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

Skull Canyon NUC SunSpider, Lame MT, PCMark 8, ATTO Disk Performance

We run several tests to help us gauge a system’s ability to handle general compute tasks that range from light duty workloads (like web browsing and messaging) to more intensive tasks like audio encoding and video editing, for example. The following three benchmarks showcase a more every day computing usage model, with a bit of content creation mixed in as well.

Lame MT
Audio Encoding on Skylake
In this test, we created our own 223MB WAV file and then converted it to the MP3 format using the multi-thread capable LAME MT tool, in both single and multi-thread modes. This is what we would consider a "lightly-threaded" benchmark test since it technically only makes use of two simultaneous threads for processing.

Run times are recorded below, listed in seconds. Shorter times equate to better performance.

Skull Cayon Lame

The Intel Skull Canyon NUC didn't fair as well as we would have expected here, but this is actually a corner-case test condition anomaly that we have shared with Intel and are awaiting feedback for. Our hunch is that Intel's latest Speed Shift technology is potentially keeping the Skylake quad-core here in a lower power state, not spooling up core clock speed to chew through the workload as fast as possible, bur rather as efficiently as possible with respect power consumption and thermals.
SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark
JavaScript Performance Testing
SunSpider is a well-known JavaScript benchmark. The test is designed for comparing browsers (and versions of the same browser) to each other while the system processes several Javascript routines. It’s worth pointing out that the browser itself that is used at the time of testing does have an impact on scores. In this case, we tested the new NUC with Microsoft Edge as part of our Windows 10 install.

Skull Canyon SunSpider

The NUC6i7KYK ekes out a 1st place spot in this test with a very respectable finish time of 71.6ms. For this class of systems, it's the fastest score we've recorded to date.

PCMark 8
Productivity and System-Level Benchmarking
Futuremark’s PCMark 8 runs the system through typical home and work computing activities and provides individual scores for certain task categories, rather than specific hardware subsystems. The Home test is just as it sounds: a collection of everyday tasks, including web browsing and video chatting and word processing. The Work test is more demanding and has business-oriented and well as office suite type app tests.

Skull Canyon PCMark8

The Skull Canyon NUC with its NVMe PCI Express SSD, 16GB of RAM and potent Intel quad-core Skylake CPU, hangs tough with a group of small form factor and full-sized desktops with discrete graphics here. The test is disk intensive and IOs response time sensitive rather than focusing all-out on CPU throughput. This is how the Skull Canyon NUC pulls up strong against what's really an unfair fight versus full sized desktops.

Samsung SSD 950 Pro SSD Performance In Skull Canyon NUC
Samsung SSD 950 Pro SSD Performance In Skull Canyon NUC

Here, to underscore a key benefit of the Skylake architecture having on board PCIe NVMe support is a huge boost of available throughput for a tiny system like the Skull Canyon NUC. Equipped with a 512GB Samsung SSD 950 Pro SSD, the Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK just rips along with up to 2.5GB/sec for reads and 1.5GB/sec for writes.

Next, let's turn up the graphics rendering workload and see if we can get this beastly NUC to scream hellfire...

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