FutureFive New Zealand logo
Consumer technology news from the future
Story image

Intel Skull Canyon NUC: When size doesn’t matter

By Patrick Pilcher
Mon 5 Sep 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The days of big beige boxes consuming an inordinate amount of already scarce work desk real estate could soon be a distant memory. This is thanks to a growing number of micro PCs launching that are small enough to bolt onto the back of a PC display.

Intel have long been strong proponents of the micro form factor PC with their Next Unit of Computing (NUC) micro PCs. 

Uncluttered desks are always a good thing. If there is a downside, it is this. Most mini PCs lack the raw grunt to do anything beyond basic office productivity chores. Heavy duty tasks like multimedia editing or gaming were well out of bounds - At least until now.

Now Intel are back. They’ve gone all out and beefed up the power of their latest NUC, the NUC6i7KYK (Kind of rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?). Question is, does it deliver?

Look and Feel

The NUC6i7KYK hasn’t inherited the looks of its earlier siblings. Where previous NUCs resembled an Apple TV with a steroid habit, the NUC6i7KYK is flatter and more squarish. These changes aren’t just skin deep. The NUC6i7KYK  comes apart, allowing you to add in your own RAM and storage. It isn’t much of a looker, but then it is designed to be hidden away.  

Under the Hood

Under its hood the hardware includes Intel’s latest quad-core i7 CPU. The usually anemic Intel integrated graphics got a serious dose of steroids. The result is a pint-sized widget that can handle compute and graphics intensive tasks. 

Throwing a crucial 750GB SSD and DDR4/2133MHz memory helped the Nuc along. Boot up was almost instantaneous. With the addition of Steam, plus a few wireless game controllers, I had the makings of an invisible PC games console once it was plugged into my telly. 

Performance doesn’t come cheap. This is reflected in the NUC6i7KYK’s steep RRP ($1,089). Add to that the cost of RAM, storage and an OS (unless of course you choose LINUX) and things soon add up.

That said, you do get a surprising amount of compute in the NUC6i7KYK’s tiny footprint. Powering things is a 2.6GHz Core i7-6770HQ quad-core Skylake CPU. With turbo boost, it clocks in at a pleasing 3.5GHz, giving the NUC6i7KYK  more grunt than a bacon farm. 

Also included is Intel’s Iris Pro Graphics 580 which has 128MB of eDRAM. It ran photoshop and even better still, a bunch of games with passable frame-rates.

The NUC support SATA 6Gbps and can run two drives in RAID 0 or RAID 1. Tucked away in the NUCs Swiss watch-like interior is a Wireless card which supports 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, and Wireless Display 6.0. Two RAM slots sockets take up to 32GB RAM. 

The connectivity options are surprisingly plentiful for such a small box. There’s several USB 3.0 sockets plus a USB C port which also supports Thunderbolt 3 and 10Gbps USB 3.1. For extra storage Intel have added an SD card slot. 

Networking options are also flexible thanks to the addition of a gigabit Ethernet port. Multimedia gets covered by a 3.5mm audio jack, SPDIF, mini DisplayPort, and 4k friendly HDMI 2.0 port. 

In keeping with previous NUCs. Intel included an infrared receiver on the NUC6i7KYK's front. Pairing this with Kodi and a spare windows media centre remote worked, making my invisible PC games console into a solid yet invisible media centre too.

Thunderbolt support allows the NUC to connect to an external and more powerful GPU. Trouble is there aren’t all that many thunderbolt external GPUs kicking around yet.

So how good is the NUC6i7KYK’s integrated graphics for gaming? Compared to a dedicated system with a high end graphics card, the NUC6i7KYK was always going to under whelm. For those wanting a compact home theatre PC that’ll do a passable job playing games, the NUC6i7KYK didn’t perform too bad at all.

Older, less demanding games such as Serious Sam, delivered a playable experience. More complex titles required graphics settings were dropped down a few notches. Tomb raider managed just a still playable 40fps with graphics set to high. This soared to just over 60fps when graphics were set to low.

With previous NUCs gaming just wasn’t doable. There wasn’t enough CPU juice, nor was there enough GPU grunt. It is pretty impressive to see how far Intel’s integrated graphics have come.

So if that’s the good, what’s the not-so-good? There isn’t a lot to fault with the NUC6i7KYK. As a media box its performance and compact form factor make it hard to beat. 

