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

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Power Consumption, Acoustics And Skull Canyon NUC Conclusions

Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we also monitored how much power our test systems consumed using a power meter. Our goal was to give you an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and while under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet.

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet

Intel Skull Canyon Power
 

Surprisingly, the Intel NUC6i7KYK drops in with slightly lower top-end power consumption under load, versus the previous generation Gigabyte Brix NUC with its Core i7 and Iris Pro Graphics 5200 integrated GPU. Skull Canyon draws about twice the power of a lower-end Core i5 NUC like the NUC5i5RYK, but at well under 100 Watts peak, the potent little fella draws just a touch more than your average incandescent light bulb.

Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK Noise Profile (Or lack thereof)

NUC6i7KYK Front Angle

One final note here on the acoustic profile of Intel's new NUC is in order. Though we didn't have a decibel meter handy for testing with Skull Canyon, we would offer that the "Balanced" cooling profile that it was set to from the factory offers a nice balance of cooling performance with limited throttling and relatively tame fan noise. Turning things up to the "Cool" setting in the BIOS lets you hear this NUC scream, but at default Balanced mode, the NUC6i7KYK is a well behaved little demon of a PC and not offensive to the ear, even under heavy multimedia or gaming workloads.

NUC6i7KYK Extreme Angle 1 White

concludeSo, where does the new Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK land in terms of value proposition for prospective ultra-small form factor PC customers? There are a somewhat complex set of variables to consider here. You can consider this tiny 8-inch by 4-inch by 1 inch thick PC to have the horsepower of your average mainstream desktop with integrated graphics, but with more graphics horsepower available and premium storage connectivity for high-performance storage technologies like NVMe M.2 sticks. That, in and of itself, for a device of this size, is impressive. Versus other ultra-small form factor PCs on the market, the NUC6i7KYK is a powerful, menacing competitor built on some of Intel's most potent low power technologies.

Again, however, if you build a Skull Canyon config like we've tested here, with 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD, things do get rather pricey at roughly $1K for the complete build ($650 street price bare bones for Skull Canyon currently). You could save a few pesos by trimming down costs in either of the storage or memory areas but we'd argue that 16GB of DDR4 SODIMMs are well worth the investment for only about $60. So, in short, premium performance in very tight spaces like this simply adds up -- no two ways about it.

Regardless, the Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK is a NUC cut from a decidedly different cloth. This NUC takes the attitude of "all-out or get out." Short of keeping things reasonably quiet, Skull Canyon definitely pushes the boundaries of its physical footprint. In terms of gaming, you can consider it capable of running most current game titles at Medium to occasionally High settings, up to a max of 1080p, with 720p gaming obviously being much more fluid. For Content Creation, the NUC6i7KYK is definitely up to most any task. We could easily see a few of these sitting around a video production crew area, with high performance Thunderbolt external storage tapped into them as rendering targets. Tap in external graphics over Thunderbolt 3 and you'll really unleash the beast. 

It will be interesting to watch what folks do with the Skull Canyon NUC. It might be interesting for makers and modders as well, with the ability to squeeze a fair amount of compute horsepower into ridiculously small places. Hybrid console/PCMasterRace box anyone? Maybe a companion Twitch streamer PC? Intel's NU6i7KYK is just starting to ship in volume now, so keep an eye on those street prices and bundled deals with memory and storage to complete a gnarly NUC build of your own. 

approved hh

  • Small But Mighty Performance
  • Stylish And Cool Skull Design Cues
  • Quiet, Lower Power
  • Decent 1080p Gaming At Medium Quality
  • Pricey
  • HQ Game Settings Not Quite Attainable At 1080p For Many Titles

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