Concluding Remarks

The preceding pages presented the performance of the NUC8i7HVK (Hades Canyon) NUC in select modern games. The new games are part of our updated gaming benchmarks suite that we plan to use for evaluation of mini-PCs for the next couple of years. We also presented results from the processing of the benchmarks on some modern small-form factor gaming systems.

Fundamentally, nothing much changes in terms of our previous conclusions regarding the gaming prowess of the Hades Canyon NUC. It roughly slots in-between the GTX 960 and GTX 980 in graphics performance. In GPU-limited cases, it can barely touch the performance of the GTX 1060. However, in games such as Dota 2 (which are CPU-limited at most resolutions), the extra power budget available helps the Hades Canyon NUC to come out with very good performance numbers.

I do however have to mention my disappointment in Intel and AMD for their poorly thought out (if not bordering on deceptive) naming scheme for the Kaby Lake-G dGPU – the Radeon RX Vega M. As we’ve since found out and confirmed thanks to telling Linux driver commits, while Intel and AMD are calling this GPU a Vega, it doesn’t actually include any of the core features that make up the Vega GPU architecture. Features such as Rapid Packed Math, tiled rasterization, and support for Direct3D feature level 12_1 are all absent from Vega M. The only “Vega” feature is the HBM2 memory controller, which is very important for this product given the integrated nature of Kaby Lake-G, but also not a part of the core GPU architecture. Instead, the heart of Vega M appears to be Polaris, AMD’s previous GPU architecture, which itself was a minor update to their 2014 GCN 3 GPU architecture.

Which isn’t to say that the Vega M is a bad GPU. The performance we see in all of these benchmarks speaks volumes, and this is by far the most powerful x86 system-on-package processor available today – not to mention it’s way faster than Intel’s own iGPUs. And we can even understand why Intel and AMD would want to use a Polaris-based design for this product, as the development and integration time for this chip meant that they would want to work with proven hardware first (which is why this is Kaby Lake + Polaris rather than Coffee Lake + Vega). But still, it’s an odd scenario when the dGPU being used offers a lesser DirectX feature set than Intel’s own iGPU. And at the end of the day, I don’t see how calling this a Vega GPU benefitted anyone buying Hades Canyon or Kaby Lake-G in systems today. That said, Intel claims certain performance numbers for Kaby Lake-G, and, our evaluation of the Hades Canyon NUC with real-world gaming benchmarks backs up those claims.

Gaming Performance - Far Cry 5
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  • Vorl - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    Ok, this one seems a bit overpriced for the "meh" performance it gives.

    Where is the review for the ASRock deskmini z370 that is one of the systems it's compared against? that one is a lot cheaper and seems more powerful in most cases. I tried to search for it, and couldn't find it on your site.

    Also, Why run these comparisons with "special" benchmarks? These are more or less full PCs just in smaller form factors. Some of these even have full GPUs.

    I mean if you are going to benchmark them up to 2160p, then why not just treat them like any other system?
    Reply
  • kragles - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    The ASRock system is not cheaper. The system does not come with a CPU, ram, wifi module, or storage. Once those things are added it is the same price as, or more expansive than, the Hades Canyon. They are basically the same spec wise if you add a $200 CPU (bringing the price w/cpu to $1000 for each). The "as configured" price on this list is incorrect as there is no way they added 16gb ram, an 8700, storage, and a wifi module for $250 Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    Thanks for the eagle eyes :) I had missed the CPU cost ($302) for the DeskMini system. The pricing is now updated to $800 (barebones) / $1350 (as configured, No OS).

    Btw, the system does come with a Wi-Fi module.
    Reply
  • Vorl - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    Intel
    $999 (Barebones)
    *** $1617 (with SSD, and RAM, as configured / No OS) ***

    ASRock
    $800 (barebones)
    *** $1350 (as configured, No OS) ***

    This means it has the CPU/Memory/WiFi/SSD.

    They updated the price on the ASRock, it was 1000ish, now it's 1350, but still, it's cheaper with better performance.
    Reply
  • thestryker - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    It is not cheaper with better performance. Hades Canyon you're buying Memory/Storage, and Asrock you're buying CPU/Memory/Storage. If you look at the test systems the Hades Canyon is using ddr4 3200 vs 2400, and it also has dual storage (which includes $200+ optane).

    In reality if the Memory and Storage were equal the Asrock as configured would be about $100 more than the Hades Canyon (only $200 difference in base price, but the CPU used is about $300).
    Reply
  • Wheaties88 - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    The ASRock also has an Optane drive in addition to the 512GB SSD as well as faster, more expensive memory. Reply
  • Wheaties88 - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    Scratch that I mean the NUC Reply
  • III-V - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    This isn't a "performance buy," it's a "form factor buy." Reply
  • Daekwan17 - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    These systems are not overpriced at all. In fact they deliver quite satisfactory performance at a noise level and price point that is better than almost anything else on the market. Like most Intel NUC owners I dont game much (have a PS4 & Xbone for that), but I still what the smallest form factor pc possible with some decent graphic capability. I've looked into building my own NUC and once you factor in the cost for a 8th gen i7 CPU, low profile cooler, motherboard, ram, small factor case, small factor power supply, custom cabling, wifi, bluetooth, etc you are easily at $800. Probably closer to $1000.

    But here is where the NUC wins. It is guaranteed to be smaller, quieter and better engineered to be a small factor PC than anything you can custom build. Because it was designed from the ground up to be just that. Most NUC's even come with VESA mounting kits as people generally mount them to the back of a monitor and you have a computer that is out of sight but visually and aurally. You cant see it, cant hear it even though its right there.

    Finally the resale value is fantastic. I'm talking Apple Macbook fantastic resale value.. where you use it for 3 years and sell it used for almost what you paid new! I've used a NUC with a 5th gen i3 for three years.. paid $190 for it on sale.. sold it a month ago for $140 on ebay. I have no doubt the last PC you bought you sold at a much bigger lost than $40 after three years of use. In the meantime Im waiting for Ebay to run another 15% off coupon and I will pick up these for around $850 and use it for right about 3 years. At which point I have no doubt I will be able to sell atleast $750, maybe more. Meaning again I will pay very little to use it 3 or so years.. until its time to move onto something else. I've just check the price on the previous version (NUC6i7KYK) which had MSRP of $649 two years ago.. and is selling for OVER $500 used all day long on Ebay.

    As far as what do I use it for. HTPC is the name of the game. I need this drive my big screen projector which is what makes it small size and noise level so valuable. Combine that with 2 HDMI ports, 2 ethernet ports, Thunderbolt3 and various ports all over the machine and I can connect anything I desire without buying additional cards or needing free slots. Good luck getting Thunderbolt3 working on something like the deskmini z370, from what I can tell its impossible.
    Reply
  • Sailor23M - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    I agree with Daekwan17, I bought a new Skull Canyon last year on sale from Newegg. Its mounted behind my monitor for a clean look. Its really fast for everthing I need it for which is mostly office work with large excel files and data sets. Its like having a souped up AIO machine with all the benefits of upgrading and double the ports. Plus Intel’s support for these NUCs has been pretty good as well.

    I am not impressed by the $999 price tag as I believe the sweet spot for NUCs is between $500-$750, for $999 + display + SSD/RAM/OS I can buy a very well equipped laptop like a MS Surface
    Reply

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