Intel's NUCs have managed to develop a strong market for ultra-compact form-factor (UCFF) machines since they were introduced in the early 2010s. Each CPU generation has seen Intel put out stronger versions of the NUC (both in terms of performance and features) in a regular cadence. In parallel, we have seen experiments with slightly larger form-factors (such as the Skull Canyon and Hades Canyon NUCs). Currently, Intel has NUC platforms targeting three different market segments - the entry-level, mid-range, and enthusiast. While the entry level is served by Atom-class SoCs and the enthusiast category by H-/G-series CPUs, the mid-range is served by the U-series SiPs (system in package) that use the Core microarchitecture. Today, we are looking at Intel's latest flagship in the mid-range segment - the Core i7-based Bean Canyon (NUC8i7BEH).

Introduction and Platform Analysis

The Intel NUC8i7BEH belongs to the Bean Canyon NUC family. It is based on the Coffee Lake-U series SiPs (CFL-U). The Bean Canyon NUCs build upon the capabilities of the Kaby Lake NUCs (NUC7 / Baby Canyon series). From an external I/O perspective, the Bean Canyon and Baby Canyon NUCs do not appear significantly different. However, the usage of a CFL-U SiP (CPU and PCH integrated in a single package) enables the following updates in the Bean Canyon family:

  • 28W TDP processors across all SKUs, with true quad-core / octa-thread options
  • Iris Plus Graphics 655 with 128MB eDRAM across all SKUs
  • Intel Wireless-AC 9560 with Bluetooth 5.0 WLAN module
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) support on all external Type-A ports

The TDP upgrade (15W to 28W) makes it necessary for Intel to supply a 90W power adapter with the Bean Canyon NUCs (compared to the 65W ones supplied with the Baby Canyon models).

The NUC8i7BEH that we are looking at today comes with a Core i7-8559U processor. The 'H' in the model indicates a tall kit with support for the installation of a 2.5" SATA drive. The kit is available barebones, and users need to install either a SATA or a M.2 2280 / 2260 / 2242 NVMe drive and appropriate DDR4 SO-DIMMs. We utilized a Western Digital Black NVMe SSD and two G.Skill DDR4-3000 SODIMMs to complete our build.

The specifications of our Intel NUC8i7BEH (Bean Canyon) review configuration are summarized in the table below.

Intel NUC8i7BEH (Bean Canyon) Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-8559U
Coffee Lake-U, 4C/8T, 2.7 (4.5) GHz
8MB L2, 28 W TDP
Memory G.Skill RipjawsV F4-3000C16-16GRS DDR4 SODIMM
18-18-18-43 @ 3000 MHz
2x16 GB
Graphics Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655
Disk Drive(s) Western Digital WD Black 3D NVMe SSD (2018)
(1 TB; M.2 Type 2280 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe; SanDisk 64L 3D TLC)
Networking Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 9560
(2x2 802.11ac - 1733 Mbps)
Intel I219V Gigabit Ethernet controller
Audio 3.5mm Headphone Jack
Capable of 5.1/7.1 digital output with HD audio bitstreaming (HDMI)
Miscellaneous I/O Ports 1x Thunderbolt 3 Type-C
4x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A
1x micro-SDXC
Operating System Retail unit is barebones, but we installed Windows 10 Enterprise x64
Pricing $503 (barebones)
$963 (as configured, no OS)
Full Specifications Intel NUC8i7BEH Specifications

The Intel NUC8i7BEH (Bean Canyon) kit comes with a quick-start guide, hardware for VESA mounting, bunch of screws for installing the storage drives, and a 90 W (19V @ 4.74A) adapter with a US power cord.

The gallery below takes us around the hardware in the unit.

Platform Analysis

The Core i7-8559U package integrates an Intel Cannon Point-LP platform controller hub (PCH). Intel's documentation describes the board layout in detail.

The distribution of the PCIe lanes from the SiP is brought out to a large extent in the above block diagram. The system report summary generated by AIDA64 provides additional insights:

  • PCI-E 3.0 x1 port #1 In Use @ x1 (Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet)
  • PCI-E 3.0 x4 port #5 In Use @ x4 (Intel JHL6340 Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt 3 Controller)
  • PCI-E 3.0 x4 port #9 In Use @ x4 (Western Digital Black 3D NVMe SSD)
  • PCI-E 3.0 x1 port #15 In Use @ x1 (Realtek RTS522A PCI-E Card Reader)

The integrated PCH enables four USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports that are present as Type-A ports in the front and rear of the chassis. CFL-U also supports CNVi, the new 'integrated connectivity' feature that puts the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth MAC inside the PCH. In the NUC8i7BEH, the CRF (companion RF) module completes the Wireless-AC 9560 by implementing the signal processing, RF, and analog functions. The Intel Wireless-AC 9560 is a significant upgrade over the Wireless-AC 8265 in the Kaby Lake NUCs. It comes with Wave 2 features, including support for 160 MHz channels and downlink MU-MIMO. The 2x2 WLAN module is theoretically capable of 1.73 Gbps bandwidth. It also integrates dual-mode Bluetooth 5 support.

