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Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK Review

Gaming on integrated graphics. Can the powerful Intel Iris Graphics 580 replace a mainstream Nvidia GPU for gaming? We pit the NUC against systems with integrated and dedicated graphics solutions to find out.

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Intel NUCs are small form factor PCs generally fit for low-power applications and - unlike other small form factor PCs from the likes of Gigabyte or others - include no options for dedicated graphics. Thus, we were a bit surprised that the NUC6i7KYK Skull Canyon SKU is being marketed as a machine for "intense game play". Most hardcore gamers tend to avoid integrated graphics like the plague when it comes to gaming machines. For mainstream gamers, however, can Skull Canyon really play the latest titles on decent settings?

The Core i7-6770HQ CPU and its integrated Iris Graphics 580 GPU are not commonly found in notebooks, so their benchmarks should prove interesting against the likes of mainstream Nvidia GPUs and other quad-core Skylake processors.

Skull Canyon is currently available for about $650 to $700 retail and is already several hundred dollars cheaper than dedicated gaming notebooks and within reach of a Surface Pro 4.

(June 21, 2016 update): Corrected page to reflect that the system does indeed support both RAID and NVMe options. Thanks to those who sent in the comments.

Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Processor
Graphics adapter
Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580, Core: 350 MHz, Memory: 1067 MHz, 20.19.15.4454
Memory
8192 MB 
, DDR4 PC4-17000, 1300 MHz, 15-15-15-36, Dual-Channel,
Mainboard
Intel HM170 (Skylake PCH-H)
Storage
Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB, 120 GB 
Soundcard
Intel Skylake PCH-H High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
4 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 USB 3.1 Gen2, 1 Thunderbolt, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Infrared, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm earphones, Toslink, Card Reader: SDXC w. UHS-I support
Networking
Intel Denverton SoC - Integrated 10 GbE Lan Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.2
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 27.9 x 211.1 x 116.1 ( = 1.1 x 8.31 x 4.57 in)
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
Additional features
Keyboard Light: no, User's Guide, Alternative top cover plate, VESA mount , 36 Months Warranty
Weight
623 g ( = 21.98 oz / 1.37 pounds), Power Supply: 402 g ( = 14.18 oz / 0.89 pounds)
Price
650 USD

 

Case

Build quality is firm all around with very minimal creaking when attempting to twist or bend the unit. Pushing down on the center of the top will depress it slightly, but not nearly enough to be worrisome. The underside is the only metal part of an otherwise all-plastic chassis. Fortunately, removing the top plastic plate reveals another metal plate protecting the motherboard, so very little space is wasted.

As for the size of the unit, the shape is now less cubic and more rectangular without necessarily increasing weight or volume compared to previous Intel NUCs like the NUC5i5RYH. This flatter approach can potentially allow the unit to fit into tighter spaces while giving users easier access to internals because of the wider surface.

Connectivity

There are a healthy number of ports despite the small size that rival even some 15-inch notebooks. The most notable is its USB Type-C + Thunderbolt 3 port for a theoretical transfer rate of 40 Gb/s. Most gaming notebooks still lack this very versatile port that can allow for a wider range of docking ports and the ability to daisy chain external monitors. 7.1 surround sound audio is supported through HDMI and mDP with TOSLINK on the rear. A native VGA port and MicroSD reader would have been excellent additions to the system.

Front: SDXC reader, 2x USB 3.0 (1x Sleep-and-Charge), 3.5 mm combo audio, Infrared receiver
Front: SDXC reader, 2x USB 3.0 (1x Sleep-and-Charge), 3.5 mm combo audio, Infrared receiver
Right: Kensington Lock
Right: Kensington Lock
Rear: AC power, Optical, Gigabit Ethernet, 2x USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, USB Type-C 3.1 + Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0
Rear: AC power, Optical, Gigabit Ethernet, 2x USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, USB Type-C 3.1 + Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0
Left: No connectivity
Left: No connectivity

Communication

WLAN is provided by a 2x2 Intel 8260 module capable of theoretical transfer rates of up to 867 Mbps. Bluetooth 4.2 is integrated and access to this WLAN module requires further disassembly of the unit since it is on the other side of the motherboard. We did not experience any connectivity issues during our time with the test unit. The infrared port is on the front of the unit for HTPC functionality.

Accessories

The core package includes a handy Quick Start guide, a size 2 Allen wrench for removing the top cover, a VESA mount with 8 screws, and an alternative second top cover that is identical to the existing cover but without the etched skull. Disassembly requires a Philips screwdriver as well.

BIOS GUI
BIOS GUI

Maintenance

The two SODIMM slots and M.2 slots are accessible from the bottom of the unit with a simple Philips screwdriver. The M.2 slots accept any combination of 2280 and 2242 modules. Direct access to the other side of the motherboard, however, is a bit more involved as one must disconnect the fan, unscrew additional screws on both sides of the unit, and desolder the power wire before the top metal plate can be removed. 

