Meet Intel NUC NUC6i7KYK – Skull Canyon Arrives With Thunderbolt 3

Have you ever liked the form factor of the Intel NUC mini-PC series, but felt like it didn’t have enough GPU performance for your needs? Back in January during CES 2016, Intel announced a high-performance version of the NUC that was designed specifically for those that need more power and crave the small form factor. That new NUC is codenamed Skull Canyon and it features a 6th Generation Intel Core i7-6770HQ ‘Skylake’ quad-core processor with Iris Pro Graphics 580. With a 45W Thermal Design Power (TDP) processor, the Core-6700HQ is the highest Wattage processor to ever used in the NUC series.

Intel NUC Skull Canyon

The new Intel NUC NUC6i7KYK ‘Skull Canyon’ Mini-PC

At Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2016, Intel officially announced the new Skull Canyon NUC that will be sold as the Intel NUC (NUC6i7KYK). Intel says that this NUC “unleashes maximized performance for intense game play or intensive workloads” and will “let people edit photos and videos like a professional or immerse oneself in vividly rendered, seamless 3D gameplay, all in brilliant 4K resolution on three monitors at once.”

nuc6i7kyk front baack

Intel NUC nuc6i7kyk Front & Back Connectivity

Intel NUC Skull Canyon Key Features:

  • 6th Generation Intel Core i7-6770HQ processor (2.6 to 3.5 GHz Turbo, Quad Core, 6 MB Cache, 45W TDP)
  • Intel Iris Pro graphics 580
  • Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps) with USB 3.1 and DP1.2 over USB-C
  • Support for DDR4 memory, up to 32GB at 2133+ MHz
  • Support for dual M.2 slots for SATA3/PCIe x4 Gen 3 NVMe/AHCI SSDs
  • Full-size HDMI 2.0 (4K 60Hz) port and Mini DisplayPort version 1.2 (4K 60Hz) supporting 8 channel audio (7.1 surround sound)
  • Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 wifi (802.11 ac) and Bluetooth 2 pre-installed
  • SD card slot (up to 512GB)
  • Four USB 3.0 ports (including one charging port)
  • Intel HD Audio via Headphone/Microphone jack
  • Intel Gigabit LAN
  • Consumer infrared sensor
  • Ships with two lids – one with a skull logo, one plain mate black (Support for user-replaceable third-party lids)
  • Dimension: 216mm x 116mm x 23m – an incredibly small .69L

Intel went with a larger chassis for the NUC6i7KYK due to the higher TDP of the processor and is using their most advanced CPU cooling solution yet. The chassis measures in at 216mm x 116mm x 23m (.69L for the cubic volume fans) and can lay down flat or vertically with an included stand.

NUC Skull Canyon

One of the key features for gamers and prosumers will be the Thunderbolt 3 functionality that is included on this system. The single Thunderbolt 3 port (40Gbps) allows consumers to use just one cable to easily connect to 4K displays, high-speed memory and storage devices or external discrete graphics solutions like the Razer Core. Intel knows that allowing external graphics cards to work on their high-end flagship NUC model was a must and we are glad to see that they enabled this feature. By allowing external graphics, the Intel NUC NUC6i7KYK should appeal to a new audience that once never considered buying such a PC.

That said, we don’t expect the Intel Iris Pro 580 graphics to be underwhelming by any means. Iris Pro 580 is also known as Intel Gen9 GT4e graphics. This is one of the big graphics solutions from Intel that has 72 Execution Units and along with 128MB of stacked eDRAM. You’ll be able to have a pretty good gaming experience on Intel Graphics without any discrete external graphics.

Intel NUC Skull Canyon with Razer Core

Intel NUC Skull Canyon with Razer Core

When it comes to pricing the Intel NUC kit NUC6i7KYK has a $650 MSRP and will be available to pre-order in April 2016 from Newegg. The actual ship date will be in May 2016. You still need to add DDR4L memory, the M.2 PCIe SSD and the operating system. Intel believes that a typical build with 16GB of memory, a 256GB SSD and Windows 10 will be right around $999.

  • truth seeker

    I got the Skull Canyon NUC on May 27th for my lab. I installed ESXi 6.0 U2 on it (the Thunderbolt controller in BIOS had to be turned off for ESXi to install, but it can be turned back on after ESXi installs). So far, I’ve run 10 VMs on it concurrently, and with the CPU staying at about 30% utilization and 30 GB of RAM (out of 32 GB) being utilized, the fan noise is too much for me to consider it for my lab. The equipment rack is close to my desk, and the variable fan speed of the Skull Canyon NUC makes a variable-pitch fan noise, which bothers me. It’s not too loud, but it’s always present (even with the lowest fan setting set in BIOS). I can hear it from 10 feet away, so for me to keep the Skull Canyon NUC, I need a fanless case. If the fanless case is not forthcoming, I will have to return it. Currently, I have two 2012 Mac Minis in my lab with two of them running the same of VMs combined that I was able to run on one Skull Canyon NUC. However, rumor has it that Apple may enable the ability to install 32 GB in 2012 quad-core i7 Mac Minis, so if this happens, I will be a happy camper because as long as CPU utilization stays under 40% with Mac Minis, they are completely silent. When they do start spinning their fans (which occurs very rarely), the fan noise is much more pleasant (due to its constant fan speed nature) than the variable-speed fan noise of the Skull Canyon NUC.