While it works for gaming, detail settings often need to be tweaked downwards. For not much more money, some may find a bigger PC with a dedicated graphics card delivers more. 

That said, as a photoshop or video editing machine, it is impressive. Being able to drop the NUC6i7KYK into a laptop bag without worrying about a hernia is pretty cool. The only real negative with the NUC6i7KYK is that its fan can get noisy when it operates under load.


The NUC6i7KYK is Intel’s first stab at a performance NUC and showcases just how far they've come.

Here's hoping that the NUC6i7KYK isn't a one-off. Either way, it’ll give competitors a wake up call to kick their own Micro PCs up a notch. Either way, it’s a definite win for end users.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cyber resilience
NZ’s Cyber Resilience Framework to be evolving and potentially automated
The government's already putting $2.4 million into the Cyber Resilience Framework in its initial stages, what is it and why is it important?
Story image
Australian Grand Prix uses CENNZnet blockchain for fan experience
CENNZnet was employed by Power'd Digital to deliver the Formula 1 Heineken Australian Grand Prix's 2022 AusGP Access program.
Story image
Game review: Sweet Transit (PC Steam early access)
Team 17’s Sweet Transit invites players to build a thriving colony in a world whereby trains are the only form of transport.
Story image
Hands-on review: Huawei Watch D smart watch
The Huawei Watch D is the latest flagship smart watch from the Chinese tech giant, and it's further proof that the company is more than capable of competing with the likes of Samsung and Apple in the highly competitive wearable market.
Story image
Hands-on review: JBL Flip 6 portable speaker
Once you switch it on, and listen away for up to 12 hours, you will quickly realise that this is a little speaker looking for a party.
Story image
Home security
Hands-on review: Eufy Wire-Free Dual Cam Video Doorbell 2K
We have had our house secured by Eufy products for over seven months now. We love the brand, and it has never let us down.
Story image
Game review: Digimon Survive (PlayStation 5)
Since there’s little actual gameplay in Digimon Survive, the biggest draw card to the game is its long and interesting story.
Story image
Research shows attacks on the gaming industry are getting worse
Web application attacks in the gaming sector have grown by 167% from Q1 2021 to Q1 2022, according to new research from Akamai.
Story image
NZ program recovers and recycles more than 177 tonnes of e-waste
The TechCollect NZ pilot program says its milestone of recovering and recycling more than 177 tonnes of ICT e-waste recognises the efforts of many.
Story image
Chorus announces Hyperfibre sponsorship deal with NZ Esports
Chorus has put its support behind New Zealand's Esports community with a newly announced three-year Hyperfibre sponsorship deal with NZ Esports.
Story image
Virtual Reality / VR
Virtual reality app reduces phobias through NZ trial
"With this VR app treatment, trialists had increased control in exposure to their fears, as well as control over when and where exposure occurs."
Story image
Hands-on review: TCL 30 SE mobile phone
TCL continues to provide consumers with budget phones that still pack a punch with the TCL 30 SE mobile phone. 
Story image
Tablets & laptops
Hands-on review: Xencelabs Graphic Display Tablet
Xencelabs seemed to show up out of nowhere on the market. I had no idea who they were or what they were about, but I was very intrigued.
Story image
MyRepublic unveils 'choose the speed you need' mobile plans
Broadband provider MyRepublic has announced the details of its new 'choose the speed you need' mobile plans, designed for New Zealanders. 
Story image
Samsung introduces new generation of foldable smartphones
Samsung has unveiled its new range of Galaxy Z smartphones, bringing new developments to the company’s foldable smartphone portfolio.
Story image
Hands-on review: SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Keyboard
SteelSeries has taken the design of its range of Apex keyboards to create a smaller version, the Apex Pro Mini. Techday’s Darren Price checks it out.
Story image
New range of Samsung Smart Watches announced with health focus
Samsung has announced new additions to its SmartWatch portfolio, with the Galaxy Watch5 and Galaxy Watch5 Pro to be released in late August.
Story image
2degrees unveils eSIM functionality for selected devices
2degrees has enabled eSIM functionality to work with a variety of Apple, Samsung and Oppo devices, including a range of iPads.
Story image
I-Pro officially marks launch of brand in Australia and New Zealand
I-Pro has officially launched in Australia and New Zealand, following a series of new releases as an entity that started in early April.
Story image
Home Entertainment
Hands-on review: TCL 65″ C835 Mini LED 4K Google TV
We introduce you today to a TV that brings the height of immersion to your viewing experience: The TCL 65″ C835 Mini LED 4K Google TV.
