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Intel NUC6i5SYH Mini PC Review

Steve Chippy Paine, 05/02/2016

Do-it-all Mini PC. The latest Core i5 NUC from Intel includes Skylake architecture and Intel Iris Graphics. It's capable of a little bit of everything from home use to digital creativity.

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The Intel NUC 6i5SYH follows-on from the NUC 515RYH that we reviewed in March 2015. We were impressed but still a little disappointed that it wasn't ideal for PC gaming. Remember that the Intel NUCs are barebones kits and you can buy this Skylake version for a street price of around 380 Euros / $360. You'll need to add RAM, storage and an operating system which will bring the system cost up to 500 Euros or more. We've built-in 8 GB of the latest DDR4 RAM and a fast Samsung PCIe SSD(details below.) Naturally performance can vary according to the components and operating system. We're using Windows 10 Home for our testing in this review.

Intel NUC6i5SYH
Processor
Graphics adapter
Intel Iris Graphics 540 - 1024 MB, Core: 847.9 MHz, Memory: 1064 MHz, Intel Iris Grahpics 540 (Skylake-U GT3e), 20.19.15.4380
Memory
8192 MB 
, DDR4, Samsung M471A5143DB0-CPB
Mainboard
Intel Skylake-U Premium PCH
Storage
Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL, 256 GB 
, SAMSUNG MZHPU256HCGL-00004
Soundcard
Intel Skylake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
4 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: Headset, Card Reader: SDXC
Networking
Intel Ethernet Connection I219-V (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.1
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 48 x 115 x 111 ( = 1.89 x 4.53 x 4.37 in)
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
Additional features
Vesa mounting plate
Weight
640 g ( = 22.58 oz / 1.41 pounds) ( = 0 oz / 0 pounds)
Price
430 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case and Connectivity

The casing follows the design of previous NUC cases with a plastic top and bottom and a single-piece milled aluminium housing. Previous NUCs have been susceptible to scratches on the shiny top cover and we don't see any reason to think that this NUC is different. A range of replacement and alternative lids are available though.

Four screws in the rubber feet allow the base of the unit to be easily removed for access to 2 DDR4 SO-DIMM slots that can take a maximum of 32 GB. There's an M.2 slot supporting PCIe SSDs in 2280 or 2242 format. There's a 2.5 inch SATA housing in the base which can take up to a 9.5 mm height drive so there's plenty of options on storage.

Externally we see a good range of ports. Both HDMI 1.4a (for 4K up to 30 fps) and Mini DisplayPort 1.2 (4K up to 60 fps) are included along with 4 USB 3.0 ports, a GB LAN port (Intel Pro 1000) an SD card reader (SDXC) a headset port and the power port. There's no consumer IR port on this but there's an internal header for NFC. You'll also find a security lock slot on the side, a power button and power-on LED. 

There's a fan inside the NUC6i5SYH that we'll talk more about later.

Finally there's a VESA mounting plate for easy mounting onto the back of monitors. 

Replaceable NUC lids

The latest NUCs (2015 and 2016 generation) include an expansion header on the motherboard that provides two USB 2.0 ports. These can be used to provide functionality on replacement lids. A dual USB 2.0 expansion lid is already available but Intel provide engineering drawings for the lids so that customers and accessory manufacturers can design their own solutions that use the USB bus to provide alternative interfaces. An NFC header is also provided and an NFC lid is listed as an accessory. 

Communication

A built-in Intel Dual-Band Wireless AC 8260 module provides extensive WiFi capability. We're connected at 866 Mbps and in a 3 GB file transfer test from our NAS saw an average of 43 MB/s transfer rate. [Busy WiFi area, quiet local network with GB LAN connected NAS storage. It's around the maximum we can get from this NAS box and close to what we see when connected via Gigabit Ethernet.] The WiFi unit supports Intel WiDi and WiFi Direct. There Bluetooth 4.1 support included. 

Note there there's no NFC module included (it requires an optional top casing) and there's no TPM module. 

