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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Intel's upcoming powerful Skull Canyon NUC

Intel is expected to launch the new "Skull Canyon" NUC mini PC sometime after March 2016.

I expect the "Skull Canyon" NUC to be available with one of the following CPUs which have been announced this past week, and have the Iris 580 GT4e iGPU:
1. Core i5-6350HQ - 4core, 6MB L3, 2.3GHz base, 3.2GHz max turbo
2. Core i7-6770HQ - 4core, 6MB L3, 2.6GHz base, 3.5GHz max turbo
3. Core i7-6870HQ - 4core, 8MB L3, 2.7GHz base, 3.6GHz max turbo
4. Core i7-6970HQ - 4core, 8MB L3, 2.8GHz base, 3.7GHz max turbo

It is yet unknown which of these has 64MB eDRAM L4 cache, and which has 128MB eDRAM L4 cache.
I do hope they'd opt for the i7-6870HQ. They'd probably offer the i5-6350HQ as well, as a lower priced option.
In any case, the cooling would have to be active (a fan) and highly efficient, so that the CPU/GPU won't throttle when pushed hard for an extended period.
Pricing would have to be aggressive as well.
A lot of people ask me "why would I buy an expensive mini PC if I can buy a similarly-specced laptop, which already includes a screen, keyboard, mouse, camera, mic, battery and more..., for the same price?".
It's a tough question to answer, but I tell them that whenever you require a computer to be attached to a large screen (large PC monitor, TV or projector), whether for graphics work, presentation, or simply for comfort - That's where the NUC comes in. One simply needs to add a wireless keyboard & mouse, attach a screen, and away you go.
Basically it's a choice between a flat laptop or a compact, fat, screen-less, battery-less box.

But I can't think of a single advantage that the NUC has over a laptop, simply because a laptop can also be attached to a larger screen when needed, and it has a battery backup built-in, which is a huge advantage.
I'm really looking for a valid advantage point to convince people to buy a NUC over a laptop. If anyone cares to enlighten me, please do. I really like the NUC form-factor, but when it's stuffed full of goodies (strong CPU/GPU, 16GB+ RAM, PCIe m.2 SSD, 802.11AC WiFi 2x2) - it gets really expensive and hard to justify its purchase.