5th Generation Intel Core 'Broadwell' Processors Come To The NUC Series

Intel Broadwell NUC Systems The Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC) is something we've been talking about since the models first came to market in 2012. We loved the design concept that Intel came up with in 2012 and saw that there was a growing market for such a system. Over the past several years we've watched the NUC mature into a very robust platform that easily has the power needed to be the desktop replacement for the vast majority of PC users around the world. The latest Intel NUC won't be replacing high-end gaming or prosumer systems anytime soon, but thanks to the latest Intel 5th Gen Core i3/i5/i7 processors the NUC is packing more horse power than ever.
Consumer Focused Commercial Focused
NUC5i7RYH Kit, i7, M.2 and SATA support
NUC5i5RYK Kit, i5, M.2 support only NUC5i5MYHE Kit, i5, M.2 and SATA support
NUC5i5RYH Kit, i5, M.2 and SATA support NUC5i5MYBE Board, i5, M.2 and SATA support
NUC5i3RYK Kit, i3, M.2 support only NUC5i3MYHE Kit, i3, M.2 and SATA support
NUC5i3RYH Kit, i3, M.2 and SATA support NUC5i3MYBE Board, i3, M.2 and SATA support
Like the generations that came before, the third generation of the Intel NUC comes as a barebone kit. This means Intel has done 95% of the work for you to ensure you have a rock solid system and all you have to do is supply the memory, storage drive and all of the software. There are nine Intel NUC models coming to market in the weeks ahead. One of the major changes this time around is that Intel has thankfully ditched the mSASTA storage drive interface and moved over to the much faster PCIe Gen 2.0 x4 interface. This will drive build costs up some, but they still over a number of models that have room for a 2.5-inch SATA III drive for those looking to build on a strict budget. The other major change Intel made with this generation was that they went with a soldered down wireless card. All of the models feature the Intel Wireless-AC 7265 solution, which is a dual-band 2x2 card that has a maximum throughput of 867Mbps along with Bluetooth 4.0 and Intel Wireless Display. Intel NUC Kit NUC5i5RYK Today, we'll be looking at an early production sample of the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK that runs $398.47 shipped. This model is currently the flagship model as it comes with the mainstream Intel Core i5 5250U Dual-Core processor with Hyper-Threading. The Core i5-5250U is a 15W TDP processor based on the Broadwell microarchitecture, which means it is made using the 14nm process node. It comes with a base clock of 1.6GHz and thanks to Intel Turbo Boost Technology it can get up to 2.7GHz when needed. This processor supports up to 16GB of dual-channel DDR3L memory (1333, 1600 & 1866MHz) and has Intel HD 6000 Graphics that is dynamically clocked between 300 and 950MHz. Intel NUC Kit NUC5i5RYK System Build There are a number of DDR3L memory cards and M.2 PCIe SSDs that you could pair with the NUC5i5RYK, but we opted to go with the Samsung XP941 PCIe 2.0 x4 M.2 SSD and a Kingston HyperX Impact DDR3L SO-DIMM memory kit. If you had to run out and buy all the hardware we are using today you are looking at spending around $730 on the hardware and then another $100 or so for a full copy of Microsoft Windows 8.1. Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK Estimated Windows Build Cost: Intel NUC Kit NUC5i5RYK Retail Box The code name for the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK is Rock Canyon and inside the retail box you'll find the silver and black colored chassis with protective film covering the finish of the top of the unit. This particular model measures in at 115mm x 111mm x 32.7mm. If you wanted to go with a model that could fit a 2.5" storage drive that is up to 9.5mm thick you are looking at a model that is 115mm x 111mm x 48.7mm. The second generation Intel NUC with a 2.5-inch drive was 116.6mm x 112.0mm x 51.5mm, so Intel has managed to shrink all the dimensions of the third generation NUC. Intel NUC5i5RYK Bundle Under the Intel NUC there is the accessory kit that includes the a small AC power adapter with a 4-plug universal wall outlet kit (IEC types A/C/G/I), VESA mounting plate w/ mounting screws, storage drive screws and the instructions (not pictured). fsp065-10aaba The 2-prong wall-mount AC Power Adapter included with the Intel NUC Kit NUC5i5RYK is very different than the ones used on previous Intel Core i3/i5 NUC models. This particular AC adapter is made by FSP Technology, INC. (FSP) and is model number FSP065-10AABA. This AC to DC adapter operates at 90 to 264 Vac and outputs 19V / 3.43A power with an overall power rating of 65 Watts. You can change out the wall plug depending on your region and it comes with IEC world plug types A/C/G/I. Intel NUC Kit NUC5i5RYK This chassis uses an aluminum center section that left its natural color with a black colored plastic top and a black bottom cover. The look of the NUC hasn't really changed since it was introduced in 2012, but it doesn't look dated by any means. Intel NUC Kit NUC5i5RYK Power Button The top cover is removable and there are 3rd party lids coming later this year that support new functionalities like wireless charging, near field communications (NFC), or 4G/LTE. There are even covers coming out that bolster the I/O ports, so you can add USB 2.0, VGA, RS232C COM, SDXC card reader, or other ports.  The top cover has a diamond cut around the top to add some extra flare and it also houses the power button and activity/power LED. Intel NUC Kit NUC5i5RYK Front
On the front panel you’ll find two SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports (one is charging capable) the headphone/microphone jack and the consumer infrared sensor.
Intel NUC Kit NUC5i5RYK Back
When it comes to rear connectivity you’ll find the DC power plug, Mini DisplatPort 1.2, Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3.0 ports and the Mini HDMI 1.4a video output. Above the rear I/O ports there are a pair of exhaust ports to expel the hot air from the CPU cooler that is ducted to this vent.
Intel NUC Kit NUC5i5RYK Bottom Lid
Flipping the NUC NUC5i5RYK over we see the metal bottom plate is held on by four Philips screws that are recessed down inside four rubber feet that ensure the NUC doesn't slide or scrape the finish of your desk if you choose not to use the VESA mount. There are no air ventilation holes on the bottom of the NUC, but there are some on the two sides to ensure some air is able to move around. You can also see the Kensignton lock in the image above that is on one side of the NUC to prevent it from being stolen. Let's take a look inside the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK

Inside The Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK

Intel nuc5i5ryb With the bottom cover removed from the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK you can quickly see there are two DDR3L SO-DIMM slots and a M.2 slot for your PCIe SSD. The blue SATA III header in the middle of the board and front case panel connectors won't be used unless you plan on putting this board in another chassis for a totally custom build.  The yellow jumper is for the BIOS security pins that allow you to run the BIOS in normal, lockdown and reset modes. The little white and black thingy majiggy below the yellow jumper is the Near Field Communications (NFC) Vertical Flexible Printed Circuit Connector (0.5mm pitch). Intel Wireless-AC 7265 Soldered-Down The Intel Wireless-AC 7265 wireless card is soldered down to the board with the wireless antennas already attached and routed. This 802.11ac Wi-Fi card is actually located under the M.2 PCIe slot, so it just goes to show how thin this solution is. In this picture you can also see two white headers. The white header on the left is a SATA power connector (1.25mm pitch) and the one below the black M.2 slot is the front panel dual-port USB 2.0 header (1.25mm pitch). m2-slot-under Above the wireless card you'll see the standoff for the M.2 PCIe SSD. Intel has these three holes to support 42, 60 or 80mm long M.2 SSD cards. You can also make out the SWAP NS892402 Ethernet Transformer Module and a 4-pin auxiliary power connector. nuc5i5ryb motherboard
On the top side of the motherboard you’ll find the CPU Cooler, which consists of a notebook style fan and heatsink that help keep the Intel Core i5-5250U processor nice and cool. Intel went with a SUNON MagLev GB0555PDV1-A 1.1W 4-pin blower style fan to keep temperatures at bay. Intel has used this cooler on the previous generation NUC and is said to be a low-acoustics active cooling design. The system battery can just be seen just to the left of the blower. It should be noted that this board does not have a HDMI Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) header on it.
nuc5i5ryk-heatsink This angle shows just a sliver of the Copper heatsink base plate that Intel is using on the processor as well as the USB 2.0 header along the edge of the board that adds a pair of USB 2.0 ports if needed. asm1442k
One of the largest chips on the board is the ASMedia ASM1442K high speed TMDS level shift IC. This level shifter is for the HDMI and DisplayPort outputs to ensure 4K video output is nice and smooth.
Intel nuc5i5ryk Inside Here is a shot of the board outside of the case. Note the case has a thermal pad installed on the bottom plate to improve the thermal performance of M.2 devices since they operate at fairly high temperatures. Let's install the memory and storage drive into the NUC5i5RYK.

