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Intel NUC Kit NUC6i7KYK ("Skull Canyon")

Introduction, Design Features

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Micro- and mini-PCs are a hottest equipment in a differently snoozy 2016 marketplace for desktop PCs. Today, a standard tower-style desktop PC, if we buy it with a right tools inside, will final for many years before feeling dated. So a trend has been toward right-sizing a PC instead, or make-up some-more energy into a smaller box.

But what happens once a desktop PC has been reduced in distance as distant as it will go? Sometimes, bouncing behind to bigger is a usually approach forward.

Intel’s Next Unit of Computing (NUC) array of PC kits were some of a arch instigators spurring on smaller and smaller desktops that we could tuck into a wall unit, or mountain behind a monitor. The standard NUC was a 4- or 5-inch square, and eventually Intel was means to get Core i5 and i7 mobile-grade CPUs into a tiny proportions of these machines. Beyond a NUC, Intel took things to another turn of tiny with a 2015 Compute Stick, a entirely configured, even offer shrunken micro-PC that plugged directly into an HDMI pier on a display, like an Amazon Fire Stick or Roku Streaming Stick. (Intel has given updated a Compute Stick to a 2016, Windows 10 version with newer Atom “Cherry Trail” silicon inside. And other makers have rolled out their possess versions, such as Lenovo with a Ideacentre Stick 300, that we’re in a routine of reviewing, or Asus and a VivoStick PC, also on a examination radar.)

Indeed, once we get down to a distance of a Atom-powered Compute Sticks and their ilk, there’s tiny elsewhere we can go detached from bigger.

Intel NUC Kit 6i7KYK Skull Canyon

That’s what Intel has finished with a new-for-2016 flagship NUC Kit. Code-named a many catchier “Skull Canyon” in a run-up to a launch, a NUC Kit NUC6i7KYK takes a form cause of a standard Intel NUC and runs a steamroller over it, widening and flattening a physique to concede for more-potent member possibilities inside. “Skylake” 6th-Generation processors are a sequence of a day—there was a whopper in a $650 examination unit—and Intel also foregoes 2.5-inch tough drives and solid-state drives (SSDs) altogether, instead opting for a span of slots for gumstick-size M.2 SSDs to save space.

NUCs are strange for a record they container into their tiny bodies, nonetheless to date they have admittedly looked bland. Intel did concede for some of a last-generation NUCs to be bulk-ordered with tradition corporate or other logos on top, nonetheless this is a initial NUC that comes out of a box with a genuine clarity of attitude. Intel’s enthusiast-minded skull trademark takes adult half a lid, and a altogether figure is sportier than any NUC before. 

Intel NUC Kit 6iKYK Skull Canyon (Angle)

On a whole, a “Skull Canyon” NUC pack is a state of a art in mini-PCs that rest on integrated graphics. It’s not cheap—once we cause in a tools we need to get a examination section adult and running, there’s expected a $1,000 hole in your credit card, in total. But if you’re looking for a singular mini-PC that can accept video cards and video-card upgrades nonetheless being large adequate to residence one, it’s value critical consideration, interjection to a Thunderbolt 3 pier and a support for rising external-graphics-card solutions. Indeed, this NUC has been demonstrated in new months operative with Razer’s new Core external-graphics box. And it has adequate CPU grunt to broach some-more than adequate pep for CPU-intensive capability tasks and casual-to-moderate media-file crunching.

We mentioned “parts” above. As a “Kit” in a name suggests, a NUC6i7KYK, like all other NUCs, is a bare-bones PC, that requires a user or systems integrator to implement tools and an handling complement to finish a machine. In this case, a tools you move to a celebration are a storage expostulate or drives (M.2-format SSDs), a categorical complement memory (in a form of laptop-style SO-DIMMs), and a duplicate of Windows.

As a result, you’ll need to get your DIY on with Skull Canyon to get it adult and running. But a hardware designation is easy, and a outcome is a power-packed mini-PC that can offer as a home-theater PC (HTPC), a monitor-mounted powerhouse, or even a gaming system—once Thunderbolt 3 video-card solutions hurl out.


The NUC Kit NUC6i7KYK’s framework looks a bit like that of an irritable router. Squat and low-lying, it rises only 1.1 inches off a table and measures 8.3×4.6 inches, about a distance of a slight trade-paperback book. All a ports are strong on a front and behind edges, with one side and partial of a behind corner clinging to ventilation.

The particular tip row resurrects a Intel skull logo, that debuted years behind on some of a fan motherboard hardware. Plastered opposite a tip of a chassis, it advertises that this is no typical NUC…

Intel NUC Kit NUC 6i7KYK (Skull Canyon) (Top View)

The irritable demeanour might greatfully a fan crowd, nonetheless many business or small-office users will substantially find a skully view out of place. To residence that, Intel includes a deputy cover image that we can bind in place of a skull cover. You’ll use a conjuration pivotal (included) to mislay a 6 conjuration screws around a edges and barter on a new, plainer lid.

