Intel Hades Canyon NUC8i7HVK Review: Pint-Sized Gaming Powerhouse

Intel NUC NUC8i7HVK Hades Canyon: A VR Ready NUC

The Intel NUC8i7HVK, codenamed Hades Canyon, is an interesting product for a number of reasons. First, because it’s the most powerful NUC released to date and packs more I/O and connectivity than any of Intel’s previous mini-machines. It also has user-configurable lighting and activity LEDs and an aggressive design-language that looks great, in our opinion. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Intel NUC8i7HVK, however, is that it’s powered by an Intel 8th Generation Core processor with integrated Radeon RX Vega M graphics. More specifically, the NUC8i7HVK is packing a Core i7-8809G with a Radeon RX Vega M GH GPU and 4GB of HBM2 memory, linked together on a single package though something Intel calls an Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge, or EMIB. 
NUC8i7HVK box
To boil all the technical jargon down into plain English, Intel and AMD worked together to integrate a powerful 8th Gen core processor and discrete Radeon RX Vega-class GPU with dedicated memory onto a single, low-profile package. The end result is a chip that’s only a fraction of the size of a typical processor and discrete GPU configuration, which makes it ideal for ultra-small form factor systems like a NUC, All-In-Ones, and even ultrabooks. For a little more backdrop, we've got more details regarding these unique, hybrid processors available for you right here and a notebook based on similar technology from Intel and AMD here as well.

There are a couple of Hades Canyon NUCs coming down the pipeline, but we’ve got the most powerful model on tap for you here today. Take a gander at its main features and specifications in the table below and then we’ll dig in a little deeper and see how the machine performs and what makes it tick...
hades canyon nuc style
Specifications & Features
CPU 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8809G, 3.1GHz - 4.2GHz Turbo, Quad Core, 8 MB cache, 100W
Graphics Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics, 1063 MHz –1190 MHz (Unlocked and VR-capable)
RAM Dual Channel DDR4-2400+ SODIMMs, 1.2V, 32GB maximum
M.2 & SDXC 2 x M.2 22x4/80 (key M) slots for SATA3 or PCIe x4 Gen3 NVMe or AHCI SSD, RAID-0 and RAID-1 capable, SDXC slot
Connectivity 2 x rear Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps) and USB 3.1 Gen2(10 Gbps) and DisplayPort 1.2 via USB-C connector, Front USB 3.1 Gen2 via USB-C and front USB type-A connector, Front charging USB 3.0, 4x rear USB 3.0, 2x internal USB 3.0 and 2x USB 2.0 via headers, Front Consumer Infrared port
Video Outputs Front and rear HDMI 2.0a (4K 60Hz, HDR) connectors, DisplayPor t1.3 via 2 x rear Mini DisplayPort ports, and 2 x rear Thunderbolt USB-C ports (All ports support HDCP 2.2)
Networking 2 x Intel 10/100/1000 Mbps (i219-LM and i210-AT) Ethernet ports, Intel Wireless-AC 8265M.2 22x30 card, IEEE 802.11ac 2x2 + Bluetooth v4.2, internal antennas
Audio Up to 7.1 multi-channel digital audio via HDMI or DisplayPort signals, 3.5mm front headset jack, 3.5mm rear speaker / TOSLINK combo jack
Enclosure Metal and plastic with replaceable lid, Kensington lock with base security
Dimensions  221 x 142 x 39 mm (1.2 L)
Internal Headers Common I/O header with Front Panel, CEC, 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0 signals
Power Adapter 19VDC 230W power supply with replaceable AC cords
Other Features Replaceable lid with customizable RGB LED illumination and front panel status RGB LEDs, Quad beam-forming mic array, VESA mounting plate included, Three-Year Warranty
Pricing Starting @ $999 ($799 for the NUC8i7HNK)

cpu z cpu  cpu z gpu

At the heart of the NUC NUC8i7HVK is an 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8809G processor, with a base clock of 3.1GHz and a turbo clock of 4.2GHz. The CPU packs quad cores with 8MB of cache, with support for HyperThreading, so it can work on eight threads simultaneously. The graphics core is a Radeon RX Vega M GH, with 24 compute units, 1536 stream processors, base and boost clocks of 1063MHz to 1190MHz and 4GB of HBM2 memory that offers up to 204.8GB/s of bandwidth.

There are a pair of DIMM slots on-board with support for DDR4-2400+ memory speeds, up to a max of 32GB, and a pair of M.2 slots for storage duties. Over and above these main features and specifications, there is a wide array of connectivity available in the machine including dual Gigabit NICs, 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi, Thunderbolt 3, a ton of USB ports, a card reader, multiple display outputs and more – we’ll cover all of the details on the next page, but also have a quick video tour from CES 2018 in Las Vegas... 

Save for the processor and its integrated Radeon RX Vega GPU, the NUC8i7HVK’s little-brother, the lower-end NUC8i7HNK is essentially identical. It’s got the same chassis and I/O, but the Core i7-8705G processor powering the machine has a lower boost clock (max 4.1GHz), its Radeon RX Vega M GL GPU has only 20 compute units (1280 stream processors), and lower, base, boost, and memory clocks as well. The toned down specifications of the Core i7-8705G also results in a lower TDP – 65W versus 100W. So again, that's two flavors of Hades Canyon to consider.
NUC8i7HVK bundle
Included with the higher-end Hades Canyon NUC8i7HVK is a rather large 19.5V / 11.8A 230W power brick, that’s almost the same size as the PC itself. There’s also some basic literature included, along with a VESA mount and some screws and tools. The machines are going to be sold as bare-bones configurations or outfitted with memory and storage.

Our particular setup was equipped with an Optane SSD 800P 118GB drive for its OS volume, a 512GB Intel SSD 545S secondary volume, and 16GB of Kingston HyperX DDR4 memory running in a dual-channel configuration.

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