Intel Hades Canyon NUC8i7HVK Review: Pint-Sized Gaming Powerhouse

Intel NUC NUC8i7HVK Hades Canyon: A Closer Look

Although it is a small form factor machine and is only 221 x 142 x 39 mm, the Intel Hades Canyon NUC8i7HVK has an aggressive look to it. The design is reminiscent of last year’s ‘Skull Canyon’ NUC, but this newer, more-powerful model is slightly wider and taller, and has more perforations and venting to aid cooling.
There are honey-comb perforations all around the machine on the bottom and all four sides. The top is smooth and unperforated, but there are slits all-around its edges for air intake and exhaust. The top of the machine is also home to a lighted RGB skull that can be configured for virtually any color. In fact, all of the lighting and LEDs around the machines – from the power button to the activity LEDs – are RGB and fully configurable. And we’re not just talking about the color; the activity LEDs can be set to light up based on drive activity, network activity, power, etc. We’ll show you the control applications shortly.

hades canyon front io

hades canyon back io

Except for vents and a lock port on the left, the sides of the Hades Canyon NUC8i7HVK are devoid of any ports or I/O. The front and back of the machine, however, are absolutely loaded to gills. On the front of the machine (from left to right), you’ll find the power button, three configurable activity LEDs, and SDXC card reader, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 (10Gbps), a second USB 3.1 Gen 2 port with charging support up to 2.1 Amps, and HDMI 2.0a output, a USB-C port (also USB 3.1 Gen 2), and a 3.5mm audio jack.

On the back of the machine there is another 3.5mm audio jack with TOSLink Optical support, the power receptacle, two USB-C Type Thunderbolt 3 powers, two mini-DisplayPorts, dual Gigabit Ethernet jacks (Intel i219 / Intel i210), four USB 3.0 ports, and another HDMI 2.0s ports. Internally, there’s also an Intel Wireless-AC 8265M 802.11ac 2x2 controller with Bluetooth 4.2 as well. All told, the ‘Hades Canyon’ NUC8i7HVK can power up to 6, 4K displays and offers a wide range of connectivity – this may be a small form factor machine, but most users won’t be wanting for connectivity and I/O.

NUC8i7HVK opened
Opening up the Hades Canyon NUC8i7HVK requires the removal of a few hex screws top and bottom. If you get your hands on a pre-configured machine, you’ll probably never need to crack open the system, but barebones rigs will need to have memory and drives installed. An OS will have to be installed a well.
hades canyon nuc internals

The processor sits right in the middle of the motherboard and is flanked by the I/O hub to one side and all of the various ports front and back. A cold plate, attached to a wide stack of thin heatsink fins, is mounted to the processor, and two squirrel-cage fans circulate air through the apparatus keep everything cool. We should mention that the processor and GPU are unlocked in this machine, so users looking to squeeze every ounce of performance possible from the machine can tweak and tune quite a bit, but cooling will ultimately be limited by the capabilities of the compact heatsink and fans inside, and you've only got a 230W power supply to work with.

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