Warranty

Intel supports a 36-month limited warranty as standard with every new purchase of the system. This is two years longer than most notebooks and is certainly a plus compared to the competition.

Easy access to both DDR4 SODIMM slots and M.2 drives
Easy access to both DDR4 SODIMM slots and M.2 drives

Performance

As of this writing, the quad-core Core i7-6770HQ is found on no other notebook in our database. The reasoning is simple: The i7-6770HQ is identical in clock rates and Lx cache sizes to the i7-6700HQ that is available on almost every mainstream and enthusiast-level Skylake gaming notebook. Instead, the differences between the two processors lie in the integrated GPU as the i7-6770HQ carries the much more powerful Iris Pro Graphics 580 compared to the HD Graphics 530 in the i7-6700HQ. Notebooks that carry the i7-6700HQ are usually paired with powerful discrete GPU options and so the beefier iGPU in the i7-6770HQ is not needed.

Thus, the Iris Pro Graphics 580 GPU is what makes this particular NUC so special. It carries three times the number of unified shaders than the more common HD Graphics 530 (72 vs. 24) while integrating dedicated eDRAM for faster memory access. These two core features separate the Iris Graphics series from the typical HD Graphics series.

 

Processor

CineBench scores show the i7-6770HQ to be essentially identical to the i7-6700HQ. This alone is impressive considering that the NUC is just a fraction of the size of gaming notebooks that carry the i7-6700HQ as an option. Unsurprisingly, our system trounces older Intel NUCs that run on ULV dual-core Skylake and Broadwell processors by well over 2x in multi-threaded applications. The desktop-class i7-6700K is roughly 20 percent faster than the i7-6770HQ with its significantly higher TDP requirements (45 W vs. 91 W).

See our dedicated CPU page on the Core i7-6770HQ and i7-6700HQ for more technical details and comparisons.

