Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK Mini PC Review: Palm-Sized And Powerful

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Introducing Intel's Skull Canyon NUC NUC6i7KYK

Intel's successful line of NUC (Next Unit of Computing) mini PCs have done well for the company, for various use cases where an ultra-small form factor computer might come in handy. In areas where a PC either needs to stay out of sight, blend in with its surroundings or squeeze in places where other, larger computers just couldn't go, a NUC can make a lot of sense. Tiny boxes like the Intel NUC5i5RYK can pack a fair amount of CPU horsepower in their petite, silver 4.5-inch frames, but some users still want more juice and beefier graphics for heavier gaming and content creation workloads.

Fortunately, Intel's process technology and CPU architecture marched on at its typical relentless pace and the company's new 6th generation Skylake CPU platform now offers a number of performance and feature enhancements, in addition to a CPU and much-needed GPU performance uplift, for the NUC product line.
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK Mini PC
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK Mini PC

We first got a glimpse of the Intel NUC you see here, code named Skull Canyon, back at CES in January. To say this isn't your Daddy's NUC would be an understatement. Styled with a new thinner but longer, all black chassis design with digital grid markings and Intel's classic Skull branded logo, this NUC steps up and calls you out. Reminiscent of the original Skulltrail platform and Intel's countless enthusiast platforms with the mark of the skull thereafter, the Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK mini PC not only boasts a Skylake quad-core CPU that boosts to 3.5GHz, but also Intel's fastest Iris Pro Graphics 580 integrated graphics core, with 128MB of on-chip eDRAM (embedded DRAM) and the ability to boost to 1GHz.

And that's just the CPU. Like we said, not your Daddy's NUC. Let's take a closer look...

Intel NUC6i7KYK Small Form Factor System
Specifications & Features
Processor
  • Intel Core i7-6770HQ Skylake Processor, 2.6GHz Base/3.5GHz Turbo, Quad-Core, 45W TDP
Memory
  • Two 260-pin slots for DDR4 up to 3200MHz SO-DIMM memory, 1.2V/1.35V
  • 32GB max installed
Graphics
  • Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580 - 72 EUs, 128 MB eDRAM cache
  • 1 x HDMI 2.0 port (4K @ 60Hz)
  • 1 x mini DisplayPort 1.2 (4K @ 60Hz)
Audio
  • Up to 8 surround audio via Mini HDMI and Mini DisplayPort
  • Headphone/Microphone jack on the front panel
  • Optical output port on rear
Peripheral Connectivity
  • Four USB 3.0 ports (two front, two rear)
  • 1 x Thunderbolt 3 port
  • 1 x Consumer IR Sensor
Storage
  • 2 x M.2 SSD Slots for NVMe or SATA SSDs
  • SD card reader slot (SDXC cards and UHS-I over PCIe x1 interface)
Networking
  • Intel I219-LM Gigabit Ethernet LAN adapter
  • Intel Wireless-AC 8260 WiFi adapter (802.11ac, dual-band, max. 867 Mbps, Bluetooth 4.2)
Enclosure
  • Black textured and polished with customizable, and replacable lids
  • Aluminum and Plastic
  • Dimensions : 211mm x 116mm x 28mm
Power Adapter
  • 19V, 120W wall-mount AC-DC power adapter
  • Multi-country plugs (IEC types A/C/G/I)
Additional Features
  • VESA mount bracket and mounting hole support
  • Low-acoustics active cooling design
  • Kensington lock support
  • Quick start guide
  • 12-19V DC Power Input
  • 3-year Advanced Warranty Replacement

So yes, we've got quad-core Skylake and Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580 on board, but also support for DDR4-2133MHz memory, up to two M.2 NVMe Solid State Drives, four USB 3 ports, a Thunderbolt 3 port and a built-in SD card reader. Take your average mainstream desktop PC, slice off some of its expansion slots, give it a generalized bandwidth shot in the arm and you've got the teeny-tiny little Skull Canyon NUC, ready to kick ass and take names. It's your basic Napoleon complex in a PC, but in a good way.
Intel Skull Canyon NUC front2
Skull Canyon NUC and PSU
Skull Canyon NUC Kit
Intel keeps the Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK light on literature and efficient on hardware, but for roughly $650 street price currently, the barebones setup, without M.2 storage or memory, is a bit on the pricey side. Drop in a 512GB Samsung SSD 950 Pro PCIe M.2 NVMe SSD and a 16GB (2X8GB) Kingston DDR4 SODIMM kit (we got Micron memory in ours actually), similar to the config we tested, and you're looking at roughly a $1K compact but powerful little PC. Intel also includes a 120 Watt AC power brick and a VESA mounting bracket, as you see above.

Let's dig a little deeper and open this bad boy up...

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