Coffee Lake i5 NUC Review (NUC8i5BEK / NUC8i5BEH)
Fan noise, Power consumption, Conclusions
Previously I discovered that the heat pipe and the fan of the i3 Coffee Lake NUC were much improved when compared to the previous generation. The TDP increase from 15 watts to 28 watts required Intel to update it and they did a reasonably good job with it. The 80 mm fan is significantly bigger than the previous generation NUCs had and it’s also more quiet. The noise it makes sounds also more pleasant than that of a smaller fan.
While using the NUC for standard desktop tasks the fan was relatively quiet but not inaudible. For most of the times it was also a bit noisier than the i3 NUC which is not that surprising considering that it’s manufactured using the same 14 nm technology and that it contains 4 cores instead of 2. All in all, I’d say this NUC was still quiet enough for me to keep on my desktop.
The results below are obtained using a UNI-T UT353 sound meter being kept 50 cm away from the front panel of the NUC. Due to the unscientific nature of my testing the results are not comparable to any numbers obtained by anyone else and I’m sure the numbers might be some dB off.
|Noise floor||33.2 dB|
|Windows 10, idle on desktop||35.4 dB|
|Playing a 4k HEVC video in a MPC-HC||35.6 dB|
|Prime95 running stress test on all cores||38.0 dB|
|Prime95 running stress test on all cores, XTU overclocked||43.8 dB|
|Playing FIFA ’18||37.8 dB|
The NUC of course doesn’t go without power. The following power consumption figures were taken with a simple Brennenstuhl EM240 watt meter.
|Windows 10, idle on desktop||5.6 W|
|Playing a 4k HEVC video in a MPC-HC||23.2 W|
|Playing a video in LibreELEC||14.9 W|
|Prime95 running stress test on all cores||74 W initially, after 45 seconds drops to 47.4 W|
|Prime95 running stress test on all cores, XTU overclocked||70.0 W|
|Playing FIFA ’18||49.5 W|
Sometimes when you get the latest NUC the Linux kernel drivers aren’t quite up-to-date with your new hardware. This time that wasn’t the case luckily. I tried the very fresh Ubuntu Linux 18.10 on the NUC8i5BEK and it was pretty easy to install. WiFi, Bluetooth, network adapter etc. were all working out of the box. In case you’re interested, here’s my boot log.
Some of you might want to build a HTPC using the NUC8i5BEH/K. There are very few reasons to choose the i5 over the very similar i3 as a HTPC, but of course you might have a certain use case that just requires a bit more CPU power than the i3 can deliver. Of course the i5 does everything that the i3 can do, so you can check 4k, 10-bit HEVC HW decoding and HDR in Windows from your list.
I did try playing a certain test video at 4k resolution and 60 Hz refresh rate using MPC-HC and MadVR renderer. This does consume a lot of GPU/CPU resources and when playing in a window, there are some packet drops. However, when played full screen it’s much better. The power consumption during video playback using MadVR was 49 watts.
Also, when tested, audio passthrough to my AV receiver was ok for all sound formats including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD. The reason I’m mentioning this is because there were issues in 2017 with the LSPCon chip used and some audio formats did not work properly.
Of course decoding of VP9 and HEVC videos are fully supported by the HW. Here’s the DXVAChecker output still for the GPU.
LibreELEC 8.90.006 runs smoothly on the NUC. HEVC decoding, 4k, audio passthrough, IR receiver, all seem to work out of the box.
This is probably the best desktop replacement NUC of this generation. Plenty of power in a small package. Based on what I’ve seen the i7 has only a little bit more power reserves compared to the i5 model. Then again compared to the i3 you get a significant boost in applications able to handle multiple CPU cores/threads.
The fan noise has been kept down to reasonable levels, even if it is a bit noisier than the i3 model. Other than that the same negative points go for the i5 as for the i3: there’s no native HDMI 2.0 port supported by the Coffee Lake U architecture, so an LSPCon is used to provide HDMI 2.0. And of course, it’s not a gaming PC even though it’ll be able to run some modern games at reasonable frame rates. I’ll publish a separate article on that topic soon.
For building the NUC8i5BEH or NUC8i5BEK I recommend you equip it with the superfast but still reasonably priced 250-gig Samsung 970 EVO NVMe SSD drive and 2×4 gig HyperX DDR-2400 CL14 RAM modules. Below you can find the prices of the various components on different Amazon sites.
If you’d like to have your NUC equipped with something else go visit the NUC Guru to build your own Coffee Lake NUC.