Installing DDR3L Memory and a Storage Drive into the NUC

Intel NUC Kit NUC5i5RYK System Build To assemble the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK you just need to install the DDR3L memory kit of your choice and the M.2 SSD. Samsung 941 PCIe M.2 SSD We will be installing the Samsung XP941 256GB PCIe 2.0 x4 M.2 SSD (part number MZHPU256HCGL) that runs $259.99 Shipped. This drive is rated at 1080MB/s sequential read and 800MB/s sequential write with a random read (QD=32) of 120,000 IOPS and a random write (QD=32) of 60,000 IOPS. ssd-install This drive is 80mm in length, so we were able to install it into the install it into the M.2 slot and screw it down with the supplied Philips screw.
When it came to memory for the Intel NUC we turned to Kingston, which is the number one memory maker in the world. We went with their 8GB DDR3L 1600MHz SO-DIMM that is sold under part number HX316LS9IBK2/8. This is part of Kingston's HyperX Impact line of memory so it should be perfect for this mainstream system that ready to run at 1600MHz and possibly higher. The highest speed officially supported by Intel is 1600MHz, but faster kits might be supported unofficially. The Kingston HyperX Impact 1600MHz CL9 DDR3L 1.35V SO-DIMM Memory Kit - $71.99 Shipped and is backed by a lifetime warranty. This kit comes programmed with 9-9-9-27 1T timings and is set to run at 1.35V, which is a must for any DDR3L memory kit.
Keep in mind that that 1.5V DDR3 SO-DIMMs are 100% NOT supported. Intel has a list of compatible memory modules for this platform here. This Kingston kit is not on that list, but we have test it and it fully works.
To install the 204-pin DDR3L SO-DIMM memory modules you just need to insert it into the SO-DIMM socket at an angle and then gently push down on it to clip it into the retention mechanism. Installing the memory takes just a few seconds. Once the memory module is installed it should lay flat like the lower Kingston HyperX Impact module in the image above.
Here is what Intel NUC NUC5i3RYK looks like inside once the DDR3L memory modules and M.2 SSD are installed and clipped or screwed down.
nuc5i5ryk built
Next you just need to replace the bottom cover and tighten down the four screws on the bottom plate. Notice the thermal pad that helps dissipate heat from the M.2 SSD.
Now that everything is installed we can update the BIOS and setup Windows 8.1!

Updating The BIOS, Intel Visual BIOS and Windows 8.1 Setup

nuc-bios-update Once you get all the hardware installed now is a great time to make sure you have the latest BIOS installed on the NUC. Our Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK shipped to us with BIOS version 0134 installed, but there was a newer version available online (0138) that could be downloaded and updated off a USB Flash drive.  The BIOS update process was very simple and is something you should do to ensure you are getting a trouble free experience when you install the operating system of choice. [gallery ids="158524,158525,158526,158527,158528,158529,158530,158531,158532,158533,158534,158535,158536"] Once the BIOS update has completed the system can be restarted and you can enter the BIOS by hitting F2 when the system posts and make any changes that you deem necessary. The image above shows the home screen for the Intel Visual BIOS that comes on the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK. The CPU temperature was shown to be 45C, the memory was running at 35, the motherboard ambient temp is listed at 32C and the PCH temperature was 44C while we were in the Intel Visual BIOS in a room that was 21C (70F). The Intel Visual BIOS is very easy to use and it does allow you to tweak some system settings if you wanted to dial in the system to your individual needs. nuc-drivers Installing Windows 8.1 went flawlessly, but we found that we couldn't get online without installing the proper drivers first. Be sure to download all the NUC drivers from Intel as you'll need them since this device needs newer drivers that the ones that come with a Windows 8.1 installation disk. hwinfo Here is a HWiNFO64 screen shot that shows the settings of our system once we got everything up and running properly.

