Panther Canyon i7 NUC Review (NUC11PAHi7)

Performance and Benchmarks

Installing Windows 10 was a breeze and I quickly found myself in front of an empty desktop. BIOS version 0035 and Intel Xe Graphics drivers 27.20.100.9168 were used for the benchmarks below.

Synthetic Benchmarks

Let’s start the performance assessment by running a few synthetic benchmarks.

3DMark

The Panther Canyon i7 NUC beats Frost Canyon hands down and is more 50% faster than Bean Canyon i7 NUC. As expected, it does not come close to Hades Canyon that is equipped with a discrete GPU. Unfortunately I didn’t run the Night Raid test on the older 8th Gen NUCs so I don’t have data for the comparison.

Cinebench R15

Cinebench R15 starts to be a bit long in the tooth but I’ll show the results anyhow as there’s comparative data. The OpenGL result is on par with Bean Canyon and a bit behind the Hades Canyon but I wouldn’t put too much value on that – it’s sort of an obsolete test and I’ll drop it in future. In the CPU test both the single core and multi core tests give better results than any NUC I’ve tested before.

OpenGL

CPU

Cinebench R20

The newer Cinebench R20 benchmark stresses only the CPU and the results are excellent again.

PCMark 10

Compared to Frost Canyon most of the areas have improved a bit except the content creation that has improved quite a lot.

Passmark

Oddly enough the Passmark CPU test produces about 10% worse result than the i7 Frost Canyon NUC.

Gaming

Since the Iris Xe GPU is a fairly decent one I wanted to find out how well is the NUC able to run some modern games.

Dirt 3

I know what you’re thinking now: That’s not a modern game! And you’d be absolutely correct. I’m showing the result here only because I have historical data from a lot of other NUCs available. The NUC11 runs circles around last year’s NUC10 and is significantly faster than Bean Canyon i7 NUC as well.

As expected, the game was running super smooth.

Dirt 5

So I decided to download Dirt 5 – a decent 2020 racing game with a nice benchmarking mode built in. To my great disappointment I could not get the game working. It gave a correct picture for approximately one second before the screen turned predominantly red. I even tried the beta 27.20.100.9313 drivers but unfortunately that changed nothing.

Dirt 5 on NUC11PAHi7

I’ve read about people having issues with their Xe graphics GPUs so I am just presuming that the drivers are not exactly mature yet and that the situation will improve as the drivers are being developed further. It’s certainly something to be aware of right now though.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Setting the screen resolution to 1920×1080 with TAA antialiasing and high details resulted in average FPS of 15. Not really playable at that detail level but by lowering details and resolution you could actually play the game on this NUC.

Far Cry – New Dawn

Far Cry: New Dawn was a step closer to being smooth. Min/Avg/Max FPS was 14/18/22 when the resolution was 1920×1080 and details were set to high with TAA antialiasing and motion blur. In order to make this playable you’d need to reduce resolution.

Thoughts on Performance

The NUC11PAHi7 seems to perform well. The Iris Xe Graphics GPU is a true upgrade from the integrated Iris GPUs in the Bean Canyon NUCs. I can’t think of many reasons why you’d buy a Frost Canyon NUC over the Panther Canyon. Well, except for the fact that the Frost Canyon is actually available and this one is just barely available. This NUC is not capable of running the latest games on 1080p resolution and high details but if you’re willing to cut down a bit on resolution and details even the latest games can be playable. Gamers looking for a NUC should of course turn their heads towards the upcoming Phantom Canyon NUC with its RTX 2060 GPU…



Contents

27 Responses

  1. jonas says:

    HELLZ TO THE YELLZ! Olli is the best. Panther Canyon also best!

  2. Antti says:

    Thanks for the review! I needed an upgrade when NUC 10 was expected and was disappointed when released. Been following Your blog since and pressing the trigger on this one finally to use for photo editing and coding mostly and maybe trying to get Samsung 980 Pro for PCIe 4.0 experience…

    Tiger Canyon would be OK for me as I have no need for 3.5mm headphone jack (using USB DAC-Amp) as discussed on previous post. I don’t see relevant difference otherwise – maybe price?

  3. Vlado says:

    Thanks for the review.
    I have a questions about power consumption
    “YouTube full screen video: 16,5 watts”
    What resolution was the video? 8k?
    What frame rate? 60p?
    What codec? AV1?
    What resolution and refresh rate was the display [email protected]?
    What was the fan speed?