    Additionally, the quality of design and workmanship between the Mac Minis and the Skull Canyon NUC is not even in the same league. The NUC looks and feels cheap – for the money Intel is charging for it, they could at least have put it in a nice aluminum case, which would help with heat dissipation.

  • Dean Grande

    Fess up Eric, you work for Aleutia.

  • Zoran Milutinovic

    sorry eric, but ur r50 works with a intel i3-6100U or i5-6260U…all specs are worse

    • ElfirBFG

      Not to mention it’s a lot more money for that lesser hardware.

  • Jim

    I won’t get it unless it has windows 7 drivers, Any word about that?

    • Good luck with the past Sir.

    • FastRDust

      unfortunatly this is not going to happen, M.2 only supports Window 8.1 and up. which means that windows 7 is not going to be an option on this one unless you are going to install Windows on a USB and run it from there.

      • Sh0ck-wave

        I’ve been running Win7 on a Clevo laptop with just M.2 drives for over a year. Standard ISO install. Runs perfect. Benchmarks faster then an Alienware that costs double the price.

    • Eric

      Intel isn’t even listed as a computer manufacturer which has Skylake systems that will be supported on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

      Even if it was: “Support will be provided until July 17, 2018 and its recommended that these systems be upgraded to Windows 10 as soon as possible. After July 17, 2018, Microsoft will continue to deliver all critical updates for these devices through the respective end of support dates.”

  • Good news for those who want save some space on their room

    Intel “Skull Canyon” NUC with Core i7 and Thunderbolt 3 Go On Sale Starting May

  • anon

    Thats not a nuc is a thin computer with an horrid stylish.
    Same for factor? No
    Can any other nuc wit TB have an extenal graphic card? Yes

    If you take a look you’ll find it has about the same number of I/O ports than a usual nuc (hdmi, dp, usbx4, optical, mic, ethernet, IR, …) yes and the new usb c

    I would find more interesting if intel launched a pci-e to thunderbold/usb_c housing for external graphic cards following the NUC philosophy to open the market to such a devices. With the infrastructure of intel to make it compact, robust and stable.

  • Eric

    Some obvious short-comings:
    – The SD card slot supports only UHS-I, not UHS-II (doesn’t have 2nd row contacts).
    – No regular SATA3 port for connecting a 2.5″ SSD (maybe in NUC6i7KYH ??).
    – CPU requires a fan and massive heat sink.
    – Laptop with similar specs would be a better choice.

    • Eric

      And the CPU of choice (6770HQ) is a little bit of alet-down.
      I was hoping to see the i7-6870HQ.


    I’d be satisfied if it was $100 cheaper, seeing as this is a bare bones laptop without a screen. It’s cool how it works with external graphics solutions, but those need to lower their prices too, those are way to expensive for a $40 psu and a pci express port

  • Brian

    Been looking for this since the short exposure of the I7-4770R Broadwell
    but was release much to close to Skylake. So I waited wanting something
    better. Will Intel ever get my money?

    I want the best of what they have in graphics and processing power.

    Waiting for full specification and bench marks with integrated and

    external graphics. Hopefully they did not cripple the processing power

    to much with this ridiculousness 45 watt TDP. Broadwell with iris pro
    was a respectable 65 watt TDP and reached a max turbo of 3.9 GHz.

    However, Thunderbolt 3 possibilities
    carries a lot of weight.

    If it works.

    To any 3rd party manufactures. Fanless NUC cases have been prevalent for
    prior generations. I would very much like to see a fanless case for
    Intel’s Skull Canyon NUC. This would all but guaranty a sale.

    Patiently waiting,


    • Eric

      Look for Aleutia R50 from England.

      • ElfirBFG

        It’s neat, but the prices are absurd. Without even factoring shipping or tariffs, the top model with Windows comes to over $1700USD(2185CAD). I can get this NUC unit for about $1500CAD(taxed/shipped) with 2 x 16GB 2133 DDR4L, 1 x 128GB m.2, 1 x 512GB m.2, and a copy of W10.

        Fanless is great, but it’s not worth a $600+ premium over a much more powerful build.

      • Blomberg

        It’s for the previous i3 and i5 NUCs, not Skull Canyon. According to their own specs page, anyway.