Let’s Have a Skull Session?
The “ kit ” in the mention “ Intel NUC Kit NUC8i7HVK ” indicates that this is a bare-bones personal computer, as many of Intel ‘s NUCs are. It rings up at $ 899 without an operating system, memory, or storage installed. Online vendors do sell preconfigured models of this NUC, or you can buy just the kit and outfit it yourself. Though you can select cheaper parts, the market rate of the hardware inside in my test unit topped $ 1,650. ( Do n’t forget, you may need to factor a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse into your final price equation, equally well. )
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Since 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buy decisions. ( See how we test. ) At 1.5 by 8.7 by 5.6 inches ( HWD ), the Intel NUC Kit NUC8i7HVK is small adequate to fit inside a boastfully coat pocket. It weighs barely 2.4 pounds, but note that that ‘s just for the whole ‘s chassis itself. Its big, laptop-style external power adapter substantially increases the majority. The adapter is a 230-watt beast and about half as bombastic ( and about as heavy ) as the NUC itself.
The exterior of the human body is a combination of metal and fictile. It feels solid in your hand, with no flex discernible on top or bottom. Rubber feet keep it from sliding around, or you can use the include VESA home plate for mounting it on the back of a monitor .
The consistency looks industrial and obviously until you turn it on. then, a backlit blue-and-red skull on the top pops up and looks boundary line chilling. It wo n’t be everyone ‘s cup of java. Intel says extra top-panel faceplates for this human body will be available, but I did n’t see any as I tapped out this review. If it ‘s like many earlier Intel NUCs, it will be potential to ordering custom-logo or other particularly designed top plates for this model if the machines are ordered in quantity .
The NUC Kit NUC8i7HVK is designed to be end-user configured ; hence, you can buy it american samoa merely a bare-bones unit. Six screws hold down the hat, and one more the panel under it. The bantam motherboard has two M.2 Type-2280 slots for SSD storage, and two 260-pin SO-DIMM slots for laptop-style DDR4 memory. I ‘d have preferred a 2.5-inch bay, adenine well, which would have allowed for some less expensive storehouse expansion and a in truth high memory ceiling. With this NUC, however, you ‘re limited to only SSD repositing in the M.2 form factor .
The benefit of going all-SSD is the miss of moving parts ( and thus no noise ) and better performance, of course, but you ‘ll have to pony up the bucks for high capacities. note that the M.2 slots support the PCI Express bus topology with a full four PCIe lanes each ; as a result, you ‘ll want PCI Express-bus M.2 SSDs hera, rather than SATA M.2 models. ( See our top picks for M.2 SSDs and PCI Express NVMe SSDs. Those links besides explain the bus consequence at greater distance. )
That’s a Spicy Port Mix
Given the size of this clean-cut human body, the Intel NUC Kit NUC8i7HVK is just bristling with ports. It would be difficult, physically, to cram any more around the edges. But those who would like to use the NUC Kit as an engine for VR will be gratified by the necessary HDMI out and the overindulgence of ordinary USB ports .
The front border has the power clitoris, a life-size SD batting order reviewer, USB Type-A 3.0 and 3.1 ports, an HDMI 2.0a video-out, a USB Type-C 3.1 port, a 3.5mm sound recording jack ( which besides supports Toslink ), and a quad microphone align. Intel barely left an column inch bare .
The rear has even more to offer. Left to right, you ‘ll spot an S/PDIF audio-out connection, the laborer for the AC arranger, a pair of Type-C USB ports that besides support Thunderbolt 3, two mini-DisplayPort outputs, dual Gigabit Ethernet jacks, a quartet of USB Type-A 3.0 ports, and another HDMI 2.0a video-out. A Kensington-style cable-lockdown pass sits on the leave border .
Thanks to all the video-out connectors, the NUC Kit NUC8i7HVK supports up to six 4K or 5K monitors. Its wireless connectivity is powered by an Intel 8265AC 802.11ac card, which besides brings along support for Bluetooth 4.2. This machine could serve, possibly, as the ultimate engine for a cause of death multi-monitor video wall, comprising half a twelve ultra-high-resolution displays. The key thing is, though, the two HDMI outs ; you can attach an HDMI monitor and a VR headset at the same time .
AMD and Intel…Working Together?
Intel offers this NUC Kit in two basic configurations. The NUC8i7HVK I ‘m reviewing is the more powerful of the two, based around the Intel Core i7-8809G CPU. A lesser model, the Intel NUC Kit NUC8i7HNK, uses a slightly less mighty Core i7-8705G chip and sells for $ 749 as a bare-bones unit, or $ 150 less than the bare-bones translation of the unit of measurement I ‘m testing. Both of these “ G ” class CPUs feature of speech onboard AMD graphics, although the RX Vega M GH chip in the Core i7-8809G is faster than the RX Vega M GL chip in the Core i7-8705G. ( It has both a higher clock rush and more calculate units. )
With four cores, a 3.1GHz basal clock, and a 4.2GHz Turbo Boost clock, the Core i7-8809G handles equitable about any mainstream productiveness undertaking with facilitate and can do some estimable work on media processing, as you ‘ll see in a moment. It does n’t compare to the six-core “ Coffee Lake ” mainstream desktop chips like the Intel Core i7-8700K ( at Amazon ), but you ‘ll need a substantial background tugboat and its attendant thermal headroom to handle one of those .