Performance

Performance is the key focus of this review and you'll find detailed results from our benchmarking below. We've included gaming and video rendering test results too.

First let's take a look at the Intel Skylake SoC used inside this NUC. It's a 15W TDP dual-core Intel Core i5-6260U CPU with a base frequency of 1.8 Ghz and a maximum single-core Turbo frequency of 2.9 Ghz. Naturally there are thermal limits to that Turbo frequency and we'll take a look at those below.

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NUC6i5SYH CPU summary
NUC6i5SYH CPU summary
NUC6i5SYH mainboard information
NUC6i5SYH mainboard information
NUC6i5SYH cache information
NUC6i5SYH cache information
NUC6i5SYH memory information
NUC6i5SYH memory information
NUC6i5SYH memory speed nformation
NUC6i5SYH memory speed nformation
NUC6i5SYH GPU information
NUC6i5SYH GPU information
NUC6i5SYH SoC information
NUC6i5SYH SoC information
NUC6i5SYH device manager
NUC6i5SYH device manager

Processor

We'll start our Intel Core i5-6260U analysis with a Cinebench CPU test in single and multi-core (2 core with hyperthreading) tests. The results are shown below along with a comparison with last years Broadwell based NUC5i5RYH but note that memory and SSD choice affect some of the performance scores seen below. 

During the Cinebench CPU tests we didn't see any throttling.

For more CPU test results see our Intel Core i5-6260U performance page.

Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
7271
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
4481
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
9949
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.33 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
3.26 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
48.2 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
97.8 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
62.1 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
117 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
298 Points
Help
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
117 Points ∼100%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
108 Points ∼92% -8%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
298 Points ∼100%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
261 Points ∼88% -12%

System Performance

With the help of the PCMark 8 test we can see how much better our 2016-generation Core i5 NUC is over the previous generation. Memory and storage speeds are part of this test so it's a good indication of overall performance. The PC Mark 8 Work v2 score is 13% better then the previous generation NUC.

More detail on storage performance is shown below.

PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3667 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
4395 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
4588 points
Help
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
4588 Points ∼100%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
4046 Points ∼88% -12%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
3667 Points ∼100%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
3062 Points ∼84% -16%

Storage Devices

SD card performance (Lexar Professional 16 GB SDXC UHS 3)
SD card performance (Lexar Professional 16 GB SDXC UHS 3)

Confirming an NVMe SSD are the highs disk transfer speeds in the sequential read tests shown below. 4K block read and write speeds are good too so there's potential here for working with large files. For example, 4K video files. In a test of the SD card reader we were able to achieve over 80 MB/s sequential read speed from a Lexar Pro SDXC UHS 3 16 GB card. Sequential write speeds were just over 40 MB/s. (Using Crystal DiskMark.)

Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
Sequential Read: 1077 MB/s
Sequential Write: 768 MB/s
512K Read: 610 MB/s
512K Write: 653 MB/s
4K Read: 28.6 MB/s
4K Write: 63.5 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 243 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 182 MB/s

GPU Performance

One of the features of this Core i5 processor is the Intel Iris Graphics 540 unit. With 48 execution units it's much more powerful than the standard HD Graphics GPUs. The HD 530, for example, has just 24 execution units. Max clock speed for the GPU is 1050 Mhz. The graphics unit includes an HEVC hardware video decoder and new Intel Quick Sync modes for low-latency encoding. In our 3DMark 11 tests the performance sits above the Nvidia GeForce 840M by 3% but below the GeForce 930M by 4%. Below you'll find a comparison with 3DMark 11 scores run on the previous generation Intel NUC 5i5RYH. The difference is big; 83% improved performance on the Iris 540 GPU.

For more GPU test results see our Intel Intel Iris Graphics 540 performance page.

