Power Consumption and Thermal Performance

The power consumption at the wall was measured with a 1080p display being driven through the HDMI port. In the graphs below, we compare the idle and load power of the Intel NUC6i7KYK (Skull Canyon) with other low power PCs evaluated before. For load power consumption, we ran Furmark 1.12.0 and Prime95 v27.9 together. The idle number is a bit disappointing, though, I assume that a change in the BIOS to the low power profile could help improve things. Otherwise, the idle number is just slightly higher than what is typical for a system with a 45W TDP CPU and a PCIe M.2 SSD.

Idle Power Consumption

Load Power Consumption (Prime95 + FurMark)

The load power number in the graph above is the maximum sustained value. As we can see from the graphs below, instantaneous peak numbers can go as high as 95W. Addition of bus-powered USB devices will also tend to drive up this number further.

Our thermal stress routine starts with the system at idle, followed by 30 minutes of pure CPU loading. This is followed by another 30 minutes of both CPU and GPU being loaded simultaneously. After this, the CPU load gets removed, allowing the GPU to be loaded alone for another 30 minutes. The various clocks in the system as well as the temperatures within the unit are presented below.

The graph below present the power consumption profile of various blocks in the CPU package during the course of our thermal stress. Following that, we have the power consumption at the wall for the system during the same period.

According to the official specifications, the junction temperature of the Core i7-6770HQ is 100 C. Unfortunately, the cooling solution is not able to prevent the CPU from hitting it with turbo speeds activated. However, the frequency does remain above the base 2.6 GHz throughout the pure CPU loading segment. The package power settles down to a steady 45W, and that continues throughout the duration of our test. Our only concern is that the cooling solution keeps the temperature of the cores too close to the junction temperature during periods of heavy CPU load. Once the load gets distributed across both the CPU and the GPU, we see the package come down to around 90C.

Another important aspect to keep note of while evaluating mini-PCs is the chassis temperature. Using the Android version of the FLIR One thermal imager, we observed the chassis temperature after the CPU package temperature reached the steady state value in the above graph.

We have additional thermal images in the gallery below.

The maximum chassis temperature observed by the thermal imager was slightly above 60 C near the fan's exhaust vent. At that point, a sound level Android app running on the HTC One M7 recorded 59 dB. For comparison purposes, the Zotac ZBOX MAGNUS EN970 recorded 50 dB in a similar scenario.

HTPC Credentials Miscellaneous Aspects and Concluding Remarks
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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 07, 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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