What you do get here is very reasonable CPU office and surprise graphics pep given the besotted confines of this personal computer. Coupled with the AMD RX Vega M GH graphics, the NUC Kit NUC8i7HVK is VR-ready and can play the latest AAA-level game titles. Most should run fine at a 1080p resolution, but in some cases not with maxed-out details .
That ‘s one reason why I find the price of the NUC8i7HVK to be a tad off-putting. For the same $ 1,600-plus that this examination unit ran ( once it was outfitted with all of the components it needed ), you can get a mighty full-fledged desktop that can handle 1080p or 1440p gambling without sacrificing details. Or you could land a well-equipped bet on notebook .
This NUC supports up to 32GB of dual-channel DDR4 memory. My unit has installed a 16GB dual-channel apparatus ( two 8GB SO-DIMMs ) of costly DDR4-3200 Kingston HyperX memory, which surely did n’t hurt its benchmark scores. As for the repositing, my unit has Windows 10 Pro installed on a 120GB Intel Optane SSD 800p ( at Amazon ) as the boot tug, and, for secondary coil repositing, a 512GB Intel 545s Series SSD. ( That latter drive is in M.2 phase factor ; the drive reviewed at the link is the lapp, but in 2.5-inch format. ) The Optane 800p drive is pricey for the capacity you get ; if you ‘re building one of these NUCs, you can save cash by going with a more mainstream M.2 SSD, or by good sticking with a single drive .
Cooling fans are located in the establish of the NUC Kit NUC8i7HVK, sending air straight out the rear …
My ears could n’t make them out while the unit was idling. The fans became fair audible while I was running benchmark tests and straining the limits of the system, but they were in no way loud or intrusive. Fan drive noise was thankfully absent. In brusque, the thermals here are well executed .
The Fruit of the Alliance: Snappy Speed
And so, on to the benchmarks. The units to which I compared this NUC Kit are, on the whole, much larger ( but silent compact ) desktops, by dint of the fact that you wo n’t find many PCs of this size that are anywhere comparably powerful .
For starters, an interesting win : The NUC Kit NUC8i7HVK eked out the peak blemish on PCMark 8 ‘s Work Conventional benchmark, although that general system test far from stresses the capabilities of these machines. In the CPU-limited multimedia tests, including Cinebench R15 and Handbrake, the four-core Core i7-8809G in the NUC could n’t quite keep pace with the six-core Core i7-8700 in the MSI Vortex G25VR ( at Amazon ), nor with the overclocked, quad-core Core i7-7700K in the Corsair One Pro. That said, that is how it should be ; those machines are all nontrivially larger than the NUC Kit and can handle full-desktop parts .
The 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme subtest, meanwhile, highlights the excellent performance of the NUC ‘s onboard AMD Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics. It scored closely 10 times higher than the desegregate Intel HD Graphics 630 in the Dell Optiplex 5050 Micro. The NUC ‘s AMD silicon scored barely under one-half american samoa gamey as the top-shelf GeForce GTX 1080 GPU in the HP Omen X Compact Desktop. That ‘s impressive for on-chip graphics, considering the thermal constraints here. It ‘s a testament to the potency of the Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics here and to the alliance Intel and AMD forged to make this chip possible .
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Although the AMD chip performs very, very well for an onboard, integrated-style GPU, there ‘s no ignoring the fact that you can get a beefy GeForce GTX 1070 -equipped desktop or notebook for less than my as-configured NUC Kit NUC8i7HVK. The GTX 1070 will allow you to max out the detail settings in nowadays ‘s games, which is n’t necessarily going to be the case with the NUC ‘s onboard AMD check, particularly in the most demanding titles .
Hades Canyon: Surprisingly Welcoming
The NUC Kit NUC8i7HVK is the bleeding border of compact-PC engineering, offering a remarkable amount of performance in a small letter shape divisor. Connectivity is ace, possibly even excessive, for this system ‘s size, but it means you get plenty of options for end-user expansion and VR-headset hookups. It does n’t disappoint in the look department, either, even if the backlit skull faceplate is a moment polarize .
ultimately, however, you truly must have a specific custom subject for this NUC model and its trim body to justify the buy. It commands a steep premium for packing high-grade hardware into such a small space. Again, remember that the $ 899 starting price is for the bare-bones unit only ; our PCMag tester topped $ 1,650, exclusive of a monitor, keyboard, or mouse. You can get lesser components, to be surely, but even a basic loadout ( say, a Windows 10 Home license, a 256GB PCI Express M.2 SSD, and 8GB of SO-DIMM DDR4 memory ) is still going to set you back at least $ 250. So you ‘re looking at a minimum submission point, on this personal computer, of $ 1,150 with the $ 899 bare-bones version .
If you ‘re strictly after gaming performance, the same money can get you a larger graphics-beast background or a bet on notebook with substantially better performance. But if you want the most performance possible in the smallest background chassis, and VR compatibility to boot, the Intel NUC Kit NUC8i7HVK “ Hades Canyon ” is one, hem, heck of a quieten fire-breather .
Intel NUC Kit NUC8i7HVK (Hades Canyon)
MSRP $ 899.00
The Bottom Line
Intel Core i7 process and AMD Vega graphics ability meet in the Intel NUC Kit NUC8i7HVK, a super-slim bare-bones background that packs punchy, VR-ready performance and extraordinary connectivity .
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