3DMark 06 Standard
13403 points
3DMark Vantage P Result
8647 points
3DMark 11 Performance
2484 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
7425 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
1371 points
Help
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance Combined
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
2198 Points ∼100%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
1198 Points ∼55% -45%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7 - 1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
183 fps ∼100%
LuxMark v2.0 64Bit - Room GPUs-only
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
306 Samples/s ∼100%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
146 Samples/s ∼48% -52%
X264 HD Benchmark 4.0 - Pass 2
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
19.3 fps ∼100%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
16.46 fps ∼85% -15%

Gaming Performance

Our gaming performance tests have been done on a large range of games at different quality settings. It's clear to see that the new graphics-intensive games (towards the bottom of the list) require more performance than this NUC can provide. Rise of the Tomb Raider, for example, is unplayable but if you look at the original version of Tomb Raider from 2013 you'll see usable performance at 1366 X 768 resolution with high graphics settings. Some of the games we tested were also playable in Full HD resolutions.

In summary there's good scope for some enjoyable PC gaming which adds to the 'do it all' appeal of this mini PC. 

Hitman 2016 - 1280x720 Low / Off AF:Trilinear (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
17.7 (min: 14, max: 23) fps ∼18%
The Division - 1280x720 Low Preset AF:1x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
27.9 (min: 20, max: 35) fps ∼10%
Far Cry Primal
1920x1080 Medium Preset AA:SM (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
11 (min: 9, max: 13) fps ∼8%
1280x720 Low Preset (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
22 (min: 16, max: 27) fps ∼14%
XCOM 2
1920x1080 Medium Preset AA:FX AF:2x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
8.9 (min: 7, max: 11) fps ∼8%
1280x720 Minimal Preset AF:Bilinear (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
27.6 (min: 20, max: 37) fps ∼20%
Rise of the Tomb Raider
1366x768 Medium Preset AF:2x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
15.3 (min: 13, max: 17) fps ∼7%
1024x768 Lowest Preset (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
23.7 (min: 21, max: 27) fps ∼8%
Just Cause 3
1920x1080 Very High / On AA:SM AF:16x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
14.2 (min: 11, max: 17) fps ∼11%
1920x1080 High / On AA:FX AF:8x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
15.5 (min: 12, max: 19) fps ∼12%
1366x768 Medium / Off AF:4x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
28.6 (min: 23, max: 34) fps ∼17%
1024x768 Low / Off AF:2x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
35.9 (min: 24, max: 43) fps ∼20%
Rainbow Six Siege
1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:T AF:16x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
13.6 fps ∼5%
1920x1080 High Preset AA:T AF:4x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
16.8 fps ∼6%
1366x768 Medium Preset AA:T AF:2x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
27.4 fps ∼8%
1024x768 Low Preset AA:T AF:Linear (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
44.3 fps ∼11%
Assassin's Creed Syndicate - 1024x768 Low Preset AA:FX (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
5.2 (min: 2, max: 7) fps ∼4%
Anno 2205
1920x1080 High Preset AA:4x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
11.3 (min: 8, max: 15) fps ∼7%
1366x768 Medium Preset AA:2x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
25.4 (min: 22, max: 29) fps ∼14%
1024x768 Low Preset (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
46.2 (min: 43, max: 51) fps ∼24%
FIFA 16
1920x1080 High Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
38.8 (min: 33, max: 43) fps ∼13%
1366x768 High Preset AA:2x MS (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
65 (min: 56, max: 72) fps ∼19%
World of Warships
1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:High FX AF:16x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
25.4 (min: 18, max: 35) fps ∼15%
1920x1080 High Preset AF:8x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
34.6 (min: 22, max: 49) fps ∼21%
1366x768 Medium Preset AF:Trilinear (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
75 (min: 36, max: 97) fps ∼39%
1366x768 Low Preset AF:Trilinear (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
120 (min: 63, max: 152) fps ∼51%
Mad Max
1920x1080 High Preset AF:6x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
16.9 (min: 14, max: 19) fps ∼6%
1366x768 Normal Preset AF:2x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
34.3 (min: 28, max: 42) fps ∼10%
Metal Gear Solid V
1920x1080 High / On (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
16.7 (min: 15, max: 19) fps ∼28%
1366x768 Medium / Off (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
43.3 (min: 39, max: 50) fps ∼72%
1024x768 Low / Off (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
58 (min: 53) fps ∼97%
Dirt Rally