Intel NUC Kit NUC 6i7KYK (Skull Canyon) (New Lid)

The underside, meanwhile, is also removable, permitting for entrance to a member slots and bays. This side uses Philips screws, not a conjuration kind, and these 4 tiny screws tend to sojourn tethered in a bottom row when it is removed. We’ll get into a slots and component-install nitty-gritty in a bit.

The front corner is not too busy, with an LED-lit energy button, an SD-card read/write slot, dual USB 3.0 ports, a headphone/headset jack, and a Consumer IR (infrared) sensor decorated opposite it, left to right…

Intel NUC Kit NUC 6i7KYK (Skull Canyon) (Front Edge)

You might note that one of a front USB ports has a yellow insert. This pier is a charging port, vouchsafing we assign mobile rigging off a pier even with a device powered down.

The rest of a ports are packaged parsimonious on a behind to a right of a CPU-cooling vent, comprising a energy connector, an visual audio out (actually an analog orator jack total with a Toslink visual connector), a Gigabit Ethernet jack, dual some-more USB 3.0 ports, a mini-DisplayPort-out, a Thunderbolt 3 we mentioned earlier, and an HDMI 2.0 out…

Intel NUC Kit NUC 6i7KYK (Skull Canyon) (Back View)

Most of these are self-explanatory, nonetheless a HDMI pier fact is pivotal if we intend to insert a NUC6i7KYK to a 4K-resolution HDTV around HDMI, as a 2.0 support allows for modernise rates adult to 60Hz during 4K. Note that both a mini-DisplayPort and a HDMI outputs support eight-channel audio over a connection. The ports also support adult to 4K outlay opposite adult to 3 dissimilar displays. (Remember that Thunderbolt 3 can offer as a video-out, as well.)

Core i7-6700K ordinarily enclosed with high-end desktops, a chip that’s a stream flagship of a Intel consumer desktop line. The HQ is a laptop-grade various that is many mostly seen in high-end gaming laptops. Still, it’s no slouch, ancillary Intel’s Hyper-Threading tech, and so is a four-core, eight-thread-capable chip. Just don’t upset it with a tender energy of a “true” desktop part, that is a 91-watt component. This one is 45 watts, a highest-TDP CPU Intel has rolled out in a NUC so far.

Still, it’s considerable to get even this kind of energy in a framework this small. Usually, when implemented in a laptop, a Core i7-6770HQ has a full 15- or 17-inch-class laptop framework for complement designers to widespread a cooling bucket across. But here, a chip is cramped to a right side of a box. A seashell-shaped ventilator fan vents atmosphere from a chip out a right rear, as we can see…

Intel NUC Kit NUC 6i7KYK (Skull Canyon) (Fan)

The framework as a whole lays prosaic on a desk, of course, nonetheless it is also mountable on a behind of any guard with a VESA-compatible backplate, around an enclosed steel plate. You supplement dual supposing screws to a behind of a chassis, and they expel and rivet with a ascent plate, that itself attaches to a behind of a guard around a detached set of screws…

Intel NUC Kit NUC 6i7KYK (Skull Canyon) (Bottom With Monitor Mount)

Beyond a backplate, there isn’t many in a approach of appendage confusion in a box with a NUC Kit chassis. The AC adapter is an inch-thick, 6×3-inch section that’s not too toilsome to hide. Beyond that, we get a VESA image and a choice (non-skull) lid, and that’s flattering many it.

Inside a chassis, a connectivity on a outward is protracted by 802.11ac Wi-Fi around an Intel Wireless AC 8260 chipset, as good as support for Bluetooth 4.2. The pivotal connectivity item, though, is a Thunderbolt 3 pier mentioned earlier.

Thunderbolt 3 is a multifaceted port. (Indeed, this one is also a USB 3.1 connector.) Unlike prior iterations of Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 3 is no longer a clearly made pier of a own, nonetheless it piggybacks on a same USB Type-C connector as a rising USB 3.1 information port. The disproportion in a Type-C pier that supports Thunderbolt 3, though, is a vastly wider bandwidth accessible when regulating a agreeable device, as good as a intensity support for outmost video-card boxes. We haven’t seen any generically accessible such boxes nonetheless detached from Razer’s Core outmost box for a Blade laptops—just models geared toward specific laptop lines, such as a Alienware Graphics Amplifieran Asus external-card chassis meant for some of a laptops, teased during CES 2016.) But we have seen some Thunderbolt 3 docks from HP, as good as laptops with Thunderbolt 3 ports that concede for charging over those ports (see a reviews of a HP EliteBook Folio G12016 Apple MacBookZotac Zbox Magnus EN970, nonetheless these are few and distant between, and not upgradable.) The NUC Kit NUC 6i7KYK’s Thunderbolt 3 pier extends some wish that you’ll be means to do a quantum-leap graphics ascent down a road—an stupidity with prior mini-PCs anywhere nearby this size.

We’ll have to see how a external-graphics landscape shakes out, nonetheless Thunderbolt 3 could infer to be a biggest future-proofing underline for laptops and tiny desktops in many a year.

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