Intel’s integrated graphics processors have gotten a lot better in recent years. Most recently Intel chips have no trouble handling 4K videos and you can even do some light gaming on a modern PC with Intel graphics.
But the company’s newest chips bring something more to the tablet: discrete-class graphics courtesy of AMD.
The 65 watt Intel Core i7-8705G and 100 watt Core i7-8809G processors basically pair an Intel quad-core laptop processor with AMD Radeon M graphics. The result is a chip that brings a huge boost in gaming and other GPU-heavy tasks (like photo and video editing) to laptops.
The new Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 that went on sale today is one of the first laptops to ship with an Intel Kaby Lake-G processor featuring AMD Radeon graphics. And Intel’s Hades Canyon NUC will likely be the first desktop to ship with a Kaby Lake-G chip. The first Hades Canyon reviews are in, and for the most part they look pretty good.
Intel will offer two versions of the Hades Canyon NUC: a $799 NUC8i7HNK model with a 65W chip (featuring a Core i7-8705G chip with Radeon Vega M GL graphics) and a $999 NUC8i7HVK version (with Core i7-8709G and overclockable Radeon Vega M GH graphics).
Keep in mind that those prices don’t include memory or storage. You’ll have to equip the computer with RAM and an SSD on your own.
Overall, the Hades Canyon NUC is likely to be a niche device aimed at gamers and power users that want a powerful, but tiny PC that may not pack as much punch as a system with NVIDIA GeForce 1080 graphics, but which makes up for that with its small footprint. But the little PC does have some pretty impressive specs for a computer that measures just 8.7″ x 5.6″ x 1.5″ including:
- 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports
- 2 Mini DisplayPort 1.3 ports
- 2 HDMI 2.0b ports
- 5 USB 3.0 ports
- 2 USB 3.1 Type-C ports
- 1 SDXC card reader
- 2 M.2 SSD slots
- 2 DDR4-2400 SODIMM slots
But while it’s a pretty nifty device for folks looking for a tiny gaming desktop, it’s also intriguing because it’s one of the first thoroughly-reviewed devices to ship with a Kaby Lake-G processor. It looks like most reviewers tested the model with the 100W Core i7-8709G processor though, while most of the Kaby Lake-G notebooks announced to date are expected to ship with the 65W Core i7-8705G chip.
With that caveat in mind, it’s still pretty impressive to note that reviewers found that this compact PC offered gaming graphics performance that falls somewhere between NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1050TI and GeForce 1060 Max-Q.
But what may be more impressive is that while the Hades Canyon NUC uses just about as much power as a desktop with a Core i5 Coffee Lake-S processor and discrete NVIDIA or AMD graphics while gaming… it uses less than half as much power while idle.
Interestingly, while the computer seems like a pretty capable machine for gaming and video editing, it might not be the best solution for folks looking for a home theater PC. AnandTech noticed that while you can connect up to 6 different displays to the Hades Canyon NUC, Intel routes all of those video outputs through the AMD Vega GPU… which means they don’t support some features you’d get with Intel UHD graphics.
For example there’s no support for Ultra HD Blu-ray video playback and no support for YouTube HDR content because the GPU doesn’t support VP9 Profile 2 or Protected Audio Video Path technology. Go figure.
Still, while Kaby Lake-G probably isn’t the perfect solution for every situation, it sounds like a winner overall… as long as you know what you’re in for.
Here are some of the first reviews I could find of the Hades Canyon NUC with a Core i7-8905G processor:
Hades Canyon NUC systems should be available for purchase soon, and they’re already up for pre-order from some retailers, including SimplyNUC.