Story image
Hands-on review: Norton Secure VPN
Norton is obviously serious about your privacy. They have a “No-log” policy, which simply means that they do not track or store any of your on-line activities.
Story image
Minors using Discord servers to spread malware for cash
Avast has discovered an online community of minors constructing, exchanging and spreading malware, including ransomware and a mix of information stealers and cryptominers.
Story image
Hands-on review: James Donkey RS4 Knight Wireless Gaming Keyboard
I have always liked mechanical keyboards, and this is no exception. I find the action much easier to use than the modern keyboards with limited travel.
Story image
Hands-on review: SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro gaming headset
SteelSeries, being no stranger to creating premium gaming peripherals, sent over its Arctis Nova Pro wired headset kit for us to take a look at.
Story image
Comedy legend Jimeoin fronts Epson advertising campaign in NZ and Australia
According to Epson the company’s EcoTank models now account for 74% of all printers sold in the category in New Zealand, alone.
Story image
Tablets & laptops
Hands-on review: HP Evo Spectre X360 Flip Ultrabook 13.5” laptop
The Spectre comes with a keyboard that makes working for long hours something to be looked forward to. It has to be one of the best keyboards I have seen on a 13.5” laptop.
Story image
Digital key for smart investment in public infrastructure for NZ cities
Major public infrastructure projects can better manage risks of cost overruns and delays if they deploy data and digital tools at the earliest planning stages.
Story image
Orcon brings faster fibre to Christchurch with Hyperfibre offering
Orcon has today launched the next generation of fibre speeds in Christchurch, bringing its Hyperfibre offering to the city.
Story image
Attacks on gaming companies more than double over past year
The State of the Internet report shows gaming companies and gamer accounts are at risk, following a surge in web application attacks post pandemic.
Story image
Dark web
Beware the darkverse and its cyber-physical threats
A darkverse of criminality hidden from law enforcement could quickly evolve to fuel a new industry of metaverse-related cybercrime.
Story image
InternetNZ appoints new chief executive. Will take over in October
InternetNZ has announced the appointment of its new chief executive, with Vivien Maidaborn taking over the role from interim chief Andrew Cushen in October.
Story image
Hands-on review: Obsbot Me AI-powered mobile phone mount
The Obsbot Me is an independently controlled portable mobile phone mount that can track its target without the need for software or a connection to a phone.
Story image
Major media companies sign new online safety framework for Aotearoa
A new joint development between Netsafe and some of the world's leading social media companies is set to provide Kiwis with safer online experiences.
Story image
Game review: Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series
If there's something missing in today's gaming industry, it's the wonderful discovery of finding new games for hire at your local video rental store. I remember my family hired out the first Klonoa game for the PSOne back in 1997, and it was a blast to play as a kid.
Story image
Tablets & laptops
Chromebook and tablet shipments see another rapid decline for the year
According to research from Canalys PC Analysis, Chromebook and tablet shipments have fallen for the fourth quarter in a row for Q2 of 2022.
Story image
Microsoft and Auckland Transport announce new cloud agreement
Auckland Transport (AT) and Microsoft have announced a new cloud agreement aimed at promoting innovation, reducing costs and improving sustainability in transport services.
Story image
Game review: Disgaea 6 Complete
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny originally came out in 2021, and more than a year later, the game has now been re-released.
Story image
Logitech G’s new Aurora collection looks to help change gaming stereotypes
The company’s new Aurora collection is designed to be gender inclusive, not gender exclusive, addressing the needs and wants of women gamers while also still appealing to a wider general audience.
Story image
Norton research finds NZ threat landscape diversifying on social media
Norton's quarterly report has highlighted the seriousness of the threat landscape in New Zealand.
Story image
Garmin expands NZ footprint with new Auckland distribution centre
The facility at Goodman’s Highbrook Business Park will be fully operational from October 2022 and features 3,586sqm of warehouse space.
Story image
Product Management
TeamViewer and Siemens to innovate product lifecycle space with AR
TeamViewer's new partnership with Siemens Digital Industries Software to bring the power of TeamViewer's AR platform, Frontline, to Siemen Teamcenter software.