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According to PC Gamer
Intel’s announcement of a partnership with AMD to produce a single CPU package with integrated Vega graphics made waves in late 2017. Even with the final Hades Canyon NUC in my hands, I’m still surprised this ever happened. Hell may not be frozen over, but temperatures have certainly dipped. It’s like finding the fabled unicorn grazing in your backyard.
More critically, while gamers are always hungry for the best graphical performance, Intel has been working to improve its integrated graphics offerings for several years. Teaming up with AMD feels like a slap in the face to the engineers working on Intel’s Iris Graphics solutions.
Yet here we are, and we’re all curious to see what the new processors can do. Intel has five Kaby Lake-G parts, all of which are the same other than clockspeeds, power levels, and the number of compute units that are enabled in the GPU. That means you get a 4-core/8-thread CPU paired with either an RX Vega M GH (for Graphics High, 24 CUs) or RX Vega M GL (Graphics Low, 20 CUs). Intel’s HD Graphics 630 is also available, should the system builder choose to use it.
That brings me to today’s testing, with a chip mostly built for laptops sitting in a NUC—Intel’s Next Unit of Computing, the diminutive form factor the company created back in 2013. Apple’s future MacBook Pro looks like a prime candidate for using Kaby Lake-G when it gets announced, and Apple was a major reason for Intel’s Iris Graphics in the first place. With rumors of Apple planning to move to its own in-house processor designs, however, this could be a short-lived relationship. Dell and HP have also announced laptops with KBL-G processors.
Intel’s NUC serves as something of a proof of concept, showing what we can expect from the new processors. NUCs are built off mobile solutions, but they’re less complex than an actual laptop since they don’t need to run from battery. A few extra watts of power use on a system that’s plugged in doesn’t matter much, but with a laptop it could mean the difference between nine hours of battery life and four hours of mobility. In a sense, the NUC should give us the maximum level of performance we can expect from laptops that use the same processor.
I admit that the Hades Canyon NUC is pretty cool, with Intel’s lit up skull icon on the top. (You can change the color of the skull, eyes, and power button, or turn the lighting off if you want something a bit less conspicuous.) Then you get to the price: $910 is what Intel recommends for the i7-8809G, with the barebones NUC typically going for over $1,000. The i7-8705G model NUC is more palatable at $749 but loses a chunk of graphics muscle. Either way, you still need to add your own memory and storage to get a working system. That’s almost the equivalent of a decent gaming notebook, without the display, keyboard, and battery. But assuming you’re okay with the cost, let’s talk about what you get.
The NUC8i7HVK packs a whopping six 4K-capable outputs into the form factor, coming via two Thunderbolt 3 ports (USB Type-C), two mini-DP 1.2 ports, and two HDMI 2.0a ports. Beyond those, you also get five USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports, one each USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A and Type-C, an SDXC reader, audio output for speakers or TOSLINK, another audio port for headsets or additional speakers, two gigabit Ethernet ports, and infrared support…
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