1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
12.5 fps ∼7%
1920x1080 High Preset (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
17.2 (min: 13, max: 30) fps ∼9%
1366x768 Medium Preset (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
37.1 (min: 28, max: 63) fps ∼17%
1024x768 Ultra Low Preset (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
177 (min: 156, max: 206) fps ∼34%
The Witcher 3
1366x768 Medium Graphics & Postprocessing (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
12.8 (min: 8, max: 18) fps ∼5%
1024x768 Low Graphics & Postprocessing (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
19.7 (min: 12, max: 26) fps ∼6%
Battlefield Hardline
1920x1080 Ultra Graphics Quality (DX11) AA:4x MS (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
10.4 (min: 9, max: 13) fps ∼6%
1920x1080 High Graphics Quality (DX11) (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
19.5 (min: 15, max: 24) fps ∼10%
1366x768 Medium Graphics Quality (DX11) (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
50 (min: 41, max: 61) fps ∼25%
1024x768 Low Graphics Quality (DX11) (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
59 (min: 54, max: 62) fps ∼30%
Dragon Age: Inquisition
1920x1080 High Graphics Quality (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
11.6 (min: 9.2) fps ∼7%
1366x768 Medium Graphics Quality (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
35.2 (min: 27) fps ∼18%
1024x768 Low Graphics Quality (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
52.3 (min: 36) fps ∼19%
Sims 4 - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
32.2 (min: 23, max: 40) fps ∼20%
Battlefield 4
1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
10.4 (min: 8, max: 13) fps ∼5%
1366x768 High Preset (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
31.3 (min: 29, max: 41) fps ∼16%
1366x768 Medium Preset (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
45.1 (min: 39, max: 56) fps ∼23%
1024x768 Low Preset (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
65 (min: 59, max: 87) fps ∼33%
Metro: Last Light
1920x1080 Very High (DX11) AF:16x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
11 fps ∼6%
1366x768 High (DX11) AF:16x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
22.8 fps ∼12%
1366x768 Medium (DX10) AF:4x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
38 fps ∼20%
1024x768 Low (DX10) AF:4x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
48.4 fps ∼25%
BioShock Infinite
1920x1080 Ultra Preset, DX11 (DDOF) (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
11.1 fps ∼4%
1366x768 High Preset (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
39 fps ∼11%
1366x768 Medium Preset (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
46 fps ∼12%
1280x720 Very Low Preset (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
82 fps ∼19%
Tomb Raider
1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:FX AF:16x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
20.6 fps ∼7%
1366x768 High Preset AA:FX AF:8x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
46.4 fps ∼9%
1366x768 Normal Preset AA:FX AF:4x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
70 fps ∼12%
1024x768 Low Preset (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
137 fps ∼22%
Crysis 3
1366x768 High Preset AA:FX AF:16x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
20 (min: 16, max: 26) fps ∼14%
1366x768 Medium Preset AF:16x (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
32.2 (min: 26, max: 44) fps ∼18%
1024x768 Low Preset (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
53.7 (min: 46, max: 72) fps ∼30%
Diablo III - 1920x1080 High AA:on (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
57 (min: 46, max: 67) fps ∼22%
World of Warcraft
1920x1080 ultra Preset AA:4 AF:16 (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
24 (min: 15, max: 32) fps ∼27%
1280x1024 high (sort by value)
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
55 (min: 36, max: 72) fps ∼34%
#ff7777;">38 (slow gameplay)38.8
low med. high ultra
World of Warcraft (2005) 5524fps
Diablo III (2012) 57fps
Crysis 3 (2013) 53.732.220fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 1377046.420.6fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 82463911.1fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 48.43822.811fps
Battlefield 4 (2013) 65 small graphical problems (street textures wrong)45 small graphical problems (street textures wrong)31 small graphical problems (street textures wrong)10.4fps
Sims 4 (2014) 32.2fps
Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014) 52.335.211.6fps
Battlefield Hardline (2015) 595019.510.4fps
Dirt Rally (2015) 177 small graphical problems (reflections on hood too much)37.117.212.5fps
The Witcher 3 (2015) 19.712.8fps
Metal Gear Solid V (2015) 5843.316.7fps
Mad Max (2015) 34.316.9fps
World of Warships (2015) 1207534.625.4fps
FIFA 16 (2015) 65 (slight slowdowns)fps
Anno 2205 (2015) 46.225.411.3fps
Assassin's Creed Syndicate (2015) 5.2fps
Rainbow Six Siege (2015) 44.327.416.813.6fps
Just Cause 3 (2015) 35.928.615.514.2fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) 23.715.3fps
XCOM 2 (2016) 27.68.9fps
Far Cry Primal (2016) 2211fps
The Division (2016) 27 small graphical problems (some missing textures in benchmark)fps
Hitman 2016 (2016) 17.7fps