Intel continues to use a LSPCon on board to convert the Display Port 1.2 output of the processor to a HDMI 2.0 port with HDCP 2.2. Unfortunately, stereoscopic 3D is not supported in this configuration. However, the Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C port's display output is compliant with HDCP 2.2 also.

In the table below, we have an overview of the various systems that we are comparing the Intel NUC8i7BEH (Bean Canyon) against. Note that they may not belong to the same market segment. The relevant configuration details of the machines are provided so that readers have an understanding of why some benchmark numbers are skewed for or against the Intel NUC8i7BEH (Bean Canyon) when we come to those sections.

Comparative PC Configurations
Aspect Intel NUC8i7BEH (Bean Canyon)
CPU Intel Core i7-8559U Intel Core i7-8559U
GPU Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655
RAM G.Skill RipjawsV F4-3000C16-16GRS DDR4 SODIMM
18-18-18-43 @ 3000 MHz
2x16 GB
G.Skill RipjawsV F4-3000C16-16GRS DDR4 SODIMM
18-18-18-43 @ 3000 MHz
2x16 GB
Storage Western Digital WD Black 3D NVMe SSD (2018)
(1 TB; M.2 Type 2280 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe; SanDisk 64L 3D TLC)
Western Digital WD Black 3D NVMe SSD (2018)
(1 TB; M.2 Type 2280 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe; SanDisk 64L 3D TLC)
Wi-Fi Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 9560
(2x2 802.11ac - 1733 Mbps)
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 9560
(2x2 802.11ac - 1733 Mbps)
Price (in USD, when built) $503 (barebones)
$963 (as configured)
$503 (barebones)
$963 (as configured)
BAPCo SYSmark 2018
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  • DimeCadmium - Thursday, April 4, 2019 - link

    You do realize the skull doesn't have to be visible? Reply
  • PeachNCream - Thursday, April 4, 2019 - link

    It's not just the morbid case cover that bothers me. The fact is that the brand name in general is something that discourages my interest in an otherwise solid computing device. I don't need death or bones or corpse-like branding on my computer parts. That kind of thing has a way of crawling into your head and sticking around in there. It may seem trivial, but to someone that has had to see and deal with real world violence, it just isn't something I want associated with something I use for work and play at home. Reply
  • GreenReaper - Thursday, April 4, 2019 - link

    What I want to know is this: where are all these canyons? Time was, codenames were based on actual locations, but nowadays I'm not sure. There's nothing on Google Maps... Reply
  • mikato - Thursday, April 4, 2019 - link

    Me too. And if Bean Canyon isn't a real place, then I can't understand how such a ridiculous name would be used for a CPU. Reply
  • MrCommunistGen - Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - link

    I'm not at all disagreeing with your point -- Intel has made pretty substantial gains in efficiency -- but we should all just remember that the CPUs in both systems are probably blowing WAY past their TDP (non-turbo) ratings to achieve the performance we're seeing in these benchmarks. Reply
  • MrCommunistGen - Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - link

    I kept not finding the Power Consumption figures in the article. Under a full CPU + GPU load it looks like Bean Canyon is pulling ~72W at the wall and Skull Canyon is pulling ~77W at the wall.

    Still impressive since Bean Canyon tends to be a bit faster and has a smaller GPU configuration.
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - link

    Skull Canyon just sucks. It should be performing 30-50% faster than this one. No wonder nothing outside of a single Intel NUC used it. The previous two Iris Pros sucked too. Each generation made it worse. Reply
  • FATCamaro - Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - link

    These make a Mac mini look like a deal. Reply
  • cacnoff - Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - link

    Ganesh,

    "Perhaps an additional Thunderbolt 3 controller directly attached to the CPU's PCIe lanes could make the platform look even more attractive."

    This is a 14nm U-Series Part, there are no CPU PCIe lanes on it. Maybe complain about the U-Series parts not having pcie on the cpu package rather than about the NUC not having a feature that is impossible to support.
    Reply
  • jordanclock - Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - link

    You sure about that? Ark pretty clearly lists the 8559U has having 16 PCIe lanes. Reply

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