Intel NUC NUC6i7KYK Skull Canyon Mini PC Review

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NUC6i7KYK Gaming Performance

Intel says that the Intel NUC KIT NUC6i7KYK doesn’t need an add-in graphics card for amazing 3D graphics performance, so we put those claims to the test! We used Intel Graphics Driver version 15.40.23.4444 for Windows 10 to do our testing with. These drivers just came out on April 29, 2016 and are the latest graphics drivers for the 6th Generation Intel Core i5/i7 processor series.

Battlefield 4

bf4-screenshot

Battlefield 4 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts. It is a sequel to 2011’s Battlefield 3 and was released on October 29, 2013 in North America. Battlefield 4’s single-player Campaign takes place in 2020, six years after the events of its predecessor. Tensions between Russia and the United States have been running at a record high. On top of this, China is also on the brink of war, as Admiral Chang, the main antagonist, plans to overthrow China’s current government; and, if successful, the Russians will have full support from the Chinese, bringing China into a war with the United States.

bf4-settings

This game title uses the Frostbite 3 game engine and looks great. We tested Battlefield 4 with the medium graphics quality preset . We used FRAPS to benchmark with these settings on the Shanghai level. All tests were done with the DirectX 11 API.

BF4

Benchmark Results: Battlefield 4 with medium image quality settings ran pretty well on the NUC6i5SYK with Intel Iris Graphics 540 as the average frame rate was found to be 30.1 GPS with dips down to 25 FPS. On the NUC6i7KYK that has Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580 we found the average frame rate to be 38.4 FPS with the minimum being one dip down to 29 FPS and the maximum being 55 FPS. Battlefield 4 was playable on the NUC6i7KYK on a 1080P display with medium image quality settings! Intel has really improved their graphics performance in recent years and playing BF4 on a NUC sized device without a discrete graphics card once once unimaginable! 

Fallout 4

Fallout4

Fallout 4 is an open world action role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. Fallout 4 is set in a post-apocalyptic Boston in the year 2287, 210 years after a devastating nuclear war, in which the player character emerges from an underground bunker known as a Vault. Gameplay is similar to Fallout 3.  The title is the fifth major installment in the Fallout series and was released worldwide on November 10th, 2015.

fallout-settings

Fallout 4 was benchmarked with low image quality settings. V-Sync can’t be disabled in the games options, so we edited the necessary INI files and disabled vsync in the driver software as well. We used FRAPS to benchmark Fallout 4 after you emerge from the vault and are in The Commonwealth.

Fallout4

Benchmark Results: We had troubled launching Fallout 4 on both the Intel NUC6i5SYK and NUC6i7KYK. If we could get it to launch we were getting below 10 FPS with low image quality settings and serious driver issues. This game title was found to be unplayable. 

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider is a third-person action-adventure video game developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. It is the sequel to the 2013 video game Tomb Raider, which was itself, the second reboot to its series. It was released for Microsoft Windows in January 2016. Players control Lara Croft through various environments, battling enemies, and completing puzzle platforming sections, while using improvised weapons and gadgets in order to progress through the story.

rotr

rotr-low

Crystal Dynamics used a proprietary game engine called ‘Foundation’ for Rise of the Tomb Raider and it is able to create some pretty nice looking graphics. We tested Rise of the Tomb Raider with the lowest preset and left  VSync enabled.

Once we had the graphics and display settings figured out we used FRAPS to manually benchmark a section of the Siberian Wilderness that is about 10% into the game for a couple minutes. Rise of the Tomb Raider does not have a built-in benchmark, so this is one of the only ways you can benchmark this particular game title.

tomb-raider-1080

1080P Benchmark Results: Rise of the Tom Raider is a very tough game title, but it ran on the NUC6i7KYK and we were able to get an average of 18.1 FPS during our benchmark run with a minimum frame rate of 14. We wouldn’t call this enjoyable gaming by any means, but if you lowered the resolution you might be able to get acceptable frame rates if you are willing to game at 1280×1024 or 1680×1050.

