Intel’s Hades Canyon is greater than a easy successor to its Cranium Canyon predecessor, an excessive model of Intel’s Subsequent Unit of Computing (NUC). When Cranium Canyon launched in 2016, it bucked the mini-PC pattern of modest specs designed for normal computing, as a substitute boasting absolutely the newest in for its measurement: a 45W quad-core processor, built-in graphics able to 1080p gaming, and a port that supported exterior graphics. On the time, that ultra-compact mini-PC was unmatched.
The Hades Canyon NUC brings its personal first: a single, Intel-produced chip (code-named Kaby Lake-G) that marries an Intel cell CPU with an AMD Radeon RX Vega M cell GPU. It’s silicon that may deal with heavy-duty duties with out breaking a lot of a sweat.
Worth, specs, and ports
Hades Canyon is available in two configurations—one marketed as an overclockable gaming machine (the NUC8i7HVK), and the opposite as a content-creation system (the NUC8i7HNK). We obtained the gaming model for evaluation, which is the higher-end possibility and prices $1,000 for simply the bare-bones package.
Including storage, reminiscence, and an working system will elevate the worth by at the least just a few hundred , given at the moment’s inflated costs for SSDs and RAM. Our evaluation unit, which got here pre-equipped with a 118GB Intel Optane 800P-series SSD, 512GB Intel 545s-series SSD, 16GB of Kingston HyperX DDR4/3200 RAM, and a Home windows 10 Professional license, would set us again by nearly $1,550 in complete.
Every configuration comes outfitted with a special mixture of Intel processor and AMD GPU. (To get an intensive rundown on Kaby Lake-G, you possibly can read our primer that adopted the CES announcement of the chips.) Contained in the NUC8i7HVK is the 100W Core i7-8809G, which homes a quad-core, eight-thread cell CPU and Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics.
The processor is equal to Intel’s 45W H-series cell CPUs (full with energetic built-in graphics that may deal with video playback and different primary duties), although its energy necessities differ barely. The precise energy consumed varies relying on CPU and GPU hundreds, as Intel designed the package deal with a shared energy finances and makes use of what it calls dynamic tuning to permit every element a better means to achieve its max enhance. As talked about beforehand, it’s overclockable, with inventory settings of a three.1GHz base clock and four.2GHz Turbo. Intel says that it’s gotten as much as four.7GHz when overclocking.
Linked to the processor by eight PCIe lanes is the Vega M GH, which runs at a 1,zero63MHz base clock and 1,190MHz enhance clock. The GH variant of Vega M comes with 24 compute models and 4GB of HBM2 reminiscence, together with a barely quicker reminiscence bandwidth of 204.8GB per second. It additionally helps output to 6 4K shows concurrently, with as much as 5 at 60Hz and the sixth at 30Hz. Just like the CPU, you possibly can overclock the Vega M GH and the HBM2 reminiscence.
Backing this star CPU-GPU pairing is an entire array of equally powerhouse know-how. Two M.2 slots can take SATA 6Gbps or x4 PCIe Gen three (AHCI or NVMe) drives in both a 42mm or 80mm size, with the choice to run two drives in RAID zero or RAID 1. An Intel Wi-fi-AC 8265 card handles each 802.11ac 2×2 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth four.2. Two SO-DIMM sockets settle for as much as 32GB of DDR4/2,400MHz RAM at 1.2V, and assist overclocked DDR4 RAM. There’s even a beam-forming, far-field, quad-mic array included this time round.
For ports, Intel’s crammed much more of them into Hades Canyon. As a result of this NUC is bigger than Cranium Canyon—at eight.70 x 5.59 x 1.54 inches (1.2L), it’s roughly the dimensions of a VHS tape—you get multiples of virtually all the pieces. On the entrance you’ll discover an SDXC slot, USB three.zero charging port, USB three.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) Sort A, HDMI 2.0a, USB three.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) Sort C, and a three.5mm stereo headset jack.
On the again facet there’s a three.5mm speaker/TOSLINK jack, the connector for the 230W energy provide, two Thunderbolt three ports, two Mini DisplayPort 1.2, two gigabit ethernet, 4 USB three.zero Sort A, and HDMI 2.0a. The 2 Thunderbolt three ports every assist four PCIe lanes, however they’re related to the identical controller. Consequently, bandwidth could also be shared if each ports run concurrently utilizing a x4 configuration. As with the Cranium Canyon NUC, you could run exterior graphics over the Thunderbolt three ports.
