Comet Lake i5 NUC Review (NUC10i5FNK / NUC10i5FNH)
The i7 model of Intel’s NUC 10 Performance hit the shelves already early this year but the i3 and i5 models have only recently started to be available. I’ve already written articles about the i3 and the i7 models so if you’ve read those there will not be much new in this one for you as the models are very similar.
The NUC10i5FNK NUC that I have in review here is also called Frost Canyon i5 NUC (codename for NUC product) or Comet Lake i5 NUC (codename for CPU used).
The NUC in the review was borrowed to me by a local NUC specialist retailer TeraStore – many thanks!
The i5 model sits between the entry-level i3 model and the top-end i7 model. It’s got a quad-core Comet Lake i5 CPU with an integrated UHD Graphics 620 GPU. It is available in two variants: NUC10i5FNK and NUC10i5FNH. The NUC10i5FNK case is slimmer and is only 36 mm (1.4″) in height, whereas the NUC10i5FNH is 51 mm (2.0″) in height. The difference is that higher case contains a slot for a 2.5″ SATA drive. Other than that there’s no difference. The mainboard and the CPU are exactly the same.
- Intel Core i5-10210U Processor (quad-core with HT, 25W TDP, 6M Cache, up to 4.20 GHz)
- Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU (up to 1.1 GHz, 24 EUs)
- 2x DDR4-2666 SO-DIMM RAM slots, max. 64 GB
- M.2 slot with PCIe X4 lanes (2242 and 2280 form factors supported), Optane support
- Display connectivity: One HDMI 2.0a port and one USB Type-C port with DisplayPort 1.2
- 7.1 digital audio over HDMI/DP, 3.5mm headset jack on front panel
- USB ports: 2x front (Type-A, Type-C) and 3x rear USB 3.1 Gen2 (2x Type-A, Type-C); 2x USB 2.0 via internal headers
- Gigabit Ethernet port (Intel i219-V)
- Wireless 802.11ax adapter integrated (Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200) with Bluetooth 5
- Thunderbolt 3 on USB Type-C port
- Full size SDXC card reader
- Quad array microphone, IR receiver, Kensington lock…
- Dimensions: 117x112x38 mm (for the NUC10i5FNK model in test), 117x112x51 mm (the taller NUC10i5FNH model with a SATA slot)
The full technical product specifications are available here (75-page PDF document).
So compared to the previous i5 NUC (NUC8i5BEK) this one has an updated CPU, significantly slower UHD Graphics GPU, supports 64 gigabytes of RAM, features an 802.11ax Wi-Fi adapter and has a full-size SD card reader. Dropping the Iris Pro GPU from the NUC 10 Performance lineup in favor of the slower UHD Graphics has been a controversial decision that has gotten quite a bit of bad feedback.
Connectivity OverviewDisclaimer: the pictures in this chapter are taken from the i7 model that is entirely identical to the i5 model from outside.
As usual, the Comet Lake i5 NUC is delivered as barebones product so it does not contain RAM nor SSD drive. You’ll need to purchase these separately and plug them into the mainboard.
For this review I used two 16-gigabyte DDR4-2666 memory modules from Kingston’s trusty ValueRAM line (currently $65.00 each on Amazon) and Western Digital SN500 250G NVMe SSD drive (currently the newer and faster SN550 is $43.88 on Amazon).
If you would like to build your own NUC with your own specifications take a look our Build a NUC tool that will create you a shopping list based on your wishes.
In addition to the SSD drive and the RAM modules you will need two screwdrivers. The bigger one for the case screws and the smaller one for the screw securing the M.2 SSD in place.
After removing the cover you’ll immediately get access to the main board of the NUC. You can see the two DIMM slots at the lower half of the picture and the M.2 slot at the top. If you’d like to use a half-size 2242 M.2 drive, you’ll need to move the holding screw and its post to the correct location.
Insert the M.2 drive in its slot and fasten the screw that keeps the drive in its place. Considering the low price of M.2 NVMe SSD drives these days there’s no need to use a slower M.2 SATA SSD any more, especially in smaller sizes.
Finally, insert the RAM modules into their slots until you hear them click on to their places.
This is how the mainboard looks like when it has been removed from the chassis.
On the other side of the mainboard you’ll find the cooling solution that dominates the view here.
After removing the fan you can see the copper heat pipe.
There’s a good amount of heat-conducting paste between the CPU and the heat sink.
After cleaning the heat paste out the shiny flat surface of the chip works as a mirror.
Keep on reading our review of NUC10i5FNK for benchmark results, power consumption and conclusions.