Coffee Lake i7 NUC Review (NUC8i7BEH)

Fan noise, Power consumption, Conclusions

Some of the previous generation i7 NUCs have been really noisy compared to their lower end siblings. This time however, the whole range of Bean Canyon NUCs have a TDP of 28 watts and the whole range share the same new and improved cooling solution with a larger 80mm fan that does feature a nicer noise profile than the previous fan assembly did.

I was quite happy with the noise levels of the i7 NUC. It basically was pretty quiet during normal desktop related tasks and even under stress it did not became too loud. Of course noise is very subjective so your mileage may vary. I did not compare them side-by-side, but my gut feeling is that the NUC8i7BEH was not as noisy or the noise profile was noisier than the NUC8i5BEK. I suspect this might be due to the smaller case of the NUC8i5BEK that may be not as good acoustically or thermically as the higher case of the NUC8i7BEH. In any case the difference, if such really exists, is small.

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.

Task Sound level
Noise floor 33.7 dB
Windows 10, idle on desktop 35.4 dB
Prime95 running stress test on all cores 38.6 dB (during initial Turbo Boost phase the noise did climb up to 44 dB for a moment before stabilizing on this level)
Prime95 running stress test on all cores, XTU overclocked 44.7 dB
Playing Battlefield 4 37.5 dB

Power consumption

Unfortunately I’m currently travelling with the NUC and don’t have my watt meter with me. I’ll update the article as soon as I get home.

Linux, HTPC

The i7 NUC does everything in this area as well as the i5 NUC does and nothing significantly better. There not much to say that I haven’t said already, so you might want to read what I wrote about the i5 model as a HTPC or running Linux on it.

Conclusion

The CPU in the NUC8i7BEH is fast. It’s even faster than the one in Hades Canyon NUC in most of my benchmarks. However, the same cannot be said about the Iris Plus 655 GPU, which cannot put up a fight against the Radeon GPU in the Hades Canyon. It’s a quad-core CPU with hyperthreading, so in that sense this NUC would make a nice mini ESXi machine, if it only had two NICs. Now you’d have to use a USB or Thunderbolt NIC which isn’t entirely trouble-free.

I was pretty happy about the noise levels of the i7 NUC, which weren’t really any higher than on the i5 NUC. This has traditionally been the Achilles’ heel of the i7 NUCs. The performance isn’t much better than the i5 and not even significantly higher than the i3. However, there are no downsides (beside the price) for choosing the i7 over the other NUCs, so cannot really fault it in that sense.

Other than that the same negative points go for the i7 as for the i5 and 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.

And if we compare the Coffee Lake i7 NUC with the Kaby Lake i7 NUC there’s significant improvement here: it’s much faster, it’s quieter and yet it retains the same form factor.

Recommended Setup

For building the NUC8i7BEH 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.

Product US UK DE FR
Intel Coffee Lake i7 NUC NUC8i7BEH $458.69 £458.36 EUR 503,00 EUR 557,00
Kingston HyperX 2x4GB DDR4-2400 CL14 RAM (8GB) $79.99 £65.00 EUR 91,13 EUR 84,97
Samsung 970 EVO M.2 250GB NVME SSD drive $77.99 £83.69 EUR 94,15 EUR 103,50
Check out the total price of the whole setup on Amazon.com!

13 Responses

  1. Me says:

    All we need now is Akasa case for this 🙂

  2. omnium says:

    If akasa does it like they did in the past, is it at the expense of the NUC8’s small footprint.

  3. beczka says:

    I couldn’t understand from the text which one seems to generate less noise – i5 or i7?
    Did you have the same fan settings in bios?

    • Olli says:

      Sorry, it was a bit late when writing that. 🙂 BIOS settings were on the default settings on both cases and the same BIOS version was used. I think the i5 was somehow more noisy, but the numbers don’t seem to support that. Maybe the noise is just a bit different because of the smaller BEK case vs. the BEH model. I don’t believe that the i5 would generate more heat than the i7. In any case, there’s no big difference. Neither of them is noisy nor quiet.

  4. Mat says:

    How about the possibility of adding an external thunderbolt gpu enclosure with a nvidia 1080 card. Woukd that be enough to turn it into an upgradable games machine?

    • Olli says:

      The CPU is fast, so in theory an external fast GPU will turn the NUC into a mean gaming machine. Never tried that though and couldn’t get anyone to ship me an enclousure…

  5. Joe Duarte says:

    Hi Olli – How many PCIe lanes are dedicated to the M.2 SSD?

  6. daas says:

    How long is turbo retained when having power limit increased and cooling preference set to cool instead of balanced or quiet in the bios?

  7. FaceMcBashy says:

    Can you replace the stock thermal compound with some nicer aftermarket ones(not liquid metal) and see if there is any big improvements?

  8. KB says:

    Would you be able to upgrade to future chipsets?

  9. Mac mini 2018 i5 8gb ram 256 disco duro o Nuc8i7beh 16gb ram
    Cual sería mejor? Cual elegirías ? Gracias

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.