The Intel NUC – next unit of computing – has been around for six years. Perhaps it was an idea ahead of its time. The Intel NUC 8 VR machine blows away any misconceptions about ‘size matters’.
NUC is more about a compact concept. It comes in several packages.
- Mini PC 4 x 4” complete from $319 (but you will want the i5 version starting at $739)
- Barebone chassis/board kits (add memory, SSD and OS) i3 from $459
- Barebone motherboards – Celeron from $168
- Intel Compute Stick – pretty amazing what it can do in such a tiny HDMI stick
- Intel Compute cards – not much bigger than a credit card
- And the Intel NUC 8 VR machine – which this review is about
The uses vary, but essentially these go into tight spaces. As I started this review, I found many instances where NUCs are the best option and my opinion changed from neutral to being quite a fan.
Review: Intel NUC 8 VR machine – Product code PPNUC8i7HVK
I love Intel’s internal code name for this – Hades Canyon. It was meant to be something awesome – something you might sell your soul to the devil for. And to the right user, it is.
Video performance is claimed to be like the NVIDIA GTX 1060 and CPU performance is a good 30% more than a similar 7th generation CPU. It can drive six displays from its onboard ports and GPUs. It can have two NVMe SSD – at present 4TB. This is no shrinking violet!
And it is interesting that Intel did sell its soul to integrate the Radeon (AMD) chip into its silicone.
To understand the power, you need to understand the specifications first.
The Intel NUC 8 VR machine review unit is specified as follows (and it’s important to see that all this is in a box 221 x 142 x 39mm x 1290g.
- 8th generation Intel Core ‘unlocked’ i7-8809G, 3.1GHz to 4.2GHz Turbo, Quad Core, 8MB cache, 100W
- Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics ‘unlocked’ 1063MHz–1190MH, 24 Computing units, and VR capable (this is part of the processor) with 4 GB of HBM2 (High-Bandwidth Memory 2) for video RAM.
- Up to 32GB Dual channel DDR4-2400+ SODIMMs, 1.2V
- HDMI x 2, 2.0a ([email protected], HDR) ports
- Mini DisplayPort x 2
- Thunderbolt 3 x 2 USB-C 40Gbps ports
- 6 x USB-A 3.0 Gen 2 10Gbps ports (many with sleep charge)
- 1 x USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 10Gbps
- 2 x M.2 2240/80 NVMe SSD for SATA3 or PCIe 3.0/3 lane, RAID-0/1 (or Intel Optane)
- 2 x Gigabit Lan ports
- Wi-Fi AC 8265M 2 x 2 MIMO, 867Mb/s, Wi-Di, Miracast
- Bluetooth 4.2
- SDXC slot
- Internal fan
- 1 Dolby digital 7.1 sound
- Optical TOSLINK
- Support for 44.1 kHz/48 kHz/96 kHz/192 kHz sample rates on all analogue outputs
- Support for 44.1 kHz/48 kHz/96 kHz sample rates on all analogue inputs
- 3.5mm combo headset
- Front IR port
- Customisable RGB LED as well as turn on/off the ‘skull’.
- Quad-beam forming microphones
- Kensington lock slot
- 3-year warranty
- VESA wall mount plate
- Power 19.5V/11.8A, 230W brick that unfortunately is not much smaller than the NUC weighing 890g.
There is a lower cost NUC8i7HNK with a locked (no overclocking) Intel Core i7-8705G, 3.1GHz to 4.1GHz Turbo, Quad Core, 8MB cache, 65W and Radeon Vega M GL graphics. It is functionally identical.
The Intel Datasheet is here
Who is the Intel NUC 8 VR machine for?
First locked or unlocked? The latter is for gamers.
Obviously focused on gamers, the Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics deliver up to 90 frames per second (FPS) for stunning VR. Then add the 7.1 sound and all the go-fast components. This diminutive box is one of the most powerful on the planet.