You’ll be able to develop the variety of USB ports in the event you make the most of the I/O header, which carries indicators for 2 USB three.zero, two USB 2.zero, CEC, and the entrance panel.
The chassis as soon as once more includes a replaceable high lid, although this time it’s been upgraded to characteristic customizable RGB LED lights that illuminate the form of a cranium. The default is a red-and-blue colour scheme, however it’s simply modified by included software program to different hues and with totally different glow patterns. You even have the choice to alter the colour of the standing LEDs on the entrance panel, that are additionally RGB.
By and huge, the NUC8i7HVK’s Intel-AMD mixture delivers a strong expertise. Let’s dig into the gaming efficiency first.
3DMark Fireplace Strike
We’ll begin with 3DMark’s Fireplace Strike take a look at, an artificial benchmark that simulates gaming at 1080p on Medium settings. As a result of that is the primary time we’ve seen the Radeon RX Vega M within the wild, I selected to isolate simply the graphics rating with a view to see the place it ranked amongst different cell GPUs. This manner, the potential affect of the CPU on the rating is minimized.
As you possibly can see, efficiency roughly falls between that of an Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti and an Nvidia GTX 1060 Max-Q half. That’s about the place I estimated, particularly given the pretty notable leap in efficiency between a 1050 Ti and a full 1060. The Vega M GH appears to skew nearer to the 1060 Max-Q (which is a stepped-down model of the 1060) than the 1050 Ti, although.
Be aware: As you might have already discovered, all the comparability programs in these charts are laptops—that’s the place the majority of our testing of cell components lies. It’s not an ideal apples-to-apples comparability, provided that laptops have a special set of calls for for cooling versus mini-PCs, however it nonetheless gives a good illustration of standing.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
In precise video games, the NUC8i7HVK largely maintains that place slightly below programs with the GTX 1060 Max-Q. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, which is a semi-recent blockbuster recreation that may nonetheless push budget-range GPUs, we acquired a median of 51 fps on the Very Excessive preset.
That needs to be sufficient for a lot of people, but when not, the issue’s simply solved in one among two methods. The extra thrilling possibility: Hooking up the NUC8i7HVK to a FreeSync monitor. Like different AMD GPUs, the Vega M GH helps these variable-refresh shows. (It helps options like Radeon Chill as nicely.) It’s also possible to drop the graphics setting right down to Excessive, which can then bump up the body price to about 63 fps.
Center-earth: Shadow of Warfare and PUBG
However what about at the moment’s video games? To reply that query, I fired up FRAPS in two up to date video games: final fall’s Center-earth: Shadow of Warfare and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
I wasn’t capable of benchmark these similar video games on different programs we had within the workplace within the time out there. These standalone outcomes do present, nevertheless, that this model of Hades Canyon can maintain its personal in up to date video games. Be aware that the PUBG expertise is probably not fairly nearly as good throughout hairier, frenzied moments: As a whole noob, I ended up largely wandering maps on the empty outer edges throughout these solo matches.
Once more, do not forget that FreeSync is an possibility. Because the NUC8i7HVK ages, FreeSync would be the cheaper choice to hold video games feeling buttery-smooth. (It’s also possible to get an exterior graphics card setup, however that’d demand a a lot better money outlay in comparison with the $100 to $150 you’d pay as of late for an entry-level, 24-inch FreeSync monitor.)
Center-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Tomb Raider
As you’d count on by this level, the NUC8i7HVK readily handles older AAA video games. In 2014’s Center-earth: Shadow of Mordor, it held regular at 64 fps on the Extremely preset (and with the 4K texture pack in use). It did about as nicely in 2013’s Tomb Raider on the Final preset, with a results of 61 fps. When you’ve got a backlog of video games to chew by, they shouldn’t threaten this tiny PC.
(By the way, in the event you’re questioning why the Tomb Raider consequence skewed nearer to GTX 1050 Ti efficiency as a substitute of GTX 1060 Max-Q: My finest guess is that it pertains to the better function CPU efficiency has on Tomb Raider. It’s attainable that the given the shared energy administration between the CPU and GPU elements inside the Core i7-8809G, CPU efficiency is throttled sufficient that it impacts this explicit recreation.)
