Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had the chance to have a play with the Intel NUC Kit NUC6i7KYK, also known by its street name, the Intel NUC Skull Canyon (“Skull Canyon”). I’m still very, very new to PC hardware and the nitty-gritty details when it comes to PC Gaming so please bear that in mind when reading this review.
The Skull Canyon is essentially a small, compact and portable PC, which packs a punch, as it comes with a 6th generation Intel Core i7 processor, Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580, dual channel DDR4-2133+ SODIMMs (to be honest I don’t really know what this means) and a whole lot more technically advanced features. The full specifications are as per below:
|Processor||6th generation Intel® Core™ i7-6770HQ processor with Intel® Iris™ Pro graphics (2.6 to 3.5 GHz Turbo, Quad Core, 6 MB Cache, 45W TDP)|
|Memory||Dual channel DDR4-2133+ SODIMMs
1.2/1.35V, 32 GB maximum
|Graphics||Intel® Iris™ Pro Graphics 580
1x HDMI* 2.0 (4K 60 Hz)
1x Mini DisplayPort* 1.2 (4K 60 Hz)
1x DisplayPort* 1.2 via Type-C
|Audio||Up to 7.1 multichannel digital audio via HDMI or DisplayPort signals
3.5mm front headset jack, 3.5mm rear speaker/TOSLINK combo jack
|Peripheral Connectivity||Thunderbolt™ 3 (40 Gbps) or USB 3.1 Gen2 (10 Gbps) via USB Type C connector
2x front USB 3.0 (one charging)
2x rear USB 3.0, 2x internal USB 3.0 and 2x internal USB 2.0 via header
Consumer infrared port on front panel
|Storage||2x M.2 22×42/80 (key M) slots for SATA3 or PCIe* X4 Gen3 NVMe or AHCI SSDs
SDXC slot with UHS-I support
|Networking||Intel® I219-LM 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet
Intel® Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 soldered-down, (IEEE 802.11ac 2×2, Bluetooth™ 4.2, internal antennas, Intel® Wireless Display 6.0)
|Enclosure||Metal and plastic with replaceable lid
Dimensions: 211 mm x 116 mm x 28 mm
|Power Adapter||19V, 120W AC-DC power adapter|
|Additional Features||Support for user-replaceable third party lids
OS certs: Microsoft Windows® 10, 8.1, 7 logo’d
OS compatibility: compatible with various Linux* distros
Kensington* lock with base security
|Included in the box||Intel® NUC Kit NUC6i7KYK integrated in enclosure:
The first thing that drew me in was the solid and impressive build of the Skull Canyon. I was so blown away that Intel managed to fit so many things into such a small space to provide a sleek, compact and portable powerhouse. For someone who’s always on the go, having a portable device such as the Skull Canyon would make mobile working so much easier. Furthermore, being someone who can’t handle mess, I love the fact that the device is so small that it can be mounted to the back of a monitor, leaving plenty of room on and around my desk.
For the past two decades, every PC I’ve used has taken a fair bit of time to load up and after about an hour of use, heats up, with the fan noise whirling so loudly that I sometimes worry that they’d explode. With the Skull Canyon, those paranoid fears were put to rest. The system booted up within seconds! That’s right seconds!!! What a change going from a hard drive to an SSD.
Not only that but I was able to work all day on the Skull Canyon and have it remain cool to lukewarm without any noise whatsoever. I never imagined being able to have a PC that worked so silently. It almost felt as if it wasn’t even there!
I was so impressed with the device that naturally, I had assumed it would be able to handle some hard core gaming as well. Sadly though, the Skull Canyon was unable to play graphically heavy games or even basic games such as Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm. When I attempted to play Middle Earth: Shadow of War, I found the pixelated graphics a bit of a turn off and attempted to play some Blizzard games instead as a test. To my surprise, even basic mobile games such as Hearthstone caused the system to hang and then crash. I suspect that this is due to the pre-installed Intel Iris Pro Graphics not being able to handle the games. Ideally, I should have tested the Skull Canyon with an external graphics card via the device’s Thunderbolt port. However, I don’t have an external graphics card on hand (remember, I’m so very new to PC Gaming that I don’t have these things lying around).
Due to the fact that I couldn’t game on the Skull Canyon, I was essentially restricted to testing it out as a basic computer, doing basic work. As a work/home PC, the Skull Canyon is absolutely fantastic, able to be carried anywhere and being relatively silent, allowing for mobile working anywhere and everywhere. I’d definitely be keen to test this portable, compact PC’s gaming capabilities should I be able to acquire an external graphics card. This might be on the cards in the future, but for now, the Intel Skull Canyon gets a 8.5/10 as a standard PC.