CineBench R10 32-bit
CineBench R10 32-bit
CineBench R11.5 64-bit
CineBench R11.5 64-bit
CineBench R15
CineBench R15
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
139 Points ∼62%
DogHouse Systems Mobius SS
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700K, Samsung SSD 850 EVO 1TB
166 Points ∼74% +19%
MSI GE62 2QC-468XPL
GeForce GTX 960M, 5700HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
144 Points ∼65% +4%
EVGA SC17
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK, Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB m.2 NVMe
136 Points ∼61% -2%
Asus Strix GL502VT-DS74
GeForce GTX 970M, 6700HQ, Lite-On CV1-8B128
145 Points ∼65% +4%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
GeForce GTX 860M, 4700HQ, Western Digital WD10S21X SSHD 1TB + 8GB SSD-Cache
125 Points ∼56% -10%
Razer Blade Stealth
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
115 Points ∼52% -17%
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
117 Points ∼52% -16%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
108 Points ∼48% -22%
Intel NUC5i3RYK
HD Graphics 5500, 5010U, Intel SSDSCKHW360A4 SSD 530 360 GB
84 Points ∼38% -40%
Intel NUC Kit DN2820FYKH
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2820, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC256D/EU
39 Points ∼17% -72%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
711 Points ∼38%
DogHouse Systems Mobius SS
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700K, Samsung SSD 850 EVO 1TB
865 Points ∼47% +22%
MSI GE62 2QC-468XPL
GeForce GTX 960M, 5700HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
719 Points ∼39% +1%
EVGA SC17
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK, Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB m.2 NVMe
710 Points ∼38% 0%
Asus Strix GL502VT-DS74
GeForce GTX 970M, 6700HQ, Lite-On CV1-8B128
670 Points ∼36% -6%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
GeForce GTX 860M, 4700HQ, Western Digital WD10S21X SSHD 1TB + 8GB SSD-Cache
490 Points ∼26% -31%
Razer Blade Stealth
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
293 Points ∼16% -59%
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
298 Points ∼16% -58%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
261 Points ∼14% -63%
Intel NUC5i3RYK
HD Graphics 5500, 5010U, Intel SSDSCKHW360A4 SSD 530 360 GB
220 Points ∼12% -69%
Intel NUC Kit DN2820FYKH
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2820, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC256D/EU
71 Points ∼4% -90%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
1.66 Points ∼75%
DogHouse Systems Mobius SS
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700K, Samsung SSD 850 EVO 1TB
1.91 Points ∼87% +15%
MSI GE62 2QC-468XPL
GeForce GTX 960M, 5700HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
1.68 Points ∼76% +1%
EVGA SC17
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK, Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB m.2 NVMe
1.75 Points ∼80% +5%
Asus Strix GL502VT-DS74
GeForce GTX 970M, 6700HQ, Lite-On CV1-8B128
1.68 Points ∼76% +1%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
GeForce GTX 860M, 4700HQ, Western Digital WD10S21X SSHD 1TB + 8GB SSD-Cache
1.46 Points ∼66% -12%
Razer Blade Stealth
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
1.33 Points ∼60% -20%
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
1.33 Points ∼60% -20%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
1.28 Points ∼58% -23%
Intel NUC Kit DN2820FYKH
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2820, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC256D/EU
0.43 Points ∼20% -74%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
7.76 Points ∼39%
DogHouse Systems Mobius SS
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700K, Samsung SSD 850 EVO 1TB
9.56 Points ∼48% +23%
MSI GE62 2QC-468XPL
GeForce GTX 960M, 5700HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
7.96 Points ∼40% +3%
EVGA SC17
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK, Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB m.2 NVMe
7.72 Points ∼39% -1%
Asus Strix GL502VT-DS74
GeForce GTX 970M, 6700HQ, Lite-On CV1-8B128
7.43 Points ∼37% -4%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
GeForce GTX 860M, 4700HQ, Western Digital WD10S21X SSHD 1TB + 8GB SSD-Cache
5.29 Points ∼26% -32%
Razer Blade Stealth
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
3.42 Points ∼17% -56%
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
3.26 Points ∼16% -58%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
2.86 Points ∼14% -63%
Intel NUC Kit DN2820FYKH
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2820, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC256D/EU
0.87 Points ∼4% -89%
Cinebench R10
Rendering Single 32Bit (sort by value)
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
5536 Points ∼72%
DogHouse Systems Mobius SS
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700K, Samsung SSD 850 EVO 1TB
6487 Points ∼85% +17%
MSI GE62 2QC-468XPL
GeForce GTX 960M, 5700HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
5567 Points ∼73% +1%
EVGA SC17
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK, Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB m.2 NVMe
5697 Points ∼74% +3%
Asus Strix GL502VT-DS74
GeForce GTX 970M, 6700HQ, Lite-On CV1-8B128
5364 Points ∼70% -3%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
GeForce GTX 860M, 4700HQ, Western Digital WD10S21X SSHD 1TB + 8GB SSD-Cache
4999 Points ∼65% -10%
Razer Blade Stealth
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
4816 Points ∼63% -13%
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
4481 Points ∼59% -19%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
4143 Points ∼54% -25%
Intel NUC Kit DN2820FYKH
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2820, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC256D/EU
1222 Points ∼16% -78%
Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit (sort by value)
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
21075 Points ∼52%
DogHouse Systems Mobius SS
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700K, Samsung SSD 850 EVO 1TB
26150 Points ∼65% +24%
MSI GE62 2QC-468XPL
GeForce GTX 960M, 5700HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
21681 Points ∼54% +3%
EVGA SC17
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK, Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB m.2 NVMe
21335 Points ∼53% +1%
Asus Strix GL502VT-DS74
GeForce GTX 970M, 6700HQ, Lite-On CV1-8B128
20386 Points ∼50% -3%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
GeForce GTX 860M, 4700HQ, Western Digital WD10S21X SSHD 1TB + 8GB SSD-Cache
14329 Points ∼35% -32%
Razer Blade Stealth
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
10347 Points ∼26% -51%
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
9949 Points ∼25% -53%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
8755 Points ∼22% -58%
Intel NUC Kit DN2820FYKH
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2820, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC256D/EU
2385 Points ∼6% -89%
wPrime 2.0x - 1024m (sort by value)
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
225.673 s * ∼3%
DogHouse Systems Mobius SS
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700K, Samsung SSD 850 EVO 1TB
178.464 s * ∼2% +21%
MSI GE62 2QC-468XPL
GeForce GTX 960M, 5700HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
206.294 s * ∼2% +9%
EVGA SC17
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK, Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB m.2 NVMe
224.823 s * ∼3% -0%
Asus Strix GL502VT-DS74
GeForce GTX 970M, 6700HQ, Lite-On CV1-8B128
232.117 s * ∼3% -3%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
GeForce GTX 860M, 4700HQ, Western Digital WD10S21X SSHD 1TB + 8GB SSD-Cache
323 s * ∼4% -43%
Razer Blade Stealth
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
481.807 s * ∼6% -113%
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
558 s * ∼7% -147%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
620 s * ∼7% -175%
Intel NUC5i3RYK
HD Graphics 5500, 5010U, Intel SSDSCKHW360A4 SSD 530 360 GB
731.5 s * ∼9% -224%
Intel NUC Kit DN2820FYKH
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2820, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC256D/EU
1543 s * ∼18% -584%
Super Pi Mod 1.5 XS 32M - --- (sort by value)
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
538.979 Seconds * ∼2%
DogHouse Systems Mobius SS
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700K, Samsung SSD 850 EVO 1TB
498.33 Seconds * ∼2% +8%
MSI GE62 2QC-468XPL
GeForce GTX 960M, 5700HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
573.691 Seconds * ∼3% -6%
EVGA SC17
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK, Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB m.2 NVMe
569.047 Seconds * ∼3% -6%
Asus Strix GL502VT-DS74
GeForce GTX 970M, 6700HQ, Lite-On CV1-8B128
559.276 Seconds * ∼2% -4%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
GeForce GTX 860M, 4700HQ, Western Digital WD10S21X SSHD 1TB + 8GB SSD-Cache
569.349 Seconds * ∼3% -6%
Razer Blade Stealth
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
675.153 Seconds * ∼3% -25%
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
660 Seconds * ∼3% -22%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
733 Seconds * ∼3% -36%
Intel NUC5i3RYK
HD Graphics 5500, 5010U, Intel SSDSCKHW360A4 SSD 530 360 GB
898 Seconds * ∼4% -67%
Intel NUC Kit DN2820FYKH
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2820, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC256D/EU
1696 Seconds * ∼8% -215%