Turning our examination to pure CPU efficiency reveals zero surprises. To see how the processor manages brief bursts of full utilization, we ran Maxon’s Cinebench rendering benchmark.
It takes only a few minutes for many programs to generate the 3D scene. The Eighth-generation processor contained in the Core i7-8809G carried out simply as we anticipated: With its wholesome clock pace bump over Seventh-generation Kaby Lake Core H-series components, it trails nearer to the socketed CPUs in older, compact desktop PCs. On a regular basis duties needs to be no sweat on this NUC.
As a result of Intel payments the lower-end variant of Hades Canyon as a content material creation machine, we additionally turned to HandBrake, a well-liked encoding program, to place this NUC by its paces. Our real-world take a look at entails changing a 30GB MKV file right into a smaller MP4 utilizing the Android Pill preset, and it hammers laborious on a CPU. Programs designed with poor or restricted cooling will take a really very long time to finish the benchmark, whereas PCs with beefier CPUs and higher cooling will zip proper by it.
As in Cinebench, the Core i7-8809G nips on the heels of older 91W components. In concrete phrases, this transportable PC can full CPU-intensive duties in about the identical period of time as a two-year-old full-sized system.
To see how the i7-8809G handles thermals below a full CPU load, I ran HandBrake individually with Intel’s Excessive Tuning Utility open within the background. In accordance with XTU’s monitoring instruments, the CPU reached a max of 84 levels Celsius whereas dashing alongside at a fully rock-solid three.9GHz the entire time (simply zero.3GHz under the utmost Turbo pace).
Energy draw and acoustics
Throughout testing, I recorded the assorted maximums for energy draw utilizing a Watts Up Professional. At idle, the NUC8i7HVK averaged about 13.eight watts. That’s only a hair below Cranium Canyon’s common of about 14.6W at idle.
Energy draw was highest when enjoying sure video games (174.7W in Rise of the Tomb Raider), adopted by 165.9W for a pure GPU load as simulated by working Furmark for an hour, and 115.0W for a pure CPU load as simulated by working Prime95 for an hour.
As for acoustics, the NUC8i7HVK was impressively quiet in our temperature-regulated workplace. That was significantly the case throughout pure CPU hundreds—I barely heard the followers in any respect throughout our Handbrake benchmark. Fan noise turned audible solely when the GPU was energetic, and even then, it was a fairly mellow hum.
The NUC8i7HVK is able to way more than I initially examined. Intel additionally touts this machine as an overclockable gaming and digital actuality machine. One concept that acquired bandied about was rolling your personal VR backpack system: Pair it with a battery pack and your most well-liked VR headset, and off you go. I might have beloved to find what we drew within the silicon lottery, in addition to seeing how simply I may dive into 3D digital worlds.
That mentioned, I nonetheless discover the NUC8i7HVK to be a really strong PC—not only a mini-PC—and I consider that’s extra essential than VR and overclocking when evaluating it. VR nonetheless has comparatively small traction, and Intel cautions that overclocking the Core i7-8809G requires cautious consideration and persistence as a consequence of its energy design. Based mostly on efficiency at inventory settings, Hades Canyon is already an especially worthy successor to Cranium Canyon and offers different mini-PCs a run for his or her cash.
What retains the NUC8i7HVK from being a grand slam like its predecessor is the competitors. Whereas many who gravitate towards this NUC will accomplish that due to its measurement, sufficient folks will care extra about efficiency than kind issue and be higher served by a special mini-PC. Zotac, particularly, blurs the road between mini-PCs and mini-ITX programs with its Magnus PCs, which include a selection of GTX 1060, GTX 1070, and GTX 1080 flavors. For many who care about probably the most uncooked energy out there within the smallest attainable kind issue, they’re extra interesting choices.
Hades Canyon is a powerful mini-PC that gives different prospects as nicely. Take into account that at slightly below three kilos, it weighs lower than some ultrabooks—most individuals gained’t even discover it in a backpack. For those who don’t want a laptop computer’s included display, mouse, and keyboard, it’s nigh unimaginable to beat Hades Canyon as an on-the-go PC, amply powered by its Intel CPU and discrete AMD GPU.