How To Get More Graphics Performance From The Intel NUC

Jump To:

Temperature, Power and Final Thoughts

The one downside to increasing the TDP on a processor is that it will of course consume more power and release more heat as a result. We wanted to look at a worst case scenario so we used Furmark to really push the graphics to the limits of what it can handle. Running just CPU benchmarks like Cinebench or anything along those lines didn’t show any increase in performance or power use, so we had to use a graphics benchmark.

15w-tdp

With the Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK with default BIOS settings and Furmark rendering we were getting 58C on the CPU and 62 on the GPU. Notice that the CPU Total TDP is at 15 Watts and that the Graphics TDP is at 9 Watts. At the wall the system was pulling around 24 Watts of power after running Furmark for an extended period of time.

30w-tdp

When we increased the sustained power mode up to 30 Watts the CPU total TDP correctly increased up to 30W and now the Graphics TDP was at 24W! By giving it the ability to run at a higher TDP the graphics frequency was allowed to dynamically run at 848MHz instead of 499MHz and that is where the performance gains we are seeing are coming from. The bad part is that the CPU temperature jumped up to 71C and the graphics temperature was up to 79C after just a couple minutes of running Furmark. At the wall we were pulling around 37 Watts of power after running Furmark for a bit, so we saw about 13W difference at the wall. This makes sense as we increased the processors total TDP by 15 Watts.

Furmark pushes systems harder than pretty much any real world application though, but we wanted to push our system to the extreme to see what exactly was taking place here.

G.SKILL RIPJAWS 2133MHz DDR3L Intel NUC

Final Thoughts and Conclusions:

It appears that we found a simple and effective way to get better graphics performance from the new 4th Generation Intel Core i5 powered NUCs! Being able to boost the graphics performance by 18 to 55 percent is very significant and so far this simple BIOS tweak appears to be the best way to get more performance out of the Intel NUC. We’ve been running our NUC with these settings for the past seven days without any issues. We have also been talking with Intel about seeing if this setting could be increased by default, but was told that chances are slim. Intel has already thermally validated all these components and would have to completely redo all the thermal stress testing that they do to ensure this adjustment would still work in high ambient temperature environments. From the testing that we have done at 70F (21C) there has been no throttling issues, but there are increases in heat and we can hear the fan spinning louder.

If you have an Intel NUC Kit D54250WYKH or D54250WYK and would like to give this a try please let us know how it works out for you. We suggest moving it up between 20-25 as that gives you some nice performance gains without drastically changing the temperature and noise level of the NUC. Do some before and after tests and report back for us. We’d love to hear how it helps your individual situation and we are here answer any questions that you have!

Additional Intel NUC Coverage By Legit Reviews:

Print
Jump To:
  • Bluerose

    is there an updated version of this tutorial for newer NUCs?

  • Dave Bayer

    “We ran some tests at various Sustained Mode Power Limits and found that CPU performance didn’t budge, but Graphics performance jumped up significantly.”

    Always a contrarian, I took this statement as encouragement that I could fix my erratic parallel performance with extended math computations by adjusting these watt and amp limits. Sure enough, it made a radical difference. My two core performance now beats a two core Linode.com instance, and is comparable to two cores on my Mac mini. In a Streacom NC2 case, externally cooled by a 120mm fan undervolted via a 5 V USB port, I’m seeing core temps in the 50 C to 55 C range. See https://communities.intel.com/message/273319

  • Apachez

    Anyone else experienced that you no longer can reach the Cores and Memory setting in the Performance-tab after you update the BIOS into [WYLPT10H.86A] (filename WY0033.BIO)?

    A workaround is to use the search engine in the top of VisualBIOS but other than that the latest bios-update seems buggy, or is it just me?

    • LaTruite

      me too :/

  • jimbop14

    Very interesting results thanks. I couldn’t see what your RAM speed was though, especially after the great articles you guys posted on the higher speed RAM making a noticeable difference to the iGPU fps. Looking forward to trying this out on my Abel H2 nuc when it comes!

  • James Thorburn

    Funnily enough I was playing with similar to this with my D54250WYK when the article appeared on my RSS feed. I’m not seeing anywhere near the gains from stock to overclocked that this article suggests – not because my overclocked results are worse, but because my stock results are VASTLY faster.