General NUC NUC5i5RYK Performance

3dmark In the latest build of 3DMark we found scores of 5,381 in Cloud Gate, 3,634 in Sky Diver and 870 in Fire Strike. pcmark8 In PCMark 8 we found the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK had an overall score of 3,173 with a casual gaming score of 26.1 FPS.
Moving along to Cinebench R15 we found the Intel NUC with the Intel Core i5 5250U processor scored 31.80 FPS on the OpenGL benchmark and then 259 points on the multi-core CPU test and 107pts on the single CPU test. cinebench11 When we reviewed the Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK in 2013 we benchmarked with Cinebench Release 11.5, so we ran that as well for those folks that want to compare this Broadwell model to the previous Haswell version. The D54250WYK is powered by the Intel Core i5-4520U processor and scored 15.72 FPS on the OpenGL benchmark and then 2.49 points on the multi-core CPU test and 1.13pts on the single CPU test. The new Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK along with the Intel Core i5-5250U processor scored 26.29 FPS on the OpenGL benchmark, which shows the Intel HD 6000 graphics is about 67% faster than the Intel HD 5000 graphics in this particular test. On the processor side we saw the single core performance go up from 1.13 pts to 1.25 pts, which is a nice 11% performance gain. x264 The x264 HD v5.0.1 32-bit benchmark averaged 25.93 FPS on the first pass and then 5.71 FPS on the second pass. 7zip-1600 The benchmark built-in 7-zip showed that Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK had a total MIPS rating of 7,350. keyshot-license Some readers are using these tiny systems as mobile render nodes, so we ran KeyShot 5.1 Pro (website) to see how CPU rendering works on the new Broadwell powered Intel NUC. When running KeyShot 5.1 to do some benchmarking and real-world stress testing and found that we were averaging 19.9 FPS on a scene that had nearly 42,000 triangles. sandra-memory A quick look at the memory performance showed just shy of 16.1 GB/s of bandwidth. This sounds about right for a dual-channel DDR3L memory kit running at 1600MHz with 9-9-9-27 1T memory timings. aida64 AIDA64 v5.00.3345 Beta showed memory read speeds of ~20,400 MB/s and write speeds of ~22,900 MB/s with a memory latency of 70.8ns. sandra-processor In Sandra Processor Arithmetic the aggregate native performance score was 41.3 GOPS. sandra-multi The Sandra Processor Multi-Media aggregate performance score was 92 MPix/s. sandra-crypto The Sandra processor Cryptographic score was 3 GB/s! sunspider We ran the SunSpider 1.0.2 JavaScript Benchmark on Google Chrome 40 and received a score of 233.0ms. truecrypt In the Encryption Algorithm Benchmark that comes inside TrueCrypt we found an AES mean score of 1.5 GB/s. bootracer The last performance test that we wanted to run was Bootracer 4.7 to see how fast the system is able to boot Windows 8.1 64-bit. We were ecstatic to find that it takes just 4 seconds to get to the logon screen and in just 17 seconds everything was up and running on the desktop!

Video Playback

The Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK has Intel HD 6000 Graphics and supports Intel QuickSync (hardware accelerated decode and encode) or Intel Clear Video HD (hardware accelerated decode). We had no issues with video playback, but we ran a few tests at 1080P to ensure there were no Full HD issues to be had. youtube-1080 In the screenshot above we played the 50 Shades of Grey 1080P movie trailer on YouTube and found that we were using up about 35-45% of the available processing power. It played smooth and our system had no issues with online HD video. bbb We also downloaded Media Player Classic - Home Cinema (MPC-HC version 1.7.8) along with several 1080P clips at various bit rates. We had no issues playing 1080P H.264 MKV video clips (one at 10Mbps and the other at 40Mbps) and found CPU usage to be right around 8%, which is nice and low.

USB, SATA and PCIe M.2 Speed Tests

No review is complete without a look at drive performance, so we took a closer look at data transfer speeds on the primary PCIe Gen 2.0 x 4 M.2 slot along with the optional internal SATA III header and the four SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports. pcie-ssd Throughout the entirety of this review we used the Samsung SP941 256GB PCIe Gen 2.0 x 4 M.2 SSD for testing. We tried to get our hands on the Samsung SM951 PCIe Gen 3.0 x 4 M.2 SSD, but couldn't and it would have been overkill for this system as it only supports PCIe Gen 2.0 x 4 devices.
A quick run of CrystalDiskMark v3.0.3a showed the sequential read speed at 1064 MB/s and the write speed at 804 MB/s! The Random 4K read speed was 29.75MB/s and the 4K random write speed was 63.8MB/s. ATTO Taking a look at another storage benchmark called ATTO, we find that the SSD reaching speeds of up to 1089MB/s read and 795 MB/s write. These are very fast speeds and are faster than what any other Intel NUC was capable of! sata-test We tested the internal SATA III (6Gbps) storage drive header with a Corsair Neutron XT 240GB SSD that was powered by another power supply. sata-ssd We were able to get 562MB/s read and 543MB/s write speeds on this internal header, so if you ever wanted to expand storage and switch cases you can easily get SATA III performance numbers. Inateck FD1006C w/ Corsair Neutron XT To try out the front and rear SuperSpeed USB 3.0 we used the same Corsair Neutron XT 240GB SSD in the Inateck FD1006C USB 3.0 docking station, which is the fastest USB 3.0 drive housing that we have. frontusb rearusb We tested all four USB 3.0 ports and found that we were getting 462MB/s read and 447MB/s write speeds on the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK! It doesn't matter what USB 3.0 port that you use, this system will max out both the USB 3.0 and SATA III interfaces!

