Hades Canyon NUC Review (NUC8i7HVK)
Performance and Benchmarks
I installed Windows 10 Enterprise version 1803 on the NUC without much effort and made sure it was up-to-date. The graphics driver version 23.20.792.2048 and BIOS version 0037 were used for all the following benchmarks. The system was equipped with a 2×8 GB DDR4-3200 RAM modules (HyperX HX432S20IBK2/16) and an AData XPG SX7000 M.2 NVMe drive.
3DMark is a popular benchmarking suite that benchmarks video and gaming performance of the computer. See below for the results and a comparison to the Skull Canyon as well as the Kaby Lake NUCs.
Basically the Hades Canyon NUC wipes the floor with the other contestants here. There’s almost no point in comparing the Hades Canyon to the previous NUCs.
Cinebench runs 3 separate benchmarks and gives us figures that are comparable. First a simple 3D car chase that measures mainly the GPU (OpenGL) performance. The result is in frames per second. Second there’s a rendering of 3D model with all cores. This stresses purely the CPU. Finally there’s another rendering of the same model, this time using just a single CPU core.
In the OpenGL test the Hades Canyon beats all the previous NUCs comfortably. In the pure CPU tests we can see that the i7 CPU in the Skull Canyon isn’t that much slower than the one here.
The Geekbench score is mainly dependant on the CPU and here we can see that the older Skull Canyon does not do much worse than the new Hades Canyon.
PassMark CPU test
The score for PassMark CPU performance test was 11359.
SteamVR Performance Test
Since Intel advertises the NUC8i7HVK as a VR capable NUC I gave the SteamVR Performance Test a shot. According to the test the device is on the higher end of “Capable” edging towards the “Ready” territory. The software does recommend an upgrade for the GPU though (which of course is not going to happen on a NUC).
Ok, so we know the thing performs in the benchmarks, but can I actually play some recent games with it? I’m not a big gamer, so it took a while to decide which games to try. In the end I tried to look for some recent games to give an idea how well the thing behaves. Resolution was set to 1920×1080 in each game.
Need for Speed Payback
I started by playing a bit of Need for Speed Payback, a racing game released end of last year. While the game itself is pretty disappointing for someone who remembers the original Need for Speed from the 1990s I was happy to find out that the NUC itself had no problems running it at full HD resolution and high detail levels. When measuring the framerate with FRAPS I got a min/avg/max of 50/59.8/71.
Far Cry 5
The latest incarnation of Far Cry is amazingly beautiful and in addition to supporting HDR it also has a nice benchmark option that makes it easy to provide comparable performance data. Even when I yanked all the details to high, the frame rate min/avg/max was 44/51/65. The game generates a nice report of the benchmark, have a look at it by clicking the image above.
BF4 is not one of the latest games, but a very popular one and common in benchmarking on various web sites. Thus I decided to take it in so you can have an idea. With ultra settings I was able to reach a min/avg/max of 49/64.85/83 on the scene I tried.
As I did not get my HyperX DDR4-3200 RAM (HX432S20IBK2) before I got the unit, I initially ran some benchmarks with HyperX DDR4-2400 RAM (HX424S14IBK2). Note that all benchmark results above are ran with the 3200 MHz RAM.
|Benchmark||DDR4-3200 Result||DDR4-2400 Result||Difference|
|3DMark Cloud Gate||25988||26207||-0.8%|
|3DMark Sky Diver||23374||23351||0.0%|
|3DMark Fire Strike||8521||8519||0.0%|
|GeekBench 4 Multi-Core||16795||16350||2.7%|
The results reveal quite well that there’s not much, if any, advantage to the faster RAM at least when it comes to the benchmarks that I did try. Unlike other NUCs the GPU does have its own HBM2 RAM in this case, so faster RAM does not mean faster GPU RAM in this case.
Thoughts on Performance
Running benchmarks on the Hades Canyon is a bit of a surreal experience after benchmarking countless of slower NUCs. The 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark is actually not a slide show, who knew? But yes, the performance numbers are out of the NUC world. It actually performs better in all benchmarks than my couple-years-old large desktop PC with i5-4690k and Geforce GTX 960.
It was really refreshing booting up a game, selecting 1920×1080 resolution and setting the details all the way to the max and still ending up with a smooth gameplay! There’s really no NUC that I’ve tested before that comes close. To be honest, as I’ve never really been much of a gamer myself, this is probably the fastest computer I’ve ever owned.
It does also support AMDs FreeSync technology even if I was unable to test it.