Video Processing

An interesting feature of the Skylake integrated graphics unit is the video processing engine which can perform video optimisation, adjustments and can render between various formats. For video hobbyists and YouTube producers it can provide a very significant speed-up compared to CPU-only performance and as long as the edit doesn't include too many graphics intensive filters and particles it can be faster than discreet mobile graphics cards. This reviewer has tested many platforms over the last 6 months using PowerDirector and a fixed set of rendering files. (Video of a 3-way rendering test including the Surface Book here.) The slowest test result recorded so far was with a Surface Pro 3 under warm conditions where the rendering process can be as long at 14 minutes. Recent Core m5 and Core m7 platforms tend to take about 10 minutes and the Surface Book (without discreet GPU) took 6 minutes and 40 seconds. None of these platforms use the Iris Graphics solution. The Intel NUC6i5SYH with the Core i5 6260U with Iris Graphics 540 took a maximum of 4 minutes and 18 seconds and a minimum of just 4 minutes to perform the same test. A test with a Haswell generation (2014/2015) quad core CPU with Intel Iris Pro graphics (Core i7 4750 HQ with Intel Iris Pro 5200) showed an interesting result. This GPU has only 40 EUs (vs 48 in this NUC) but can clock up to 1300 Mhz (vs 1050 Mhz on this NUC.) The rendering performance was 5% faster. 

If you're editing with a lot of fades, overlays, text and effects the advantage of Intel Quick Sync reduces and there's a cut-off point where CPU cores and discreet GPUs are fast but for home video and YouTubers quick-sync generally does the best job as long as the video editing software includes Intel Quick Sync support.

Emissions

System Noise

We've tested fan noise using our standard test setup and the results were good but one must consider that this 'desktop' could be positioned close to the user. As this paragraph is being typed the unit isn't under any load but there's a noticeable mid-range hum when the room is quiet. (Occasional nearby road noise is drowning out the noise of this fan.) If the NUC was positioned behind a monitor or more than 2 meters away the hum would not be audible. At high loads the hum becomes a little annoying especially as it steps between fan speeds creating a different pitched noise. The maximum load noise measured was slightly higher than the maximum load noise measure on the NUC 5i5RYH.

Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
Noise
8%
off / environment *
30.4
Idle Minimum *
33
28.3
14%
Idle Average *
33
28.3
14%
Idle Maximum *
33
28.3
14%
Load Average *
33
35.6
-8%
Load Maximum *
42.7
39.2
8%

* ... smaller is better

Noise Level

Idle
33 / 33 / 33 dB(A)
Load
33 / 42.7 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Audix TM1, Arta (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 30.4 dB(A)

Temperature

Prime95 and Furmark load tests after about 2 minutes. Note the CPU and GPU clock rates and the temperatures from the sensors.
Prime95 and Furmark load tests after about 2 minutes. Note the CPU and GPU clock rates and the temperatures from the sensors.

Temperature isn't an issue on this standalone mini PC despite significant warmth being felt at the exhaust ports under load. More important is the effect that the temperatures have on Turbo Boost.