    For the 15W results you’re lowering the Burst Mode Limit from the standard setting of 25W to 15W, which appears to have the side effect of vastly reducing performance. In fact my stock results in 3DMark are higher than yours at 25W!

    In my testing moving from stock settings up to 28W sustained gives less than a 1000 point increase in 3DMark Ice Storm, but vastly increased temperatures and noise levels…

    I am testing with the graphics multiplier increased to 24x (1.2GHz) at 28W to try and emulate Iris 5100 performance however, I’ll try again at 20x…

    • Nathan Kirsch

      I’m running BIOS 0024 and loading defaults by pressing F9. The stock settings are 15 Watts for the Burst Mode Limit. You should not be seeing anything different than that unless there is a BIOS bug. Can you try resetting your bios by loading the defaults?

      • James Thorburn

        Running BIOS 0024 as well, resetting to defaults gives me Burst Mode Power Limit of 25 and Sustained Mode Power Limit of 15. This is correct as if both were set the same then there is no point in having the Burst Mode Power Limit – the whole purpose of it is to allow the processor to run over the TDP during short periods of activity.

        • Guest

          Just noticed, the second image on Page 1 matches my default configuration…

        • Nathan Kirsch

          Sorry about that had a typo in my post. Very strange if you are getting drastically different results. What are you getting in Cinebench? I’ve attached the screenshot of my results at 30 Watts each with a 32 second sustained time mode. It could be the difference in memory clocks and timings as well as that plays a major role in graphics.

        • James Thorburn

          Had to switch from the latest Intel.com drivers (3345) to the Windows Update drivers (3379) to get the OpenGL test to run correctly in Cinebench R15. It was failing as the floor was rendering white. Result at stock was 27fps.

          This has also reduced my 3DMark score, although still seeing nowhere near the performance increase you are…
          15W: 44.6k
          28W: 45.8k

      • James Thorburn

        Deleted my previous comments as I misread your reply – sorry about that.

        My settings match yours, but I’m seeing much better stock performance. Most odd…

  • Michael Wenyon

    I would just like to be able to push the Celeron model to 1920×1200 out (now its limited to 1920 x 1080).

  • tonyv13

    Those temperatures are scary I would say it’s not worth it

    • Nathan Kirsch

      yeah, they are getting pretty toasty. Stepping up the TDP by 5-10 Watts isn’t nearly as bad and I was using Furmark to show a worst case scenario. Normal games didn’t push the system that hard.

  • exitmrhat

    Does it now handle Lanczos 4 + AR and Jinc in madVR?

    • Nathan Kirsch

      sorry, I’ve not personally used that video renderer. Is it easy to setup? If you wanted to send me links, clips and some basic instructions I can try it out.

      • Ry

        http://forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?t=146228

        Just install using the batch file, use a compatible media player (MPC-HC for example) and set the renderer to madVR.
        You can change the options by right clicking on the video and selecting filters -> MadVR. You’ll want to check different content resolutions etc.

        • asim

          The power lomit is actually abour 21 watts. Unless you raise the cpu max amps above 32. You can put whatever in the sustained mode wont go above about 21(0.67 v x 32A).
          Still better than 15 which seems to be the combined tdp of both cpu and gpu.jinc works on non interlaced videos although fan can get quite noisy.

        • asim

          Just an update
          Cpu voltage can go up to 0.89v in turbo so the limit is about 28.5w at default 32 amps.
          The fully loaded cpu in turbo boost only draws about 11.5 w so raising the sustained mode limit really benefits gpu intesive apps or where both cpu and gpu are being taxed.
          At the default 15 w sustained limit if the gpu is being pushed even the cpu is limited to 0.8 ghz and 0.67v to keep total power under 15 w. Gpu is limited to 600mhz istead of 1 ghz.
          Raising sustained mode limit to 29 or over Unlocks the possibilty to use both cpu and gpu fully but the fan runs at 100 duty cycle so can be very noisy.

        • Apachez

          So what about “optimal” yet safe overclocking?

          Changing both sustained and turbo mode into 30W along with current limit to 40A?