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Intel NUC 9 Extreme "Ghost Canyon" NUC9i9QNX Review (Page 5)

Shannon Robb | Apr 15, 2020 at 8:00 am CDT - 2 mins, 41 secs time to read this page
Rating: 94%Manufacturer: IntelModel: NUC9i9QNX

Compute Element Disassembly and Analysis

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Now we look at the compute element and what sort of secrets it may hold. Up front, we see the shroud which covers most of the front of the Element's PCB. Two screws allow you to pull the fan unit off the front of the Element to enable access to the SO-DIMM slots and the M.2 slots. I do like that Intel built M.2 cooling solutions into the fan housing. Here we can see the Kingston 3200MHz memory along with the Kingston 1TB KC2000 NVMe storage preinstalled.

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Now that the fan is removed, we flip around the back of the card to look for the screws that hold the rest of the shroud in place. We find four screws around back and one up front needed to be removed to release the shroud. In the rear, we also find two fabric tape covered areas that are in place to protect Wi-Fi connection points on the board and Wi-Fi chipset. For anyone that has ever worked on laptop antennae connectors, you know how fragile these can be, so the protection is welcomed.

After releasing the shroud, we now see the only removable part remaining, the vapor chamber heat sink. This unit is a copper heat sink with an aluminum fin stack at the topmost portion of the Compute Element. This allows the fans to push the warm air directly out of the top of the Element and the chassis. The heat sink does not just cool the CPU; it has an extra copper strap going off of the left side, which appears to be lap weld/soldered in place to allow the main vapor chamber to wick away heat from the VRM components as well.

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Here we have the naked Compute Element. The cooler being removed reveals an excellent thermal paste application along with good contact on the PCH via thermal pad. The VRM has slight oil from the thermal pads and marks form the pad being in contact, which means the cooling solution should help the VRM components stay a bit cooler.

The cooler itself is not much to talk about, it's a vapor chamber with a raised section to meet the CPU, while the other components such as the PCH and VRM use thick thermal pads.

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Here just to show the complexity and component fitment for the Compute element, we splayed everything out for a rudimentary exploded view.

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Here we have the CPU and the PCH. The CPU has an SSPEC of SRFD0, which is indeed an i9-9980HK. The PCH carries an SSPEC of SR40E which is a CM246, offering an x4 DMI link to the CPU, and 24 PCIe lanes out for peripheral devices such as SATA, USB ports, LAN ports, Audio and Wi-Fi. Also, through the chipset/DMI are the two M.2 slots on the Compute Element.

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The CPU and iGPU VRM are controlled by an OnSemi NCP 81215P, which is a 4+2+1 three output buck controller. The power stages for the VRM are also OnSemi NCP302045, which are 45A rated integrated power stages.

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Shannon Robb

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Shannon Robb

Shannon started his PC journey around the age of six in 1989. Now till present day, he has established himself in the overclocking world, spending many years pushing the limits of hardware on LN2. Shannon has worked with design and R&D on various components, including PC systems and chassis, to optimize the layout and performance for enthusiasts.

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