* ... smaller is better

Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
11355
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
21075
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
5536
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
63.04 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
7.76 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.66 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
97.8 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
85.11 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
711 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
139 Points
Help

System Performance

PCMark 8 ranks the Intel ahead of other NUCs and most notebooks running on integrated graphics since the Iris Graphics 580 gives our system a sizable boost in graphics power. Final scores are even ahead of both the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book Core i7 SKUs.

We did not run into any hardware or software issues during our time with the test unit. We did, however, have to update our GPU to the latest version at the time of review (20.19.15.4454) in order to properly benchmark games without constant crashes.

PCMark 8 Home Accelerated
PCMark 8 Home Accelerated
PCMark 8 Creative Accelerated
PCMark 8 Creative Accelerated
PCMark 8 Work Accelerated
PCMark 8 Work Accelerated
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
4966 Points ∼76%
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
4588 Points ∼70% -8%
HP Spectre 13
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZVLV256
4498 Points ∼69% -9%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
Iris Graphics 540, 6650U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
4052 Points ∼62% -18%
Intel NUC5i5RYK
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
4063 Points ∼62% -18%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6600U, Samsung MZFLV512 NVMe
3782 Points ∼58% -24%
Dell XPS 13 9350 WQXGA
Iris Graphics 540, 6560U, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
3438 Points ∼53% -31%
Lenovo Yoga 900-13ISK 80MK
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
3863 Points ∼59% -22%
Creative Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
5581 Points ∼60%
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
4395 Points ∼47% -21%
HP Spectre 13
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZVLV256
4222 Points ∼45% -24%
Intel NUC5i7RYH
Iris Graphics 6100, 5557U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
4394 Points ∼47% -21%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
Iris Graphics 540, 6650U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
4431 Points ∼48% -21%
Intel NUC5i5RYK
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
3114 Points ∼33% -44%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6600U, Samsung MZFLV512 NVMe
3755 Points ∼40% -33%
Dell XPS 13 9350 WQXGA
Iris Graphics 540, 6560U, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
4470 Points ∼48% -20%
Lenovo Yoga 900-13ISK 80MK
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
3709 Points ∼40% -34%
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
4323 Points ∼72%
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
3667 Points ∼61% -15%
HP Spectre 13
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZVLV256
3549 Points ∼59% -18%
Intel NUC5i7RYH
Iris Graphics 6100, 5557U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
3417 Points ∼57% -21%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
Iris Graphics 540, 6650U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
3394 Points ∼57% -21%
Intel NUC5i5RYK
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
3081 Points ∼52% -29%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6600U, Samsung MZFLV512 NVMe
2947 Points ∼49% -32%
Dell XPS 13 9350 WQXGA
Iris Graphics 540, 6560U, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
2928 Points ∼49% -32%
Lenovo Yoga 900-13ISK 80MK
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
2837 Points ∼47% -34%
Intel NUC Kit DN2820FYKH
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2820, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC256D/EU
1169 Points ∼20% -73%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
4323 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
5581 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
4966 points
Help

Storage Devices

Owners will need to rely on one or two internal M.2 drives for all their content or resort to external storage for additional space. Both RAID 0/1 and NVMe SSDs are supported. Our test model is equipped with a single SATA III 120 GB Samsung SSD 850 EVO M.2 SSD.

Performance from the Samsung SSD is very good for a drive limited by its controller. Sequential read and write rates cap out at about 500 MB/s as expected whereas the SSDs in the Intel NUC6i5SYH and Microsoft Surface Book return much faster average transfer rates due to their NVMe speeds.

See our growing table of SSD and HDD benchmarks for more comparisons.

Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
Intel NUC5i3RYK
HD Graphics 5500, 5010U, Intel SSDSCKHW360A4 SSD 530 360 GB
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6600U, Samsung MZFLV512 NVMe
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
HD Graphics 520, 6300U, Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe
AS SSD
23%
-112%
108%
-4%
Copy Game MB/s
295.84
389
31%
105.58
-64%
Copy Program MB/s
213.05
273
28%
63.52
-70%
Copy ISO MB/s
357.98
518
45%
121.9
-66%
Score Total
919
1191
30%
505
-45%
2298
150%
1190
29%
Score Write
268
334
25%
113
-58%
683
155%
239
-11%
Score Read
424
578
36%
263
-38%
1090
157%
645
52%
Access Time Write *
0.047
0.064
-36%
0.31
-560%
0.033
30%
0.037
21%
Access Time Read *
0.075
0.1
-33%
0.26
-247%
0.048
36%
0.079
-5%
4K-64 Write
145.21
208
43%
78
-46%
519.93
258%
138.54
-5%
4K-64 Read
337.36
439
30%
198
-41%
918.9
172%
528.04
57%
4K Write
76.89
58.6
-24%
14.1
-82%
108.98
42%
86.52
13%
4K Read
35.55
26.4
-26%
19.4
-45%
37.25
5%
34.24
-4%
Seq Write
460.41
672
46%
213
-54%
544.81
18%
142.52
-69%
Seq Read
507.5
1127
122%
452
-11%
1341.58
164%
831.78
64%

* ... smaller is better

AS SSD
AS SSD
CDM
CDM
PCMark 8 Storage
PCMark 8 Storage
Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
Sequential Read: 487.6 MB/s
Sequential Write: 442.7 MB/s
512K Read: 420.1 MB/s
512K Write: 379.8 MB/s
4K Read: 38.67 MB/s
4K Write: 87.82 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 375.9 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 309.5 MB/s

GPU Performance

The Core i7-6770HQ carries one of the fastest integrated GPUs available. Raw performance according to 3DMark benchmarks place it roughly 10 percent ahead of the Iris Graphics 6200 for the desktop Core i7-5775C and about on par with the semi-custom GT 940M in the Microsoft Surface Book at higher resolution settings. Nonetheless, a standard GTX 950M is still significantly ahead of our Skull Canyon system by almost 90 percent according to 3DMark Fire Strike.

3DMark 11
3DMark 11
Ice Storm Unlimited
Ice Storm Unlimited
Ice Storm Extreme
Ice Storm Extreme
Cloud Gate
Cloud Gate
Fire Strike
Fire Strike
Fire Strike Extreme
Fire Strike Extreme
3DMark 11
1280x720 Performance Combined (sort by value)
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
2784 Points ∼17%
MSI GL72 6QF
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung SSD 950 Pro 256GB m.2 NVMe
5861 Points ∼37% +111%
MSI PE60 2QD
GeForce GTX 950M, 6700HQ, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630
4507 Points ∼28% +62%
Core i7-5775C Desktop
Iris Pro Graphics 6200, 5775C
2715 Points ∼17% -2%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6300U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
2580 Points ∼16% -7%
Acer Aspire V3-372-57CW
Iris Graphics 550, 6267U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
2387 Points ∼15% -14%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
Iris Graphics 540, 6650U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
2255 Points ∼14% -19%
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
2198 Points ∼14% -21%
Intel NUC5i7RYH
Iris Graphics 6100, 5557U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
1395 Points ∼9% -50%
HP Spectre 13
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZVLV256
1455 Points ∼9% -48%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
1198 Points ∼7% -57%
1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
3220 Points ∼6%
MSI GL72 6QF
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung SSD 950 Pro 256GB m.2 NVMe
5825 Points ∼11% +81%
MSI PE60 2QD
GeForce GTX 950M, 6700HQ, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630
4258 Points ∼8% +32%
Core i7-5775C Desktop
Iris Pro Graphics 6200, 5775C
2766 Points ∼5% -14%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6300U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
2548 Points ∼5% -21%
Acer Aspire V3-372-57CW
Iris Graphics 550, 6267U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
2524 Points ∼5% -22%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
Iris Graphics 540, 6650U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
2450 Points ∼5% -24%
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
2322 Points ∼5% -28%
Intel NUC5i7RYH
Iris Graphics 6100, 5557U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
1765 Points ∼3% -45%
HP Spectre 13
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZVLV256
1487 Points ∼3% -54%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
1458 Points ∼3% -55%
3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics (sort by value)
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
1903 Points ∼5%
MSI GL72 6QF
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung SSD 950 Pro 256GB m.2 NVMe
4705 Points ∼12% +147%
MSI PE60 2QD
GeForce GTX 950M, 6700HQ, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630
3591 Points ∼9% +89%
Core i7-5775C Desktop
Iris Pro Graphics 6200, 5775C
1704 Points ∼4% -10%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6300U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
2031 Points ∼5% +7%
Acer Aspire V3-372-57CW
Iris Graphics 550, 6267U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
1520 Points ∼4% -20%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
Iris Graphics 540, 6650U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
1477 Points ∼4% -22%
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
1479 Points ∼4% -22%
HP Spectre 13
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZVLV256
919 Points ∼2% -52%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
1033 Points ∼3% -46%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics (sort by value)
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
14594 Points ∼9%
MSI GL72 6QF
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung SSD 950 Pro 256GB m.2 NVMe
33474 Points ∼20% +129%
MSI PE60 2QD
GeForce GTX 950M, 6700HQ, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630
25091 Points ∼15% +72%
Core i7-5775C Desktop
Iris Pro Graphics 6200, 5775C
15361 Points ∼9% +5%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6300U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
11340 Points ∼7% -22%
Acer Aspire V3-372-57CW
Iris Graphics 550, 6267U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
12812 Points ∼8% -12%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
Iris Graphics 540, 6650U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
11650 Points ∼7% -20%
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
11893 Points ∼7% -19%
Intel NUC5i7RYH
Iris Graphics 6100, 5557U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
8199 Points ∼5% -44%
HP Spectre 13
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZVLV256
7786 Points ∼5% -47%
Intel NUC5i5RYH
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, OCZ Vector 150 240 GB
8102 Points ∼5% -44%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Graphics (sort by value)
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
98218 Points ∼26%
MSI GL72 6QF
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung SSD 950 Pro 256GB m.2 NVMe
123794 Points ∼32% +26%
Core i7-5775C Desktop
Iris Pro Graphics 6200, 5775C
100535 Points ∼26% +2%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6300U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
15597 Points ∼4% -84%
Acer Aspire V3-372-57CW
Iris Graphics 550, 6267U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
82506 Points ∼21% -16%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
Iris Graphics 540, 6650U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
68398 Points ∼18% -30%
Intel NUC5i7RYH
Iris Graphics 6100, 5557U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
50131 Points ∼13% -49%
HP Spectre 13
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZVLV256
46151 Points ∼12% -53%
3DMark 11 Performance
3510 points
3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score
99287 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
11346 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
1836 points
3DMark Fire Strike Extreme Score
823 points
Help