    • Olli says:

      That was 1080p60, added a figure for [email protected] as well (display resolution set to 1920×1080 and 3840×2160 respectively). Both VP9. When the total power stays that low (below 25 watts), the fan does not speed up much – seems to be running 2100 RPM which is audible but quiet.

      • Vlado says:

        Thanks again.
        I forgot to ask is power draw different if the video is HDR. I hope your monitor/TV does support HDR.

  4. Schmurtz says:

    OK, reassured that this new generation is a little better than the nic8… But if we imagine a NUC8 with a similar TDP, it is very probable that the performance would have been superior…
    The TDP should be in negative points… it consumes a lot more !

    • Olli says:

      You can limit the TDP of the Panther Canyon to any level you want. In reality, NUC8i7BEH was pulling between 70 and 80 watts from the grid at max load, which is not that different compared to this NUC.

  5. Vespin says:

    Does anyone know weather only 1.2 V Memory modules can be used according to this list ?
    https://www.intel.com.au/content/www/au/en/support/articles/000005561/intel-nuc.html

    • Olli says:

      You should only use 1.2V DDR4 SODIMM modules. Intel has verified only a small amount of memory modules, but that doesn’t mean that others would not work. For example the Kingston ValueRAM modules that I used are not on Intel’s list but work flawlessly.

  6. Ikram Ahmed says:

    I have confirmed that HDR works on this very device in Libreelec:
    https://forum.libreelec.tv/thread/13738-intel-true-10bits-hevc-hdr-support/?postID=150873#post150873

    However i am having the same issue HD Audio issue so i can rest assured that it isn’t just me.

    What i have tried is turning off Audio DSP in BIOS which initially worked but has since stooped working.

    I hope this gets fixed soon because i have an amazing Libreelec build ready to go.

  7. Robert says:

    For years I have been quite a NUC fan and still using D54250WYH here. However I fear that at this moment the ASRock Deskmini series might be the better (more powerful and cheaper) overall package. Whats your opinion? Apart from the slightly bigger case I dont see any disadvantages, do you? Since the ASRock X300 Deskmini (ex A300) appeals to address nearly the exactly same audience, I would really appreciate to see a head-to-head comparison in terms of CPU (Ryzen 3400G / 4650G / 4750G), energy consumption and of course especially for the iGPU (how big or thin is the distance between them in reality and money-wise). And if I understand it right, we can expect next gen Ryzen 5xxxG (ZEN3 with iGPU) next month, which will surely provide an additional extra boost. Anyhow, so far nobody knows whether this APU fits into the tiny Deskmini.

  8. Henke says:

    I’m a little confused about the HDMI CEC. For Panther Canyon it’s listed under “Additional Headers” and for Tiger Canyon it’s under “Graphics Output”.
    Does it mean that CEC will work out of the box for Tiger Canyon and requires an additiona module for Panther Canyon? Or is it just the same but listed inconsistently on the two models?

  9. Dennis says:

    Still no HDMI 2.1? Really?

  10. Chris Ply says:

    Hello, no Celeron or Pentium anymore in NUC series? What about people wanting a CPU with low tdp for fanless solution and low consumption?

  11. vincent says:

    Hi :) Can you provide a picture of what’s under the small black radiator plate under the SSD slot of panther canyon? Nuc11 pro doesn’t have this heatsink and I am curious whether this stabilizes power supply for running at 40W PL1. Thx !

    • Doug says:

      I bought tiger canyon nuc11tnki7 with i7-1165g7 and the power limits can be configured in bios without any limits, I set PL1 to 40W and it is keeping 4.1ghz all core turbo in cinebench indefinitely, temperature hovering around 90c, but the fan is really audible at that temperature

  12. Dennis says:

    I searching now for a while now, it’s not available anywhere…

  13. Sam says:

    Thanks for this great article Olli. My requirement of NUC is more of setting up kubernetes cluster and not that much of graphical usage. Typically more CPU is better for me, but still I’m confused if I should choose Frost Canyon i7 (with hexa core) vs Panther Canyon i7 (with quad core). Any thoughts on this?

  14. Pat says:

    Hey man been following you page forever, you haven’t posted a blog on the new Beast Canyon NUC- https://www.pcmag.com/news/youre-an-animal-intel-teases-the-beast-canyon-nuc-11-extreme-a-killer-compact

    If you get purchase-links for the Beast Canyons like last time from any preseller on your page here (was Amazon), I’ll purchase one asap (you made me get one 11th Gen NUC so thx for that)

Leave a Reply

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