Intel’s new “Frost Canyon” NUC is a min-desktop computer that measures about 4.6″ x 4.4″ x 1.5″ (or 2″ for some models) and which… honestly looks a lot like last year’s “Bean Canyon” version.
But under the hood, the new model swaps out a 28-watt Intel Core quad-core processor with Iris Plus Graphics 655 for a new 25 watt 10th-gen Intel Core “Comet Lake” processor with up to 6 CPU cores.
In terms of performance, all signs point to the new model matching or even surpassing its predecessor in terms of CPU performance… although it will likely lag behind when it comes to graphics.
The new Frost Canyon NUC isn’t available for purchase yet, but details started to leak last week. Now Intel has posted support documents to its own website, and Chinese website Koolshare has posted an in-depth, hands-on review of the little computer.
Update: More details are available from Intel’s website:
Intel will offer models in two sizes — short and tall. The short versions measure 1.5″ high and support M.2 PCIe SSD storage, while the taller versions are 2″ high and also have room for an optional 2.5 inch hard drive or SSD.
The Frost Canyon NUC will also be available with three different processor options:
Each model features WiFi 6 AX200 support, two wireless antennas, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 2.0a, a Thunderbolt 3 port, and a few USB Type-A ports plus a headset jack, power btton, and USB Type-C port.
The model reviewed by Koolshare features an Core i7-10710U hexa-core processor. Compared with the Intel Core i7-8559U chip used in top-of-the-line Bean Canyon NUC models, the new chip features:
- More CPU cores and threads (6/12 vs 4/8)
- A higher max turbo frequency (4.7 GHz vs 4.5 GHz)
- A lower base frequency (1.1 GHz vs 2.7 GHz)
- Support for more RAM (64GB max vs 32GB max)
- Less powerful graphics (Intel UHD vs Iris Plus 655)
So… how does it compare in terms of actual performance? That seems to depend on the test you’re running.
Koolshare managed to run a few benchmarks that are similar to ones I’ve run on several other computers. So here are some scores to compare:
Cinebench R15 multi-core
- Frost Canyon NUC w/Core i7-10710U – 1082
- Bean Canyon NUC w/Core i7-8559U – 880
- Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 w/Core i7-1065G7 – 474
Cinebench R15 single-core
- Frost Canyon NUC w/Core i7-10710U – 183
- Bean Canyon NUC w/Core i7-8559U – 191
- Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 w/Core i7-1065G7 – 143
Cinebench R20 multi-core
- Frost Canyon NUC w/Core i7-10710U – 2386
- Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 w/Core i7-1065G7 – 1340
Cinebench R20 single-core
- Frost Canyon NUC w/Core i7-10710U – 446
- Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 w/Core i7-1065G7 – 411
- Frost Canyon NUC w/Core i7-10710U – 4382
- Bean Canyon NUC w/Core i7-8559U – 4560
- Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 w/Core i7-1065G7 – 4461
Unfortunately I don’t have scores for Cinebench R20 on the Bean Canyon NUC.
But it’s interesting to note that PCMark, which measures overall performance across a range of tasks, shows pretty similar scores for all three devices. But the Comet Lake NUC comes out on top in every Cinebench test measuring CPU performance.
Koolshare was also able to achieve even higher scores by unlocking the Core i7-10710U chip so that it could run at up to 45 watts. While that caused the computer to generate more heat, it also brought the Cinebench R15 and R20 scores up to 1245 and 2818, respectively.
All of which is to say that while it’s not entirely clear if the Frost Canyon is a clear-cut upgrade over least year’s Bean Canyon NUC models, it certainly doesn’t look like a downgrade… unless you’re looking for better graphics performance.
You could always add an external GPU by connecting a graphics dock to the little computer’s Thunderbolt 3 port. But once you account for the cost and size of most graphics docks, you’re probably better off just buying a full-sized desktop that actually has room for a graphics card.
You can find more details about the Frost Canyon NUC in Intel’s Technical Products Specification for its NUC10 lineup (PDF link).