Gaming Performance

With raw performance somewhat comparable to a GT 940M, the Iris Graphics 580 is generally unable to play most games in 1080p at high quality settings. Users will have to settle for 1080p on low settings or 720p on medium settings for decent frame rates on modern 3D titles. Newer and more demanding titles like Rise of the Tomb Raider are essentially unplayable on anything but lower resolutions and settings. RTS players, however, can enjoy the fact that titles like DOTA 2 and Starcraft 2 will play well on higher graphical settings while maintaining averages above 30 FPS.

Note that certain titles would not launch at all even after upgrading the graphics driver. We tried running Batman Arkham Knight and Doom, but both would crash immediately before even hitting their splash screens.

See our dedicated GPU page on the Iris Graphics 580 for more technical information and benchmark comparisons.

BioShock Infinite
1920x1080 Ultra Preset, DX11 (DDOF)
Acer Aspire V Nitro 7-791G-70TW
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3256GD
44.8 fps ∼100% +201%
Asus N752VX-GC131T
GeForce GTX 950M, 6700HQ, Lite-On CV1-8B256
27.29 fps ∼61% +83%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6300U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
20.8 fps ∼46% +40%
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
14.9 fps ∼33%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
Iris Graphics 540, 6650U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
11.5 fps ∼26% -23%
Acer Aspire V3-372-57CW
Iris Graphics 550, 6267U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
11.4 fps ∼25% -23%
Acer TravelMate P648-M-757N
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Lite-On CV1-8B256
6.7 fps ∼15% -55%
Fujitsu LifeBook E554
HD Graphics 4600, 4210M, Samsung SSD PM851 128 GB MZ7TE128HMGR
5.3 fps ∼12% -64%
1366x768 High Preset
Acer Aspire V Nitro 7-791G-70TW
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3256GD
115.7 fps ∼100% +127%
Asus N752VX-GC131T
GeForce GTX 950M, 6700HQ, Lite-On CV1-8B256
59.43 fps ∼51% +17%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6300U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
56.5 fps ∼49% +11%
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
51 fps ∼44%
Acer Aspire V3-372-57CW
Iris Graphics 550, 6267U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
43.3 fps ∼37% -15%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
Iris Graphics 540, 6650U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
41.2 fps ∼36% -19%
Acer TravelMate P648-M-757N
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Lite-On CV1-8B256
22.2 fps ∼19% -56%
Fujitsu LifeBook E554
HD Graphics 4600, 4210M, Samsung SSD PM851 128 GB MZ7TE128HMGR
16.1 fps ∼14% -68%
1366x768 Medium Preset
Acer Aspire V Nitro 7-791G-70TW
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3256GD
131.3 fps ∼100% +127%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6300U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
64.8 fps ∼49% +12%
Asus N752VX-GC131T
GeForce GTX 950M, 6700HQ, Lite-On CV1-8B256
64.79 fps ∼49% +12%
Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
57.9 fps ∼44%
Acer Aspire V3-372-57CW
Iris Graphics 550, 6267U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
50.9 fps ∼39% -12%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
Iris Graphics 540, 6650U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
49.1 fps ∼37% -15%
Acer TravelMate P648-M-757N
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Lite-On CV1-8B256
26 fps ∼20% -55%
Fujitsu LifeBook E554
HD Graphics 4600, 4210M, Samsung SSD PM851 128 GB MZ7TE128HMGR
19.6 fps ∼15% -66%
low med. high ultra
Sleeping Dogs (2012) 107.281.237.38.8fps
Guild Wars 2 (2012) 115.838.716.7fps
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (2013) 380.6127.173.636.2fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 101.357.95114.9fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 63.750.828.514.3fps
Thief (2014) 43.830.12512.4fps
Metal Gear Solid V (2015) 59.958.62314.9fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) 30.218.212.28.9fps
Overwatch (2016) 60.553.342.923.1fps