 

Star Wars: Battlefront

Star Wars Battlefront

Star Wars: Battlefront is a series of first- and third-person shooter video games based on the Star Wars films. Players take the role of soldiers in either of two opposing armies in different time periods of the Star Wars universe. Star Wars: Battlefront is built on the Frostbite 3 engine. Thief is the fourth title in the Thief series, developed by Digital Illusions CE and published by EA DICE/Disney Interactive on November 17, 2015.

starwars-graphics

We ran Star Wars: Battlefront with the image quality settings set at low and VSYNC  was disabled. We used FRAPS to benchmark with these settings on Battle on Tatooine.

starwars battlefront

1080P Benchmark Results: The NUC6i5SYK averaged 28.04 FPS in Star Wars: Battlefront with a low of 22 FPS and a max of 36 FPS. The Intel NUC6i7KYK was able to average 38.48 FPS with a low of 32 FPS and a max of 48 FPS. Performance is actually pretty good with the latest drivers with low image quality settings.

steamvr

Undoubtly someone will ask if the  NUC6i7KYK will be able to handle Virtual Reality (VR) and we ran the SteamVR benchmark and found that the Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580 couldn’t provide any frames in the test above 90 FPS and failed. This mini PC will not be able to handle VR content out of the box, but that is what the Intel Apline Ridge controller is for and why there is a USB Type C (USB 3.1 Gen 2) port on the NUC. This is your way to run external graphics if you’d like to purchase a third party enclosure and discrete add-in card!

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  • Intel says it supports DDR4 2133+, but mostly it talks about simply 2133. Are there benefits from using 2400?

  • Joe Schmoe

    Still waiting on the 6770HQ to be released for 3rd parties… especially for the triple-fan Z Canvas. At least that thing would keep this from ever throttling.

  • B Brad

    Not terrible, but the GPU isn’t as fast as I expected. Anyone seen numbers to compare the Skylake integrated graphics (Intel Pro 540/580) to the previous best integrated GPU in the broadwell (i5-5675c and i7-5775c)? LegitReviews has a i5-5775c review, but don’t cover any of the same games for an apples to apples comparison.

    • Nathan Kirsch

      What would you like to see exactly? We have an office PC running a 5775C, so can run some benchmarks for you if you’d like.

      • B Brad

        Recreating any of the above published game benchmarks would be great. I just want a general idea of how the new skylake iris pros compare to the previous generation equivalents with intel’s in package video memory. From what I can tell the new iris pro 580 isn’t delivering the expected performance increase that you would expect from the published specifications.

        • Mariano Ruiz

          Did you find any direct comparison between the Iris 580 and the 6200?

          I’ve done some research but couldn’t find any direct comparison. I would say they are very even, even though the Iris 580 has more EUs.

  • KurtKrampmeier

    Can Undervolting achieve significantly better thermals and less
    cpu throttling? And if so, by how much? I want to use this as a 24/7
    load and very small and light portable cpu package. Thank you!

  • Charles Borner

    “This is the first Intel NUC to feature a mighty Intel Core i7”

    Uh. No. No it isn’t.

    The 5th Gen BOXNUC5I7RYH came with an i7…

    • Nathan Kirsch

      You are correct… I forgot to put in there ‘quad-core’ after Core i7! Thanks!

      • Charles Borner

        Ah HAAAAAA!!!!

        Don’t ever let it happen again!

        =)

  • Paul

    I wouldn’t recommend these Intel NUC’s. Filled with Bios bugs and hardware failures. Intel should just stick to what they are good at. Making cpu’s.

  • Can you try running the decent and non-naive Intel SGEMM example on the Skull Canyon? It’s a quick compile.

    https://software.intel.com/en-us/articles/sgemm-for-intel-processor-graphics#_Toc419731380

    Results for 64-bit VS2013 build and .4444 drivers

    A Core i7-4790 HD4600 peaks at ~280 GFLOPS which is ~75% of theoretical (160 FMA @ 1.2 GHz)

    A NUC 5i5RYH HD6000 peaks at ~480 GFLOPS which is ~66% of theoretical (384 FMA @ 950 MHz)

    • Nathan Kirsch

      Got some KISS (keep it stupid simple) instructions as it looks like there many options you can run and don’t see any examples online on how to run it. I’ve installed VS2013 Update 5 and am running .4444 drivers.

      • You just run it with no arguments (“C:…> GEMM.exe”) and it will iterate through all of the possible kernels. The article identifies the kernels that are expected to be more performant. For example, The “block_read” kernels perform more efficient loads using an Intel OpenCL extension.

        The best result for each matrix size is probably a fair measure as it seems pretty consistent.

        • Nathan Kirsch

          send me an e-mail to nate at the sites url if you could

        • Nathan Kirsch

          Here are the results that I worked out with Allan for SGEMM! Will add these to the review for all that are interested in compiler performance of Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580!

        • Achieving over 70% of theoretical (1094.4 GFLOPS) and nearly reaching 800 GFLOPS with such a clean OpenCL implementation is a very respectable result.

          One of the neat things about the HD580 is that it can also perform lower resolution 16-bit floating point operations with doubled throughput over 32-bit floats.

          Perhaps Intel will update their benchmark to reflect this as fp16x2 support is quite interesting to some people.