Final Words

The Intel NUC5i5RYK provided us with the opportunity to take a look at what Broadwell-U can deliver when coupled with a motherboard providing premium features. The migration from 22nm to 14nm has allowed for higher base clocks while maintaining the same power envelop. The performance delta over the Haswell-U-based D54250WYKH (particularly, on the graphics side) is noticeable. That said, while migrating from Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge is a no-brainer, there is not enough on offer to recommend migrating from a Haswell-based UCFF PC.

The BIOS in our pre-production review kit had some quirks and the QVL could do with some additions (particularly, support for 2133 MHz DRAM kits would be very welcome). Hopefully, these get fixed as the official market availability date (sometime in March) draws near. We also covered aspects such as replaceable lids for added functionality (NFC and wireless chargining, for example) and customization in our launch piece. Similar to the previous generation NUCs, we also have a kit with support for a 2.5" drive.

The NUC5i5RYK provides an admirable UCFF PC option due to three major aspects:

  • Availability of a M.2 PCIe 2.0 x4 slot for SSDs while retaining compatibility with M.2 SATA SSDs
  • Presence of an I218-V GbE controller compared to the Realtek-based controllers in other UCFF / mini-PCs
  • Upgrade to the Intel AC7265 2x2 802.11ac solution for the WLAN component

There is scope for improvement in terms of the overall feature set. For the home-consumer focused kits, it would be nice if a mini-HDMI to HDMI adapter were to be bundled. Even better would be a full-sized HDMI port - GIGABYTE, ECS and Zotac have shown that it is possible to cram in a full-sized HDMI port even in the NUC form factor. While M.2 PCIe SSD support is a welcome addition, it would be great to get Thunderbolt support back into the NUC ecosystem. For cutting-edge HTPCs, the absence of HDMI 2.0 and full hardware decoding for HEVC streams is a drawback. However, we know that those will definitely be getting fixed in the upcoming generations.

The final aspect we talk about today is the pricing. The NUC5i5RYK seems to be available for $376 on PCConnection as of today (even though Intel indicated a street price slightly north of $400). M.2 SSDs (PCIe or SATA) still carry a premium. For users wishing to keep the build cost down, the NUC5i5RYH model with support for 2.5" drives might be a better option.

Power Consumption and Thermal Performance
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  • owan - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    I wouldn't. The GPU on the low end APU's isn't *that* much better than intel's IGP and the TDP's are too high, which is a big consideration IMO for a device that may spend quite a lot of its time running. I've found my Celeron G1820 system to be superior in every way than the A4 system it replaced, except in casual gaming where they both were basically useless. The CPU gap can absolutely be relevant when you start messing with different decoders as well. Reply
  • yankeeDDL - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    The laptop is a Lenovo Z50, with Kaveri's A10-7300. With default settings, I haven't found a game which is not playable yet. And it costed me nearly half the NUC in this article ($400).
    Regarding which HTPC to buy, I was looking into Zotac's: something to stash behind the TV, away from view.
    I agree with you that the savings on low-end AMD APU's are not worth it: the A10 is already dirt cheap.
    Reply
  • jimjamjamie - Monday, February 23, 2015 - link

    I just recently bought the Z50-75, lovely machine for the price. 19W CPU in a 15.6" chassis is great for low fan speed and cool operation, even when it's turbo'd up at 3.2GHz. I don't rate it much for games though as it is not powerful enough to drive 1080p without dialling back the quality settings. Reply
  • cjs150 - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    owan et al: I have owned AMD machines before, and will probably do so again in future. The problem is TDP, they run too hot. In my main HTPC I run an i7-3770T (45w TDP). More than sufficient power for transcoding. When I built that machine, AMD had nothing even close. The problem with going fanless is heat, and AMD are way behind on this.

    HTPC use is very personal. I do not want to go 3D and 4K is currently unnecessary. But it may be that h.265 codec is too CPU intensive for what I have. If so then I will build new machines - but as that will probably be several generations of CPU in future, it is not a problem (and when it is, it will be fun to build!)
    Reply
  • yankeeDDL - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    To each its own. It's good to have choices :) Reply
  • seanleeforever - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    cjs150: try amd 5350 APU. i run it without fan, it is a 25W TDP SOC (so all the IO memory controllers on build on the processor with Radeon HD 8400 ).

    i too find this review lacking to say the least. i build ultra small factor PCs for fun, and i have yet to find one that beats AMD's offering for general windows use in a ultra tiny factor.

    the only three issues with AMD solutions is
    1. driver under linux are not that great, but it is getting better.
    2. smallest form factor is ITX, which is still too big ESPECIALLY consider 5350 is a SOC.
    3. stock cooler sucks. it has the worst oem cooler i see in my entire life.
    Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Saturday, February 21, 2015 - link

    hate to tell you, but the 5350 is NOT an SoC. It is just a low TDP CPU, because the memory is still external. the memory needs to be in the chip in order for it to be considered a SoC. an integrated memory controller has been standard from 7 years, that doesnt make the chip a SoC.
    And ITX isnt too big. you can build mac mini type systems in that size. anything small is proprietary, and OEM only. see the NUC above. you cant by a motherboard for that.
    Reply
  • seanleeforever - Monday, February 23, 2015 - link

    the name "SoC" means a number of things, i suppose you could say it is not SoC by your standards but many website (Anandtech, the one you are commenting on, says "...Athlon 5350, a quad core SoC"), similarly, if you define SoC as something that must have on board memory by design, then you can pretty much rule out all the snapdragon processors since they don't have on board memory. So i would like to believe your definition is flawed, as so will most people.

    secondary, you are dead wrong about it is just a low TDP CPU. go research the 5350 Spec, one thing it stands out is that not only does it have memory controller, but it also feature a video controller , TPM, PCIe lans, Sata port, VGA output, USB3 and USB2, and PS/2 all on the CPU. the thing about SoC is that it is a System on Chip (minus other stuff like storage, ram, power...etc). it has all the I/O (south bridge), and memory controller (North bridge) all build in one die. this is more similar to cell phone processor than traditional computers. this allows M/B to pretty much just bring out pinouts.

    i suggest you to know your subject before posting. this is anandtech and i do expect user to have some basic knowledge in the comment section.
    Reply
  • extide - Monday, February 23, 2015 - link

    TheinsanegamerN -- NO Processors have all the memory built in -- The most memory you can get is on Crystalwell, but thats still cache. In phones you get PoP which means Package on Package, meaning a SoC underneath and then a regular memory chip on top.

    A CPU is generally considered a SoC when it requires no north bridge or south bridge, ie it has memory controller, pcie controller, usb, sata, GPU, etc.
    Reply
  • BlueBlazer - Saturday, February 21, 2015 - link

    That AMD 5350 APU still has a weak CPU. Also its 25W thus it should not be run without fan. That's why the stock cooler has a fan. And due to that weak CPU, it has problems with higher resolution videos: http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/amd_athlon_53... quotes

    "We also tested Ultra HD video acceleration. Above the 4K resolution Elysium Trailer, here we have an MP4 H.264 file and you can see that the CPU load is 52% with one core topping out performance. Unfortunately Ultra HD videoplayback resulted into stuttering. For both content we have additional shaders enabled like image sharpening and darkened black levels.

    The reason why we noticed stuttering seems to be that the trailer is not DXVA encoded. meaning of you where to RAW decode video streams over the CPU, it would not be powerful enough. The GPU at DXVA will take care of you on that here though."
    Reply

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