620 (GT2), 24 EUs, 300 MHz base frequency, 1.0 GHz max frequency

Core i5 Model (NUC7i5BNH & NUC7i5BNK)

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-7200U, dual-core, hyperthreading, 15W TDP, 2.5 GHz, Boost up to 3.1 GHz
  • GPU: Intel HD Graphics 620 (GT2), 24 EUs, 300 MHz base frequency, 1.0 GHz max frequency
  • Thunderbolt 3 via the USB Type-C port

Core i7 Model (NUC7i5BNH)

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-7567U, dual-core, hyperthreading, 28W TDP, 3.3 GHz, Boost up to 3.6 GHz
  • GPU: Intel Iris Graphics 650 (GT3e), 48 EUs, 300 MHz base frequency, 1.1 GHz max frequency
  • Thunderbolt 3 via the USB Type-C port
  • No compact chassis model available (due to cooling requirements)

Observations

The i3 and i5 model feature the same GPU, the only differences are the faster CPU and the Thunderbolt 3 connectivity on the i5 model. Since Intel is not killing off the Skull Canyon NUC yet, I think they had to find out ways to position 3 products below the Skull Canyon. Since the GPU is the same in both of these, I expect that the i5 model will be approximately 20% faster in most of the benchmarks. Passmark scores can be found for both already (these CPUs can be found in many laptops already): 3913 and 4723.

The Skylake i5 NUC featured an Iris Graphics GPU (GT3e), but this time that one is reserved only for the i7 NUC. However, the i7 NUC comes with a 28-watt CPU. Last time Intel had trouble keeping the 28-watt CPU cool in the same chassis they used for the 15-watt i3 and i5 models. This was the Broadwell NUC5i7RYKH that quite honestly was a bit too loud for my taste. I do hope that they have applied the lessons learned from the Skull Canyon NUC that was reasonable quiet.

I actually expect that the Sky Lake i5 NUC with Iris Graphics 540 GPU will beat the Kaby Lake i5 NUC with HD Graphics 620 in most of the GPU-intensive benchmarks. Of course, the video processing engine in Kaby Lake has been much improved and it features 10-bit HEVC and VP9 decoding even at 4k resolutions – unlike the Iris 540 in Skylake.

The Skull Canyon NUC will remain as the only NUC with Iris Pro Graphics (GT4e). The expect lifecycle of that model will continue until early 2018.

Release Dates

According to Digitimes, all of the NUCs will be released during the CES 2017 (January 5-8). The i3 NUC will be available in January, i5 in February and i7 finally in March.

So what do you think of the Kaby Lake NUC specifications? Let us know in the comments below!

24 Responses

  1. Luigi says:

    D you think there will be an UPDATED SkullCanyon NUC, or that same model will be kept until 2018…?

  2. kingrob says:

    4K video update & that’s about it for Kaby Lake NUCs….why am I more excited about the new ASRock Beebox and Zotac models?

    • Olli says:

      Kaby Lake marks a departure from Intel’s “tick-tock” release strategy. I guess there’s only so much you can squeeze out from the 14 nm architecture used. I’ve got a feeling that 10-bit HEVC at 4k resolutions is the main reason why these CPUs do exist.

      That being said, ASRock’s Beebox update from Skylake to Kaby Lake wasn’t that exciting either – pretty much nothing changed except the CPU. http://www.techspot.com/review/1293-asrock-beebox-s-kaby/ describes the changes well.

      Which features would you have liked in the new NUCs that did not make it?

      • Fred says:

        I would have liked native HDMI 2.0a. I don’t fully trust the LSPCon chip (UHD HDR@60Hz for example). Let’s see what the final specs look like.

      • kingrob says:

        Kaby Lake is just a bit underwhelming, to be honest. There will always be an expectation when Intel releases a next gen CPU….hot new benchmarks, new features, etc. and this time there is almost 0.

        In my opinion, the Skylake NUC i5 with Iris graphics is still the best bang for your buck and still be my first choice for a general pc at home. For a HTPC, I would most probably get the new 7th gen quad core Celeron with dual core DDR3 RAM.

        Conspiracy theory : What Olli said earlier – Intel is pushing us all unknowingly towards the Skull Canyon NUC. :p

  3. Tomi says:

    Merry xmas & nice summary from Olli again!

    It is good to note that the specs of Intel NUC7i5BNH and Asrock Beebox-S 7200U are very similar. Same CPU, both take M2 & 2.5″ SATA, almost same USB slots. NUC also has a card reader which many won’t need all that much,

    Comparing Techspot review against Olli’s 6i5SYH review gives very good indication of performance we can expect with Intel 7th Gen i5 NUC when compared to previous generation i5 NUC.

    Asrock: http://www.techspot.com/review/1293-asrock-beebox-s-kaby/
    Intel: http://nucblog.net/2016/01/skylake-i5-nuc-review-nuc6i5syh-nuc6i5syk-benchmarks/

    So for most users looking for i5 mini HTPC it will be a pure price game between the two i5-7200U models. Those planning also to do some 3D gaming will most likely skip both models and go with old 6th Gen NUC with Iris i5-6260U CPU. Those who have high desire for 10bit 4k Video will pick 7th Generation CPU.