Stress Test

Skull Canyon performs very well when under extreme stress, but it's obvious that the cooling system is just barely enough to keep the hardware afloat at such high processing loads. Running Prime95 will launch core temperature to 99 C before stabilizing in the mid-to-upper 90 C range. Clock rates are stable at the 3.0 to 3.1 GHz rated maximum for multi-threaded processes, but the system is hanging by a thread in order to maintain such high speeds. Running only FurMark will bump core temperature to a stable 85 C.

Running both Prime95 and FurMark simultaneously brings the system down to its knees. When core temperature reaches 101 C, the CPU and GPU will throttle to a stable 1.4 GHz and 350 to 800 MHz range, respectively. Core temperature then plateaus in the mid 80 C range instead of the high 90s as a conservative action.

Fortunately, no such throttling occurs when under gaming loads. The system remains stable with its fluctuating CPU Turbo Boost and stable 950 MHz GPU when running Unigine Heaven. Core temperature is stable in the 80 to 90 C range, but this is still much warmer than what we would have liked. Gaming notebooks with the Core i7-6700HQ tend to stabilize in the 65 to 75 C range when running the same benchmark.

Prime95 stress
Prime95 stress
FurMark stress
FurMark stress
Prime95+FurMark stress
Prime95+FurMark stress
Unigine Heaven stress
Unigine Heaven stress

CPU Clock (GHz) GPU Clock (MHz) Average CPU Temperature (C)

Prime95 Stress

3.0 - 3.1 -- ~97

FurMark Stress

-- 800 ~85

Prime95 + FurMark Stress

1.4 350 - 800 ~84

Unigine Heaven Stress

2.6+ 950 ~80

Emissions

System Noise

(White: Background, Red: System idle, Blue: Unigine Heaven, Green: Prime95)
(White: Background, Red: System idle, Blue: Unigine Heaven, Green: Prime95)

The cooling system consists of a single 40 mm fan and heat pipe. Notebooks sporting the comparable Core i7-6700HQ usually carry larger 50 mm fans with longer heat pipes in comparison. The relatively tiny cooling apparatus for this particular NUC explains why our stress test temperatures above plateau at such high levels.

Subsequently, it's unsurprising that the fan never idles even when simply sitting on the desktop screen. Fan noise remains quiet in the low 30 dB(A) range when browsing, word processing, or during movie playback. Gaming, however, will bump fan noise to a stable 43 dB(A). This is loud and comparable to many high-end gaming notebooks with dedicated Nvidia GPUs.

Stressing the system even further with Prime95 and FurMark simultaneously will not result in higher fan noise due to system throttling. Running Prime95 only, however, will bump fan noise to an even louder 46 dB(A).

Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
Intel NUC6i5SYH
Iris Graphics 540, 6260U, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
Acer TravelMate P648-M-757N
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Lite-On CV1-8B256
Acer Aspire V3-372-57CW
Iris Graphics 550, 6267U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
Iris Graphics 540, 6650U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
Asus G501VW-FY081T
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung CM871 MZNLF128HCHP
Noise
3%
11%
5%
8%
-1%
Idle Minimum *
31.6
33
-4%
31.2
1%
29.1
8%
28.4
10%
32.1
-2%
Idle Average *
32.2
33
-2%
31.2
3%
29.1
10%
28.6
11%
32.1
-0%
Idle Maximum *
32.3
33
-2%
31.6
2%
29.1
10%
28.7
11%
32.1
1%
Load Average *
43
33
23%
33.3
23%
41.1
4%
40.8
5%
43.3
-1%
Load Maximum *
43.2
42.7
1%
32.4
25%
46.4
-7%
41.4
4%
44.3
-3%

* ... smaller is better

Noise Level

Idle
31.6 / 32.2 / 32.3 dB(A)
Load
43 / 43.2 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   BK Precision 732A (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 29.5 dB(A)

Temperature

Surface temperatures are warmest on the side of the unit closest to the fan and heat sink. We were able to record a maximum of about 45 C when under Prime95 and FurMark stress, so the system is never uncomfortably warm during use.

Maximum load (Top)
Maximum load (Top)
Maximum load (Bottom)
Maximum load (Bottom)
Max. Load
 28.4 °C35.8 °C41.2 °C 
 27.6 °C35 °C35.6 °C 
 26.4 °C33.2 °C31.6 °C 
Maximum: 41.2 °C
Average: 32.8 °C
44.4 °C36 °C29.2 °C
38 °C34.4 °C30.2 °C
34.6 °C33 °C28.4 °C
Maximum: 44.4 °C
Average: 34.2 °C
Room Temperature 20 °C | Fluke 62 Mini IR Thermometer

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The Skull Canyon NUC demands more power than notebooks with ULV CPUs both when idling and when under gaming loads. Users can expect a power draw of just over 60 W when gaming on the system compared to about 40 W on ULV notebooks, 20 W on the Surface Pro 4, and 80 W on the Asus G501 under similar loads. Note that power demand drops to just under 50 W when running both Prime95 and FurMark since the system will throttle once core temperature reaches triple digits.

The power adapter itself is about half the size of the actual system (16 x 7.5 x 2.5 cm) with a rated output of 120 W. The power overhead here is sufficient, so it is clear that the system throttling is due to core temperature concerns and not a lack of power from the adapter.

Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK
Iris Pro Graphics 580, 6770HQ, Samsung SSD 850 EVO m.2 120GB
Acer TravelMate P648-M-757N
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Lite-On CV1-8B256
Acer Aspire V3-372-57CW
Iris Graphics 550, 6267U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
HD Graphics 520, 6300U, Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe
Asus G501VW-FY081T
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung CM871 MZNLF128HCHP
Power Consumption
43%
44%
55%
-5%
Idle Minimum *
14.8
5.3
64%
3.4
77%
4.4
70%
6.9
53%
Idle Average *
15.7
9.3
41%
6.5
59%
9
43%
10.7
32%
Idle Maximum *
15.8
11.5
27%
7
56%
10.7
32%
13.2
16%
Load Average *
62.7
30.8
51%
44.5
29%
19.6
69%
82
-31%
Load Maximum *
48.5
32
34%
49.5
-2%
19.9
59%
94
-94%

* ... smaller is better

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.67 / 0.97 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 14.8 / 15.7 / 15.8 Watt
Load midlight 62.7 / 48.5 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy

Pro

+ easy access to 2x SODIMM slots and 2x M.2 slots
+ plenty of ports; USB Type-C + Thunderbolt
+ very fast CPU performance
+ NVMe or RAID options
+ small and compact
+ good build quality
+ DDR4 RAM
+ IR sensor

Cons

- very high core temperature when gaming or under extreme loads
- not powerful enough for a dedicated gaming machine
- loud fan noise when gaming
- no internal 2.5-inch support

Verdict

In review: Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK. Test model provided by Intel.
In review: Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK. Test model provided by Intel.

With marketing words like "Mini PC. Full-sized performance" used for the Skull Canyon NUC, buyers might get the wrong idea about the system. Its CPU power is indeed very impressive and as powerful as gaming notebooks worth twice the price of the NUC. Its GPU horsepower, however, is comparable to a GeForce 940M, which is only powerful enough for undemanding mainstream titles like LoL or Overwatch and generally insufficient for heavier titles where some may not even launch at all.

Other than its lukewarm gaming capabilities, core temperature is generally warmer than notebooks with the comparable Core i7-6700HQ while running just as loudly when under gaming loads. The size of the NUC is a major factor here, but we're still impressed that CPU Turbo Boost remains stable and with no throttling when gaming. Connectivity options are another notable plus for the system for multimedia and HTPC use. The USB Type-C + Thunderbolt 3 port in particular should give the system long legs due to its versatility.

Skull Canyon is not so much a dedicated gaming machine as it is a versatile mini PC with more CPU and GPU power than most pricier Ultrabooks currently in the market.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK Review
Allen Ngo, 2016-06-14 (Update: 2016-09-27)
Allen Ngo

Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.