Intel NUC NUC6i5SYK - Your Gaming SolutionThe size of the PC market has been flat to decreasing in recent years, but Intel has always found ways to maintain solid profitability in their PC division. Right now Intel's strategy appears to be focusing on the growing 2 in 1s and PC gaming market, but there is also growth and profitability to be had with the Intel NUC mini PC lineup. Intel has recently released their 4th generation NUC code named 'Swift Canyon' that features the latest 6th Generation Intel Core 'SkyLake' series of processors. Intel has also moved over to DDR4 memory for the very first time with this series, but if you wanted to see a Thunderbolt part on a Core i3 or a Core i5 NUC model you'll have to keep on waiting. [caption id="attachment_181112" align="aligncenter" width="645"] Retail packaging for the slim 4" x 4" Intel NUC NUC6i5SYK[/caption] The Skylake powered NUCs have been around for several months now, but we just recently got our hands on one and have been able to take it out for a test drive. The NUC Kit NUC6i5SYK / NUC6i5SYH are the mainstream Intel Core i5 powered models that we'll be looking at closer today. The units have the same internal components, but the NUC6i5SYK ($376.99) comes with an enclosure that doesn't support the room required for a 2.5" storage drive while the NUC6i5SYH ($356.99) comes with a taller enclosure and cables that does support a 2.5" drive. Both models feature the same hardware inside and have the same level of performance. The processor Intel is using on these models would be the 6th generation Intel Core i5-6260U processor with Intel Iris graphics 540 that has 64MB of eDRAM. This model has much improved graphics thanks to the Intel Iris Graphics 540 and is arguably the most wanted new feature for this NUC generation. Intel NUC6i5SYK Features Intel Core i5-6260U 'Skylake' Processor, 1.8GHz Base/2.8GHz Turbo, dual-core, 15W TDP Intel Iris Graphics 540 GPU, 48 EUs, 64 MB eDRAM cache (Skylake-U GT3e) Two 260-pin slots for DDR4 2133MHz SO-DIMM memory, 1.2V, max. 32GB Standard HDMI 1.4b port Mini DisplayPort 1.2 port Four USB 3.0 ports (2 on the front, 2 on the rear) Intel I219V Gigabit Ethernet LAN adapter Intel Wireless-AC 8260 WiFi adapter (802.11ac, dual-band, max. 867 Mbps, Bluetooth 4.1) Support for M.2 SSD card (sizes 22×42 and 22×80) and one internal SATA III port SD card reader (support SDXC cards and UHS-I) Infrared sensor and 3.5mm audio jack [caption id="attachment_181115" align="aligncenter" width="645"] Intel NUC Kit: NUC6i5SYK—Your Gaming Solution[/caption] In fact, Intel is marketing the Intel NUC KIT NUC6i5SYK as 'Your Gaming Solution' with 'no add-in graphics card required for amazing 3D graphics performance'. Those are pretty bold claims, so we'll be putting more focus than usual on gaming in this NUC review. [caption id="attachment_181113" align="aligncenter" width="645"] Our Intel NUC Kit NUC6i5SYK DIY Build Parts[/caption] Like most all of the previous Intel NUC mini PC kits you'll need to add your own storage drive, memory kit and operating system of choice. Intel provides an embedded Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 combo adapter (802.11ac wireless card & Bluetooth 4.1) that has a max throughput rating of 867 Mbps, so you don't need to purchase a WiFi card. Since we are taking a look at the Intel NUC Kit NUC6i5SYK it meant that we had to use an M.2 PCIe SSD. We went with a Samsung SSD 950 Pro M.2 PCIe NVM Express 512GB drive ($317.99) for our storage needs. Kingston just recently launched new 32GB (2 x 16GB) HyperX Impact dual-channel DDR4 SO-DIMM memory kits, so we selected the HyperX Impact 32GB 2400MHz DDR4 CL14 SO-DIMM memory kit ($172.07 shipped) to complete the build. We later learned that Intel has limited or locked memory overclocking on all Skylake mobile processors except Core i5 and Core i7 quad-core processors with a TDP of 45W or greater. We forgot about this when getting the parts for our NUC build, so save yourself a few bucks and get yourself the HyperX Impact DDR4 2133MHz dual channel kit in your choice of 8GB ($48.57), 16GB ($69.99) or 32GB ($169.99) capacities. [caption id="attachment_181136" align="aligncenter" width="645"] Taking A Look Under The Cover![/caption] Building the NUC kit is simple as you just need a Philips screw driver to remove the bottom cover of the enclosure and then you pop in your DDR4 memory kit into the open slots and screw in the M.2 SSD that you purchased. After that you need to download and install the latest UEFI and then install the operating system of your choice. There have been four BIOS/UEFI updates since the initial production version was released, so chances are you'll need an update and we suggest performing one with the USB Flash drive method before installing the OS. Our retail model NUC Kit NUC6i5SYK came with BIOS version 0028 and we quickly updated that to BIOS version 0042 (latest) to ensure we had all the latest bug fixes and improvements. Intel offers five different ways to update the UEFI, so be sure to take a look here to find the latest UEFI version and the install method you prefer. [caption id="attachment_181168" align="aligncenter" width="645"] The NUC6i5SYK Front Panel[/caption] There are two USB 3.0 ports on the front with the yellow port being able to charge devices