Intel Wireless-AC 7265 802.11ac WiFi Performance Testing

Intel Wireless-AC 7265 Soldered-Down When it comes to wireless performance we used LAN Speed Test to check the performance of the included the included Intel Wireless-AC 7265 Card. This is one of Intel's second generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth cards for the ultimate wireless experience. This soldered down card is non-replaceable, so it better be good! The features show that it is a dual-band 2x2 wireless card (TX/RX Streams), so it has a peak theoretical peak speed rating of 867 Mbps. It also supports Bluetooth 4.0 devices as well as Intel Wireless Display (WiDi)! 2g-wifi-results We used a desktop with Gigabit Ethernet to run LAN Speed Server that was hard connected to the ASUS RT-AC68U 802.11AC wireless router on the 2.4GHz band and moved it 15-feet away from the NUC test machine to check out performance with both 1MB and 100MB packets. We ran LAN Speed Test on the NUC with the wireless card to test the throughput and found roughly 74Mbps (9.25MB/s) average write speeds and 104Mbps (13MB/s) average read speeds. 5g-wifi-results We repeated the test on the 5GHz band at the same distance and found much better wireless throughput. We are talking 300Mbps (37.5MB/s) average write speeds and 551Mbps (68.9MB/s) average read speeds. These are very respectable scores for a dual-band 802.11ac WiFi card!

Power Consumption and CPU Temperatures

idle With the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK running the default BIOS settings with our hardware we find our Windows 8.1 system was consuming 6.8 Watts of power from the wall outlet! video-playback When watching 1080P movie clips on YouTube we were generally in the 15-18 Watt usage range. gaming When gaming on the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK we hit right around 38 Watts of power being used as both the CPU and GPU were under load. These are very low power numbers for a desktop computer and are great for someone looking for a system that is very energy efficient. Having a PC that is around 10 Watts for web surfing is always nice! load-temps With regards to temperature testing we used AIDA64 and found the processor would idle around 35C and under the AIDA64 stress test we hit 81C on the CPU cores and 50C on the CPU. The fan peaked at 3550 RPM with this load test. gaming On another occasion we gamed for about half an hour on the NUC and noticed that the fan was much louder than the AIDA64 stress test. Sure enough we managed to hit 4200 RPM when gaming as the CPU cores hit 82C while the CPU hit 56C. The fan isn't annoyingly loud, but it can be heard when the system is stressed for an extended period of time. intel-nuc-idle When the Intel NUC NUC 5i5RYK at idle we found the noise level to be 38.8dB with the sound meter about six inches above the side of the case. intel-nuc-loadWhen gaming we found that the maximum reading to be 45.5dB. When the fan ramps up it clearly becomes audible, but it doesn't sound like a hair dryer or anything like that.

Final Thoughts & Conclusions

The Intel NUC has proved it has what it takes to survive in a very tough PC market and the new Broadwell powered models are the best yet. Intel has taken everything they have learned with the NUC series since it was introduced and has released a number of really nice new units. We took a look at the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK and found that it makes for a great upgrade for those looking for a solid mainstream desktop computer. If you have a desktop PC that is 3-6 years old and are looking to upgrade to something that is smaller, faster and more energy efficient, the 5th Generation Core powered NUC models should be given a closer look. Intel NUC next to Pepsi can   The Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK measures just 115mm x 111mm x 32.7mm in size, but Intel managed to pack inside a Broadwell-U processor along with four USB 3.0 ports, 802.11ac wireless, Gigabit LAN, PCIe Gen 2.0 x4 M.2 SSD and more. The Intel Core i5-5250U processor with Intel HD 6000 series graphics is potent enough to mainstream computer tasks with ease. Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK Estimated Windows Build Cost: All that performance does come at a relatively high price tag though as you are looking at over $700 in hardware to build a system identical to this and then you have the operating system and software costs. Keep in mind that you are basically getting a high-end Intel Ultrabook in a desktop form factor and these energy efficient parts are not cheap entry-level components. If you are looking for something tiny that you can VESA mount to the back of your display and has solid overall performance the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK is certainly worth taking a look at.  If you wanted to build this system and use a 2.5" drive be sure to look at the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYH as you'll be able to save some money as the M.2 PCIe SSD is not needed. We should also note that we are using one of the most expensive M.2 PCIe SSDs on the market today. You can pick up a drive like the Intel 530 Series 120GB M.2 PCIe SSD for around $91 shipped and that would really drip the build costs. LR Recommended Award If you need more power than the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK that we reviewed today we have some good news. In Q2 2015 we have learned that Intel will be releasing the first ever Intel Core i7 powered NUC under the part number NUC5i7RYH. We are excited that Intel is finally releasing a super high-end NUC kit and can't wait to see what Intel has planned for the next-generation NUCs that will be powered by Skylake processors! Legit Bottom Line: The Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK has more features than any other NUC model before it and we found this Broadwell powered model to be a very fast and stable system!  
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