Intel’s NUC line of mini desktop computers have been around for years, and for the most part they stuff the low-power guts of a laptop into a little computer that’s not much bigger than a small stack of CDs.

But a few years ago the company kicked things up a notch with the introduction of a gaming NUC called “Skull Canyon.” It was a bit larger than most NUC models, but thanks to a Core i7-6770HQ quad-core processor and Intel Iris Pro 580 graphics, it also packed a lot more punch.

Now Intel is updating the design with a new “Hades Canyon” model that features an 8th-gen Intel Core chip with AMD Radeon Vega graphics. The result is a tiny desktop that you can use for modern gaming or virtual reality experiences.

The new NUC will come in two models:

  • NUC8i7HNK with a 65W Core i7-8705G processor and Radeon RX Vega M GL graphics ($799 MSRP)
  • NUC8i7HVK with a 100W Core i7-8809G processor and Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics ($999 MSRP)

Keep in mind that both of those prices are for barebones kits, which means you’ll need to supply your own memory, storage, and operating system, so you’ll want to factor those into the total cost.

They support up to 32GB of RAM and feature 2 slots for solid state storage.

Both models measure 8.7″ x 5.6″ x 1.5″ so it’s a little larger than the previous model. But it’s that extra space helps dissipate the additional heat associated with the new processors and it also makes room for even more ports, including:

  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Dual HDMI ports
  • Dual DisplayPort
  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet jacks
  • USB 3.1 Type-C port
  • Six USB 3.0 ports
  • SD card reader
  • Headset jack and TOSLINK combo jack for 7.1 channel audio

The system also supports 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 and features a replaceable lid with customizable RGB LED lights.

I asked Intel who the target market for this sort of mini PC is. Most NUC systems appeal to home users looking for a small form-factor PC, business customers looking for low-profile desktops, and commercial customers looking for systems to power digital signage or kiosk machines. The Hades Canyon NUC might seem like overkill for some of those applications.

Intel officials say the company is targeting multiple markets though. The system offers up to 3 times the gaming performance of a Skull Canyon NUC, which makes it more of a true gaming machine. It may not be as powerful as a high-end tower with liquid cooling and a top-of-the-line CPU and graphics. And the fact that you can’t upgrade the CPU may remove some of the appeal.

But some gamers might want a system they can slide into a backpack and carry with them, whether it’s their primary gaming rig or a secondary machine.

As for the commercial space, this little computer can power up to 6 displays at once, so while other NUCs can drive a digital signage system, this model could power a whole display wall.

Intel will also be updating other members of its NUC lineup this year, with new Gemini Lake and Coffee Lake-powered models. Next-gen Intel Compute Card hardware is also on the way, and Intel is working with hardware partners to deliver displays, IoT gateways, and other hardware that uses the company’s modular compute cards.

Unfortunately the Compute Stick form factor is stagnant. Intel continues to offer models with Intel Atom Cherry Trail and 6th-gen Intel Core M Skylake processors, but there are no plans to offer models with more recent Intel chips, due to relatively week demand for the form factor. I guess we’ll have to rely on third-party PC makers for next-gen PC sticks.

Update: Have a look under the hood, where you can see slots for memory, storage, and a wireless card, among other things.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what that big box is next to the NUC, it’s the power brick… which is almost as big as the computer itself. It is a 230 watt power supply, after all.

 

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16 replies on “Intel NUC mini PC with 8th-gen Intel Core CPU and Radeon graphics coming soon”

  1. Didn’t see mention anywhere that these are one of very few products that can take the external GPU products starting to be offered, it’s a nice perk.

    1. Any PC with a Thunderbolt port should be able to take external graphics docks including the previous Skull Canyon NUC.

  2. I have the original Skull Canyon NUC and it’s a great device. Really powerful too and still powerful to this day. The Intel Iris Pro 580 is actually a lot more powerful and good for gaming than people give it credit for. Sure it’s not going to max out the latest games, but it can actually handle modern games pretty well at medium settings so far and even some at high settings if you’re willing to play at 30 fps framerates instead of 60.

    1. You know, there is a Russian proverb: each wader (Charadrii bir) compliments his swamp. I just look at GPU bench, and even low-end 1030 has more than 24% horsepower under the hood. I sold my old GTX 560 Ti, because it couldn’t run 2013 or newer games in FullHD with medium or high presets with stable 30 FPS.

  3. When companies make Mini Gaming PCs, I’m always inclined to do a comparison with the budget, to see what that same amount of money could buy you with a custom built gaming PC. Its not apples-to-apples, I know, but it is a way to measure the compromise that “Mini” affords you.

    With $999, and skipping the RAM, Storage, and OS (the NUC includes none of those for $999), you could build yourself a Coffee-lake i5 (i5-8400) 6-core, with a GTX 1070ti. That is a configuration that will outperform the i7-8809G enormously. For in-game performance, I’d venture a guess that we could expect the 6-core + 1070 to perform around 3x better for in-game FPS.

    I’m basing this estimate on the fact that the i7-8809G has performance similar to a quad-core CPU + GTX 1050 performance. On an average quad-core CPU, a GTX 1050 compared to a GTX 1070 has the difference in most games of about 3x more FPS for the 1070. This is a very conservative comparison, because the hypothetical build has a 6-core, and a 1070ti, both are major advantages.

    I don’t think I’ve seen such a high cost:performance disparity before, between a Mini Gaming PC, and a potential desktop build. Usually building a desktop PC gives you 50%-100% more performance. If Intel wants this formula to work, they either need to get the cost down, or get better GPU performance.

    I’d be more interested in spending about $500 on something like this, and maybe get a more lowly Intel U-series CPU with the same GPU.

    1. gOOD comparison , a small rvz02 with i58400 and 960 will do me fine for 1/4 the price … a good package for some tho… at early adopter prices …..

    2. Grant this is an interesting point I would be interested to know where you got your information related to the performance comparisons because my gut tells me your argument is correct but my gut also is telling me to check your references before investing any money into this thing

  4. I really wonder who the target market is for that price. According to Anandtech’s article, the Skull Canyon NUC was a fairly popular device and it’s around the same price at release. I guess people are buying these but I’m not sure why.

    1. I remember the Skull Canyon NUC being a couple hundred dollars cheaper than the cheapest version of this upgrade. I actually also got the Skull Canyon NUC to use as my primary PC for development and some gaming.

    1. an i7 8th gen CPU and a gtx 1060 in terms of power in the form factor of a NUC demands a premium price.

      1. Is there no outline? Is the one next to the skull one not upside down?

        I guess that’s good then.

  5. Much more interested in the major manufactures mini gaming PC’s than Intels. If they really are equivalent to 1060’s then that would be very impressive. This could be exactly the push AMD needed in GPUs & a huge blow to Nvdia. Could even make PC gaming more mainstream.

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