Networking and Storage Performance

Networking and storage are two major aspects which influence our experience with any computing system. This section presents results from our evaluation of these aspects in the Intel NUC6i7KYK (Skull Canyon). On the storage side, one option would be repetition of our strenuous SSD review tests on the drive(s) in the PC. Fortunately, to avoid that overkill, PCMark 8 has a storage bench where certain common workloads such as loading games and document processing are replayed on the target drive. Results are presented in two forms, one being a benchmark number and the other, a bandwidth figure. We ran the PCMark 8 storage bench on selected PCs and the results are presented below.

Futuremark PCMark 8 Storage Bench - Score

Futuremark PCMark 8 Storage Bench - Bandwidth

The storage score (primary result) shows that there is not much to gain by going from the SM951 in the NUC6i5SYK to the 950 PRO in the NUC6i7KYK. It shows that workloads are more user-input and CPU-bound, rather than storage-bound. On the other hand, the storage bandwidth number (secondary result) shows a significant jump. Readers can refer to our explanation of how these numbers are calculated by PCMark 8. The secondary result is the total amount of data transferred (both reads and writes) divided by the storage I/O busy time (i.e, time duration during which the number of pending I/O operations was at least 1). The secondary result is a very important metric when idle time compression is involved, but it doesn't matter as much as the primary result when it comes to application responsiveness (as the workload might be CPU-bound, rather than storage-bound). In any case, the above result shows that a powerful CPU can drive up the secondary result very high.

On the networking side, we restricted ourselves to the evaluation of the WLAN component. Our standard test router is the Netgear R7000 Nighthawk configured with both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks. The router is placed approximately 20 ft. away, separated by a drywall (as in a typical US building). A wired client (Zotac ID89-Plus) is connected to the R7000 and serves as one endpoint for iperf evaluation. The PC under test is made to connect to either the 5 GHz (preferred) or 2.4 GHz SSID and iperf tests are conducted for both TCP and UDP transfers. It is ensured that the PC under test is the only wireless client for the Netgear R7000. We evaluate total throughput for up to 32 simultaneous TCP connections using iperf and present the highest number in the graph below.

Wi-Fi TCP Throughput

In the UDP case, we try to transfer data at the highest rate possible for which we get less than 1% packet loss.

Wi-Fi UDP Throughput (< 1% Packet Loss)

The antenna placement and the system design ensure that the Intel 802.11ac AC8260 WLAN subsystem performs exceptionally well in our Wi-Fi testing and comes out at the top of the charts in both TCP and UDP tests.

Gaming Benchmarks HTPC Credentials
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  • Ratman6161 - Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - link

    True, but for the uses this machine would be well suited for, the i7 CPU is way overkill. Grandma and Grandpa would be well served by an i3 Reply
  • jwcalla - Monday, May 23, 2016 - link

    "What is the expected market for this?"

    There is none. Especially at that price.
    Reply
  • JoeyJoJo123 - Monday, May 23, 2016 - link

    I'd agree that it is overpriced by a fair margin, particularly compared to other mini-PCs on the market. Yeah, it does have the best CPU package amongst them, but you'd expect that to be mated with a good GPU solution as well. Given that the GPU solution is awful once it's fully configured (at a retail price of ~$1000 all together), there isn't much of a value.

    If it had two LAN ports, it'd have the niche of being a great PfSense or router box.
    Reply
  • jecs - Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - link

    I think this machine is great, not perfect or ideal, for light to medium graphic design work including web graphics. It is fast enough, small, look nice, once configured most designers won't open the machine ever, it can be used with an entry level profesional monitor, plug an external hard drive and add a great keyboard and mouse. It is not for me anyway, but I appreciate this initiative as in the future it may become powerful enough for more demanding work. If I can dream I wish it could have dual mobile high-end graphics and at least 32 gigs of memory, even if it gets bigger. With faster thunderbolt may be a hit. I will keep an eye on this form factor. Reply
  • FMinus - Sunday, August 7, 2016 - link

    I've actually visited a cartoon animation studio the other year, of which 80% was running on Intel NUCs, think it was i5, and everyone had hooked a Wacom Cintiq to it and they worked like little bees, without much issues. They had more powerful machines for more demanding tasks and a render farm in the back, but most work was done on these little boxes.

    The reality is, if you're not playing video games, you really don't need a dedicated GPU for the majority tasks you do on a PC. That being said, this skull canyon part is interesting, yet overpriced in my opinion to really pick up.
    Reply
  • oasisfeng - Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - link

    I am buying this as a portable computer for software development, which can be put into pocket to be carried between office and home. I don't like laptop for software development due to constrained keyboard and display. Reply
  • BurntMyBacon - Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - link

    Is there a reason you can't use the same display/keyboard you are using for the NUC on a laptop and at least get the benefit of a built in UPS? You'd also have a display and keyboard and the ability to run off the wall should you ever have an emergency, but I do understand your desire for a better keyboard/display. I feel its a bit too expensive for me, but I can still see some viable uses and you seem to have one. In any case, if you decide to get it, let us know how it works out for you. Reply
  • Gadgety - Monday, May 23, 2016 - link

    Looks impressive for such a small integrated GPU package. Perhaps it's too early though as the GPU still doesn't have full HEVC 10b decoding for HTPC. Doesn't AMD's Carrizo, and upcoming Bristol Ridge sport this? Reply
  • monstercameron - Monday, May 23, 2016 - link

    Carrizo only supports 8bit hevc, stoneyridge allegedly supports 10bit. Reply
  • Texag2010 - Monday, May 23, 2016 - link

    Can you please add the Intel D54250WYKH nuc as an option to the comparative PC configuration? For people who are upgrading from the best nuc available back in the day... Reply

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