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Intel Skull Canyon NUC NUC6i7KYK Mini PC Review

By: Steven Bassiri | SFF PCs in Computer Systems | Posted: Jun 8, 2016 1:15 pm
TweakTown Rating: 93%Manufacturer: Intel

The Teardown

 

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To install your storage and memory, you must remove the bottom of the NUC by unscrewing four Phillips head screws. You won't lose them as they are designed to stay attached to the lid even when it is removed. While the blower fan is clearly visible from the bottom of the device, the copper part of the device and SoC are hidden, and it was tough to remove the PCB from the metal frame.

 

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The BIOS security jumper does quite a bit when it comes to locking down the device. In the default position, it allows the system to operate normally. With the jumper moved to the last and center pin BIOS access and the Power Button menu (a special menu to reset the device or perform other tasks) is locked down. If the jumper is removed, the device goes into a failsafe mode to find and update the BIOS from a file on a USB drive. There is no real way to clear the CMOS easily, but you can unplug the CMOS battery and plug it back in, and that would clear it. The mounting of the heat sink on the CPU/iGPU SoC is quite good, and Intel used enough thermal paste.

 

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Cleaning up the SoC reveals the bare dies, from what I can gather the second smaller die is the eDRAM for the Iris Pro 580 graphics. The 6770HQ's Iris Pro 580 has 128MB of eDRAM (22nm), but instead of the eDRAM acting like L4 cache as it did on Iris Pro 6200 graphics (i7-5775C), it instead serves as system memory which should allow better graphics performance. Some of the power delivery can also be found on either side of the SoC. Two Richtek RT3606BC (dual output integrated PWMs) control six Fairchild Semiconductor FDMS3660S (highly integrated dual N-Channel PowerTrench MOSFETs) that provides the multiple power rails for the CPU and iGP on the 6770HQ SoC.

 

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The IO of the device is well equipped and is provided by the H170 chipset. In fact, this little device requires 15 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, and a variety of other connections to support all of its features. Much of the connectivity is directly routed to the PCH, and there are no hubs or switches. A single Winbond 64Mbit BIOS ROM is located nearby.

 

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The 2x2 wireless AC (867Mbps) and Bluetooth 4.2 originate from the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 Controller. Intel is using the workstation/server grade i219LM over the i219V for Gbit LAN.

 

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Intel is using their DSL6340 "Alpine Ridge" Thunderbolt3/USB 3.1 controller for the Type-C port on the back. For proper Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.1/Type-C connector support, Intel is using a Texas Instruments TPS65982, which is a Type-C/USB Power Delivery controller. The controller can support up to 20V at 3A depending on the connection. A Parade PS175HDM converts DisplayPort 1.2 to HDMI 2.0.

 

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A Realtek ALC233 is used as the audio codec for the NUC. A nuvoTon NCT5577D acts as the SuperIO and does all the hardware monitoring and fan control, and also acts as the consumer infrared controller.

 

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The TPS650830 from Texas Instruments is the Power Management IC (PMIC). It is specifically designed to take in the DC input to mobile Skylake devices and produce five separate voltage rails for use by different devices. For proper magnetic coupling of the RJ-45 Ethernet jack a Bothhand GST5009 magnetics module is used and provides IEEE 802.3ab compliance.

 

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Intel is using a Delta Electronics KSB0605HB blower fan to dissipate all the heat from the unit. The fan works quite well, but what works even better is Intel's default cooling curve, which allows for silent operation of the device.

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