Braswell NUC and Windows 10
Does Windows 10 support exist for the Braswell NUC (NUC5CPYH or NUC5PPYH)? That is a common question these days. Short answer is yes. Long answer you can find below.
I made a clean install of Windows 10 on an empty hard drive. You could also just upgrade your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 system (for free) to Windows 10. That works as well. In fact I first had to do that to get the license to run Windows 10 on my NUC.
There’s an option to select the operating system in the boot configuration options in the BIOS, but the options are Windows 7, Windows 8.x and Linux. I decided that Windows 8 is the closest option and chose that. I had created my Windows 10 installation USB stick on another computer and then restarted the NUC with the stick plugged into one of the USB ports. Push F10 when the computer boots, choose boot from the USB and the installation starts.
There aren’t that many things to choose from and the installation seems to be more or less automated progress. It’s worth noting that the installation reboots the NUC several times and at times you’re looking at just a black screen wondering if everything’s going fine. You’ll be prompted for a WLAN network (it seems the Intel Wireless AC-3165 adapter in the NUC is supported out of the box and even during installation) to connect to if you’re not using the wired connectivity and you get to change the privacy settings. In the end it got there without hiccups through various screens that had informative messages like “Setting up things for you…”, “Just a moment…” and “We’re still working”.
After booting on to the desktop the system will automatically load drivers via Windows Update. This caused the system to slow down a bit and at one point the screen flickered when the new display driver was taken into use. At least the drivers for the display adapter, LAN adapter, infrared receiver, wireless adapter and the onboard audio got automatically installed, whereas there were some unknown devices in the device manager still. Basically I got rid of them by installing the Intel Serial IO Host Controller driver from their download center.
I also noticed that the drivers pushed by Windows Update were not the latest. This is probably a sensible approach by Intel, but I wanted the latest and greatest for my PC. Thus I downloaded the Intel HD Graphics driver, the LAN driver, the WiFI driver, the chipset driver and the Intel Trusted Execution Engine driver from the Intel download center and installed all of them.
Conclusion and General Performance
In general Windows 10 seems to work fine and there are drivers for all of the components in the NUC. The Braswell NUC of course is not a speed demon, but nevertheless gave an acceptable performance in Windows. Of course opening 10 browser tabs with several video clips running on the screen will bring this device on its knees. Some more points regarding the performance. You will need at least 4 gigabytes of memory. More doesn’t hurt and memory is cheap these days so maybe go for 8 GB RAM if you plan to run Windows. I also consider an SSD drive absolutely necessary for Windows users. The difference in boot time, startup time of applications and generally in everything you do is worth the difference! You don’t need the fastest or the most expensive SSD, most important thing is that you have an SSD instead of a conventional hard drive. Furthermore the 4-core NUC5PPYH seems to be more snappy than the 2-core NUC5CPYH.
Finally, a small tip regarding browsers. It seems that Firefox and Chrome browsers are not fully optimized when it comes to hardware acceleration of video rendering. While the developers of those two browsers catch up, try using the new Microsoft Edge browser that comes with your Windows. Even if I’m a diehard Firefox fan I have to admit that web browsing on the NUC was just more pleasant when using Edge. The hardware acceleration makes a big difference in YouTube where Edge was able to play pretty much any video, even 4K or 60 fps videos, without issues whereas Firefox and Chrome provided choppy playback with anything more than 1080p. A Chrome developer explained here that their hardware decoding implementation today uses copy-back (copying the image from video memory to system memory before rendering it), which is not ideal. My guess is that it is the same on Firefox currently.
Recommended Setup for Windows Users