even if the NUC is turned off. You also have a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack and a IR receiver port on the front panel. The power button is up top along with the hard drive activity light. You can replace this top cover with custom lids if you'd like. A company called GORITE sells different color lids for $9.75 and you can also expand the NUCs USB ports by adding a $19.75 cover that adds two additional USB 2.0 ports. [caption id="attachment_181167" align="aligncenter" width="645"] The NUC6i5SYK SDXC Reader[/caption] On the side of NUC there is a full sized SDXC memory card slot and a Kensington lock. [caption id="attachment_181166" align="aligncenter" width="645"] NUC6i5SYK Back Panel[/caption] On the back of the NUC6i5SYK you have the power port, standard sized HDMI 1.4b port, Gigabit LAN Ethernet jack, two USB 3.0 headers and finally the DisplayPort 1.2 port for 4K panel support. It would have been nice to see Thunderbolt 3 or USB Type-C support on this model, but it looks like Intel is reserving those features for their highest end model, the NUC6I7KYK. [caption id="attachment_181143" align="aligncenter" width="609"] Intel NUC NUC6i5SYK Block Diagram[/caption] Here is a block diagram for how everything is connected to SoC on the NUC6i5SYK. And of course a look at our completed build! Now that we have a basic feel for the features and price of the NUC6I5SYK we can jump into benchmarking!
NUC6i5SYK Gaming PerformanceIntel says that the Intel NUC KIT NUC6i5SYK 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 188.8.131.5224 for Windows 10 to do our testing with. These drivers just came out on April 22, 2016 and are the latest graphics drivers for the 6th Generation Intel Core i5 processor series.
Battlefield 4Battlefield 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. 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. Benchmark Results: Battlefield 4 with medium image quality settings ran pretty well on the NUC6i5SYK. The average FPS was found to be 30 with dips down to 25 FPS and some topping out at 40 FPS. Lowering down to low image quality settings helped remove stutters in the heavy battle scenes, but the game was playable on medium.
Fallout 4Fallout 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 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. Benchmark Results: We had troubled launching Fallout 4 on the NUC6i5SYK and if we could get it to launch we were getting below 10 FPS with low image quality settings and series driver issues. This game title was found to be unplayable.
Star Wars: BattlefrontStar 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. 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. 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. Performance wasn't exactly stellar, but we were able to play the game with low image quality settings if we could get it to launch right. Star Wars: Battlefront might have come out six months ago, but Intel still has some driver issues that need to be worked out! The Intel NUC KIT NUC6i5SYK isn't the best choice for 'Your Gaming Solution' from what our use saw. The dual-core system had pretty long load times and we ran into graphical issues on multiple game titles. You can do very light 1080P gaming on some older game titles, but the driver support just isn't there for some of the latest games.
NUC6i5SYK General Performance TestingThe Intel NUC Kit NUC6i5SYK with the Intel Core i5-6260U processor scored 63.90 FPS on the OpenGL benchmark, 296 points on the multi-core CPU test and 122 points on the single-core CPU test.
- Gigabyte BRIX S BSi7H-6500 with the Intel Core i7-6500U processor scored 44.30 FPS on the OpenGL benchmark, 328 points on the multi-core CPU test and 130 points on the single CPU test.
- Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK with the Intel Core i5-5350U processor scored 31.80 FPS on the OpenGL benchmark, 259 points on the multi-core CPU test and 107 points on the single CPU test.
- Intel NUC NUC5PGYH with the Intel Pentium N3700 processor scored 14.18 FPS on the OpenGL benchmark, 134 points on the multi-core CPU test and 38 points on the single CPU test.
- ECS LIVA X2 with the Intel Celeron N3050 processor scored 12.69 FPS on the OpenGL benchmark, 64 points on the multi-core CPU test and 34 points on the single CPU test.
- ECS LIVA X with the Intel Celeron 2808 processor it scored 6.21 FPS on the OpenGL benchmark and then 66 points on the multi-core CPU test and 37 points on the single CPU test.
A quick run of CrystalDiskMark v5.1.2 showed the performance of the Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB storage drive was pretty solidc. Sequential read speed to be 1390 MB/s and the sequential write speed was 1532 MB/s. The Random 4K read speed was 56 MB/s and the 4K random write speed was 189 MB/s. The last performance test that we wanted to run was Bootracer 5.0 to see how fast the system is able to boot Windows 1o Pro 64-bit. We found that the Intel NUC Kit NUC6i5SYK takes 6 seconds to get to the logon screen and it takes about 20-21 seconds on average to get up and running on the desktop when using the Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD. This is a pretty quick boot time, but not the fastest that we have ever seen in a Skylake powered mini PC.