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

Skull Canyon Bioshock, Thief And Shadow of Mordor Performance

BioShock Infinite was game-of-the-year material back in the day. The floating city of Columbia is one of the most evocative, intense, and gorgeous environments we've ever seen in a PC game -- but how much you like it may depend on what sort of visual wizardry you prefer. BioShock Infinite is built on Unreal Engine 3, and while it pushes that framework's capabilities into the stratosphere, there's a clear difference between BioShock Infinite and, say, Crysis 3. BioShock Infinite emphasizes light, color and motion, and while the characters look more exaggerated and cartoon-like than some other games, they still look great. We tested the game at various resolutions with its DX11 code path with DOF effects enabled.

Bioshock Infinite
DirectX Gaming Performance

Bioshock Infinite

Skull Canyon Bioshock compare

Skull Canyon Bioshock Infinite

Previous generation Intel NUC devices weren't really capable of running this game at 1080p with High quality settings, though we did include some reference data to show you how they stack up versus the Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK. Depending on what you classify as "playable" frame rates, even though the Skull Canyon NUC squeaks in north of 32 FPS, you might be looking for a little more graphics breathing room. Drop that resolution down to 1600x900 or 720p and the new NUC stretches its legs more and pulls in closer to that buttery smooth 60 FPS mark. Another approach would be to drop image quality down to Medium levels.

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor Performance
Glorious Orc-Slaying Vengeance
Monolith's surprisingly fun Orc-slaying title delivers a ton of visual fidelity even at the lowest quality settings. So, to maximize eye candy while also heavily taxing the cards, we ran the game's built in benchmark with its Ultra quality settings at a couple of resolutions, topping out at 4K on these tricked-out dragster gaming PCs.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Skull Canyon Modor benchmark

Since this benchmark is fairly new in our database, we don't have other NUC reference systems to show you relative performance metrics, though frankly they probably wouldn't cut it anyway. However, you can still see what the new Skull Canyon NUC is capable of here over various resolutions. We chose the Medium quality preset for simplicity and at 720p we're well into the mid 30 FPS mark, running around the dark depths of Mordor. Regardless, turning off a few effects like motion blur and FXAA will help the cause further as well. For the Skull Canyon NUC it's all about available frame buffer bandwidth and memory space. Anything that piles on to that is going to slow things down.

DirectX 11 Gaming Performance
Square Enix set the tone for Thief noting: "Garrett, the Master Thief, steps out of the shadows into the City. In this treacherous place, where the Baron’s Watch spreads a rising tide of fear and oppression, his skills are the only things he can trust. Even the most cautious citizens and their best-guarded possessions are not safe from his reach." The Thief series has been popular for years, not only for its interesting story lines and unique gameplay, but because the games have consistently featured excellent graphics and imagery, and leverages bleeding-edge technology, like AMD's Mantle API, for example.

thief screenshot

Skull Canyon Thief

Even at Thief's Normal quality mode things are a little too taxing on the Skull Canyon NUC. At this level you'd really want to flip off a few more features or at least turn them down. Turning down texture quality and FXAA specifically, can help in this title.

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