Using prime95 and Furmark we loaded the unit to see the effects on CPU clock rates.  WHile CPU levels stayed high during a long, 15 minute CPU load test it was a different story when we introduced the GPU load test using Furmark. After just a few minutes the CPU clock rate was at 1.1 Ghz and the GPU had down-clocked to 600 Mhz. (about 55% of maximum.)

In a 3D-only test the performance of the CPU and GPU also reduced after a short while. Throttling is clearly something that gamers will have to consider but it could also affect video rendering performance.

Audio output

Although there's no dedicated digital audio output on the NUC6i5SYH there are a number of ways to extract digital audio. The HDMI port is one but there are also possibilities to use WiDi/Miracast and Bluetooth audio profiles. Analogue audio was clean over a headphone test. The Realtek audio software includes equalisation adjustment and effect features.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Power consumption at the wall can go up to 36.6 watts but in general usage one can expect between 10 and 18 watts of power usage depending on load. The small, light plug-based 65W power supply is rated at and has a approximately 2 meters of cable.

Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
Power Consumption
-25%
Idle Minimum *
8.7
7.6
13%
Idle Average *
8.7
7.6
13%
Idle Maximum *
8.7
9.5
-9%
Load Average *
18.2
42.4
-133%
Load Maximum *
36.6
39
-7%

* ... smaller is better

Pros

+ compact build
+ flexible connectivity options
+ PCIe M.2 SSD port
+ low Noise

Cons

- throttling under extreme load
- no USB 3.1 Rev 2 / Thunderbolt

Verdict

Intel NUC 6i5SYH
Intel NUC 6i5SYH

The Intel NUC 6i5SYH with Intel Core i5 6260 and Intel Iris Graphics 540 doesn't look any different to the previous generation NUC 515RYH so it's all down to performance differences with the new model. While the Skylake CPU offers slightly better performance in our tests (5-10%) it's the GPU that's the biggest attraction. It offers a good range of PC gaming entertainment and impressive video rendering and conversion speed. We haven't tested a CAD or graphic design program but given the maximum 32 GB RAM there's definitely scope for some creativity here. Photographers will like the fast SD card slot and DisplayPort options and the PCIe SSD port allows the fastest speeds possible with a single SSD. Use the additional 2.5-inch SATA drive for video and photo storage and you've got quite the flexible workstation. 

The Intel NUC remains an interesting and flexible mini PC for those looking for something that is tweakable, portable and cute and our build of this Core i5 version offers some of the best performance you can expect. It's the perfect dorm-room PC and a neat, tidy and energy efficient office PC.

There's no consumer Infra Red port on the front of this NUC but then again it's not really targeted at the home theatre market. Those of you thinking about HEVC and 10-bit H.264 playback might want to take a closer look at the options to build a dedicated IR receiver lid though.

Heat isn't an issue and noise will only be a problem at under 1 meter although moving the unit further away than arms length reduces its ability to be an easy SD card and USB accessory hub. 

We haven't tested Linux on the Intel NUC 6i5SYH but BIOS options allow legacy booting. Support for the new GPU is probably the major issue with a Linux build.

Pricing is difficult to comment on given the wide range of options. A single 2GB RAM module and a boot-from-USB OS is the entry-level configuration but most will probably be looking to take advantage of the PCIe SSD interface and at least 8GB of RAM.  The Samsung SSD we're using here is a $200 module. Add the 8 GB of DDR4 and a Windows 10 license and you're looking at $350 on top of the $350 basic cost. At this level it gets difficult to justify a desktop unit with a non-upgradeable 2-core CPU and integrated graphics although it would be difficult to find something that competes on overall performance in this small size.

The Intel NUC remains an interesting and flexible mini PC for those looking for something that is tweakable, portable and cute and our build of this Core i5 version offers some of the best performance you can expect. It's the perfect dorm-room PC and a neat, tidy and energy efficient office PC.

Note: This review was written while using the NUC6i5SYH and no stability or performance issues were seen.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Intel NUC6i5SYH Mini PC Review
Steve Chippy Paine, 2016-05- 2 (Update: 2016-05- 4)