    All this said I have high hopes that NUC7i5BNH with i7-7567U is the way to go by combining possibility for gaming and 4k 10bit video into same package. Hopefully Intel manages to keep the cooling in control AND price in reasonable level.

    Hopefully someone is kind enough to Provide Olli with a i7 sample so we can read here what to expect!

    • Olli says:

      Hello Tomi and thanks for your comments! It was actually your email that sparked me to write this summary last night. 🙂

      The thing is, it would seem to me that the i5 model is a bit redundant here. For HTPC usage, I think the i3 will be more than enough. I can’t see much value in going for the slightly faster i5 chip here. Pricing of course is not yet known – maybe the difference will be small..

      I though the product line was just right with the Skylake generation: simple i3 without much GPU capability for gaming (GT2), clearly beefed up i5 with significantly better GPU (GT3e) and the i7 with the top of the line integrated GPU (GT4e). Maybe they’re trying to push the i5 purchasers towards the costlier i7 with this… MSI Cubi 2 is available with an i7-7500U which I think is even worse: reasonably powerful i7 CPU, but a low-end HD Graphics 620 GPU. Since MSI and ASRock both have chosen the same i5 CPU for their products it seems there won’t be a Kaby Lake NUC-like PC with an i5 CPU that could match the gaming performance of NUC6i5SYH.

      I’ll definitely try to get the Intel guys to borrow me one i7 model when they’re available.

      Merry Christmas! Hyvää joulua!

  4. kingrob says:

    Merry Christmas everyone!!

  5. e says:

    I really wish Intel would update their fanless NUC. They still have the best warranty (3yr) and the most consistently updated and capable BIOS.

  6. Ken R says:

    Will this support HDMI 2.0a?

  7. beanbag says:

    Well, for the i5 version, the Kaby lake can do 4K @ 60Hz, while the Skylake can only to 30 Hz, right?

    • Olli says:

      Yes, that’s kind of correct. The HDMI connector in Skylake is only HDMI 1.4 so it will only go up to 4k @ 30 Hz. However, the DisplayPort in Skylake i5 NUC can go up to 60 Hz. If you use an adapter such as the Club3D Mini DisplayPort to HDMI 2.0 adapter you can get 4k @ 60 Hz with the Skylake as well. After all, the Kaby Lake has such an adapter integrated on the mainboard as well.

      What the Skylake i5 won’t do is decode 10-bit HEVC content at 4k resolutions if that’s important to you.

  8. Simon says:

    I’m new to this tech, so forgive my ignorance – are any of these likely to be fanless (or quite quiet)?

    I’m looking at building a Plex client that will handle 4K and passthrough audio to the receiver.

    I’m assuming the slimmer i3 could handle that, yes? Plex media player embedded installed on a USB3 card.

    I’ve got an old Windows Media Center remote – might that be of use? (although I use a phone/tablet most of the time)

    Any help appreciated – quite excited by this.

    • Olli says:

      Hi Simon,

      These certainly won’t be fanless, but I’m hoping that they’ll be very quiet. I got an older i3 NUC that’s virtually silent even if it has a fan. The slimmer i3 should be more than enough for the purpose you describe. The MCE remote should work out of the box with the NUC – even power it on/off.

  9. Aya says:

    I presume that you compare 7200U with 6200U. But I’ve heard that Skylake i5 NUC have 6260U, not 6200U. So we should compare 7200U with 6260U,
    Passmark shows that 6260U marks 4340 and 7200U does 4714. So new i5 NUC is only 8% faster than Skylake one, not 20%. Is it right?
    But 7200U has HD 620 graphics whose Passmark point is 889. 6260U has Iris 540 graphics whose Passmark point is 1357. so New i5 NUC has 45% slower than current NUC!!!
    Any other differences? New NUC has hdmi 2.0 which is able to draw 4K, 60Hz. Skylake NUC has hdmi 1.4 but also has DP port which is able to draw 4K, 60Hz. So hdmi 1.4 isn’t a big problem, IMO.
    Those one who want same or more graphics than Skylake i5 NUC should buy i7 Kabylake NUC. But it must be much more expensive. In addition, i7 Kabylake NUC’s TDP is almost twice than i5 NUC and because of this, it has cooling system which should have noise.
    So… IMO, For those who want middle range NUC with low TDP, noise and relatively high graphic performance, Skylake i5 NUC is better than Kabylake i5 NUC.
    Anyway, I like new NUC’s color more than current one… It;s only the reason I hesitate to buy Skylake i5 NUC -_-;;;

  10. TzuWen says:

    I am interested in if these NUC’s have ability to play Youtube 4K video(2160p60fps/VP9) smoothly.

  11. Simon says:

    Some info about Kaby Lake revealled, although no mention of NUC support yet.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/03/intel-7th-gen-desktop-cpu/

  12. peter says:

    When they say 7.1 HD Audio, do they mean DTS-HD Master and Dolby TrueHD? Does my receiver still needs a decoder or something? And this 7.1 is thru HDMI only, no TosLink? TIA

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