4K HTPC Credentials

The Intel NUC6CAYH is actively cooled, but the fan curves are quite good. We were barely able to hear the fans at a distance of 6 ft. While not being as good as fanless unit with respect to acoustics, the NUC6CAYH fits the bill for a secondary / bedroom HTPC.

Refresh Rate Accuracy

Starting with Haswell, Intel, AMD and NVIDIA have been on par with respect to display refresh rate accuracy. The most important refresh rate for videophiles is obviously 23.976 Hz (the 23 Hz setting). As expected, the Intel NUC6CAYH has no trouble with refreshing the display appropriately in this setting.

The gallery below presents some of the other refresh rates that we tested out. The first statistic in madVR's OSD indicates the display refresh rate.

Network Streaming Efficiency

Evaluation of OTT playback efficiency was done by playing back the Mystery Box's Peru 8K HDR 60FPS video in YouTube using Microsoft Edge and Season 4 Episode 4 of the Netflix Test Pattern title using the Windows Store App.

The YouTube streaming test played back the 4K non-HDR version (VP9 video and Opus audio), while the Netflix one delivered the 1080p 5.8 Mbps AVC version.

The graph below shows the power consumption at the wall and the GPU loading parameters for the YouTube streaming case. Initially, the power consumption is a bit high as the video is fetched at a lower resolution (less taxing overall), but, needs to be scaled up for display. Later on, as the buffering stabilizes, the power consumption of the system (around 14W) and the GPU power (around 4.5W) settle down.

A similar graph for the Netflix streaming case is also presented below. Manual stream selection is available (Ctrl-Alt-Shift-S) and debug information / statistics can also be viewed (Ctrl-Alt-Shift-D). Statistics collected for the YouTube streaming experiment were also collected here. Despite the availability of a 4K display and HCP 2.2 support, I couldn't get Netflix to play back the 4K version of the title, even though the Apollo Lake NUC is supposed to be able to do it. On a hunch, I went back from the Fall Creators Update to the much older Anniversary Edition. That time around, I got the ULTRA HD 4K tag on the title, but, the playback was still that of the 1080p version 1080p, with the 4K stream option not visible at all.

It must be noted that the debug OSD is kept on till the stream reaches the 5.8 Mbps playback stage around 1.5 minutes after the start of the streaming. Toggling the state of the debug OSD results in variation in the at-wall power consumption (as much as 3W) and GPU loading parameters. In the steady state, we find that the at-wall and GPU power numbers are around 10W and 2.7W respectively.

Decoding and Rendering Benchmarks

In order to evaluate local file playback, we concentrate on Kodi and MPC-HC with EVR for the two systems. The integrated GPUs are too weak to handle madVR. We recently revamped our decode and rendering test suite, as described in our 2017 HTPC components guide. For the purpose of testing, we utilized Kodi 17.6, MPC-HC x64 1.7.13, and LAV Filters 0.70.1-83. The video decoder was set to native DXVA2 mode.

Playing back the SD and 1080p streams at 4K requires scaling, and that shows in the power numbers of the above graph. One point to note is that Apollo Lake does not support VP9 Profile 2 decoding, and the playback of the final stream in the above test suite was essentially a slideshow.

We see similar behavior with Kodi 17.6, as shown in the graph below.

Kodi turned out to be much better than MPC-HC, and we were happy to note that all streams except the VP9 Profile 2 one played back without any frame drops or stutters.

Finally, it must be noted that the GPU inside the Apollo Lake SoC does not support UHD Blu-ray playback despite the presence of a HDCP 2.2 HDMI 2.0 port. The SoC does not have SGX capabilities either.

Networking and Storage Performance Power Consumption and Thermal Performance
POST A COMMENT

56 Comments

View All Comments

  • negusp - Friday, January 12, 2018 - link

    When are we going to get a Ryzen mobile review from IntelTech? Or are we going to have to continue to sit through overpriced Intel NUC reviews and the like? Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, January 12, 2018 - link

    "When are we going to get a Ryzen mobile review from IntelTech?"

    Hopefully soon. AMD has yet to ship us a sample (but is supposed to be doing so any time now).
    Reply
  • negusp - Friday, January 12, 2018 - link

    Cool, thanks. Reply
  • french toast - Friday, January 12, 2018 - link

    Very poor from AMD, I wish they would get their act together with the tech press, how long has Ryzen mobile been out for? 3-4 months?.
    Hopefully after all this time they ship you Acer 2700u equiped unit.
    Reply
  • npz - Friday, January 12, 2018 - link

    > Very poor from AMD
    Dats right mon. Dey still po-ah dan Intel!
    Reply
  • Lolimaster - Friday, January 12, 2018 - link

    They should buy the product, I mean, they salaries right? Not like it's a hobby site. Purch media, intel's ally. Reply
  • npz - Friday, January 12, 2018 - link

    Purch is probably paying Tom's more due to the ads. Enough ads with autoplaying video everywhere to make that site completely unusable though. Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Sunday, January 14, 2018 - link

    Would have been great if you threw a couple of MOBA benchmarks in to see how she copes. Reply
  • HStewart - Monday, January 15, 2018 - link

    I thought we have already had reviews on it - or is that just hype. I saw one in best buy yesterday and it look quite fat compared to other notebooks.

    But getting back this subject - this NUC you can't blame Intel as being over price - there is a big difference between 470 as configured and $130 for NUC from Intel - where is $340. for $470 you could almost buy 2 of these NUC's - for $470 you can get i5-7100U based nuc
    Reply
  • HStewart - Monday, January 15, 2018 - link

    I am not sure where you get "overpriced Intel NUC" from - maybe the review has it wrong, but if you go to the following link you can start out with minimal price of $215 - keep in mind it only has 32G eMMC and 2G of ram

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MXYZ8V5?tag=anandtech...
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now