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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  • BlueBlazer - Saturday, February 21, 2015 - link

    Heck no, used to have AMD E-350 and that sucked. Tried the older Atom 330 also but not well also. The problem was Hi10p which uses software decoding (not supported by hardware). Then switched to using my ancient LGA775 which was collecting dust. Was microATX casing thus certainly quite big but can always hide them in some corner. Only problem was dust accumulation due to the fans (have clean the machine once a while). That's the main problem with fans...

    Used an old Core 2 Duo E7600 and runs perfectly everything including those that do not use hardware acceleration. Have tried H.265 also (only supported by software decoding on my hardware) and managed to play them up 1080p 30fps with the Lentoid HEVC decoder (possibly the fastest decoder around but does have a compatibility issues with a few files, which I can fallback to VLC Player). Perhaps time for a change, and with H.265 looming around the corner, CPU power could be still relevant after all. If there is a new CPU can beat this old E7600 performance without using fans then I've found the replacement...
    Reply
  • BPB - Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - link

    My experience is that AMD is better if you are using the HTPC for WMC as well as other things. When I switched from an AMD E450 setup to an i5 setup I lost the abilibity to watch stuff at 1.5 speed. My AMD setup fast-forwarded with sound much, much better than the Intel setup does. The Intel setup is better in every other way, but I really miss watching some games at 1.5X. I like to do that when I don't have the time to watch it at normal speed, or I already know the outcome. The AMD setup allowed me to watch hockey games at 1.5X with sound and no choppiness, the Intel setup is not smooth at all. Reply
  • valnar - Thursday, February 26, 2015 - link

    Depends on whether AMD can do perfect 23.976 fps for NTSC stuff. Intel graphics can. Generally, it is safer to use Intel for HTPC's (both Windows and Linux) than AMD. Reply
  • iFX.64 - Saturday, June 20, 2015 - link

    Sorry I know I'm a bit late here, but If you want to pass-through DTS HD Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD Master Audio through HDMI to an amp/receiver ... then forget about AMD, I've yet to see anyone get it to work... Unfortunately it only seems to work on Intel :(

    Of course I only found this out after buying multiple AMD systems for this purpose... believing that they wouldn't say something IS supported in the marketing material when it ISN'T... but while standard 5.1 DTS or Dolby Digital works fine, DTS HD and TrueHD won't pass-through to the receiver.

    If anyone has found a way to get it to work, I'd LOVE to hear about it ;)
    Reply
  • Veritex - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    A good solution is arriving in around 90 days in the form of the AMD Carrizo and Carrizo-L (10w to 35w) APUs with upgraded Excavator cores, next gen full HSA GPU and hardware encode/decode of h.265 4k video. They will be available in everything from laptops to all-in-ones and in micro/pico/ITX systems.

    Anandtech had a preview at CES 2015:

    "One of the features of Carrizo is full support for H.265 decoding, and as an example of why this is needed they had an Intel system running next to the Carrizo system attempting to playback a 4K H.265 video. While the AMD system was easily able to handle the task without dropping any frames, the Intel system was decoding at what appeared to be single digit frame rates. The 4K content was essentially unwatchable on Intel."

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/8855/amd-demonstrate...
    Reply
  • BlueBlazer - Saturday, February 21, 2015 - link

    That Core i3 was of the older generation (not Broadwell), and of course would be less powerful to perform software decoding for 4K video. If they had used a Core i7 quad core then should be able to playback 4K video smoothly even through software decoding. Also does not mention if Carrizo can support VP8 or 10-bit H.265/HEVC either...

    Additionally Intel Broadwell and even Haswell already have a hybrid H.265/HEVC decoder (uses both CPU and GPU) in the latest drivers: http://techreport.com/news/27677/new-intel-igp-dri... Besides H.265/HEVC, it also supports VP9 codec (used by Google TV). Futhermore it can also support 10-bit H.265/HEVC format besides the normal 8-bit H.265/HEVC. Wished that it would also support the old 10-bit H.264 (also known as Hi10p) as well...
    Reply
  • BlueBlazer - Saturday, February 21, 2015 - link

    Errata: VP9 in the first paragraph and not VP8...

    "Also does not mention if Carrizo can support VP8 or 10-bit H.265/HEVC either..."
    Reply
  • Vinny DePaul - Saturday, February 21, 2015 - link

    Why do people rip blu ray to NAS? Is it legal? I don't understand why people store so many movies on their PC. Can you watch that much? Also, is it even legal? Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Saturday, February 21, 2015 - link

    Why do we rip movies? so that way if something happens to the disk, i still have my movie, and I dont need to find the dvd and put it into the player to watch a movie, i can just double click it.
    And of course it is legal. Im making a backup of my own copy, and im not sharing it.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Sunday, February 22, 2015 - link

    I rip movies (redbox rentals) so I can watch it at a convenient time, on whatever device I want. It's rare I watch anything more than once. Lately I've been renting more movies on demand, though, as long as the price is reasonable Reply

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